Proving All Things In The Age Of Information Overload
Vol: 153 Issue: 28 Saturday, June 28, 2014
”Information overload” is a term that has come to mean ”a state of having too much information to make a decision or remain informed about a topic.” Too much information can cloud the facts, harden the heart, blind one to the obvious.
Sir William of Occam saw the need to address the problem of information overload as early as the 14th century. A philosopher, Sir William formulated what became known as “Occam’s Razor” as a philosophy for processing information overload.
Occam’s Razor says, in a nutshell, “the simpler the explanation, the more likely its correctness.” Another way of saying it is “the most obvious explanation is the most probable.”
We live in an age of conspiracies and conspiracy theories, but Occam’s Razor still cuts through the excesses of information to get to the heart of the truth of a matter.
But information overload doesn’t just cloud the facts and blind one to the obvious. It also tends to harden the heart and sear the conscience.
How many “Amber alerts” does it take before they blend into the white noise of the day? How many murder/suicides of whole families before we tune them out?
How many reports of corrupt politicians before we accept political corruption as simply the way things are done?
The equation works like this: “The more you know, the less you see.” It all gets jumbled together in a massive flow of information that gets input before we’ve had time to process it all.
We live in the generation in which the sheer volume of information related to Bible prophecy creates its own kind of information overload and its companion results.
There’s so much evident fulfillment of Bible prophecy on a day to day basis that it tends to cloud the facts. Trying to sort out the facts tends to blind one to the obvious. And too much information tends to harden the heart and sear the conscience.
The Bible says, “Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good.” (1st Thessalonians 5:21)
It would appear that Sir William stole Occam’s Razor from the Apostle Paul. Paul is telling the Thessalonians to subject everything submitted to you to be believed to a proper test.
The meaning here is, that they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust. They weren’t to take it on faith because of who proposed it or how.
They were to apply the proper tests of reason and the Word of God and what they found to be true they were to embrace, and what was false they were to reject.
Christianity does not require men to disregard their ability to reason. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. The Bible uniquely demands the application of reason to the Word of God.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 1:18)
“Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.” (Isaiah 41:21)
Acts is filled with examples of the Apostles applying reason to the Scriptures when preaching Christ as the way of salvation.
“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts 24:25)
Christianity doesn’t demand that believers abandon their reason and logic at the door.
It requires we exercise both, and in so doing, proves itself to be of God.
“And this I say,” Paul told the Colossians, “lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. . . As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”
The meaning here is simply this: “Since you have received Christ as your Lord as He was preached to you, hold fast the doctrine which you have received and don’t be distracted by some new philosophy.”
It means proving all things by applying reason and logic and Occam’s (or Paul’s) Razor to the Scriptures. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in the minutiae of Scripture that we become blinded to the Bible’s Majesty.
All the various prophecies we are witnessing coming to pass in our lifetimes have been studied by every generation since the time of the Apostles. They all waited in vain, searching the Scriptures for some hint that the return of the Lord was near.
In this generation, there is no need to search for clues, or dream up some vague interpretation of some obscure bit of Scripture and try and make it apply to a given situation. Seeing God’s Hand in unfolding history has become so routine that it blends into the rest of the white noise of information overload.
Let’s step back and look at the Bible’s Majesty, rather than the minutiae, for a change.
The Bible was compiled over a period of 1604 years (BC 1492-AD100) by forty different authors, each writing his portion of the overall Book independently. The various authors were kings, statesmen, priests, herdsmen, tax collectors, fishermen, a physician, and itinerant preachers and prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
Few of them knew of the existence of the other at the time they wrote their portion. Some books were composed during the same periods of history from different perspectives, some were penned over a period of centuries.
But each book flows into the next as if the entire work were penned by the same Mind. The Bible cross-references itself across its whole library of 66 individual books; 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New. The Bible is unique in that it is a series of progressive revelations from God given over a period of centuries:
The judges knew more than the Patriarchs, the Prophets than the judges, the Apostles than the Prophets. Yet the Old and New Testaments cannot be separated. You cannot understand Leviticus without Hebrews, or Daniel without Revelation.
