3/28/14 Greg ?
Which is the greater virtue – intellectual honesty or faith? A young man named Greg, not an atheist yet but, I believe, moving in that direction, believes it is more important for him to be “honest with myself” than to believe God’s Word. I haven’t met an atheist yet who wasn’t concerned about being virtuous – and most have said that if it turns out that God is real and judges them, he must say they were intellectually honest in their unbelief and therefore “good”. They would even stand in judgment of such a God as being evil or a tyrant if he dared condemn them for other sins, since by not believing in Him they would not be accountable for these sins except for those they choose to condemn themselves, usually based on their own logic or reason. But are the two virtues – intellectual honesty and faith, mutually exclusive? Must we often deny our God-given sense of reason and logic in order to act on faith? At first glance, it seems that way. It probably seemed obvious to Adam and Eve that the forbidden fruit looked delicious. It probably seemed logical to Abraham that it would be better not to uproot his family and go as a foreigner to a strange land, or to sacrifice his son on an altar. Noah was probably ridiculed for his lack of logic in building a huge boat in the desert. Hebrews 11 is full of people who acted against logic and reason but were commended for their faith. But I would contend that, ultimately, acting on faith, trusting God’s commands and guidance, is really the most reasonable and logical thing to do. Giants of faith don’t get that way overnight. We can usually trace the small steps of faith they obediently took that led them to the point where they could take great leaps of faith that to an outsider might seem totally illogical but to them make perfect sense. Ask any person who has matured at all in faith if the bigger steps of faith they now take are related to the small acts of trusting obedience they took as a younger believer. Faith is like a muscle; it must be developed. Of course it is illogical and unreasonable for a 98 pound weakling to try to bench press a 300 pound barbell; he needs to develop his muscles and likewise we need to develop our faith muscles. Hebrews 11 says that “faith pleases God”. The trajectory of the life of the faithful Christian is a life that seems to defy logic and depends more and more on faith as we learn, by faithful experience, that God keeps His promises and can be trusted. Hebrews goes on to say we can trust not only that God exists, but that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Given that He reveals enough of Himself through His creation that everyone might believe, it’s really the only intellectually honest thing to do.