Skepticism says seeing is believing; faith says believing is seeing

“Seeing is believing” is an idiom suggesting that only physical, visible evidence is truly convincing and believable.

Faith & Reflection

“Seeing is believing” is an idiom suggesting that only physical, visible evidence is truly convincing and believable. While there is clearly some validity to the statement, it is limited in its scope and occasionally erroneous in its application.

For example, there are many things that we believe in without seeing. We can’t see oxygen but rely upon it for breathing. We cannot see time, but we measure it and manage our lives by it.

In addition, consider a smile, which is indeed observable. However, the smile which is seen, cannot fully reveal what precipitated it. The smile may be sweet and sincere or sardonic and scornful.

Another reason that “seeing is believing” may fail is because the data that is observed may be misinterpreted, as in the following humorous story. A man emphatically insisted to his psychiatrist that he was dead. After several sessions with the “dead man” the psychiatrist thought of a solution.

On the third session he had instructed his patient to list characteristics of dead people. The patient’s list included, “dead people do not bleed”. At the outset of the fourth session the man arrived, again insisting that he was dead. Immediately the doctor whipped out a large hat pin and poked the man’s finger. Blood rushed out of the wound! “Now,” the psychiatrist said, “What conclusion do you draw from that?” Without a moment’s hesitation the patient looked his doctor straight in the eye and exclaimed, “Well, what do you know! Dead people do bleed after all!”

“Seeing is believing”, as a blanket statement, is radically out of sync with biblical values. In fact, when it comes to matters of faith, the phrase could be inverted. Believing is seeing! In other words, skepticism says, “If I can see, I will be able to believe.” Faith says, “If I believe, I will be able to see!”

A man named Thomas adopted “seeing is believing” as his philosophical premise 2000 years ago. When told that Jesus had been raised from the dead he said, “Unless I see in His hands the prints of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Later, when Thomas saw Jesus, he believed immediately. However, “Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

You see, faith is to my soul what my eyes are to my body. Seeing is not believing – believing results in seeing! Do you see what I mean?

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).


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