Wars have been fought over beliefs about God. People have been tortured in Inquisitions because of beliefs about God. Others have been excommunicated because of beliefs about God. Billions of peoples have beliefs about the afterlife that are based on beliefs about God. So, what is a “belief”? According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
“A belief is a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence
is placed in some person or thing.”
Trust is a feeling of confidence. Be sure to note that belief, trust, and confidence are all emotional states. Beliefs are the building blocks of religious belief systems and they are viewed as “truths” to believers.
In his book, Letters from an Astrophysicist, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson discusses the difference between science and religion (p. 99):
“Science follows evidence. When strong evidence supports an idea, the concept of belief, when invoked the way religious people use it, is unnecessary. In other words, established science is not an ensemble of beliefs, it’s a system of ideas supported by verifiable evidence . . . You do not ask if I believe in the sunrise. Or if I believe the sky is blue. Or if I believe Earth has a Moon. These are non-controversial truths about the physical world for which the word “believe” has no place.”
The term “verifiable evidence” means “facts.” “A “fact” is something that has actual existence. Facts are sensory perceivable. Facts are the building blocks of science.
But did you notice that in the above paragraphs, both religion and science used the word “truth.” It is defined as “the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality.” For this reason, it is essential for explorers of biblical heritages to make clear distinctions between the two types truths:
● Fact-Based Truths – This is what scientific truths are based on.
● Authority-Based Truths – This is what religious truths are based on.
Religious truths are based on authority, including truths about “God.” I am not aware of any fact-based truths about God. But, in some cases, there are fact-based truths that are related to authority-based truths of religions – for example “beliefs about the Bible.”
Biblical Heritage Explorers are committed to following the guideline below:
My belief system will include all of the facts,
open enough to be examined and questioned,
and flexible enough to change if errors or new facts are discovered.
Now let’s use the guideline to examine the belief statement below:
My Bible is the inerrant infallible Word of God.
There are facts related to the “My Bible” part of the belief statement. It is a book that actually exists, and its words are sensory perceivable.
The “inerrant infallible” part of the belief statement is an authority-based truth. In my case, those words were part of my church’s Statement of Faith. “Inerrant and infallible” means the words in the Bible are "without error or fault incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.”
One day I was reading my Bible, a New King James Version, and I read the verses below about God’s instructions to Noah. I have a banking background and numbers always catch my attention.
And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.
You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.
The numbers in the verses above do not match:
2 of every male and female is different from
7 of every male and female.
Clearly, my Bible did not contain words that are "without error or fault incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.” Contrary to what some people say, what I discovered doesn’t mean I should throw it in the trash or that it is useless.
It simply means a belief about the Bible was wrong
and that I need to identify and examine the authority behind it.
Examining belief statements about God is a much more complex task, therefore we created a Meme Model to guide explorers. I will show you how to use it in my next email. Thank you for exploring with me. Please share and discuss this email with others.
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