Evening Reading for December 14

John 20:24-29
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.

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