Recently I read an article with the title: “Belief in God Boils Down to a Gut Feeling.” It was regarding a study from Harvard University published in the online Journal of Experimental Psychology which claimed that gut feelings may be very important in determining who goes to church every Sunday and who avoids the pews. The basic premise was that people who are generally more intuitive in the way they think and make decisions are more likely to believe in God than those who ruminate over their choices. Their findings suggested that basic differences in thinking style can influence religious belief. “It’s not that one way is better than the other,” study researcher David Rand of Harvard said in a statement. “Intuitions are important and reflection is important, and you want some balance of the two. Where you are on that spectrum affects how you come out in terms of belief in God.”
There are some elements of truth in what this study purposes. However, I do not believe that faith in God needs to be based solely on a “gut feeling.” Nor do I believe that people who use more reason than intuition necessarily have a harder time believing in God than those who use more intuition over reason. I made a comment about this study and posted the link on my Facebook page and one person commented that believe in God is a “blind faith.”
The phrase “blind faith” means different things to different people and although I am sure my friend did not mean it in a negative way, there are some who use it as a disparaging term to describe anyone who believes in God. Some would view blind faith to mean belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination. And of course any intelligent and rational thinking person could never come to an affirmative conclusion regarding believing in God based on such conditions. Does God expect us to have a “blind faith” that is a faith without any true understanding? More to the point, is the kind of faith God gives us as a gift a blind faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)?
Let’s look at a story; one of the greatest examples of faith found in the Old Testament. God told Abraham that he would be a father of many nations and he was told that his wife Sarah would bear him a child even though they were very old. Indeed, Sarah was 90, and Abraham was around 100 when Isaac was finally born to them. Then God told Abraham to do the unthinkable, to kill Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19). Upon receiving the order, Abraham did not question God. He “blindly” followed God’s orders and traveled quite a distance to a mountain with the intention of killing his son. In the end God stopped him and said, “…now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12).
Based on this account it seems that God was rewarding and complimenting Abraham for blind faith, and since Abraham is one of the models given to us to follow, it would seem that blind faith is the ideal. That, however, is not the whole story. If we turn to the book of Hebrews and read what it says about Abraham, we can find out a bit more.
Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the hall of fame of faith. In it we find many of the greatest people of the Bible and their accomplishments through faith. Abraham is listed more than once, but verses 18-19 tell us Abraham “reasoned” that God had promised a great nation through Isaac and that even if Isaac were killed, God could bring Isaac back from the dead, and because of that reasoning—not blind faith—Abraham followed through with the command. Abraham did not act blindly. Instead, he used his powers of reasoning, based on what he knew about God, to think it through. He knew God’s nature as a faithful God, and he remembered God’s promise regarding Isaac. Then he acted accordingly.
Throughout Scripture we find that reasoning, wisdom, and logic are lifted up as good traits. For example, Proverbs 3:13 says we are blessed when we find knowledge and understanding. Hebrews 5:12-14 admonishes teachers for not learning and growing in understanding. Paul commends the church at Berea because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). In many places throughout Acts the Apostle Paul was said to “reason” with the lost, attempting to prove to them the truth of his words. James 1:5 even tells us to ask God for wisdom which He gives “generously to all without finding fault.”
There are many other places where reason and understanding are uplifted. To state the point in a simpler manner, God created humans with the ability to think and reason and God expects us to use the gift He has given us. Remember that at its core the goal of reason and logic is to find truth, and Jesus made the bold claim that He is truth (John 14:6), so reason and logic should lead us to Jesus every time.
We are expected to act in faith on God’s promises just as Abraham did, but we do that from a position of trust based on all the knowledge we have of God. Abraham followed God’s order based on his faith that God would keep His promise to raise up a nation through Isaac. Abraham had learned that God would keep His promises through a lifetime of walking with God, so this was a reasoned and informed faith.
There will be times in our walk with God that we will act purely on faith because we do not have the whole picture, as in the case of Abraham. However this faith is not blind; it is not just a gut feeling; it is based on knowledge of God’s nature and character, His promises in the Scriptures, and our personal experience walking with God every day