Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 5, 1970

A Rational Faith


From time to time one runs across some statement that seems so clear and obvious that one wonders why he had never thought of this before. We recently saw a statement of this sort concerning "a rational faith" which seems to be both precise and simple. It was made in an address by . Dr. Richard H. Bube, professor of materials science at Stanford University, as he spoke to the twenty-fifth annual convention of the American Scientific Affiliation in St. Paul last summer. He described a "rational faith" as being "on the basis of all the evidence." In the same vein he stated that a non-rational faith is "without regard to the evidence:" irrational faith is "in spite of the evidence;" and rationalistic faith as "though scientific evidence were the only evidence."

Within that reference, it is clearly seen that the atheist is neither non-rational nor rationalistic, but quite obviously "irrational." He holds to his conviction in spite of the evidence. He does not simply "disregard the evidence," nor does he stand on the thesis that "scientific evidence" is the only evidence. He recognizes that there are far more unanswered questions in the universe than there are answered questions; he realizes the absolute impossibility of science supplying the full explanation for every phenomenon. The only reasonable, logical and satisfactory explanation is to hypothecate an infinite being as Creator and Preserver of the universe. The atheist rejects this explanation and offers nothing in its place. He leaves the puzzle without even an attempt at an answer. Such a course is not merely without reason; it is contrary to reason.

When Paul and Barnabas found the crippled man at Lystra and healed him, the priests of Jupiter with all the multitude would have done sacrifice, saying "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men." But Paul and Barnabas would have none of this kind of worship but sprang forth among the multitude, crying out, "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. And yet he left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness." (Acts 14:11-17).

Exactly so! The existence and goodness of God are "witnessed" by things the Lycaonians could not deny. A denial of God would, under such circumstances, not only have been "in disregard of the evidence" but actually "in spite of the evidence" — irrational, if you please. This is the same reasoning used by Paul many years later when he wrote to the Romans that "the invisible things of (God) since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity." (Rom. 1:20).

It was roughly a full millennium before Paul that Israel's greatest king had written, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork." (Psalm 19:1) Or again, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, The moon and the stars which thou has ordained: what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:3, 4.) On the basis of all the evidence available, with full recognition of the many questions left unanswered, the existence of a Supreme Being, infinitely wise and infinitely good, is the only "rational" explanation that can be offered. Perhaps in our day the chief antagonism to a Christian's faith in God would come not from the atheist (who is irrational), nor from the agnostic (who is non-rational), but from the materialistic scientist who is rationalistic. He seeks to confine all study and all discussion to one particular kind of evidence -- the materialistic. And, even here, he evades the real crux of the problem by refusing to face the "why" of natural phenomena and concerning himself only with the "how." The "why," he contends, is in the realm of philosophy rather than science.

The believer's faith is solidly based. He weighs all the evidence available to him - and comes up with a triumphant conviction that is so strong and so overwhelming that it can be expressed only in such absolutes as Paul's ringing, "We know that...."

— F. Y. T.