100 Answers in 100 Days

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Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

#78: Is faith unreasonable?

When Richard Dawkins wrote his book “The God Delusion”, one of the main points of the book was that faith is opposed to reason. Well, I know what he means; by some people's understanding of what faith is, it is unreasonable. For some people, faith is believing in something despite any evidence. There is a fountain of water where the virgin Mary supposedly appeared once, and many believe that they will be healed if they drink from that fountain. Yet there is very little evidence of any miraculous healings. Still, people go with “blind faith”. However, true faith is not unreasonable. After all, when I look at the world around me I reason that such complexity must be attributed to a being whose wisdom and power is great, rather than to dust blowing in the wind (which is somewhat descriptive of the origin of life according to Evolution).

A book like “The God Delusion” makes some very valid points, even from a Christian perspective, because the truth is that millions of religious people all over the world are deluded, believing that their false god is the true God of Creation, or that their false god will save them from their troubles. And is religion dangerous, as Richard Dawkins suggests? Yes, false religion, (even if it is called Christianity but is not Christianity in truth), is dangerous and destructive. The Bible itself spends an enormous amount of time, (just about every book in the Bible in fact) trying to sort out true religion from false religion. God does not want religion for religion's sake, or for people to have some kind of faith which simply makes them feel good; God wants us to believe in Him and to serve Him. So, for example, Paul spoke with the Jews of his time who already believed in God, but didn't accept that Jesus Christ is God. It says in Acts...

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)

How did Paul reason with them on matters of faith? We aren't told in this context what his arguments were, but we do see enough of Paul's reasoning in his epistles, or in the book of Acts itself. To the Jews he showed how Jesus was the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. In regards to logical reasoning, I have heard that the book of Romans builds up such an elegant and logical case that it is even studied in law schools.

Now, I had a discussion with an Islamic fellow just recently. He put forward a very logical argument... "How can God become a man, since God is infinite but man is finite? For God to become a man, he ceases to be God by definition." There is nothing illogical or unreasonable by what he said. His own faith is logical and reasonable. However, I answered him in return with logic and reason... "Because as a Christian I believe in a “Triune God” - God is one, and yet three persons. Therefore, Christ the Son (being God) can voluntarily cease to exercise His divine attributes without the universe collapsing altogether – the Father and the Holy Spirit upholding it. In fact, according to reason, only a Triune God can be the true God, since God (by definition) is eternal and has the attribute of love. But love can only exist between persons, therefore there must be an eternal plurality of persons which are God." Yet people will ask me “what's reasonable about the Trinity?” Here we bring up another important point...

This Muslim friend of mine admits in his own argument that man is limited in every way, including knowledge and his ability to reason. We don't know what is beyond the realm of our five senses, and this makes it all the more difficult to reason about it. We don't know what spiritual realities make it possible for God to become a man. People like Dawkins, on the other hand, seem to presume that our five senses are sufficient to know everything there is to know about the universe. Believing in Evolution, do they not consider that in the great timeline of "evolutionary progress", we might still be like fish in a pond; whose memory lasts but three seconds, and whose vision is blurred beyond a few centimeters; yet claiming that nothing exists which we cannot perceive with our senses? That fish couldn’t possibly ever imagine the world we live in, with streets and cars and skyscrapers. But God has come down to our level in order to reveal to us, to the degree to which we can apprehend it, what the reality beyond our senses is like. By reason (the eternal love argument I gave, for example), I believe in a Triune God, as revealed to us by God.

I often spend my time reading through discussions on forums and YouTube between Evolutionists and Christians. It is interesting to observe how people will often and frequently shout “Read a book!” or “Go and Google this...” The assumption is clear – “if you don't believe in Evolution, it has to be that you haven't read the stuff I have.” I find it interesting because I have read such things, and I have read Richard Dawkins' "God Delusion". But I reason with those arguments; I try their logic and I acknowledge when they have validity, but I am also able to find error with them. And I do the same within the realm of theology itself. I was listening to a sermon recently in which the speaker was explaining a certain doctrine which I don't agree with. I can see his logic and I can affirm certain things are valid, yet I can identify his error because it doesn't stand up to reason in light of various passages of Scripture. If I can only speak for myself, I am certain that my faith is not blind – it's very important for me to think critically about what I'm told. And having done that, I stand firm in my faith. Richard Dawkins will make out that all Christians have merely believed what they are told without having thought about it and reasoned with it for themselves. There is some validity to that. When you've spent as much time as I have in Bible studies, you notice those who are just regurgitating the material of their favourite evangelist. It winds me up; I wish they would think for themselves, because if anyone should challenge them on that material they simply won't have an answer. But when you've spent as much time as I have speaking to atheists, you also begin to notice when they are simply regurgitating Richard Dawkins' material! They're no different. We must all think for ourselves because we are all personally accountable to God for what we believe. Yet I say again, from one who does think critically about his faith... I remain steadfast in my faith.

Until tomorrow:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”. (Psalms 14:1)

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