In the Creation-Evolution Controversy
We Need Facts, Not Faith
    
Jerry Bergman

(Investigator 141, 2011 November)


Many persons today stress the importance of faith, yet ignore the fact that faith without accurate knowledge can be tragic. The Jim Jones event in which over 900 persons perished on November 18, 1978 is only one of many well-known examples. Faith does not make something true, and the amount of faith one has in something does not affect its reality.

Those 900 persons who died in Guyana for Rev. Jim Jones had enormous faith in him and his message, but it was a sorely misplaced faith (Kerns and Wead, 1979; Kilduff and Javers, 1978; and Krause et al., 1978). People who leave cults know this all too well. Many cult members had a level of faith that I have rarely seen any religious group. This faith may have served them well, but allowed them to accept foolish ideas that are now discredited, such as failed prophecies.

Faith must be based on accurate knowledge, as many organizations often stress but often do not follow. The Scriptures also stress the importance of rational discourse: "come now, let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18).  This approach was important to me because, not once, but three times I had faith in belief structures that proved wrong (the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Darwinists, and the atheists).  I now want facts, not faith. The estimated over one million people who left the Jehovah's Witnesses in the last four decades know all too well the problems of misplaced faith.

In this one area I agree with Friedrich Nietzsche who famously said "belief means not wanting to know what is true." I rejected Darwinism on the basis of fact, not faith, and I would not accept a new belief structure on any basis other then fact.  As Hebrews 11:1-12 teaches:

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.  Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past.  It is by faith we understand that the whole world was made by God's command so what we see was made by something that cannot be seen.

1 Corinthians 13:11 explains that faith is needed only until knowledge is complete:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways.  It is the same with us.  Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly.  Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.  So these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love.  And the greatest of these is love (New Century Translation).
Faith is often good and necessary, but only that faith based on facts, and only that required to bridge facts that are now imperfectly known. When such time that knowledge is complete, faith will no longer be required. We do not need faith to conclude the atmosphere or gravity exists because the knowledge of their existence is complete. We need only a very small level of faith to believe that tomorrow the sun will  [not?] rise in the west, or that the earth will still exist. Because our knowledge of the world is now incomplete, some faith is required to believe in both creation and evolution.
    
The facts that we do have, what Paul called partial knowledge, clearly support creationism and Christianity but, until the facts are perfect, we will need some faith, but only a faith that is built on the knowledge of the facts.  Furthermore, as the Scriptures teach, our faith must be built on fact: "Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that obtains understanding . . . her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace…and happy is everyone that retains her" (Proverbs 3:13-18, KJV). 1 Peter 1:1-5 added that grace and peace will be with us

in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord… His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him…For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge… (NIV, emphasis added).


References

Kerns, Phil and Doug Wead. 1979. People's Temple: People's Tomb. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International.

Kilduff, Marshall and Ron Javers. 1978. The Suicide Cult: The Inside Story of the Peoples Temple Sect and the Massacre in Guyana. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Krause, Charles A., Laurence M. Stern, Richard Harwood, and the Staff of The Washington Post. 1978. Guyana Massacre: The Eyewitness Account. New York, NY: Berkley Publishing Corporation.





 

WE NEED FACTS, BUT WHICH "FACTS"?

John H Williams

(Investigator 142, 2012 January)

"Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it." Dr J Bergman

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable." H L Mencken

Jerry Bergman's sermon in #141 was so weak on argument — it took me back to my Sunday Schooling in the mid-1950s — that it barely deserves a response, but here's mine.

I agree with him that "faith without accurate knowledge can be tragic". It's also a delusional timewaster, and, no matter how excessively faithful the believer, it often doesn't deliver in this life, the only one we know we have.

He "now wants facts, not faith". Isn't it reasonable then that he provide some facts instead of earnest rhetoric? I refer, for example, to those facts that supposedly make creationism demonstrably superior to evolutionary science (the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis which Jerry persists in calling "Darwinism").

In this and other articles, Jerry is inclined to support his arguments with biblical quotes: five in this one, 21 lines out of 63! Who, if they did not know, would believe that the author has two doctorates? A word of advice, Jerry: they're excessive, ineffective, out of context, and cut no ice in bolstering any argument!

I think that Jerry meant to say that "we need only a very small level of faith that tomorrow the sun will not rise in the west", as his version doesn't make sense. It may be worth noting that it's commonly agreed there is a Sun and a rotating, revolving Earth, and that astronomical happenings have nothing to do with faith.

We recently had a close encounter with an asteroid: did God design and send, then guide it so that it missed us? Did he arrange the much bigger Chicxulub asteroid 64 million years ago, terminating the dinosaurs and allowing mammals to flourish, leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens and Christianity? And did some of those dinosaurs miraculously survive and co-exist with humans? I suspect that the facts implied here are not the kind Jerry has in mind!

Here are more facts which raise evolutionary issues. Why did God design all known species (or one kind which became 37 plus species) of lemur and locate them only in Madagascar? Why did God put only platyrrine monkeys in South America, and only catarrhine monkeys in Africa and Asia? Why are many of the older fossil species found in South America, Africa, Antarctica, Madagascar, India and Australia the same? Geographically, has our world always looked the way it does now: wouldn't it have taken billions of years for it to achieve its current form by way of plate tectonics?

The facts which help explain these items are freely available to the disinterested searcher after objective truth: history-deniers like Jerry apparently can't see the wood for the biblical trees.

As I've previously complained, there are Investigator writers who make assertions about what their god apparently did or said, as if it were universally accepted that there were such a being, yet there's no unequivocal factual evidence to support that faith-based belief, nor do I believe there ever will be.

However, if one looks to the topsy-turvy quantum world at the heart of Heisenberg's 1926 Uncertainty (better translated as Indeterminability) Principle, one can never predict where an electron will be at any moment, it doesn't exist until it's observed, when it can be regarded, like God, of being "at once everywhere and nowhere"!

I'm not sure what Jerry learnt from his flirtation with atheism, but atheists don't have "belief structures", as Jerry imagines. The 'a' in front of theist clearly indicates that we have no truck with any god. Many atheists are keen skeptics, like any good scientist, but it's a quality clearly absent in Jerry, who believes that "The whole world was made by God's command so what we see was made by something that cannot be seen"!

Jerry, we're drawing down on precious time: please use the forensic skills we know you have, and 'front up' to those, like me, who've long been waiting for those facts!


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