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Monday, August 15, 2011

Defending God

My last post briefly discussed three ways in which academic and practical pursuits of Scripture need to work together for the benefit of Christianity.  Today I want to briefly look at Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion as an example for how I think these two disciplines should be working together.

In his book, which has the stated aim to prove that Atheism is the logically superior choice to any form of religious expression, Dawkins spends a great deal of time setting up a straw-man God (the grandfatherly figure in the sky) which he can then easily tear apart.  A large portion of his book consists of introducing traditional arguments for the existence of God, only to show that they are, "infantile," and "dialectical prestidigitation.”  Throughout his work, Dawkins words ring of a self-satisfied smug grin. clearly he is impressed with his intellectual abilities.

Dawkins makes a strong argument that none of these traditional arguments for God's existence actually accomplish what they set out to do, and I agree with him.  Some of his favorite arguments are, the ontological argument, cosmological argument, pascals wager, teleological argument, and the argument from religious experience. These arguments are not proofs, they only function as support for someone already leaning in the direction of belief.  They don't force belief, they support it.

All of these arguments have root in academic pursuits at some point, but are now often articulated in some form in Christianity at large.  This is for good reason, for people who's worldview allows for the existence of things they cannot readily scientifically examine (i.e. God) these arguments hold some weight.  The problem with Dawkins is that his worldview almost totally precludes even the possibility of God, thus these arguments hold no weight.  It is easy to disbelieve something that you have convinced yourself you are not able to believe.  His worldview allows no room for faith, thus God can't exist.

What am I getting at?  People like William Lane Craig are at the forefront of discussions like this, and are uniquely gifted to spend time pursuing questions like this.  He has spent years studying, researching, and writing about an intellectually defensible Christianity.  Pastors and teachers would do well to avail themselves of knowledge and resources like those William Lane Craig provides to help them deal with the issues and questions that will inevitably come as a result of the cultural permeation of Dawkins-like ideas.  Dawkins knows that most professors are so set in their beliefs that he can't sway them. However, he is hoping that by arrogant language and clever verbiage he can convince the less educated (and then in his opinion inferior) individual to follow his line of thinking.

You see, Craig does a great job of presenting answers to objections to the faith, but without people to support, learn, and eventually teach the things that he teaches, his work is in vain.  On the flip side, if people do not avail themselves of his work, they condemn themselves to a lack of usable knowledge with which to defend their own faith.

Have you read The God Delusion if so what did you think?  Did it sway or change your view of Christianity?  I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Check back next post when I begin a series called "Rechurch"

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