Now, remember that according to [Richard] Dawkins the story is told so that we should admire not Thomas, but the other disciples, “whose faith was so strong that they did not need evidence.” What is wrong with that? Well, first of all, the other disciples believed in the resurrection not through blind faith, but because they saw the risen Jesus with their own eyes.

Dawkins is right that we are not supposed to admire Thomas’s refusal to believe, but he is wrong about the reason. Thomas’s behaviour really is a little irrational. What better basis for belief could he have had than the testimony of his most trusted friends? We all have to rely on testimony rather than first-hand experience for the vast majority of our knowledge.

Thomas’s sin was the refusal to believe reliable testimony. The English natural philosopher and theologian John Wilkins wrote about the Doubting Thomas story in the seventeenth century. Jesus’s saying ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ signified, for Wilkins, that it was ‘a more excellent, commendable and blessed thing for a man to yield his assent, upon such evidence as is in itself sufficient, without insisting upon more.’ The testimony of the other disciples should have been in itself sufficient for Thomas; and yet he insisted upon more.

Thomas Dixon