Thursday, May 17, 2007

A thought in church

Sometimes I write in church. I used to feel bad about this, but a friend, Bethany Lee, who is also a worship leader, once explained some things to me about the true nature of worship, and now I feel a lot more free to write if I feel called to do it, no matter where I am. Anyway, here's a little note I jotted down last Sunday, something of an unpolished thought:

"I think about this new wave of intellectualizing against faith of all kinds, and I cannot help but notice that these men: Dawkins, Hitchens, Onfray, seem to me to have an immature, underdeveloped knowledge of their own ignorance. They are reluctant to acknowledge that which they don't know but take on faith. This, in itself, is not an argument for faith. That would be a God-of-the-gaps argument, for one thing, and frankly, I'm coming to believe that apologists for Christianity are not "The second Judas", as Kierkegaard called them, but merely an embarrassment to themselves and other Christians; Not the second Judas, but the second Kirk Cameron. Still, these anti-apologists strike me as lazy philosophers. They are quite aware of the irrationalism of their religious neighbors, but they do not know themselves with any particular clarity or insightfulness. One of my old professors, a man who firmly believed in Intelligent Design (remember what I said about apologists and embarrassment?) who felt that if Christianity gave up its scientific claims it would be giving the ceding the entire playing field to atheism. I believe, increasingly, that the battle lines have been falsely drawn between scientific rationalism and ignorant, anti-intellectual irrationalism. To a large degree, men like my professor created this false dichotomy in their attempt to employ science to promote faith: instead of promoting faith, the made a mockery of it while promoting a reliance on science as authority. By promoting bad science, they reaffirmed the supremacy of the scientific ideal while undermining their own religious beliefs.

When the false debate of science vs. no science ends, and science wins resoundingly in the hearts and minds of people dependent on their microwaves and cell phones, I hope we will move on to a healthier recognition of the limits of science and the relationship between intellect and faith. I believe there must be Christians out there who are also eager to reject anti-intellectualism and earnestly explore the nature of an intellectual faith in God. Maybe I'm naive to think there are many folks out there who are still interested in this, and I admit I see dwindling empirical evidence of this kind of community of believers, but I'm a person of faith, so I go on hoping."



Anonymous said...

Hi, stumbled on your blog while searching "Dawkins" and "irrational" hehe

Personally, I don't think faith can be built on science. If God can be scientifically explained away, then it wouldn't be faith anymore, it'd be knowledge. Why bother with faith then?

Anyways, I do think science and intellectualism are good things, they have improved people's lives on the most part. But the limits of science must also be recognized, and one of those limits is faith.

Benjamin Gorman said...

I wouldn't say faith is a limitation of science. Thats exactly the kind of God-of-the-gaps faith I worry about, actually. I think we need to recognize that faith is in an independent but interacting sphere of knowledge. For example, I believe that gravity is the force pulling my small body towards the larger body of the Earth because of science. I believe Isaac Newton should be credited with first describing this phenomenon because of a belief in the authority certain historical source. A belief in authority is not science, nor is it religious faith. It's an independent but interacting sphere of knowledge. Likewise, I believe that the force of gravity will continue to act in a consistent way tomorrow. Science cannot prove this, not can the authority of history. The former can only describe observed phenomenon in the present and past, the later only in the past. Any belief about the continuation of these phenomenon is based on the notion that the universe is an orderly place, a belief that might be essential to science bu which science cannot prove. That is a fundamentally religious, or a least metaphysical belief. I am more than willing to concede my own dependence on the scientific and authoritarian spheres of knowledge when it comes to my beliefs. Why is it so hard for some people to acknowledge that they too depende on certain metaphysical assumptions for which they have no scientific proof, nor ever will since science makes o claims in certain areas? More to the point, do these people fear making this concession because they don't want to be lumped in with idiotic people of faith, and, if so, why do people of faith keep allowing idiots to speak for us when this only motivates others to disengage from any conversation about anything which is no purely rational? How can we effectively quiet the idiotic believers so they'll stop motivating the equally obtuse evangelical atheists?

Dustin said...

I tend to think that the hilarity of the situation stems from the fact that athiest's never have anything to defend. You can't rationally prove faith or force it on others, making the process often laughable by giving promise of a better life in the afterlife. Living in a rational society irrational arguments tend to be discredited and scorned and as you have stated "A belief in authority is not science, nor is it religious faith".

My faith, as you pointed out earlier, is undefined. I suppose I believe in gravity since I have faith that I observe the affects of gravity and I have faith that I can make observations. Everyday I take a little step in faith by believing I can breath and talk and write. The battleground for religion versus science though is a completely given point. By moving the battleground into sciences domain where they have already clearly stated the rules, such as scientific process where it directly states observation, how can religion possibly win out. The dice have been unfairly loaded against christianity and still being an unbeliever in christian views I'll be the first to concede that point.