Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Faith is something very much misunderstood these days. There’s a common notion that faith and science are at odds with each other, that science is what you can prove while faith is a sort of blind, step-off-a-cliff belief system in something ultimately unprovable. Such could not be further from reality.
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for.” “Assurance” in the original Greek has to do with having confidence. The Christian is confident in what we “hope for,” “hope” in the Greek referring to our expectations. Thus, Christians have confidence in what we expect. We firmly trust that we will receive what we expect from God. The verse also defines faith as “the conviction of things not seen.” “Conviction” in the Greek has to do with evidence or proof, proof which the verse says “we do not see.” Thus, biblical faith is being confident in what we expect from a God whom we do not see yet still have evidence for his existence. This kind of faith was held by the Old Testament saints and God commended them for having it (11:2), as we will see from the rest of chapter 11 in future columns.
The atheist might scoff at the notion that one could have evidence that goes beyond what one could perceive with their senses. “How can you be confident of God’s existence? You can’t see him!” What’s overlooked is the fact that there are additional methods used to correctly conclude things which our senses do not perceive. For example, none of us have seen Abraham Lincoln or heard him speak…and yet we are confident of his existence because we have acceptable, reliable testimony which verifies his existence. Likewise, there is quite a lot of reliable testimony which verifies the existence of God.
Hebrews 11:3’s mention of the creation of the universe is a good example. Look around at this world and how it operates. Get closer to the equator, and you get warmer. Get farther from it, and you get colder. We base calendars on the phases of the moon because they’re so predictable. It gets warm in the spring, hot in the summer, cool in the fall, and cold in the winter. Our planet is located at exactly the correct distance from the sun to receive the right amount of heat and radiation to sustain life as we know it. Move the earth just 10% closer or further from the sun, and life would cease on this planet.
Consider the intricacies of your body. Take the eye, for example. Scientists tell us the eye receives 1.5 million messages simultaneously, sorts through them, and sends them to the brain. The eye is self-cleaning; our tears contain a powerful microbe-killer that guards our eyes against bacterial infection. The eye works so well that tech companies model cameras after it, and yet the most advanced cameras are but clumsy replicas compared to your eye. Do cameras “just happen” by chance? Even Charles Darwin said it is hard to believe that the eye could exist by accident.
What do the intricacies of our bodies and the aforementioned facts about our planet all have in common? Design. It is illogical to conclude all of this is the result of pure chance. Even atheists are forced to concede this. Richard Dawkins, when interviewed by Ben Stein for the Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed documentary, was asked about the possibility of intelligent design being the answer to some issues in genetics or Darwinian evolution. In reply, he admitted that the detailed workings of biochemistry and molecular biology seen in nature and the universe are evidence of intelligent design. Yet he didn’t want to go further down that road because God is at the end of it. Watch the documentary, and you’ll see this Oxford professor and best-selling author theorize that aliens created life on this planet.
That’s right. Aliens. So, who created the aliens who created us? Other aliens? Who created them? He also theorized that life on this planet resulted from crystals, which prompts the same questions. Where did the crystals come from?
In reality, science and biblical faith are very much compatible.