Christopher Hitchens wrote, “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” Hitchens was speaking of God. While I have never disagreed with the logic of his statement, I do disagree with his presupposition that millions of people having the same experience is not evidence worth exploring. I also disagree with the apparent presupposition that evidence and proof are the same thing. These presuppositions leave Hitchens’ Razor a bit rusty.
There is a very big difference between lack of evidence and rejection of evidence. A person who knows something because of his or her experience may not be able to prove it to me. Their experience is no less evidence than testimony in a courtroom. One person’s experience is very weak evidence. But if millions of others report the same experience, it shouldn’t be dismissed so easily. A good example would be that I can never know what it’s like to be an African American woman. She may describe to me what it feels like to be the target of discrimination, she may show me data that indicates she has been discriminated against, but I will never KNOW what it’s like to have that experience. All I can know is her (and other’s) testimony. And it would be wrong for me to presuppose that her experience must be a delusion; and therefore, something to be dismissed without investigation. Millions of people having the same experience is evidence worth exploring, but not proof. Proof is something totally different.
There is a big difference between proof and evidence. We certainly wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on the search for extraterrestrial life if evidence and proof were the same thing. Conditions are what we would expect them to be if there is life on other planets; Therefore, we search for life based on this evidence. Oxford says evidence is, “The AVAILABLE body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” Evidence remains evidence unless it is proven or demonstrated to be the result of a rival causal factor.
I have no way to prove God’s presence or absence if the only way to know Him is through a faith given as a gift to those who will accept it. It would not be rational to claim that those who say they have this experience are mistaken unless I can demonstrate a rival cause for their experience. Oddly enough, if one “believes” that other people’s faith is just wishful thinking then they too have a faith unless they can prove the other’s are in error. Let me be very clear here: I did not say the other people’s faith is true because I cannot claim it to be false. I said the proposition that their faith must be false because they cannot prove it is not rational. The only rational claim in that situation would be, “I don’t know.”
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There are three words that I think are thrown around too often today. They are “God told me.”
I’ve had people tell me that God told them a certain politician would win an election or that God revealed some secret to them. One man told me years ago that God revealed to him that he would own the radio station at which I worked. None of these things came to pass.
Deuteronomy tells us something I would think is obvious: if what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place…that is a message the Lord has not spoken. And 2 Peter has a stern warning for those who falsely proclaim things in the name of God.
Do you keep on guard for those who appear to be speaking God’s word, but only deceive others, and quite possibly themselves as well?
An atheist writer wrote that he honestly attempted to believe in God but ultimately found that the evidence did not stack up. I believe woven into his words is the reason he failed.
Ephesians tells us, “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Doesn’t this tell us that attempts to try to believe in God, or lean on our own understanding to form an argument for God are doomed to fail if saving faith is the goal?
James tells us if your motives are wrong, you won’t receive. There’s a difference between testing God, and seeking Him. Could this be the reason some folks who are rich in intellect allow their own understanding to become a stumbling block?
What are your thoughts?
I was asked if God could cure a person with social anxiety disorder. I was a bit surprised when they laughed at my response. God can cure any disorder, but does one need to be cured of anxiety to be in God’s will?
Nowhere in the Bible does it say we will be without pain or suffering; at least not before the second coming. Consider that Paul asked God three times to take away his thorn in the flesh. God responded by telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient…” Paul had what he needed even without being delivered from his thorn in the flesh. In fact, Paul went on to write, that he would delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. I believe 2 Corinthians tells us Paul’s weaknesses led him to depend on God, and thus, made him stronger in spite of his initial assumption that he needed to have his thorn removed.
Can someone ask why God cannot do such-and-such without assuming they know what God should do?
I’m very interested in reading your responses. Please post them below or on the station’s Facebook page.
Do Christians hate people who reject the Bible? This may sound like a strange question, but there are people who would have you believe that Christians hate anyone who doesn’t follow God’s teachings. Is this a fair way to portray all who believe disobeying God’s word is harmful? Could what they see as hate be a sign of something quite the opposite? Think about this as we consider something that has nothing to do with religion.
I know a few health-food nuts. They eat a very restrictive diet and they are convinced that anyone who doesn’t do the same is harming themselves. At times they seem very motivated to warn their friends about what they perceive as self-destructive behavior. If one of them told you that you were putting yourself in danger by eating a cheeseburger, would your first thought be that they must hate you? Would you assume they hate anyone else who consumes junk food? Would it be rational to refer to promoters of healthy eating as a hate group? The point I’m making with this analogy is that warning someone about a hazard is a sign of love, not hate. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about health food or sin.
History has taught us that hate is often disguised as protection. Governments have hidden their oppressive policies under this banner. Because of this, it’s important to question anyone who asks for help enforcing protective actions. But there is a very important difference between forcing others to be safe and warning others about potential dangers caused by the choices they make. It’s easy for those who are eager to find malice in their opponents to overlook this distinction. It’s also something that can be purposely ignored by anyone motivated to deceive. Consider that some who spend an excessive amount of their time, money and resources trying to convince you that people of faith are hateful, just might be the ones who need to check some of their own hate at the door.
Deception is not a sign of love. Warning others of danger is not a sign of hate.
What are your thoughts?