I make it a habit to read any book that a Christian is willing to purchase and send to me, or at least to give it a shot. A few months ago a local Christian youth pastor gave me a copy of the book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller, I began reading it a couple weeks ago.
I’m only about six chapters into it so far but the first few chapters have left me with a certain notion that perhaps many Christians don’t quite understand why it is that people find themselves capable of rejecting their particular brand of god. These first few chapters contain rebuttals by Mr. Keller to common objections to the faith that he hears at his church in NYC and so far all of these objections have been superficial at best.
Chapter 1 begins the book with a claim by a young New Yorker that “it’s arrogant to say your religion is superior and to try to convert everyone else to it. “
Yes, it is arrogant to claim that you’ve got a corner on Truth. I can’t disagree with that.
Chapter 2 begins with the claim from one young man that , “I won’t believe in a God who allows suffering, even if he, she, or it exists. Maybe God exists. Maybe not. But if he does he can’t be trusted.”
Yes, suffering seems to point to a malevolent or uncaring god. I can’t disagree with that either.
Chapter 3 really blows the barn doors off of any semblance of intellectual argument with the following: “I believe each individual must determine truth for him- or herself.”
I disagree with this one, something is either True or it isn’t. A persons’ determination of truth doesn’t change whether or not something actually is true.
Chapter 4 attempts to answer claims of injustice committed by the various iterations of the Christian church in the last 1700 years, to this injustice one woman exclaims, “If Christianity is the true religion, how could this be?”
Again, there is obviously space for criticism here – the Church has been responsible for many great and terrible atrocities. Those atrocities in no way make the claims of the Bible any more or less true. I don’t reject the Christian faith because of the people or institutions of the Christian faith.
Finally Chapter 5 asks how a loving god could send people to hell.
I agree here as well – I can no longer imagine a god who’s largest tool of getting you to follow him is by instilling fear of hell into you beginning at childhood.
I’m not going to claim that some of these objections aren’t reasonable on some level, but they fail to greet the problem of Christianity (or any other religion) in the realm that should be most important: The realm of Evidence.
I’m perfectly content for people to reject any faith at any time for any reason but if the only arguments you have against the faith are how you “feel” about the claims of Christianity you are arguing far below your potential. I think it’s rather telling from the first five chapters of this book that Mr. Keller isn’t quite used to being brought into the realm of evidence, he isn’t used to being asked for proof of the claims of the Bible or the existence of Christ and perhaps that is why so many books are being published to answer these superficial arguments.
I don’t reject the claims of Christianity because I don’t understand them. I don’t reject the claims of Christianity because I can’t wrap my mind around them, I lived the Christian life for the better part of my short life. I don’t reject the Christian god because I’m angry at him for not answering some petty prayer or because I don’t like the idea of eternal hellfire. I don’t reject the Christian god because I’m possessed by the devil, or because I simply don’t want to believe in him. I’m not an atheist because I’m rebelling , because I just want to “sin”, or for any other reason that someone might come up with to make themselves feel better.
I reject the Christian god simply because there is no evidence for the Christian god, or any other.
If evidence does exist, I’m still waiting for it to be presented and to examine it.
People often assume that I’m not a Christian because I don’t understand the message and faith of Christianity, that assumption is incorrect. I’m not a Christian precisely because I DO understand the Christian faith and message and I see no evidence to it’s benefit. I’m rejecting Christianity because it’s the only option I have.