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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Holding to a Rational Belief

Photo By *christopher* 
Has someone ever told you that you should never try to tell someone else their faith is misplaced? They claim faith requires no proof; believing is the opposite of using facts and evidence, and since faith is a personal choice the underlying theology really doesn't matter much. Faith brings comfort to a person, but his comfort could be different than yours, so his faith is legitimate for him as much as yours is for you. This kind of thinking is why many people feel that everyone is entitled to believe as they choose.

Now, I agree that all have the right to their beliefs. But defining faith in this way misconstrues what the concept of faith is all about. The claim that "all faiths are simply a choice and are equally valid" really translates to "all faiths have an equal claim to truth and there's no way to discern whether any of them are true or not." That's just not the case. For example, I don't think anyone today would give Greek mythology serious consideration as a true belief. But how do we know that Greek mythology isn't a viable religion? Because we use reason and evidence to see that its claims about how the world works are unsupportable. They are internally inconsistent and externally incoherent with what we know about the world.

Similarly, we can look at today's different faith systems and see that they cannot all be true since they make competing claims about how the world works. As an example, the monotheistic faiths such as classical Judaism, Christianity and Islam claim that there is a God who is distinct and separate from His creation, while pantheistic faiths such as Vedanta Hinduism or the New Age hold to the idea that all is God. Now, one or the other may be true, but they certainly cannot both be true at the same time. Therefore, any faith that teaches all ways to God are equally valid, such as the Bah'ai faith, holds to a logical contradiction and can be dismissed simply as being illogical. It simply doesn't match the way the world works.

Now, I'm not saying that faith is unnecessary or that reason can do all the work. I am saying, though, that any faith that forces you to deny reason is a faith not worth holding. Christianity is a faith built on evidence: historical evidence of a real event. Of course it requires faith, but we can investigate its claims on the basis of history to see whether they stand up. Mormonism, for example, also makes claims about historical events, but they are unsupportable. If the things claimed in the Book of Mormons are demonstrably false, then it follows that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and we have good reason for not believing Mormonism to be true.

I think it's a mistake to lump anything with a "religion" or "faith" tag into a category marked untestable. There certainly are ways we can make informed judgments about what we believe. That's why Paul tells us "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good."

Being reasonable or rational means holding on to true beliefs. So, if someone questions of whether it's rational to be a Christian, that means we need to talk about whether Christian beliefs are true—which requires honest inquiry. To not check out the claims of Christianity when they very well may be true would be a very irrational thing to do.

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