I started reading today “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. I must admit that I am just ten pages into this book and already, I think my pen is going into overdrive. There are just so many mistakes I see and so many things that must be circled. A check of the bibliography and I couldn’t find any of the great defenders of Christianity I know. Maybe they’re there though and I overlooked them. We shall see.
There is one view that the new atheists tend to keep saying. It’s said in Dawkins and now I see the same thing in Harris. I will state that this view is entirely wrong. However, I will also state sadly that I can see how they came to that conclusion. The view is that if you are a religious person, then it means that you have abandoned reason and you believe things without evidence.
Well, they’re wrong.
I can understand how they think that’s the case though.
Many of us have given that impression that religion is not to make friends with reason. The Christian life is seen to be better when it is more emotional. Now I do think emotions play a part, but they are not essential. The reason is essential because Christianity is a belief system. It is not a feel system. You are to believe on Christ. You are to love him also, but love also does not always produce feelings.
The main love that produces feelings is eros love. Is it any wonder then that in so many of our songs, you could just take the name of a romantic interest and substitute that for God and it would fit? We treat God as if he’s a romantic love interest and then we expect to get the feelings. There’s someone you should have a romantic interest in. That’s your significant other of the opposite sex. It is not God. Yes. I know we’re the bride of Christ, but that is referring to the church as a whole. I seriously doubt we can take that literally. That would lead to sooooo many questions.
When the emotions take over, then it is assumed that reason is to be gone. Love is seen as irrational and simply crazy. Now I’ve been in love before. It is highly emotional, but it does not have to be irrational. In fact, we as Christians believe that God is love and we also believe that God is rational. It would follow that love and rationality can easily co-exist.
If this is how we have made the Christian life, I can understand the point of the New Atheists. Again, the point is wrong, but have we really given them reason to doubt it? How many times do you think of great Christian intellectuals? When you hear people talking about the great minds of the world, how often do they name Christians? Now we are gaining grounds in science and especially in philosophy, but where are the great Christian doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, etc.?
Of course, there are some, but we need more.
Christianity is a religion of reason. It is about having a certain belief about the world and mankind and God. It is a set of beliefs about how all of these function together. It means that you don’t just have strong feelings about these. You don’t just get warm fuzzies thinking Jesus Christ rose from the dead. You think that he literally and historically rose from the dead. You’re not interested in “Jesus rising in our hearts.” You mean the man Jesus Christ rising from the dead in the space-time continuum.
The church may not like the attack from the new atheists, but in some ways, I consider it a blessing. Maybe this will get many in the church to get off the pews and start engaging in the life of the mind once again. I firmly believe that if Christianity stays with just emotions, we are simply coasting downhill, and we will keep going down further and further until the end.
Now over the next few days, I have books that I plan to discuss. I know some might want my thoughts on “The End of Faith” but that will be awhile and I certainly want to read all of the book first before I give my thoughts. Tune in tomorrow though and if I decide to, and it’s quite likely I will, we will be discussing a work that is opposed to the Christian worldview.