Saturday, December 22, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
It took me by surprise at first. In the Faith section of our local newspaper was an article on the new book “The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings For The Nonbeliever”. This book is being edited by Christopher Hitchens; arguably one of the worlds leading atheistic thinkers today. I say I was taken by surprise because the atheist’s position is one of non-belief. Many would reason that if you hold to a position of non-belief then you do not have faith; something that would logically be required in order to make the faith section. After further reflection, however, I found the article to be appropriately placed. Here is why.
The atheist position holds to the idea that since the scientific evidence cannot irrefutably point to the existence of God, why believe in Him. Faith is a difficult concept for the atheist. They see it as something believers hide behind when there are no answers to tough questions. Faith is seen as a road block to rationality. What they are missing however, is the view from the other direction. The scientific evidence also cannot irrefutably disprove the existence of God, something that the noted Oxford biology professor and atheist Richard Dawkins admits to. Therefore, any position on God’s existence one way or the other requires (dare I say demands) faith. So I agree that religious people believe what they do based on faith… but so does the atheist.
Atheist’s claim their position is based on logic, evidence, rationality and reason. To them any claim to faith (Christian faith in particular) is lacking in these qualities. Yet there are those who are exceptionally brilliant that use these qualities in full measure and still hold a position of faith; G.K. Chesterton, Dinesh D’Souza, Ravi Zacharias, John Lennox and C.S. Lewis to name a few. However, these men are great because of their rarity in the faith not their common place. Most of us are too busy to do what is required to love God mightily with our minds. We are saved ourselves and that is satisfactory for us.
Consequently, a lack of evidence continues to be the main thrust for the atheistic argument. If the evidence was there they would believe God is real. As I think about that, I have to admit there is little evidence to prove God’s existence. I say this with the words of Jesus in mind when he said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If the faith community is honest with itself this is something we do not excel at given the whole. We look too much like the world to stand out as light shining in the darkness. The first century church grew solely because of how they loved each other. This was the evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the gospel back then, it is the only true evidence for the skeptic today. We so often demand the pastor practice what he preaches while at the same time ignore the fact that we ourselves are not living what we believe in the way we know we should.
Thus, we find Hitchens words to be true when he says, in spite of their claims “people are not as religious as many think.” As a Christian, I find the truth of this comment disheartening. The outsider looks in only to find so little of the life of the church being devoted to living for the glory of God. It may say so in the mission statement of each particular church, but it is not being lived out well enough to make a noticeable, measurable difference in our culture today.
Friends, this should not be so. Living our faith is the evidence for the truth of the gospel that the world needs. Doctrine and creed alone leave the skeptic bereft of divine satisfaction. They may deny the infallibility of the Scriptures, doubt its claims, point out our imperfections and call us irrational, illogical, unthinking and unreasonable, but the one piece of evidence they will never be able to deny is the contagious, abundant, overflowing, uncontainable, irresistible, eternally full, transformed life of a Christ follower.
So shine your light brightly. Live like God has made a difference in your life. Let us together, as the church community of Jesus Christ, give the skeptic the one piece of evidence they cannot deny - a transformed life!