This is part four of a four-part series titled Worst Apologetics Arguments Ever. Check out the accompanying podcast!
I remember cracking open my copy of The Da Vinci Code with excitement. I was a non-believer at the time and my friends and I were giddy over its release. Why? We viewed it as the death knell for Christianity. As I read the pages, I found myself whispering my version of amen over and over. The talented storytelling, combined with what I felt was first-rate historical evidence, had me captivated. This was the truth. I couldn’t explain it, nor defend it, but I knew.
It just felt right, you know?
After some time, however, I began to see the flaws in Dan Brown’s interpretation of events. Reason, it appears, doesn’t care about my feelings. This is the problem with believing something based on an emotional response, or, a “burning in the bosom.” This specific wording comes from Mormon scripture, namely Doctrine and Covenants 9:8. But before anybody hops up on their high horse and starts pointing fingers at the Mormons, we need to take a long look in the mirror. Each of us can be guilty of believing in something that “just felt right.”
Essentially, the problem is that this is a form of an argument from experience. Not only that, it is one of the worst apologetics arguments for the existence of God ever. Why? Because this experience is typically fueled by a psychological desire for it to be true. In my case, I wanted The Da Vinci Code to be true so badly that I overlooked the obvious holes in it. For one, it’s a fiction novel.
Let’s look at this another way. Have you ever finished watching a debate and felt that your side clearly won? Interestingly enough, you may be surprised to know that those on the opposite side will often feel the same way. How can this be? Because it felt right. Because the outcome that they wanted also came to fruition.
It is important to see that not all true beliefs constitute knowledge; only true beliefs arrived at in the right way constitute knowledge. Is knowledge important? I think we can agree that it is. In fact, John 17:3 tells us that to know God is eternal life.
Sounds pretty important to me.
Now, I think I know what you’re thinking. Don’t Christians do this all the time? Don’t we claim that experiencing the Holy Spirit in our lives proves that Christianity is true?
In a word, yes.
But there is an inherent problem in claiming that our experience of the Spirit, proving Him true to us, can be just like getting a sense of rightness about a fact, that we ‘feel’ is true. The burning in the bosom appears to be simply an indicator that alerts one to the presence of truth; it’s the red light and horn after a goal. The Spirit, on the other hand, is making a personal connection that reflects a relationship that has already begun.
The bottom line is that one shouldn’t have to decide on a faith based on whether or not they tasted the fire from within. My inner fire fueled by The Da Vinci Code was easily doused by basic reasoning. I ultimately wanted something more than that. The Bible encourages us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Part of finding the Lord good, is experiencing Him. But this invitation is so much more than mere confirmation of truth; it is an invitation into real relationship.