Thursday, September 16, 2010
A Letter to a Faithful Atheist: We are all Men of Faith
In your Faith & Reason essay (www.rationallyspeaking.org; reprinted in PIQUE, June 2009), you wrote:
• “Faith means that one believes something regardless or even in spite of the evidence. This, I should think, is so irrational, and potentially so bad for one’s health, that educators and policy makers would be very worried…”
You might be surprised to hear that most Evangelicals would agree with you in this matter. We don’t follow any faith, but a particular revelation supported by a solid evidential and rational foundation. Nor does this position represent a modernization of our faith. Jesus taught that He shouldn’t be believed if His words lacked evidential support. However, He then reasoned that His teachings should be accepted, citing various lines of evidence (John 5:31-38).
This is the uniform testimony of Scripture. Someone was only to be received as a prophet if he prophesied correctly 100% of the time (Deut. 18:19-22). The people of Berea were honored because they didn’t automatically accept everything the Apostle Paul had to say but checked out everything against Scripture (Acts 17:10-11). You might suppose that this form of proof or evidence is circular. However, according to the thinking of the ancients, Scripture had been thoroughly validated by the presence of God as evidenced by His miracles. (Sadly, this misconception about “faith” still reigns in many quarters of the church – so how can I blame the atheist for this misconception.)
But you also dismiss the miraculous. At the end of your essay, you affirmatively cite the Deistic Ethan Allen:
• “In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue.”
I would gladly recite for you my own personal experiences with the supernatural, but you would simply brush them aside. So let me leave you with some questions and observations that I think are better answered by the supernatural than the natural:
1. How do we explain the origin of the universe? Whether it sprang into existence from nothing or else it always existed, it would seem that we have to resort to supernatural explanation.
2. There is no natural explanation for the origin of natural laws, nor can there be. No natural explanation is possible before the “natural” exists.
3. The existence of freewill and consciousness seems to point to the existence of the super-natural.
4. In our world of molecules-in-motion, we find that there are certain unchanging things—laws, logic, reason… How can naturalism account for these? How can it account for itself? It makes more sense to appeal to something Other, Someone beyond the Big Bang?
5. Likewise, naturalism can’t account for DNA, life, and the first cell with all its necessary machinery, nor is there any promise that it ever will. The assertion that someday, it will provide explanations is a religious assertion.
These observations should open the door to the consideration of something above the natural. Furthermore, there is no evidence that we are even dealing with natural, unintelligent, free-standing laws. These laws may simply find their being and operation in the mind of God! The reductionistic thinking that eliminates consideration of miracles and the supernatural is not only needless, but also counter-evidential. Rather than having a basis in science and reason, your position reflects a religious commitment.