Note:  To listen to this blog on KWON radio go to http://www.bartlesvilleradio.com/caffeine/uploads/files/ON%20Demand/Ideas%20Matter/Ideas%20Matter%205-20.mp3 .  To get Dr. Piper’s new book Why I Am a “Liberal” and Other Conservative Ideas go to www.okwu.edu or www.everettpiper.com .

If I told you that Mount Everest doesn’t exist and that it’s just a fairy tale, what would you say? If I said, “I know it’s not real because I’ve never been there and neither have you,” how would you respond? How would you “prove” that the world’s tallest mountain actually does exist?

Well, one thing you might do is look to those who claim to have been there already, those who say they have walked its valleys, climbed its cliffs, touched its snow, and scaled its heights. You might ask travelers with more experience than you or me to share their stories and to tell of what they saw.

Then, if you’re still a doubter, you might actually test the veracity of these claims.

For example, does one description of a precipice or glacier line up with that of another? Does the report of a basecamp match the same account of earlier travelers? Does the story of one climber corroborate those of other mountaineers?

Now, at the end of the day you still have to decide what and whom you believe: the report of those who say they’ve been to the summit or the skeptic who says that mountain doesn’t exist. Like it or not—because you haven’t been there—your proof that Everest is real boils down to belief.

This past week, physicist Stephen Hawking and a twelve-year-old boy named Colton Burpo made headlines: Hawking for saying that heaven is a “fairy story” and doesn’t exist—Burpo for saying that, in a near-death experience, he had been there, walked it, touched it, scaled it, and tested his experience against the biblical reports of those who’ve been there too (not the least of which is Jesus).

Proof? I’ll cast my lot with this child’s faith and his belief in Scripture any day.