September 26, 2013
The Bible teaches us, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) But there is a difference between faith and credulity.
I’ve just seen a documentary, “The Imposter” (an amazon.com instant rental, also available elsewhere on the Internet), about a 23-year-old French con man and career criminal who convinced a Texas family that he was their son who’d disappeared three years ago, at the age of thirteen. That would make this 23-year-old sixteen. The family believed him and accepted him.
In order to believe him, here’s what they had to ignore. The boy had blue eyes; his were brown. The boy had light blond hair; his was dark brown. (He dyed it blond, but his beard kept coming out dark.) English was obviously not his native language. Finally, he told an outlandish story of having been kidnapped and made a sex slave by “high-ranking American military persons.” The family never doubted him. It was only when a few professionals began to investigate that the whole con fell apart. Even then the family stuck with it until belief became impossible.
People believe things that they want to believe. But they’re just as quick to believe things they don’t want to believe.
I knew a man who was going steady with a woman until another woman told him, “Oh, she’s a lesbian! And she also sleeps around with a lot of other men.” He believed it without hesitation, on just that one person’s say-so, despite never having seen or heard anything else to suggest his girlfriend was anything but what she seemed. If I am ever put on trial, I don’t want him on the jury.
When I was a newspaper reporter, I was told many unflattering things about local politicians, educators, business people, etc. It was my job to investigate the stories—not just print them as I heard them. Some of the stories turned out to be true, some partly true, and some totally false. What I couldn’t verify, I didn’t print. The job taught me to be skeptical.
Believe God, by all means, because He is God. But be careful about believing people.
Those who don’t lie can still repeat lies which they themselves believe. “Oh, yeah, I saw the Cardiff Giant! It was the real thing—saw it with my own eyes!” We laugh at those corny 19th-century hoaxes; and then we go out and believe in Global Warming or whatever other brand of snake-oil is on sale today.
The Syrian “rebels” are the good guys. “Scientists” would never lie to us. Obamacare won’t add to the deficit. Metrosexuals are a big step up from plankton. The public lies are even bigger whoppers than the private ones, and millions of people believe them. “But I googled it, and there it was!” Or heard it on the evening news.
None of this is faith. It’s all credulity.
Among other things, faith is reason’s starting-point, the ground from which we reason upward. Faith is what we accept as given. There is no reasoning that is not based on faith. Those who have no faith in God have simply put their faith in something else—in science, politics, or in some conceited notion of their own small selves. Radical skepticism—“There’s no such thing as truth!”—is only intellectual masturbation, the idle pastime of eggheads who are going nowhere fast. There is no such thing as faith-free reasoning. The next time some university nitwit tries to tell you otherwise, make a rude noise at him.
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“God is not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19) is my starting-point. For men do lie, and that prodigiously. Having this as my starting-point does not obligate me to believe that Joe Stunata saw an unnamed yogi raise a man from the dead in some village in Tanzania that I can’t find on a map. But it does instruct me not to believe that we’re all gonna die from Climate Change unless we pony up a big fat carbon tax—because the earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1), not man’s, and the Lord won’t let us wipe out the human race Christ died to save.
Starting-points other than faith in God are folly, and can be shown to be folly. They have a way of leading to concentration camps and heaps of murdered bodies—piled up by credulous people who believed the lies of man.
© 2013 Lee Duigon - All Rights Reserved
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on www.amazon.com