Is seeing really believing?

"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20.29

Many of us would feel sympathy with Doubting Thomas, who had to see the risen Jesus for himself before he would believe. Our educational culture is built around the scientific practice of testing ideas/ theories through experiment, in order to verify their claims empirically. This attitude may well be due to the influence of the great Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, a Scotsman. Hume had no time for accepting or assuming anything that could not be verified scientifically. His scepticism led him to reject all forms of religion. But the story goes that, when the great revivalist preacher George Whitefield came to town, Hume was observed by one of his students scurrying along the road to join the crowds gathering to listen. When the incredulous student asked "Surely you don't believe that stuff?", Whitefield is supposed to have replied: "No, but Whitefield does!" Two competing hungers struggle within us: the hunger to believe and the hunger to know. Sceptics like Hume would insist that the latter must always rule over the former. Jesus teaches that faith in him resolves the conflict and enables both: belief with conviction - which, incidentally, is the winning combination which so attracted Hume to Whitefield.

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