Overt Belief with Covert Unbelief

2 05 2010

“I really, truly believe,” is ironically a statement of unbelief.  Sometimes a statement of faith such as this includes a few more really-trulies just to make it sound all the more emphatic.  The more emphasis it receives, the more certain one can be that the person does not really believe it.  Let alone, the statement, “I believe,” is, itself, a statement of unbelief, contrary to what its intended meaning may be.  The fact is simply that people who say this are usually trying very hard to believe, an act that we generally call make-believe.  This, in itself, implies that the person does not actually believe, otherwise the poor soul would not have to try so hard.

The phrase, “I think,” sounds less emphatic, but it actually suggests that the person saying it is not trying so hard to make himself believe it.  Therefore, it stands to reason that the person who says he thinks God will answer his prayer is not only more confident, but also more honest about his faith in God and prayer.  In a sense, this is counter-intuitive, being that we regard the phrase, “I think,” as a statement of uncertainty.  What we might overlook is that while the person suggests that he is somewhat uncertain about a thing, what it also means is that he is somewhat certain about that thing.  The person who says, “I truly believe,” leaves no room for honest doubt, and in so doing he leaves no room for honest belief.

The phrase, “I know,” is stronger, but people who are confident in their knowledge don’t really say it, as counter-intuitive as this sounds.  When someone really knows something to be true, they don’t preface the statement with anything at all. For example, consider the following statement:

God exists, and he created the world and all that is in it.

This is a statement of faith in its strongest form.  It assumes the matter to be settled.  “I know,” implies that you don’t know, or that someone else might disagree.  Being that I feel no need to heed the ignorance of others, and I do not feel inclined to defer to your own unbelief, I simply state that “this is such,” and leave it at that.  I say it this way, because no matter what you or anyone else may think, the matter is settled, and though I care enough to set you straight, I do not apologize for being right.

What it comes down to is that there exists, for every person, an overt belief, the thing that the person wants to believe that he believes, and the covert belief, the thing that a person really believes but may not want to admit.

21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered.22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23” ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  (Mark 9:21-24)

If you do believe, then why do you need to overcome your unbelief?  It is because the man who says, “I believe,” does not believe.

Faith is something that we all wrestle with.  No one is exempt.  Even the Evolutionist struggles to believe.  I encountered an argument by one individual who said that Intelligent Design could not be peer-reviewed, and therefore should not be treated as scientific.  The implication is that a well-derived lie is better than truth, because we came by the lie systematically.  He could not argue directly against the truth of Intelligent Design, so he took the circuitous route of explaining why it was, “unscientific,” avoiding whether or not it was true.  When an Evolutionist loses the argument on rational grounds, he takes to mocking and assaulting the one who opposes him, by way of an ad hominem attack.  He belittles the opponent and makes the poor victim look silly, because he does not have the mental strength to defeat the argument, itself.  Much as such a verbal melee has the feel of strength, it belies an inner weakness.  The overt belief of the individual is that the human eyeball has all the design of a lump of clay, but the covert belief, the one that he is not willing to admit, is that the eyeball has an undeniable design.  The fact is that all life is loaded with marvelous design, and one would have to struggle hard to find an area of the organism which demonstrates a lack of design.  Even disorders are suggestive of a missing order, which implies that the thing was originally intended for better.

In the event that they cannot overcome this obstacle, they take a circuitous route, arguing something else, anything other than whether or not life demonstrates a design and, hence, a designer.  They call it religious dogma.  They claim that it cannot be tested with science.  They say that it cannot be peer reviewed.  They accuse the believers of wanting to believe in a God, in the hope that he might grant life after death.  They marginalize us, by assigning us a minority status, appealing to the fallacy of ad populem (if everyone else seems to believe it, then it must be true).  They appeal to authority, another damnable fallacy, saying that all scientists believe in Evolution; any scientist who doesn’t is not a real scientist, or doesn’t have enough education or experience.  All of this is a runaround to avoid the real issue.  The issue is not who supports the idea, or what system accommodates it.  The only issue at stake is whether or not the idea is really true. Any tangential argument, no matter how strong, evades the issue and demonstrates a covert weakness.  Anyone who cannot face the matter head-on does not really believe what they say they believe.  Deep down at the place where the conscious mind makes transition to the unconscious, in that darkest part, there lies the hidden fact that a person knows what they deem to be an unacceptable truth.

In truth, Intelligent Design has been studied by science for years.  It has been peer-reviewed and well-published.  When a scientist studies the function of any organ, or the functionality of any organism, or, for that matter, dysfunction, that scientist is studying the design of the thing and how it works.  It would be a very different matter to study the erosion of a rock.  No one asks how the crack in a rock works, because it doesn’t work.  It’s just a crack.  Anything that is designed a certain way to fulfill a certain function demonstrates its intelligent design.  Anyone who seeks to understand that design or function is a scientist who studies Intelligent Design, even if unwittingly.

In any biology journal article, one might read speculation as to why a thing “evolved” a certain way.  In truth, one might just as easily replace these statements with speculation as to why a thing was “designed” a certain way.  In doing so, no real scientific understanding would be lost, and the writing would be more coherent.

In the sense of statements of belief that really indicate unbelief, one classic example is the debater who puts his hands behind his head and leans back in his chair.  You get double points if he puts his feet up on the desk.  As much as it looks like a show of confidence, it’s really the body language of defeat.  I was arguing the matter of Creationism with a fellow, when he assumed this posture, along with an increasing loudness in his voice (another sign of weakness), and I knew that the argument was over.  I had won.  He would never admit that I had won, but I knew that while he overtly believed in Evolution, his covert unbelief had gotten the better of him.

What it all comes down to is that while you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make it drink.  You can defeat a lazy Darwinist, but you can’t make him accept Creationism.  You can’t even make him admit defeat.  The more you prod at what he really knows to be true, the more adamant he will become in his efforts to silence you, discredit you, keep you out of the schools and keep you out of the textbooks.  This is why I think that prolonged debate with such people is worse than futile.  When I write, I do not write to those who refuse to accept the obvious truth that all life has intelligent design.  Instead, I write to commit to solidarity with those who willingly stand against today’s popular myth.

Every age has had its popular myth, and there have always been those who stood against it.  Evolution is just the myth or our time, and we are that opposition.

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