Sunday, May 01, 2005

I'm Christian Because I Want to be Christian.

A friend of mine read my last post and said, "Okay, if religions are made up, then why are you a Christian?" I told him that I think false religions are invented, but the Christian religion is true. He smiled and asked me why I believed that. I started in on my apologetics.

I began with the philosophical proofs for the existence of God. I told him that if you pile all of the arguments together, they prove that God must exist. Here's how I did it:

1. The First Cause argument proves that there must have been something before the Big Bang. (Gnosticism is out.)

2. The intelligent design argument proves that this thing was intelligent. (Atheism is out.)

3. The moral argument proves that this intelligent thing had morality, and therefore had the characteristic of personhood. (Buddhism is out.)

4. The Ontological argument demonstrates that this person must be perfect. In order for God to be perfect, it must be singular. (Hinduism and every other polytheistic religion is out.)

5. That left me with Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as the only viable world views.

6. Islam is out because the central tenant of Islam is that the authors of the Bible got it wrong and one guy sat down in a cave and got it all right. I'm sorry, but I don't see any logical contradictions in the Bible, so I'm going to believe the authors who agreed with each other over thousands of years before I believe the one guy who said they were all wrong.

7. That left me with Judaism, and Christianity. If you believe in Judaism, it is necessary that Christianity be true because the Christ of the Gospels fulfilled the predictions of Judaism. Therefore, I am a Christian.


Well, when I was finished, he said: "How do you know that the real God just hasn't been described yet?" I had no answer for that. I believed in Christianity because it made more sense than everything else, but that is not a proof. The belief that the earth is flat might make more sense to a human mind than the belief that it is round and spinning through empty space without throwing us off, but that doesn't make it true. Just because something makes sense, does not mean it has been proven to be true. Athiesm, afterall, makes perfect sense.

I see now where he was coming from, and I have moved somewhere else in my mind due to the conversation. I no longer think that these high powered arguments can succeed in proving the existence of God. I see now that every proof which leads to the conclusion that God must exist can be explained in another way. The "First Cause" proof does not prove that the first cause is God, it merely proves that something had to happen first. The "Intelligent Design" argument does nothing to dispel a Deistic God. The "Moral Argument" fails to even address the concept of God, all it does is explain that something is common among human creatures. The moral argument basically says: All people have a sense of right and wrong, therefore, there must be a God who gives us the definitions of right and wrong. You might as well say: All people fart, therefore God exists. Kant demonstrates why the Ontological Argument sucks. It isn't saying anything more than: "God exists, therefore, God exists." You might as well say: "This broomstick is God, therefore, this broomstick is God."

When you move beyond the philosophical arguments, I see that none of the experiential arguments for a belief in God are sound either. Someone might say, I believe in God because he saved my mother from cancer. (Your mother may have just been lucky, or knew a good doctor.)

Someone else might say, I know God exists because I can feel him in my heart when I worship. (A warm fuzzy in your heart does not prove that God exists, it proves that the chemical reactions in your body that grant you emotive experiences are still functioning well.)

Someone else might say, I know God exists because without God, the world does not make sense. (Well, the world made perfect sense to Frued without the existence of God, and chances are no one I'm talking to is much smarter than Mr. Freud.)

In short, every argument that attempts to prove the existence of God fails. At first I was worried by this, but I have come to terms with it. It has actually served to give me a bit of comfort lately. Many Christians (including myself only a short while ago) want to be able to prove that God exists. They want to look thier scientific compatriots in the eye and say, I know that God exists, just as I know that wood is combustible. Thier goal is impossible to reach however. The existence of God is no more demonstrable than the existence of fairies, dragons, or gargoyles. You cannot prove that God exists because he has refused to be proven. The Christian God wants to have a rewarding relationship with us that is based on mutual affection. He does not want drones with no choice but to follow him. (That's why he gave us free will in the first place.) God demands faith, not evidence. Because he wants us to decide to know him, he refuses to be demonstrable.

So, where does that leave me? I believe in something that I cannot prove. Why do I maintain my Christian beliefs when they cannot be proven?

Because I choose to.

That is why I am a Christian. I am a Christian because I have decided to be a Christian. I see nothing in the Christain doctrine that proves it logically unacceptable, and it is fulfilling to me. The world is much easier for me as a Christian, and I am comforted by the notion of a Christian God. I like the Christian religion. I like the teachings of love, acceptance, thanksgiving, grace, and mercy. I identify with things like, truth, sin, faith, and forgiveness. In short, I am a Christian because I want to be a Christian. There is nothing "wrong" with the Christian religion, and it makes me a better, happier person.

