Francis Schaeffer dissected it well in his short work: “The Church Before the Watching World.” He explains how the logical conclusions of modernism leads to despair. Modernism, holding that the universe is closed, leaving no room for God or the supernatural, and that mankind is basically a very advanced piece of the machinery of nature. Further, Schaeffer noted that way in which that despair yielded what he referred to as the upper story of the house.
The lower story was built on reason, but fleeing the despair that human reason produces, humanity seeks the upper story, seeking to find meaning and purpose not provided by their logic. He sees “christian liberalism” as trying to hand a tent peg in the air upon which to climb. He sees the 60’s drug culture as an attempt to break through the ceiling of despair. i think Schaeffer is totally right.
I come to this point because I read an exchange in time magazine today between Rick Warren and atheist Sam Harris. Let me say that I have a lot of problems with Rick Warren and his ministry. I’ve heard the preaching in his church and I believe that the Scripture is badly mishandled and the gospel in totally man-centered. I vehemently disagree with his allowing Barrack Obama, a leading abortion-rights advocate, to speak in his pulpit. he is also a leading voice in the church-growth movement which capsizes the true purpose of the church, selling church to unbelievers rather that equipping the saints for the work of service (Eph. 4:11-13).
That said, Warren handled himself fairly well at most points. In particluar he challenged Harris to expain where he got his standard of morality and his sense of meaning in the world. Warren noted that if there is no supernatural, then we are all essentially machines, and the end of this conclusion is despair. Harris then spoon-fed him an answer that Francis Schaeffer would have gobbled up: that he briefly acknowledge the place of spiritual things, noting meditation. Warren pursued this point briefly, as time allowed. I laughed, thinking “Man, I can’t believe he actually said it!”
Warren tried to throw it all away by referring to faith as “rolling the dice.” Come on Rick, Christians have assurance, not pretty-sure-ance. But all in all, he did surprisingly well.
So here’s the thing: Atheists can’t live with the consequences of their beliefs. Harris claimed that we all just kind of know from experience (not reason, Sam?) what is right and wrong. they know that we depend of some kind of Truth to keep the world from degrading into anarchy. they grasp at a kind of truth-that’s-not-really-Truth, hoping no one will notice that they are selling out their entire platform.
Here are a few observations about the supposed rift between Christianity and logic/reason:
1.) As Descartes observed when he said “Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am)” our own consciousness is the only thing we can be sure of. Many take this as a starting point. Really, it is a reduction of confidence.
2.) Out of this we conclude that EVERYONE uses faith. Even the atheist trusts that he is not just a disembodied spirit in space imagining everything.
3.) Christian faith is based on the best assumptions. For example, the Bible says that man is inherently evil. Ever watch the evening news? This view clearly fits the data best. No other religion explains the source of evil in the world, assuming that man is good.
4.) Christians recognize that Truth must come from OUTSIDE ourselves, otherwise truth become relative. Relative truth is not truth at all.
5.) Christians recognize that absolute Truth produces order, and relative “truth” yields chaos.
6.) Christians need not be afraid of science. Christianity is supremely logical and rational. God IS rationality. The universe is rational because God made the universe and HE is RATIONAL. When God stops being rational, down will be up, the earth won’t revolve around the sun, gravity will cease to work, etc.
7.) Humanity only sees science and Christianity as opposites because they start from different points. The world sees the Bible as needing to defend itself from the findings of science, but the Bible is not in the witness stand, science is. time and effort has consistently shown the claims of Scripture to be true.
Well that’s a mounthful. As you can tell, I have a lot more to say about it. maybe if you all behave you can hear the rest of my spiel on chaos vs. totalitarianism.
Seriously, I have a spiel. Don’t make me use it.