Sermons

Summary: Biblical faith is always based on facts, and is supported by evidence. If we would keep this in mind, we would avoid many of the foolish mistakes Christians have made.

One of the most novel debates in the history of Christianity was that over the

question of whether or not Adam and Eve had a navel. The man in the street could

hide his conviction, but the artist had to face the issue squarely and choose a side. His

works made it clear whether he was pro or anti-navel. Michaelangelo in painting the

ceiling of the Sistine Chapel came out strongly for the pro-navel side. He was strongly

criticized by Sir Thomas Broune, however, who called it a dreadful mistake

“in that it implies that the Creator affected superfluities or ordained parts without use

or office.”

Anti-navelists said that God does not create what is useless, and so why would

He give them a navel when they were not born by the normal process? But the pro-navelists

argued that if they lacked navels they would be imperfect specimens of

mankind, and God does not create imperfections. Every argument was met with a

counter argument. Christopher Morley described the situation perfectly in his poem

The Twins.

Con was a thorn to brother Pro-

On Pro we often sicked him:

Whatever Pro would claim to know,

Old Con would contradict him!

In opposition to Michaelangelo other artists painted Adam and Eve without

navels. If men were aiming to appear uttering ridiculous, they could not selected a

better subject to debate, for with this one they hit it right on the button. The issue died

down for a long time, but was revived again in 1944 in the Congress of the United

States. Assuming that navel affairs came under their jurisdiction, a subcommittee of

the House Military Affairs Committee opposed distribution of the booklet The Race

Of Mankind to all soldiers. One of the grounds of their complaint was that an

illustration depicted Adam and Eve with navels. It is easy to see how the evolutionist

could use this to support his contention that Adam and Eve were born from some pre-man

creature. On the other hand, if they had no navel, it would be a sign of their

being the direct creation of God. It is a question difficult to resolve.

The point of even bringing up all this navel nonsense is that it illustrates just how

involved men can get over an issue that is pure speculation without a single fact or

thread of evidence on which to stand. Some of the arguments on both sides are sound,

but that is all they are-sound there is no solid ground on which to rest. The best

argument has no better foundation than the worst. Each side can appeal to faith, but

there is no basis for faith without facts. Many Christians get confused at this point,

and they think that faith can be a substitute for facts. Whatever you call that which

believes without evidence, it is not biblical faith. Credulity, superstition, or blind

faith maybe, but it is not biblical faith.

Biblical faith is always based on facts, and is supported by evidence. If we would

keep this in mind, we would avoid many of the foolish mistakes Christians have

made. A. T. Pierson, one of the great defenders of the faith in the 19th century,

considered it a Christian duty to demand proof and evidence of what is proclaimed as

Christian doctrine. If you swallow everything you hear proclaimed as Christian truth,

you will soon be a walking encyclopedia of error. Heresy, nonsense and false ideas

are constantly being communicated by both liberals and conservatives. The Christian

is obligated to test everything and try the spirits to see if they are of God. In his book

Many Infallible Proofs Pierson says, “There is a kind of doubt that is entirely right,

and of that sort is the doubt of one who does not believe what he has no reason to

believe, and what he has no proof of as true.” He also says, “A faith not firmly

founded upon good evidence deserves not the name of faith... Nothing is to be

accepted unless based on good evidence.”

These statements are confirmed as we examine the argument of Paul in this

chapter on the resurrection. Paul’s procedure and pattern in this argument is almost

as valuable to us as is the content of his message. Paul teaches us how to defend

Christian truth, and how a Christian should conduct himself in controversy. Many

Christians do great harm to the cause of Christ, even in defense of the truth, by failing

to follow Paul’s pattern. If a truth is worth defending, it is worth the effort to be

honest, factual and logical. Fallacies are never justified even in defense of the most

vital truths. Let us, therefore, learn from both the message and the method of Paul as

he lays the groundwork for his argument on the resurrection of the dead. First we

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