by Bill Cook
Sometimes I just can’t resist. I am constantly amazed when I read some things by supposedly intelligent people who write things about Christians and Christianity. A few Friday’s ago on June 13, 2008, the Telegraph, England’s pre-eminent newspaper featured an article purporting that as people’s intelligence increased, faith in God decreased.
The article itself is brief and seems to be meant to elicit a response. It was submitted online and one is encouraged to comment. Indeed, where the article lacks substance, the comments were varied and numerous. Some were insightful; others spewed the obligatory commenting on the commentary of others and their supposed lack of intelligence- oft expressed as one’s opinion being vacuous. I usually try to refrain from reading the drivel contained in the comments because it does reflect poorly on most who comment. I might even venture to say that this was intentional on the part of the author to make his point as to the intelligence of the ‘faithful.’ I think this intention, if it was intentional, backfired in that it only seemed to reinforce the assumption that the readers were lacking in the intelligence that the author said was evident in non-believers.
Yet, I was intrigued by the comments of some and have considered answering some of them in this article. Many of them condemned the idea of faith completely while others promoted their own ‘faith’ of atheism or agnosticism as the case may be. Further, it seemed overwhelmingly apparent that the faithful were lacking in their responses to the article or to the challenges issued by the un-believers. Conversely, the A-A’s (atheists/agnostics) lacked any real alternative to faith in God or in their own position. Usually, there was only the discounting of ‘faith’ and the suggestion to concentrate on more ‘commendable’ activities without any definition of what those things might be-the implication being that if they had to be defined then one must be too unintelligent to be able to understand them anyway.
Most disturbingly, once again, the inevitable premise is rearing its head-that somehow believers are intellectually dishonest, that the smarter mankind becomes that it must follow that belief in God must fade into oblivion. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to be as intelligible and cogent as possible as I attempt to lay out the position of the believer.
You will notice that our tag line or subtitle is certainly intentional. Isaiah the prophet says in Isa. 1:18,
“Come now, and alet us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
This is God speaking to His people. He does not say, “Believe blindly for I am the Lord”, or, “you must not be hindered by facts because I said so”, or “if you can’t understand the principles of math or logic, just say you believe in Me.” He says, in effect, “Examine the evidence and then decide whether I am God. If I am, then believe and obey.”
Christianity is truly a thinking man’s religion. It is the only one that encourages one to think, to consider the evidence. And, if the evidence is true, then, if we are intellectually honest, we must change our beliefs accordingly.
I remember when I was in high school chemistry class and we had been given a chemical that, through a series of tests, was to be indentified; I think it is called qualitative analysis. We were to add various reagents and observe and draw conclusions depending on the reactions, that is, we were to exercise our abilities in reason and logic. If by adding this substance, it turned cloudy, then it had this ion, if it turned yellow, then it had this ion; if there was no reaction, then it did have this ion, etc. At the conclusion of the tests, we were to have only one possible answer; there could not be two answers. Well, this day, I had messed up on one step. At the time I did not know it. So, when I drew my conclusion, I had based it on bad evidence and I was wrong. When I proudly turned in my test to the teacher and she pronounced I was wrong in my conclusion, I was devastated. I remember shamefully taking my class notebook and throwing it to the floor in disgust. I still could not believe that I had made an error. It was not possible. So, I did it over in my mind step by step. I then found when I had made the error. When I realized that I had goofed, I had to admit my mistake-very difficult and humbling. I apologized to my teacher and chided myself for being so careless. I thought I had arrived at the correct answer, but I had made the mistake; I had thought that my teacher was being dishonest with me or that she had not known what chemical she had given me to test. I did not consider that it was me that had made the mistake.
But, more importantly, in science, we are taught to make good observations. We are told not to accept anything blindly. In chemistry class, we were not told to test the sample and ignore the results. Further, we were not told that because we were students and learning and thus not quite intelligent enough to understand-to simply believe that it was what the teacher said. We were not told that if we could not perform the tests that someone else would do it for us and tell us what we had. We were told to test it and consider the results and draw a conclusion, to use our faculties of reason and logic.
…to be continued
a Is 41:1, 21; 43:26; Mic 6:2
New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Is 1:18). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.