There is No Proof!

As a fiction writer I’m familiar with legends and myths.  My occupation requires that I spend considerable time in the make-believe.  Fiction is a way to teach and learn truths without beating people over the head with them.  It softens the experience, and in spite of it not being real, it is incredibly relatable.  Sometimes the difference between fantasy and fiction become blurred.  There is something that’s been on my mind lately.  Sometimes there are difficult to explain or for some people downright unbelievable.

For the most cynical, nothing exists except for the stuff that can be proven repeatedly in a laboratory.  These folks then in turn may criticize anyone who has a more open-mind.  To be fair, I understand this point of view.  People are not known to be reliable witnesses and often misremember things.  Sometimes the truth is difficult to discern.  However, we have all seen people making angry, jeering comments on the internet who dare to believe or believe in something they do not.  These people justify their positions by saying “There is no proof!” Especially toward topics of religion, spirituality, the paranormal, or supernatural.

Anecdotal evidence may not be empirical, and is even unreliable to base entire beliefs off, but what if there are countless cases of anecdotes that have remarkable similarities?  Should those be dismissed as well?  A cynical person may say so, may point to the fact that coincidences don’t equate proof.  Perhaps, but what sort of proof would there be for let’s say the afterlife?  If someone is going to demand proof, he or she should know what sort of proof is required to be sufficient.  Sure, NDE’s are seen my skeptics as nothing more than a chemical reaction in a dying brain.  What about the cases where people saw the hospital room, described what the doctors said while unconscious?  If that doesn’t count as proof or even a strong suggestion, then what would?  How would an afterlife be proven?  Would anything suffice to those who are absolutely certain it doesn’t exist?

People tend to base their beliefs off their upbringing, worldview, and psychology, not necessarily evidence.  Certainly, there are exceptions though.  If someone has decided unequivocally that something does or does not exist, it is rather difficult to convince that person otherwise.  Ultimately, evidence may not be enough.  Also, what is convincing to one person may not be to another.

Demanding proof for something, especially God or the afterlife is a bit ironic to me, since technically you cannot prove that anyone outside of yourself exists.  Yes, that sounds like hokey mumbo jumbo, but we cannot know for absolute certainty that the people we know or the world around us as we perceive it is reality.  No, this isn’t delving into the Matrix theory.  The point is rather, there are things we take for grated every day, that cannot be proven.  Do you love your spouse?  Can that be proven?  Yes, endorphins can be measured, and some would say that is proof of love.  What if you have those endorphins but act like a jerk or are abusive to your spouse?  Do you really love that person then?  Love is more than chemicals, it is action.

Proof may not be subjective but how it is received definitely is.  This isn’t about convincing the reader what is and isn’t real, but to hopefully shed light on the fact that it may not be the proof but the person’s worldview that keeps him or her from seeing things from a different perspective.  It is simple to either believe everything or nothing at all, neither require thought and are realms of comfort.  Just something for us all to think about.

Faith and Fantasy Pt. 2

In my last post I touched on my journey reconciling writing and reading fantasy while being a Christian.  There is so much more that could be said on this topic.  It is true that many Christians do not have a problem with Fantasy as a genre, and many enjoy it just as much as I do.  Yet, there is a culture and expectation amongst certain circles that one should not engage in it.  Certainly, this isn’t a topic worth being a martyr over, but it is worth exploring deeper.

The first thing we should get out of the way is that the Bible has been used to justify or condemn every sort of behavior imaginable.  This leads to anything from judgmental Pharisee-like attitudes to downright destructive behaviors.  The condemnation of Fantasy comes from the Bible speaking out against magic users and sorcerers, and the call for us believers to use good judgement and discernment when it comes to our entertainment.  Not a bad intention.  On top of that there are those who have more sensitive consciences, which makes it difficult for them to comprehend why someone would enjoy something that appears so “evil” to them.

Putting blanket rules around entertainment is difficult for these reasons.  Often times people read into Scripture their presuppositions and try to impose them on others.  I understand that, especially since believers are called to rebuke fellow Christians if they are not following God’s commands.  However, it is easy to take it too far and become judgmental over things that ultimately do not matter such as enjoying a specific genre of books.

There is something important to note.  Most of the time magic and sorcery in fantasy does not even closely resemble occult/pagan magic condemned in Scripture.  Magic in ancient times often took the form of astrology and divination or summoning spirits.  Fantasy magic such as in Harry Potter is invented as a plot device and for fun.  Fiction authors don’t pretend their works are real either which is something that distinguishes itself from true occultism.  We are told right away these stories are fake and meant to teach lessons of friendship, love, and what it means to be human among other things.

As believers it is our job to discern what entertainment we consume.  Instead of cherry-picking Scripture to back up our biases, we need to look at the Bible in its entirety.  Yes, sorcery is condemned in Scripture, but Paul also makes it clear that different people are sensitive to different things.  Our only job as believers is to not create a stumbling block, not reign judgment upon other people.