Summary: God is not concerned with only the ways in which we think and believe; he’s concerned about the ways in which we act upon our beliefs.
Have you ever watched Star Trek? Mr. Spock, “the pointy-earned Vulcan” who served as Captain Kirk’s first officer said, “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
This quote is an offshoot from a scientific principle known as Occam’s razor: an axiom developed by William of Ockham — a fourteenth-century scientist and Franciscan monk. Today, that maxim posits, “The simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than those more complicated.” Ockham proposed this heuristic to justify his theses, including his statement that "God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone."
So, was Ockham right? Does believing in God (and his Risen Son Jesus) require a leap of faith that goes beyond all reason? Or, can we come to a belief in God through deduction alone? Or maybe —just maybe —is it a bit of both? I think it’s a bit of both.
For you, and me, and all of humanity, God gives us the power of reason to aid in our discovery of him, but he doesn’t want us to stay stuck in discovery alone. God wants us to move beyond discovery towards belief, and from there to living our lives for him with faith-filled belief in action, which I believe is the true anatomy of belief. Still, let’s not take the preacher’s word for it, let’s investigate what the Bible has to say. Turn please in your bibles to the Gospel according to John 20:19-31.
IT’S ONLY HUMAN TO DOUBT
Let’s do something different and start our time in the middle of text — where we’re really going to concentrate most of our time this morning. John 20:24–25 says:
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
I think it’s safe to say Thomas was trying rationalize away his brothers claims that Jesus has in fact risen from the tomb. See, Thomas’ perception of reality —that reality being that people just don’t rise from the grave — allowed his doubts about what he had heard to linger. And while it’s easy for us to look upon Thomas as a doubter —or maybe one who was weak in faith — I don’t think that was the case, and I don’t think he was alone. Let’s look back to verses 19-20 to see what I mean.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.
What’s more interesting than the awesome message that Jesus appeared before his disciples, is the message we often miss. V.20 tells us Jesus showed the disciples the wounds in his hands and side. Let look at look to the Gospel according to Luke to see why. Quickly flip to Luke 24:37–39.
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your mind? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
Like Thomas, his brothers-in-solace also doubted the reports that Jesus had risen from the grave. The disciples believed Jesus was an apparition — and Jesus knew this. Seeing their doubts, Jesus gave them proof of his resurrection. And upon seeing, they believed and spread the good news — as fabulous and far-fetched as it probably sounded. Like them, Thomas wanted tangible proof Jesus had truly risen from the grave.
But why is that we believe without seeing, and yet they didn’t? Are we more enlightened today and spiritual than them; or, are we maybe more similar to them than we might realize?
If I told you I had quarter in my hand, would you believe me? Some of you might believe for no other reason than I made that claim. However, some of you might be more skeptical and want proof to help you believe —something I’m going to call the anatomy of proof. Some of you may want to see with your eyes and touch with your hand that which I claim to have.