Ignorant & Unenlightened

Gregory Koukl

If a word is nowhere mentioned in the Bible (like "trinity"), does that mean it's not a Biblical concept and is therefore false?

I talked with my sister today. Someone close to her had told her that she was ignorant and unenlightened because she was a Christian. She believes in the Trinity and it's nowhere in the Bible.

This is really only one leg of a three legged argument. It's just the second premise that is stated. The first premise and the conclusion are left out. They are just understood. You're left to figure it out. The conclusion is: therefore it's not true. But the first premise is left out and that's the one you ought to bring to light to clear the brush. When you do that it destroys the argument because the first premise is unsound. The first premise of that argument is: any concept whose name is not in the Bible is not a Biblical concept. So the word theocracy is not in the Bible so theocracy isn't a Biblical concept. That's ridiculous. The word doesn't have to be there for the concept to be taught.

"Are you saying that no intelligent person can believe in God?"

I ask a simple question to help clear the brush here. I ask the question, "what is it precisely that you mean? Are you saying that if it's not in the Bible then it must be false?" When you think about that for a moment you know it's not true. No, that's not what they mean. Then what do they mean? Of course, when you say then what do you mean the argument collapses. They can't make the point that the word Trinity isn't in the Bible. It isn't but that doesn't mean anything. You clear the brush to get back to the real issue in order to disembowel this so-called argument, which is just an accusation. It's like saying, "You're dumb." There is a sense in which this is true. Many Christians' viewpoints are unenlightened and ignorant. Ignorant means that they don't have knowledge behind them.

But being ignorant doesn't meant that a belief is false, it just means that they don't have the background to substantiate it. And it's unenlightened if what you mean is it doesn't follow after the enlightened mentality that reason and man is the measure of all things. No, we don't hold to that. We think God is the measure of all things. But what a statement like that implies is that this person who said it knows some facts that my poor, ignorant sister doesn't know, and if she only knew those facts she would be enlightened and she wouldn't believe this ignorant thing. What is it that this person knows that my sister doesn't know. Well, nothing in this particular case. It's not like he's got these profound intellectual arguments which destroy Christianity.

I would like to ask this question: "please explain to me precisely what you mean. Are you saying that no intelligent person can believe in God?" I don't know how belief in God is inconsistent with intelligence. I don't imagine that's what he means. There are lots of intelligent people with very intelligent reasons who believe in God.

"Are you saying that it's more rational to believe in chance in the world rather than design?" You look around at the world and believe that it's more rational, more intelligent, more profound to believe that everything happened by accident. It may be that it happened by accident, but it's hard for me to believe that anyone would say that it's more rational that all of the apparent design happened by accident. It seems to me that you're within your rational rights to believe in a Creator. After all, people talk about Mother Nature because it seems like there's a person there.

I'm just making the point that when people tell you your faith is ignorant and unenlightened, I wonder what the alternative is.

"Are you saying that it's more rational to believe in no morality?" If there's no God there's no morality. Or if there is morality then moral laws come from nowhere, rather than a moral lawmaker. I believe that God is a moral lawmaker and that's how I understand our actions in a moral light. Now, I can be wrong about that. But I'll tell you one thing, it makes sense. It doesn't sound idiotic or ignorant. It strikes me as a little bit more ignorant that there are moral laws that come out of nowhere. Or that there are no moral laws whatsoever so there's no difference between a Hitler and a Mother Theresa. That doesn't sound like it makes a lot of sense to me.

ãOr are you saying that it's more rational to believe that man is a mere animal and is qualitatively no different than anything else that creeps upon the earth?ä That may be true, but it seems to me pretty self-evident that man is different than the other animals. That's why we gas termites and not human beings. We have a sense that humans are different. Believing in God makes sense of that observation. Believing that there is no God puts you in a quandary because you can't explain that kind of thing. You can't explain morality or design.

Now, I'm not making an argument for God, I'm just making the point that when people tell you your faith is ignorant and unenlightened, I wonder what the alternative is. It seems to me that the alternatives are patently less worthy of belief than what Christians believe in. Who is the one who is ignorant here? Who is the one who is unenlightened? I don't mean to call names. I'm just saying that every Christian is within his rational rights to believe in such a thing as an intelligent God who designed the universe in an intelligent way, and whose character is the moral standard of the universe, and that God in making man has made man the kind of being that we are already intuitively aware that he is, someone special, not a mere animal.

This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl. It is made available to you at no charge through the faithful giving of those who support Stand to Reason. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. ©1994 Gregory Koukl

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