The Bible is unique in its simplicity of speech. It is written in a style so universal that it can be translated into any known language.
The Bible contains thousands of details of science, history, geography, medicine and astronomy. Not a single fact contained in Scripture on any of these topics conflicts with any known evidence.
Isaiah said the earth was round. (Isaiah 40:22) Job wrote from the Middle East of polar ice caps and permafrost.
Ecclesiastes (1:7) and Job (36:27-29), Jeremiah (10:13) and Psalms (135:7) together present the complete description of the hydrological cycle that sustains life on earth.
Four different human authors, four different points on the historical timeline, four different backgrounds (none of them science) but their individual accounts, taken together, outline in detail the complete hydrological cycle of the atmosphere — millennia before its existence was even confirmed by science.
As a work of history, no single historical event, personage, king, kingdom or timeline has ever been conclusively disproved by anyone. Every new discovery confirms the Bible’s account.
No event that can be disproved ever has been. Concerning the accuracy of Luke as a historian, for example, F. F. Bruce writes:
“A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where the means for testing him are not available. Accuracy is a habit of mind, and we know from happy (or unhappy) experience that some people are habitually accurate just as others can be depended upon to be inaccurate. Luke’s record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.”
The Bible contains advanced medical knowledge regarding sanitary practices and disease prevention not known to Western medicine until the late 1800’s. God instructed the Israelites to burn the garments of leprosy victims.
Western medicine didn’t learn that leprosy was an infectious, rather than hereditary disease until 1873. (It wasn’t until the 20th century that we learned leprosy can survive for up to three weeks on clothing.)
God told Moses to use hyssop oil as a purifying agent. Hyssop oil has been shown to contain 50% antifungal and antibacterial agents.
God commanded the Israelites to perform circumcision on the 8th day of a male child’s life. Specifically, the eighth day. Medical researchers recently discovered that the two main blood clotting factors, Vitamin K and Prothrombim, reach their highest level in life, about 110% of normal, on the 8th day after birth. These blood clotting agents facilitate rapid healing and greatly reduce the chance of infection.
(In fact, performing a circumcision on a child before or after the eighth day requires a Vitamin K supplement injection.)
Back in the 12th century, the Jewish sage Maimonides discovered what he believed to be coded messages hidden in the Bible. Maimonides, working by hand, discovered what he thought were coded words made up of mathematically calculable equidistant letter sequences.
Using computers in the 1990’s several mathematicians from Hebrew University and a Defense Department code specialist named Harold Gans discovered mathematically provable codes do exist at equidistant letter sequences.
After demanding a series of tests to prove the theory, the actuarial journal, “Statistical Science” presented their findings with the following disclaimer:
“Our referees were baffled: their prior beliefs made them think the Book of Genesis could not POSSIBLY contain meaningful references to modern day individuals, yet when the authors carried out additional analyses and checks the effect persisted.”
Wrote the “Biblical Review:”
“The capacity to embed so many, meaningfully related, randomly selected word-pairs in a body of text with a coherent surface meaning is stupendously beyond the intellectual capacity of ANY HUMAN BEING or group of people, however brilliant, and equally beyond the capacity of ANY CONCEIVABLE COMPUTING DEVICE. The phenomenon cannot be attributed to ANYTHING within the KNOWN PHYSICAL UNIVERSE, human beings included.”
Applying Occam’s Razor to the known evidence about the Bible, there can be only one of two possible conclusions.
1) The Bible is a collection of stories and myths that just so happen to coincide with provable history, medicine, geography, astronomy, etc., plus coincidentally, provably forecasts the future with 100% accuracy;
2) The Bible is true in every provable way, and could only have been written by God. So God exists, heaven exists, hell exists, Jesus is real, salvation is real, and so is eternity.
But sometimes, even after being saved many years, the enemy will launch another information overload assault on my reason and try and convince me that its all a myth.
All I have to do to dispel the attack is remember there are only those two logical choices and Occam’s Razor.
Coincidence? Occam’s Razor says that cannot be possible.