In my last post, I began a discussion on the role of “choice” in faith by addressing Bertrand Russell’s teapot analogy and the implicit idea that belief in God requires proof.
So for the duration of this post, I will be working off the assumption that a Christian’s faith entails a reasonable and purposeful belief that is supported by evidence. This kind of faith isn’t “blind” by any means, but neither does it demand empirical, scientific proof.
If one accepts this definition of faith and the premise that Christianity has a chance of being true, where does this leave us?
In a recent post, Max Andrews asked himself the question: “What would it take for me to be an atheist?” Some of his thoughts are given below:
“I was speaking with my professor over lunch a month or so back and we struck up a conversation on what it would take for us to be atheists. Proving the resurrection false doesn’t disprove God, it just disproves Christianity. The cosmological, fine-tuning, ontological, and moral arguments still work….I believe these arguments are sound. If I were to become an atheist it wouldn’t be for intellectual reasons, it would be for emotional and existential reasons. What’s interesting is that I’m a Christian for existential reasons. My existentialism is what drove me to Christianity. I recognized my life was utterly meaningless, valueless, and purposeless without God.” (read the full post here)
An atheist friend of mine once dismissed this idea as “believing in something because you want it to be true”. He then compared Christians to those who jump off tall buildings because they want to be able to fly…and actually believe they can. This comparison, however, suffers from the same problem as Russell’s teapot analogy. It equates a belief in human flight (something with no evidence at all) with a belief in Christianity (something with considerable philosophical and historical evidence, regardless of one’s ultimate conclusions).
The reality is that one of Christianity’s greatest draws is its “appeal to beauty”. It reveals the ultimate source of meaning, value, and purpose that we’re all searching for. All that remains is to make the choice to believe; a “leap of faith”, but not a blind one.
In my opinion, this “appeal to beauty” is most elegantly conveyed in – of all places – a children’s book. In C.S. Lewis‘s “The Silver Chair“, the main characters have entered the underground realm of the Green Lady, where they’ve been enchanted into losing their belief in the above-ground world. One of the characters, a marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum, makes the following speech:
“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
Atheism’s Universe is Meaningless and Valueless (J.W. Wartick)
Faith and Reason (Part 1) (Quadrivium)