Monday, April 24, 2017

Proof

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

-- Acts 1:1-3

“I’ll believe, in God, when I see some proof that there actually is one.” Have you ever heard someone say that, or something similar? Much like Thomas, the doubting disciple, many people want to see proof. Unlike Thomas, however, we don’t usually get any.  In John 20:29 we are given comfort about our lack of proof, “Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”” We are blessed who believe with little to no proof. But that isn’t something that will satisfy an unbeliever’s demand for proof. So, how do we answer them? I’m not sure we can, at least not without the Lord’s guidance, but let’s take a look.

I once was engaged in a debate on a Star Trek fan sight about religion in Star Trek which quickly devolved into a handful of us trying to “prove” that God and Jesus existed. I gave up when someone posted that he would die, turn to dust and would still be dust when the “real Zefram Cochrane makes First Contact.” What I learned from that conversation has steered me toward a different type of witnessing. But first, here’s my biggest take away from my Star Trek experience.

Never engage in an argument about historical evidence. In this case, the definition of argument would be “a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.” However, what argument usually becomes is contradiction, which is “just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.” It is never fruitful. You can bring up Josephus but his references to Jesus will be dismissed as interpolations by Christian scribes at a later date. You might mention Simon Greenleaf’s conclusion that the evidence for the existence of Christ would stand up in court and have it dismissed because lawyers can’t be trusted. You cannot win. It doesn’t matter if you bring up Pliny the Younger, Lucian or Tacitus they will be dismissed. I know. I’ve tried. People may say they want proof but they don’t. It reminds me of the Babel Fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The Babel fish is small, yellow, leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the NON-existence of God.

The argument goes like this:

`I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

`But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'

`Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.

`Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

-- The Hitchhiker's Guide of the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

You can’t argue someone to Christ. So, what do you do? The older I get the more I believe that the only way to witness to the world is to love people. Love and live. Love all and live for Christ. Be a reflection of Him so that others may see Him and believe. It sounds easy, but you’ll need the Lord’s guidance to do it.

Each person is different and therefore they each experience love differently; you’ll need to be constantly in prayer so that you may love each person effectively. That being said, the Golden Rule is a good starting point. “Treat others in the way you would like to be treated.” I believe that this is truly the best way to witness. Forget about finding or providing proof and just be the proof.