What is the Elephant of Religion?

I copied this analogy about truth from the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek:

Easygoing Americans are more apt to believe that no religion is the truth. This sentiment is often illustrated by the favorite parable of many university professors: the parable of the six blind men and the elephant. This is where each blind man feels a different part of the elephant and therefore reaches a different conclusion about the object in front of him. One grabs the tusk and says, “This is a spear!” Another feels the trunk and says, “This is a snake!” The one hugging the leg claims, “This is a tree!” The blind man holding the tail thinks, “I have a rope!” The one feeling the ear believes, “This is a fan!” And the one leaning on the elephant’s side is certain, “This is a wall!” These blind men are said to represent world religions because they each come to a different conclusion about what they are sensing. Like each blind man, we are told, no one religion has the truth.1

Let me point out that to know the blind men were wrong, there would have to be an independent observer who could see the whole elephant and the blind men. The observer would have to know what was right, which allowed him to determine the conclusions by the blind men were wrong.

In addition, the comparison is not valid, because none of the men tried to find the other parts of the elephant. If they had spent time studying the elephant, they would quickly realize their first impressions were wrong. The only reason their conclusions appeared to be contradictory was because they didn’t care enough to investigate farther.

Christians should investigate the truth claims of Christianity. New Christians know about grace and forgiveness, but they may be weak in other doctrine. As their faith grows, they’ll learn about deeper issues. Unlike the blind men, Christians are encouraged to continually seek and learn. The Bible even commends people who double-checked what was being taught by the Apostle Paul:

  • Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 NIV)

The Bible says God has revealed himself to us, so we have no excuse for saying there isn’t enough evidence that God exists.

  • 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14 ESV)
  • For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)
  • The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 ESV)

Resources

  • Geisler, Norman L. and Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crosswsy Books, 2004)  (Amazon)

Footnotes

  1. Geisler, Norman L. and Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL:Crosswsy Books, 2004), 20-21. (Amazon)

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