Dispensing With Facts
“If your faith is big enough, facts don’t count.”
It is tempting to dismiss this sort of claim as nonsense. But suppose it isn’t nonsense, i.e., that there was some attempt at thought involved in making this claim. What could that be?
One answer is suggested by a post earlier this month on answersingenesis.com where the author proposes a “critical thinking framework” for evaluating truth claims called the ASK framework.
The basic assumption of this framework is that there are no uninterpreted facts.
You may have heard the saying “the facts speak for themselves.” But stop and think for a moment: do they really? If you walk along a creek and notice some fossils in the rocks, do the fossils tell you how old they are or how they came to be buried in a rock? No. And that is why starting points are so important. Evidence does not speak for itself; it must be interpreted!
How we can validate an interpretation of the facts and thereby acquire knowledge? If there are no uninterpreted facts, and one can only validate a knowledge claim by ascertaining whether it squares with Biblical text. But what do we do with knowledge claims that are neither affirmed by the Bible nor are inconsistent with it? It seems that we would need to appeal to uninterpreted facts. However, even uninterpreted facts are uttered by people, so the question of the trustworthiness of the person stating the claim immediately arises. According to ASK, we need to determine whether a person offering a claim has a “Biblical foundation.” In other words, does the person making the claim see the world through the lens of the Bible? If the person making the claim does not have a Biblical foundation, the ASK framework warrants discounting the claim on the grounds that the person making it has a secular, humanistic, rational approach to knowledge.
If your faith is weak, uninterpreted facts are your epistemic crutch. If your faith is strong, facts “don’t count” for much.