Why Should I Believe If There Is No Evidence?

If faith is belief without evidence, how am I supposed to just believe with no evidence when all kinds of scientists are saying Christianity isn’t true? Doesn’t that make Christianity irrational?

I come across this question, in one form or another, all the time. Sometimes I hear atheists use it as an attack on Christianity. Sometimes I hear pious Christians use it to try to defend Christianity. When they are presented with a huge volume of scientific arguments they can’t refute, they run to, “It’s just faith!” Still others sincerely want to believe, but can’t reconcile what the world tells them with what their pastors tell them.

We should start by pointing out two false assumptions in the question. The first is that faith is belief without evidence. We fully admit that is one of the definitions of the English word “faith.” It is not, however, the only definition, and even if it were, it is not the definition of the biblical word. The biblical concept of faith is trust in someone or something, with or without evidence. Thus, Abraham believed in God in Genesis 15:6, but only after God had given him sufficient reason to believe. Jesus asks us to trust Him for eternal life, but He has given us plenty of reason to do so. This means that, contrary to popular belief, Christianity doesn’t require blind faith. Very much against this, 1 Pet. 3:15-16 demands that we be able to give people reasons why we believe the way we do.

The second assumption is related to the first, namely, that there is no evidence for Christianity, no reason to believe. That statement, however, is just absurd. Peter Kreeft,  a noted philosopher, commented on a debate between J. P. Moreland, a well known Christian philosopher, and Kai Nielsen, a popular atheistic philosopher, on the existence of God. He listed no less than than twenty-five individual arguments for God’s existence that theists have used through the centuries (Does God Exist, 1993; p. 27-28) . Further, his list is by no means complete, yet the arguments he does list take evidence from such disciplines including philosophy, sociology, science, ethics, psychology, history, aesthetics, and others. Whether or not an individual finds any of these persuasive does not change the fact that there is much evidence for and many reasons to believe in the existence of God generally, and in the truthfulness of Christianity specifically.

More directly, whenever this question comes up in any form, it is usually worth asking how, precisely, science has disproved Christianity. What you will find, invariably, is an appeal to consensus, real or not. Unfortunately, science doesn’t work on consensus. In 1931, the New York Times published an article titled, “One Hundred Scientists Against Einstein,” to which Einstein reportedly responded, “Why one hundred? If I were wrong, one would have been enough!” His point is that “real science” isn’t decided by vote, no matter what media would have us believe. It is based on observation, experimentation, and conclusions based on repeatable, testable results.

This is a very important point to keep in mind when having any discussion like this. Whenever someone says, “Well, scientists say . . .” you can stop them politely and ask them for specifics. Which scientist? Where is the paper published? What experiment? None of this is to say, of course, that the person is wrong. They may have read a scientist who said something specific in a specific paper published in a specific journal reporting on a specific issue. If so, you can go and get the information as well as anyone else and have an informed discussion. But we should never let atheists get away with silly appeals to scientific consensus. The chances are that the antagonist is simply parroting an idea he heard somewhere and doesn’t know the first thing about it himself. (By the same token, Christians should never point to arguments based on scientific consensus. The issue is always the evidence.)

A brief post like this is no place to begin laying out the myriad of reasons to believe in God and Christianity (although the video above, though long, is a good introduction to some of it). Our goal is much simpler than that. Simply realize that anyone who claims that there is no evidence of any kind for the belief in God and for Christianity is simply wrong, and unless they have read the thousands upon thousands of volumes written in defense of Christianity, unless they can recite and rebut each of Kreeft’s twenty-five arguments and then the many more he didn’t bother listing, such a statement is simply arrogant. Nothing amazes me about the debate over God’s existence anymore except this: the absolutely typical idea that the average atheist holds that he or she has read enough and studied enough that they can actually say with any real degree of confidence that there is absolutely no basis for God’s existence. If you’re in a bit of a feisty mood, maybe you can even call them on it.

Please leave a comment! Also, be sure to subscribe so that as we walk through some of these evidences in the future, you’ll be sure to catch them.

What Is Biblical Worship?

What is worship? We recognize it is deeply personal (though worship should also be corporate), but we must have a firm understanding of what it involves. A look at the main words in Hebrew and Greek will go a long way in helping us answer the question.

The OT Hishtahawa* means “to bow down” and is used in both secular and religious senses. For instance, Abraham bowed before the Hittites when purchasing land for Sarah’s burial (Gen. 23:7, 12), and Mordecai refused to bow before Haman (Est. 3:2). “Worship” is absent in both of these cases. Bowing down was a sign of respect and self-abasement then just as much as it is in many cultures today. The religious sense of “to worship” is evident in passages like Gen. 22:5, where Abraham goes to worship God, and II Sam. 12:20, where David worships God after the death of his child. In this sense, the Israelites were forbidden to bow before idols (Ex. 20:5).

The Greek proskuneo is used extensively in the Greek OT to translate hishtahawa. Thus, in the OT, proskuneo has both religious and secular uses. In the New Testament, though, its application is limited to the worship of Jesus or God (or to forbidding the worship of any other).

There are a few insights we can draw from the way these two words are used.

1. We are worshipping God when we humble ourselves and exalt Him. Whether the “worship” in any given usage is secular or religious, it includes self-abasement and (usually) the paying of respect to a superior. By itself, this gives us the essence of the biblical concept of worship.

2. Worship is a matter of the heart. Both words refer to the literal aspect of bowing before another, but the intention of the worshipper (or the implications of his worship) is the main focus. For example, after being dedicating himself the Lord, Naaman asks Elisha not to take offense at an aspect of his job, saying, “But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.” Naaman insisted that even though he was not worshipping in bowing before his master’s god. Elisha accepted the request, demonstrating that Namaan’s distinction was correct (II Ki. 5:1-19). A second example is found when David, on his death bed, is told that Solomon would succeed him. In his joy, he “bows” before God in worship (I Ki. 1:47). Clearly, David could not bow if he was lying down. The word refers to his attitude of worship.

3. Worship is usually external as well as internal. Our worship should not become so spiritual that we disregard its outward expression anymore than our faith should (cf. our discussion of Jas. 2:14-26). Everywhere in the Bible, God confirms spiritual realities with external symbols. Our own worship should include outward demonstration as much as possible. For the biblical characters, this meant bowing. For us, it could mean any number of things. The sign should never be a replacement for the attitude, nor should we think that worship without demonstration is deficient; but again, because we are physical beings, we should note that biblical worship consistently involves both the body and the heart.

Worship is not limited to thirty minutes of songs before the sermon. It is a lifestyle. It is something we should do every moment of every day, but it is also something that we should set aside times for as we are able.

In light of the biblical usage of the word, what are your thoughts on worship? How do you practice it? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below, and be sure to subscribe to stay updated on the conversation.

* There has been recent scholarly dispute over the etymology of this word. In most lexicons, it is considered a derivative of shahah, but is considered by some on the basis of Ugaritic evidence to be an Eshtaphal stem of hawa (see TWOT 619).