Monday, January 19, 2009
Is Faith Make-Believe for the Childish?
Can I say something that I don't often hear in any dialogues between religious and nonreligious people?
Many religious people actually believe that their faith is TRUE. I don't simply mean "true for them" (philosophical relativism). They actually believe that its true for EVERYONE. Many of them don't simply use faith as a story to get them through life.
But many non-religious folks assume religion to only be a crutch. Granted, for many religious people, their faith IS a crutch.
But what muddies the waters is that nonreligious people engage the religious people with these assumptions left unspoken!
“There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.
- Alfred Korzybski
Assuming religion to be a crutch essentially absolves the nonreligious person from having to seriously examine its claims.
This assumption often causes both sides to speak past each other.
In the movie Galaxy Quest, a group of washed up science fiction television actors are abducted (sort of) by aliens. The aliens affirm full faith in the abilities of the actors because they have studied the earth's "historical documents" (past television episodes). When the actors try to explain to the aliens the earthly concept of entertainment and television, it doesn't stick. The aliens have nothing to compare such a thing to and associate such behavior as lying.
Religious people, like the Galaxy Quest aliens, are often seen to be a people who mistake a fictitious story for being true.
Now on the other side, there are many religious people who ALSO see their faith as merely a crutch. They don't even look for truth. They are only looking for a story that comforts them and gives their life a purpose. They're looking for meaning that makes them good people.
But as a Christian, let me challenge many of you to examine Christianity based upon its claims. It actually claims to be true. The Greeks were offended by Christianity because the resurrection that it professed was not simply a metaphorical, allegorical, spiritual resurrection, but was actually a physical resurrection. If you know anything about Greek philosophy and culture, they believed in a philosophical dualism. They believed that there were essentially two worlds. One was the physical and the other was a perfect world of ideals (read the writings of Plato). The idea of a physical resurrection repulsed them.
They would NOT have expressed this objection if the Apostles were preaching the allegorical/figurative spirituality that is sometimes assumed today.
Christianity makes historical claims. It claims that Jesus Christ was a real man who lived and breathed on this earth. It doesn't just claim that He was God in the flesh who died and came back to life, it presents us proof. The very writers who knew Him, who walked and talked with Him, were so convinced that they died for this faith. If you haven't thought about this deeply, you'll probably say, "Lots of people have had been so sincere in their faiths, as to give their lives for it." Yes, but none of these people had the ability to authenticate their claims. Today's martyrs die for beliefs in claims that were carried out hundreds or even thousands of years before their times.
But all the Apostles had to do was go to the Christ's tomb and see if He was still there. All the Romans had to do to squash this insurgent new religion was produce the body of Christ. Why didn't they do this? Why couldn't they do this?