Oh, while I’m on this topic of evidence, let’s talk about the Lost Ark of the Covenant. If Indiana Jones actually did find the one, true ark, would you be a Belloq and open it to make sure the sacred contents are inside?
As I’ve mentioned here and here on this blog before, I loved that movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” growing up. Existence of the actual ark would be proof, to me, that the bible was true. The Best Movie Moment Ever is when Indy and Sallah lift the ark out of the Well of Souls. They found it; it existed. The ensuing battle for ownership didn’t really matter to me.
Throughout his adventure, Indy is warned not to disturb the ark of the covenant. Indy proceeds despite such dire warnings because he believes that the ark contains some sort of impersonal abstraction of the power of God that can be controlled and used by the Nazis for evil. Belloq, however, has a different motive: he wants a radio to speak directly to God.
The bible says in Exodus 25 that the ark’s lid is a “mercy seat”, and that when in the presence of the ark God says “here I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.” (Ex. 25:22) So Belloq is willing to work with the Nazis to obtain the ark, so long as he gets his God-moment out of the deal.
Of course, now as a Christian I am less moved by this movie because I know much more about God and his character.
- God is a personal God, and only by being humbly in His will did the possessors of the ark have any power. Indy had no reason to fear that the Nazis would gain anything by possessing the ark; if anything the Jews they were persecuting would have been emboldened to resist if they knew Hitler was in possession of such a holy artifact of their faith. Hitler, like Pilate, only had power granted to him by the Father. That ark would have been a curse to them like it was for the Philistines in 1st Samuel Chapter 6. If I were in Indy’s shoes, I would have let the Nazis take it, and invite their own destruction.
- Belloq didn’t need the ark to talk to God; God could make a donkey speak to him, or an angel appear if He wanted to send a message. Belloq thought he needed a mighty big talisman to muster the faith to pray!
- Keeping your eyes shut to the power and glory of God is not really biblical and wouldn’t keep you alive. When God’s glory passed by Moses in Exodus 33, God covered Moses with his hand so that Moses didn’t die. Perhaps Indy was being penitent by closing his eyes? No, Indy wanted to look inside just as much as Belloq; only his bindings prevented him from joining him on the altar. The Lord searches the heart and repeatedly in the bible people are struck down for their wickedness, or saved for their righteousness. God protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace in Daniel Chapter 3; I think Indy and Marion could have been right up front and protected.
- The ending where the ark was placed in an Area 51 warehouse? Yes it’s a downer ending because it makes some sort of abstract point about the mystery of religion. The piece of biblical evidence was, for me, wonderful to contemplate because unlike the empty tomb of Jesus, it was tangible and would have tipped me toward faith. Now I realize that it is a red herring. It would be yet another relic, easily discounted as a fake, no doubt because it was found in Tanis instead of Jerusalem. It wouldn’t change a thing about whether people believe or not.
So, if you were Belloq, would you look inside to see if the stone tablets were inside? The jar of manna and Aaron’s budded staff might have been in there too. However, the presence of nothing but sand is interesting, because it reinforces my theme that evidence is only meaningful to the faithful. Because Belloq had put the LORD God to the test, immediately He judged them all — I say regardless of the authenticity of the gilded chest before them.
I wrote my previous post, “Regarding Evidence“, because I read a blog by an atheist called “Belief Does Not Create Two Religions.” One commenter there replied that they had recently read an article by an “apologist” who decided to compare an atheist to someone who decided they did not believe in Sweden (link). It’s really quite good and I recommend you read it, because it tracks my sentiment about the nature of belief systems.
If atheism is not a claim of any kind, then it is simply meaningless. On the other hand, if the atheist wishes to claim that his atheism is true, then that must mean that atheism is a claim, and claims need to be defended, evidence provided and reasons given.
The author very convincingly addresses the logical inconsistencies in holding that atheism is not a belief system. It’s just such a new concept to me that I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. I think I get seduced into responding to the atheists because I read insulting correlations comparing God to gnomes, unicorns, santa claus, &c. I compared atheists to holocaust deniers, which wasn’t very respectful in hindsight. The Sweden route was a better way to make the point.