Now, for those of you who say that I'm just shooting up on Marx's heroine, let me ask the Atheists out there why they do not believe in God. God cannot be disproven any more than he can be proven. The Atheist must prove to me that there is no such thing as God, and this is just as impossible as proving that God exists. (The problem of pain, the impossibility of a trinitarian being, the conflict between free will and the soveriegnty of God all fall face first when you realize the implications of the doctrine of God's omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and omnipresence.)

Furthermore, the Athiest must prove that he or she is correct. The Athiest must demonstrate how the world came to being without the aid of God. The Athiest cannot be an Athiest without knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that the world came into existence on its own. There is not an Athiest alive who knows this because such knowledge is impossible to gain. Even if we do mathematically describe the exact nature, time, and evolution of the Big Bang, it would not logically follow that God does not exist. I believe in the Big Bang, and I believe God had everything to do with it.

Where the Athiest is confined to logic and must, therefore, prove that God does NOT exist; I am free to do as I please. I am free to believe in a God that defies logic, and I am free to believe in the unbelievable ideas of grace, the trinity, and the incarnation of the Christ. Frankly, my position is much easier to hold than that of the Athiest because I am not forced to accomplish the impossible. The Athiest, however, is charged with disproving the existence of an invisible being that exists in a different dimention and can only be seen after death.

In short, God cannot be proven to exist. To be Christian is to believe in something that you cannot prove. (Nevermind that to be an Athiest, you have to be certain of the same thing.) Belief in something which is non-demonstrable makes us free. We are not confined to logic, we are not confined to believe in only those things that we may see. We can believe in magic, beauty, truth, love, and God because we believe in unbelievable things.

When you get right down to it (and I rarely do) I am a Christian because I want to be a Christian. So, the next time someone asks me, "Why are you a Christian?" I think I'll answer, "Why not."


Anonymous said...

''Islam is out because the central tenant of Islam is that the authors of the Bible got it wrong and one guy sat down in a cave and got it all right. I'm sorry, but I don't see any logical contradictions in the Bible, so I'm going to believe the authors who agreed with each other over thousands of years before I believe the one guy who said they were all wrong.''

where did u hear that ''one guy''(prophet mohammad S.A.W) said the bible was wrong?

you need to remember muslims belive that the bible, torah, zabora and the quran were all sent from god. so don't ever put words into the the prophet's (S.A.W) mouth until you find me a quote from the quran where it says he said the bible is wrong.

the reason the quran was sent down was because the people who believed in the bible, were editing it. making new versions. if someone makes a new version of a bible. how can it be words of god or words of jesus(peace be upon him)

lastly who is mark, luke and john? what was there last names?
were they really the companions of jesus (peace be upon him)?
your supossed to have a surname, right? because the thing is, i wouldn't be able to right mark, luke and john a cheque without there surname? so why don't we know there full name because really anyone named mark, luke and john could have said quotes from the new editions of the bible, right?

Just wanted you to correct the mistake you made on your website, because it isn't nice and good to right false, misleading things on the internet.

Thank You

Joshua said...

I agree. Mohammed did not say that the whole Bible was wrong. He did however make the same claim that you have made. He said that the Bible was edited, and therefore no longer the word of God. I believe that the Bible has authority precisely because I believe it to be the word of God. If it is not the word of God, then it cannot be considered the final word on anything. If it is not the final word, then it cannot be trusted to provide the "right" truth. If it is not right, it is wrong.

Mohammed never said "The whole Bible is wrong." But, Islam teaches that the Bible is not reliable. I disagree with this. I have more faith in a piece of work which fails to contradict itself even though it was written over thousands of years by dozens of different authors, than I do in a piece of work composed by one man.

Many people in the world do believe that Mohammed was right, and that he corrected the edits in the Bible. I disagree with this claim. That is why I am not a Muslim.

I'm sorry if my comment seemed to be an attack on Islam. It was curt, and quickly made. However, it was not an attempt to slam Islam. It was an attempt to quickly sum up why I am not Muslim.

As for the last names, no one had a last name in that culture. Mark was named Mark. Luke was named Luke. Luke may have been known as Luke the Doctor or what have you, but they did not have surnames because no one had surnames. The fact that you cannot write a check does not have much bearing on the authority of Scripture vs. the authority of the Quran.