- Religion and Philosophy
Turning No Evidence Into a Special Form of Evidence
Mother Teresa's Letter
There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
There are many causes of ignorance, and to allow it anywhere is to encourage it everywhere. -Scott Vehstedt
Why Would a Christian Actually Like the Fact That Evidence Is Hard To Come By?
Imagine you were a kid back at school, back to being graded and supervised and judged. When you were a kid you wanted the tests to be easy enough that you could pass them and do exceedingly well, but not so easy that everyone could do the same. Why? No one takes pride in accomplishing what anyone could accomplish; no one gets a thrill or rise out of being perfectly normal and average; no one draws inspiration from being as remarkable as the next guy. What does make us want to be better is seeing tangible results come of hard work and dedication. If we worked harder than the next child we wanted the grades to reflect that. If we had more ability than the next child, even if through no extra effort of our own, we still wanted the grades to reflect that. We want to separate ourselves from the rest by example of how hard we work and how dedicated and gifted we are.
The Doctrine of Faith
I don't think many Christians want there to be more proof of God.
If you're already a believer than presumably you have all the evidence you need. I think it gives people a sense of excitement and purpose to believe something that others cannot bring themselves to believe. It provides a challenge, a test of sorts. If you're already doing well on the test you don't want it to be easier. You want God, like the teacher, to see that you could do well even when given little instruction, or when the material was exceptionally difficult. You suspect that your faith is stronger than the rest because you have the courage to believe.
This is not to say that these same people do not want others to convert to their religion. On the contrary this is, in most cases, exactly what they want. Adding more members creates a hierarchy. There will be those who converted, perhaps as better evidence became available, and those who believed when it wasn't as safe to do so or not easy to do so. Those who were in the club longer expect that to be reflected, or at least find their chances of admission to Heaven all the safer a proposition.
Even as a kid I had trouble digesting the Old Testament. Was I really supposed to love a God who killed nearly everything on Earth (including all the animals and plants) for the crime of.... Well, what was the crime again?
What exactly did the people who weren't given the gift of revelation do wrong? How did the pigs and cows, and insects offend God so much that they had to be annihilated?The good news was I didn't have to believe the Old Testament. I was told, "that's the part the Jews believe, and we only have to concern ourselves with the teachings of Jesus."
But how can the two be separated? After all, the teachings of Jesus are only considered moral because of the Old Testament prophecies, otherwise he was just a rabbi who went around telling rapists, and murderers, and tax collectors that they were forgiven of their crimes, without any such authority to do so. Authority is important here. Time and again the New Testament describes Jesus as being one who speaks from authority without actually being an authority figure. it seems one of the prime reasons for people believing him was his confidence in his convictions.
If there is a book of the Pentateuch for which special rules apply, it is the book of Genesis. Even among the exceptionally religious it can be difficult to swallow the idea that the universe was created in 6 days, with a day of rest to cap off the effort. Of course as with all matters of religion the debate never occurs in the context of deciding whether or not the claim is actually true. Instead, we debate whether a day in Genesis is 24 hours or whether a day is 100 years, or some other acceptably long period of time. We ask whether there could be light with no stars, or water without an Earth.