Friday, November 6, 2015

EVIDENCE BASED FAITH? (a guest post by Saskia Scott)

Today on the blog, we feature a guest post by Saskia Scott...enjoy!

An Evidence Based Faith?
by Saskia Scott

I've heard faith defined as belief despite a lack of evidence – or perhaps even despite evidence to the contrary. I suppose some faith is like that, but it is not the only kind of faith. For example, what would it mean to have faith in science? Does it mean that science doesn't really work, but scientists continue to believe it does anyway? Clearly not. Whatever view you take on the nature of knowledge itself, no one can deny that science does work. That's why it is so  powerful as a tool for understanding and influencing our world.

We can trust science, even when it reveals things that we cannot directly observe    like black holes, quarks, and the big bang. We have faith that these things are real because we have evidence that points towards them.

So what about religious faith? I was having a conversation with a Christian friend a few years ago, and the subject of evolution came up. I said that I believed in evolution for the same reasons that I believe in the resurrection of  Jesus of Nazareth – because I have evidence.

I can't directly observe evolution, because it happens too slowly; and I can't observe Christ's resurrection, because it happened too long ago.  Neither are these events obvious or easy to believe. Everyone knows people don't come back to life (except in zombie films), and the idea that a slow, building-block style process could result in so much complexity is mind-boggling at best.

But the amount of evidence for evolution is very convincing. I have faith that the evidence has been interpreted correctly, and that the experts know what they are talking about. And – here's the kicker – the amount of evidence for Jesus' resurrection is pretty convincing too. It's mostly historical, rather than scientific, but that makes it no less compelling.

We all must choose how to engage with evidence that does not fit our worldview. It does not have to be believed, but it cannot be ignored.

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