Why do we believe what we do? What is the basis of our convictions? If we’re honest, we’ll admit that mostly we’re willing participants in what others want us to believe. We believe as we do because someone has told us what to believe. Seldom have we taken the time to check the facts. We simply shortcut that arduous process and accept what trusted others or perceived authorities tell us, no questions asked.
Yet somewhere in the back of our minds we acknowledge that this is not the best way to arrive at the truth, nor to live life. We want sure foundations for living, not the possibly weak footings of someone else’s too often unproven ideas. When it comes to our children, we want them to have reliable knowledge to take them through life with confidence. But who will show them how to arrive at such truth?
In this issue of Vision we once again look at the shaky underpinnings of some branches of human knowledge, and at the all-too-common gaps in human logic that result from lazy thinking. As always, we try to do so with the Word of God in view. The source that delivers truths such as “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12) and “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2), also tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7) and “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10). We can source knowledge, understanding and wisdom from God, or we can trust in man who trusts in himself.
Does the Bible provide all knowledge? No, it does not, but it supplies essential knowledge about the purpose of human life and how to live it—knowledge that comes from no other source. Why were you born? Most of us can’t answer that question yet spend all of our lives trying. The search can be concluded much earlier if we are prepared to take God at His word in His Word. We human beings have attained technical knowledge and ability in many fields. But physical “know-how” of itself has limited value if it is not grounded in spiritual understanding and wisdom. Twenty-first-century life is heavy on the physical and light on the spiritual. Is it because the spiritual source book, the Bible, has been stripped of its central place in life and relegated to the status of “interesting ancient literature”?
On the following pages, Vision’s writers invite us to consider the people who made the Bible available in the English language, and the pain and persecution some of them endured so that we could freely access the mind of God in vernacular language (see “The Most Dangerous Book”). But not only do we need to read the Book of books for spiritual guidance (see Part 16 of “The Gospels for the 21st Century”), we also need to be aware of the common flaws in human reasoning about many subjects (see our book review titled “Murky Media” and our interviews on global warming, an arena where perspectives are hotly debated and our analytical skills must be marshaled).
To summarize, two of the most important concepts for true success in life are that appropriate fear (respect) of the Creator provides the starting point for achieving godly knowledge and wisdom, and that real understanding comes from obedience to God’s principles (law). On this basis we can also use our God-given freedom to assess for ourselves whether what we are asked to believe is true.
The decision to get refocused on the Creator’s role in life is ours alone.