In Hebrews 11:1 faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In the examples which follow from the characters of the Old Testament two things stand out. First, the great heroes of the faith did not realize the fulfillment of the promises they hoped for. Second, they exercised trust in a God they could not see. Their faith was the substance of what they hoped for but did not attain and it was the conviction which strengthened their trust in the unseen Creator.
All this makes sense to the believer; but to the unregenerate mind such faith seems blind and irrational. This is because the theory of knowledge (epistemology) adopted by the pagan mind rests on rationalism, pragmatism, and empiricism. Does it make logical sense to spend your life hoping for something you cannot prove exists (Rationalism)? Why believe in something that results in pain and produces no payoff or positive benefit (Pragmatism)? How can you believe in something you cannot verify or falsify with the senses (Empiricism)? The flawed epistemology of the world leads skeptics to the conclusion that Christian belief is without knowledge, or “blind.”
It would be easy to show the inconsistency of the pagan epistemological system. Everyone believes in abstract concepts which cannot be proven or verified in the real world–good, evil, love, justice, etc. How do we know these things exist? Well, we just do–innately and universally. In fact everything we believe we know is based on unprovable assumption. We have a perception of seeing, but we cannot prove rationally or empirically that this perception of seeing is valid and not an illusion. We ”know” it is valid and we proceed on that assumption. Why? Because it is rational to do so: we could not otherwise live in this world.
But the real underlying point of the Faith Chapter is that there is another kind of knowledge available which the unbeliever suppresses in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18ff.). Revelational knowledge comes to us through the creation and the conscience (General Revelation), as well as through the Word of God (Special Revelation). So faith is not without knowledge even though it is without sight. Of Moses it is said: “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:27). Moses could not see God, and his actions might have appeared irrational to Pharaoh, but his faith was not without knowledge. The reason it appears thus is that the unbeliever often denies the reality of revelational knowledge. This is why you hear idiots like Bill Maher say that it is impossible to know God is real and Christianity is true. He brilliantly concludes that since he does not possess this knowledge no one else possibly could. Check that for logical consistency.
OK, let’s wrap up. Fellow Christians, your faith is not totally blind: it is based on solid knowledge rooted in divine revelation and the illumination of that revelation by the indwelling Holy Spirit. “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).