Religion has given comfort to billions of people who seek to make sense out of the unknown. It is a foundation for many to lean on when times get tough or simply to give them a sense of belonging knowing there is a higher power that is looking out for them.
Yet, religion can be a tricky subject in these modern times. Many look back and wonder if what they have been believing all of their lives is backed up by proof. Of course, proof is not required to have faith as the latter doesn’t hold any beliefs in a religion.
At the same time, when there is some evidence of a religion it gives it more weight. When biblical scholars and archaeologists work together and find correlations in the historical record and the bible it helps. Some people either want to feel that there is something behind their beliefs so they can feel that some of the prophecies will actually come to pass. Others like to have it to prove to the naysayers that the proof is there and that they have a good reason to believe what they do.
In this article, we will go over what it means when people seek evidence of religious dogma and what happens when they find it.
Faith is greater than evidence
The pillar of faith is that it is to be believed without any kind of evidence at all. The idea is that the belief should be so strong that it doesn’t require any evidence or proof. The passing down of religious ideals and beliefs are such that it goes without saying that these things happened and they happened for a reason.
All of the events that are part of the dogma serve a purpose to illustrate the “why” of the institution’s beliefs. Yet, people seek out evidence that these events actually happened anyway.
Take the beginning of the term “Doubting Thomas” as an example. After Christ rose from the dead after three days and presented himself to his disciples, they were all incredulous as you would expect. After some time, they came to realize that they were not hallucinating and that it was Jesus who stood before them. All except for Thomas who was still skeptical.
He needed not only to see Jesus’ wounds, but also to feel them to make sure that this was all real. He then believed after being presented with evidence. To make a point, the gospel says that Jesus responded to this by saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. In other words, not everybody will need any proof of it happening to believe that it had.
Evidences of the Book of Mormon is being investigated all the time as Mormonism has been under attack on many fronts since Joseph Smith founded the religion almost 200 years ago. True believers, of course, require no evidence at all, but many others do want to have something to show people who are not convinced.
Should religious texts be taken literally?
Many religious scholars are quick to point out that looking for evidence is a fool’s folly. They don’t look for evidence as they don’t need it. And not just for matters of faith not requiring.
Many scholars want people to understand that ancient peoples hearing these religious stories during antiquity were not being asked to think of them as historically accurate events. They were meant to convey, in a naive way, what the tenets of the religion were. An easy to digest way to understand the code of conduct expected of them to live within the constructs of society at the time.
And so it goes in modern times. We are far more educated and have a more sophisticated way of thinking that we can certainly wrap our heads around the philosophical nature of some of the dogma. But, the stories are still the same. And that is because it is the idea that they are conveying that is important.
Being a religious literalist and trying to think about it in terms of it being factual if it isn’t followed up with an understanding of what the texts are trying to convey makes one miss the point entirely. What was the intent of the author? Some ancient religious texts were written in an almost poetic verse and never meant to be taken literally. Though, some other texts may have been meant to be taken that way.
Can science and religion coexist?
Science is rigorous and replicable. For the sake of this article, I am not talking so much about scientific theory vs religion, but the fact that people can seek evidence and use it to further their religious beliefs.
In either sense, however, science and religion can coexist. Especially for those that want to find an actual, provable historic link to their religion. It gives some people a sense that they are right to have believed the way they have and feel validated.
Though, there are those that look to find evidence solely as a means to not find any and repudiate the beliefs of others in the process.
In the free world, people can choose whatever religion they like or choose to not have any at all. With this in mind, those that want to find proof and those that would rather not can also find a way to exist under the umbrella of their religion. Unless the process of looking for evidence and proof is against the tenets of the religion, then there should be nothing wrong with it.
Nor, should anybody require proof that there is some basis in history for others to practice their religion freely. Faith doesn’t require proof and is meant to be adhered to especially in the absence of it. And, most religions have free will as the basis of their faith. After all, if you aren’t free to choose the righteous way, then it becomes something other than a religion.