Re: Self-deception, faith, and scepticism

From: <>
Date: Sun Feb 19 2006 - 11:34:04 EST

I had written:
> 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.

David wrote:

> Maybe so. But I think the American evangelical focus on "proofs" is mostly
> a reflection of history. Evangelicalism responded to German Higher
> Criticism and subsequently to modernist theology by vigorously defending the
> integrity of the Bible and ultimately producing the doctrine of inerrancy. It did
> so, however, while remaining planted firmly on the skeptics' playing field,
> that of a foundationalist epistemology in which human perception and reason set
> the boundaries of the game. The game became all about battling for the Bible
> and defending the faith against modernism. Evangelical apologetics are
> largely still all about that today.

OK, I was a bit hasty in wrapping up this post. The tapestry is very
There are complex historical trends. The JEDP issue for example, although,
in a way, a very good idea, clearly got out of control. A response to modern
theology would also be a valid factor and a more charitable assessment than
my own.

Maybe this is reflecting more of my own struggle within myself. Science is
dazzling, and you can bamboozle all sorts of smart people with a few whizz
bang proofs and a lot of nonsense equations. If you have some fancy gadget
to show, that's even better. Pretty soon, people are like a bunch of dumb
dogs staring at flashing lights and loud noises. Who wouldn't envy such
glitter and want to emply its tinsel shine to their apologetics. Proof, by
It's just so inviting that the temptation is irresistible! Religion is just
difficult to add that pizzazz, but we surely hunger for it, because science
so powerful and impressive.

The thing we lose sight of is that science answers simple questions, and
only answers questions for which there are testable answers.

> Some evangelical theologians have lately been reexamining this -- Nancey
> Murphy's "Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism" provides some interesting
> critiques of evangelicalism's reliance of foundationalist epistemology, for
> example.
> The curious thing is that science is the strongest bastion against
> postmodern critiques of foundationalism generally in the culture, and yet we seem to
> be shying away here from rationalistic apologetics. IMHO, digging deeper into
> faith / science questions, including the apologetic issues faith / science
> questions generate, ultimately requires some reorientation of our
> epistemology. That's why I said the arguments for theism, while not offering "proof," do
> support the "coherency" of a theistic worldview. "Proof" is a
> foundationalist way of looking at things, "coherency" a non-foundationalist one.

This is getting beyond where I have any firm view. However,
I think you have a point with coherency. We cannot prove God, but we can
still make sense of the world by believing in God. Science does not have
any way to comment on purpose, and anyone who purports science as
a "proof" of their cosmic plan, is really speaking from faith, not from
But any religion that is to make sense, should be able to bear some coherency

with science. Yet soon we get into the divinity of Christ, or the
and somewhere, we have need the power of the cross to cross that gap.

By Grace we proceed,
Received on Sun Feb 19 11:34:33 2006

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