Suggested further reading: Job 38:1-18
Nothing is more common nowadays than to hear people say
that they decline to believe things above their reason, that they
cannot believe what they cannot entirely understand in religion, that
they must see everything clearly before they can believe. Such talk
as this sounds very fine and is very taking with young persons
and superficially educated people, because it supplies a convenient
reason for neglecting vital religion altogether. But it is a style of
talking which shows a mind either proud, or foolish, or inconsistent.
In matters of science, what sensible man does not know that
we must begin by believing much which we do not understand,
taking many positions on trust and accepting many things on the
testimony of others? Even in the most exact science, the scholar must
begin with axioms and postulates. Faith and trust in our teachers is
the very first condition of acquiring knowledge. He that begins his
studies by saying, `I shall not believe anything which I do not see
clearly demonstrated from the very first,' will make very little progress.
In the daily business of life, what sensible man does not
know that we take many important steps on no other ground than
the testimony of others? Parents send sons to Australia, New
Zealand, China and India, without ever having seen these countries, in
faith that the report about them is dependable and true. Probability,
in fact, is the only guide of most parts of our life.
In the face of such facts as these, where is the common sense
of saying, as many rationalists and sceptics now do, that in such
a mysterious matter as the concern of our souls, we ought to
believe nothing that we do not see and ought to receive nothing as
true which will not admit of mathematical demonstration?
For meditation: Much (perhaps most) of your knowledge is
truth received by you on the basis of the testimony of other witnesses.