Two nuns were driving along in their car when they ran out of petrol. They didn’t have a jerry can, all they could find was a potty. So, they walked a mile down the road to the nearest petrol station and filled the potty with petrol and walked back to the jeep.
As they were pouring the petrol into the car a lorry driver passed, he stopped and opened the window and said I don’t share your religion, but I sure do admire your faith!
Faith has a lot of meanings. There are different faiths - Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, paganism. And there is the Christian faith. All other faiths are us trying to get to God or god(s), they are to use a technical term ‘auto-soteric’. How can we be sure of our faith if it depends upon us being good enough or doing certain things? We can't. But Christianity claims to be different: it is the only religion where God comes to us.
As Christians we can be sure of our faith not because of who we are, but because of what God has done. Being sure is not being presumptuous, it is not arrogance, because it doesn't depend on what we do or who we are. It not what we know but who we know!
Richard Dawkins writes:
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
Faith it seems is belief without reason, belief without evidence. But what is Dawkins’s evidence for believing that? His is a faith position! G K Chesterton puts it well:
“It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”
(Orthodoxy p 27).
Is it possible to know anything let alone be sure of anything?
• If humans are the product of time plus chance plus matter then no, we can’t be.
• If we are merely selfish genes then no.
• If we are merely the product of natural selection then no.
As C S Lewis explains:
If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents — the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. ... I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.
God in the Dock pp 52-53.
But if there is a God then yes! We can know things. There are absolutes.
As Mike Wittmer points our, for the postmodern “You can’t prove it so you can’t know it”; for the conservative “If you can prove it you can know it”. But there is a third way – “We might not be able to prove it but we can know it”.
Belief in God can be properly basic, it is rational without being held on the basis of other beliefs.