Monday, March 30, 2020

THE LIMITS OF PROOFS, EVEN OF MIRACLES




When a militant atheist feels like he has been backed against the wall, he pulls out his trump-card – “Well, prove that God exists.”

Don’t be tempted by the bait. You will never be able to provide such a militant with a proof that he will accept. Instead, you might even ask him, “What type of evidence would you find satisfying?”

He might respond, “If God exists, I want him to appear to me right now.” However, not even such a miraculous appearance will make any difference to him. The late author and scholar, C.S. Lewis, recounts an interesting story:

·       One person…claimed to have seen a ghost. It was a woman; and the interesting thing is that she disbelieved in the immortality of the soul before seeing the ghost and still disbelieves after having seen it. She thinks it was a hallucination. (God in the Dock, “Miracles,” 25)

From this, Lewis concluded that “seeing is not believing.” Why not?

·       Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural…We can always say we have been the victims of an illusion; if we disbelieve in the supernatural this is what we always shall say. (25)

Lewis took this principle a step further:

·       If the modern materialist saw with his own eyes the heavens rolled up and the great white throne appearing, if he had the sensation of being himself hurled into the Lake of Fire, he would continue forever, in that lake itself, to regard this experience as an illusion and to find the explanation of it in psycho-analysis, or cerebral pathology. (25)

If the facts do not agree with our worldview, they are easily ignored. Years ago at a family get-together, we – all of us were either agnostic or atheistic – stood spell-bound for a good hour at the sight of our two little girl-cousins doing the Ouija Board. The girls were spooked by this Board, and it required a lot of adult persuasion and reassurances to get them to perform. Here are the facts about which we all agreed:

1.    Even blindfolded, the disk scurried around the Board spelling out adult words with adult thoughts and personalities. All of us ruled out any possibility of deception on the part of the girls.
2.    The girls came up with answers that they were naturally incapable of knowing.
3.    None of us suspected that what we were viewing was illusory or the product of a hallucination. We were all seeing and hearing the same things, even for a good hour.
Over the years, I have asked my skeptical family what they had concluded from what they had seen. None had a natural explanation or would try to ascribe what they had seen to a hallucination. However, this event made no impact on their worldview. As Lewis had stated, “Seeing is not believing,” even if no alternative explanation is available.

I don’t think that we can easily comprehend humanity’s hatred of the facts. Nor can we fathom the depth of our own aversion to the light of truth. However, spiritual blindness is the consistent revelation of Scripture. Jesus also pronounced this very verdict against humanity:

·       And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:19-20; ESV)

Apart from the grace of God, they are lovers of darkness and have been taken captive by what they love:

·       And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

We have been imprisoned by Satan. This prison does not require chains and bars. This is because we are willing captives. Because we had been enemies of the truth (Romans 5:8-10), more was needed than proper argumentation, love, or even miracles to secure our freedom! God had to grant us a new heart and mind so that we could receive the truth, “come to [our] senses,” and escape our bondage.

If we fail to grasp the fact that this is a supernatural battle, we will become very frustrated with the skeptic and even with our own evangelistic efforts. However, when we perceive the great extent and dimensions of the battle, we realize on Whom we must rely.

Consequently, the battle for the mind is not primarily waged against flesh and blood but against the devil himself:

·       Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)

But this doesn’t mean that we are just innocent pawns in a cosmic battle. Instead, we have willingly and culpably given ourselves over to the powers of darkness:

·       Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Why have they given themselves over to the darkness? Because of “their hardness of heart!” We have rejected God in favor of our own desires. As a result of this, God has given us up to the blinding influence of these desires (Romans 1:24, 26, 28; Psalm 81:12). Consequently, Lord Himself must rescue us from unbelief.

However, we are important participants in His plan – loving, showing respect, patience, and humility, and providing answers for the skeptical. It is my prayer that this book may have contributed something to our endeavors.

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