Re: Self-deception, faith, and scepticism

From: <>
Date: Tue Feb 14 2006 - 15:38:48 EST

Chris Barden wrote:

> I think fundamentally the problem Christian apologists face viz-a-viz
> atheism is that the public debate centers on "proof", and the terms of
> the debate limit proof to natural science. Janice's point is well
> taken here; atheists cannot conceive of a perfect Being who would not
> provide such proof. Moreover, Christians cannot be strict fideists on
> this issue, for Paul himself puts forward the notion that "since the
> creation of the world God's invisible qualities?his eternal power and
> divine nature?have been clearly seen, being understood from what has
> been made, so that men are without excuse." (Rom 1:20) I can
> sympathize with agnostics and honest seekers who feel that evolution
> gives them a very good excuse indeed. If our entire physical realm is
> populated with items not designed but "designoid", in Dawkins'
> parlance, then couldn't we all be deceived?

Yes, indeed we could. That is the price of faith. The major difficult
with my choice to believe that Christ rose from the dead and sits at
the right hand of the father is .... I could be wrong.

Moreover, if you glean deeply into scripture, you can see that each
person who we hold up as examples of so-called men and women of
faith, clearly doubted from time to time. Some of the prophets were
killed or placed in harms way for believing God. Although examples of
"judgment" were announced and fulfilled, we are certainly trusting
in God's faithfulness to believe those claims. Sometimes, the reward
for doing what is right is punishment, humiliation or even death. At
the same time, the wicked can prosper and do quite well here. In short,
anyone who has lived in the world and tried to depend on faith will know
that it is far from easy.

So indeed, the demand for a proof is quite understandable, but this
does not seem to be the way God works. It seems that our faith
is more important to God for some reason. In this way, perhaps
the Lutheran view that God is hidden is right. Maybe God is not interested
in a relationship based on fear. Yet at the same time, God is to be feared
because the maker of all things visible and invisible can decide to close
shop anytime.

At any rate, faith in Christ does not come by our own
power, but God reaching down to us. Whether God reaches down to all
and some refuse, or only to some by grace is a scary thought, but at any
rate, if we are to live as Christians, we must also live by faith, and accept
the mocking of the world that we are foolish. The rest is our own emotion.
But I hope, though I sin often, that my eyes and my heart will be looking to
heaven should my name ever be called by his quite voice and not the raging
storms in my own mind.

So I sense that a demand for solid proof is actually more a need
within ourselves for some relief from the intense pressures of
having to live by faith. But it is also, I suspect, a cheap and fashionable
device that has become the elusive desire of many evangelicals to
use in their efforts to persuade masses of people to repent, much like
the older (and now less fashionable) standard of threatening them with
hell. In the end, faith is not so easy, and an honest faith probably must
be lived day by day.

by Grace we proceed,
Received on Tue Feb 14 15:39:49 2006

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