Sunday, June 21, 2009

Apologia

I would like to dedicate this post to my cousin Mat, an incredibly intelligent young man whom I highly respect. He has just graduated from high school and will be attending American University this fall. With an intellect beyond his years, he has a promising future. He is also a self-proclaimed atheist and has even created a blog on the subject: Men of Reason. With his nimble mindedness and keen intellect, I have no doubt that Mat can give me a run for my money in a debate, but he is highly mistaken in this critical area.

As indicated on the side bar of this website, Christian apologetics is one of my passions. Back when I was growing up in a somewhat religious household, it did not matter to me whether the things I was taught had any reasonable basis in fact. I just believed them, having no compelling reason to otherwise doubt them. But after I turned twenty and started to understand and personally embrace the Gospel for the first time, it suddenly became more important to know and be able to defend the foundations of the faith. After all, now it was no longer a religious tradition in which I was raised, but rather something personal on which I was staking my entire future. I needed to know that I was not building my life around a fable.



As a young Christian, my faith was strengthened by the research and writings of Josh McDowell (Evidence that Demands a Verdict; More Than a Carpenter) who did a wonderful service to young Christians on campuses by compiling in outline form a logical compendium of material that defended their faith. Though McDowell’s writings were probably the first to awaken my interest in Christian apologetics, they barely scratched the surface of the vast treasure of writings, logic and philosophy handed down to us by great intellects who had wrestled with the most common questions and objections to the Christian faith.

It was shortly afterwards that I was introduced to C.S. Lewis, the beloved twentieth century professor and defender of the Christian faith whose prodigious writings have equipped and inspired the faithful as well as challenged the skeptics. Indeed, like many other former atheists, Lewis was well qualified to do so. In Surprised by Joy, he recounted his journey from atheism and how he was “dragged kicking and screaming” to rational belief in the truth of Christianity. That is, he was intellectually honest, as his maxim was to “always follow the argument where it leads”.

With classics such as Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, Miracles and many others, Lewis helped me put into practice the words of I Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” With unassailable reason and logic mixed with no small amount of wit, Lewis meticulously deconstructed the classic objections to Christianity and then built a case for rational belief.

Yet as timeless and helpful as his writings are, it must be said that Lewis was much more respected during his time than he is today. Since Lewis’ day, the assault on theism in general and on Christianity in particular has intensified. On the one hand there has been an increase in the same, tired philosophical arguments that challenge the very idea of objective or absolute truth. On the other hand, advances in science have emboldened a subset of the scientific community--men such as Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, The Blind Watchmaker, etc.)--to lash out at Christianity with a fervor that can best be described as religious.

Yet about half of the scientific community believes in God, and significant portions of the other half could be classified as agnostics at worst. A cursory analysis of the writings of full fledged atheists such as Dawkins and company reveals that they are basing their arguments on philosophical rather than scientific grounds. They have largely abandoned the scientific method, and have instead postulated wild theories to provide a non-theistic explanation of the origin of the universe and of life itself. With no real evidence to back their claims but nonetheless declaring them to be self-evident, they then go on to mock anyone who thinks differently, deriding theists as having blind faith and clinging to belief in the midst of all evidence to the contrary. However, a strong argument can be made that it is Dawkins and company who are clinging to blind faith. Having made an a priori, philosophical determination that there is no God, they now irrationally cling to that determination despite all evidence to the contrary.
Bibliography:
I highly recommend for Mat and others the following books whose authors (like C.S. Lewis) are former atheists:
I also recommend the following books by men who (as far as I know) have always been believers but also present strong and rational arguments for theism in general and Christianity in particular:
With compelling reason and logic, both sets of authors present strong cases for Christianity on both scientific and philosophical grounds. In the coming weeks, I hope to discuss these books in greater detail.

5 comments:

Makarios said...

May God Bless you sir! I hope to see you there

Lee Bowman said...

What you say regarding the scientific community is correct. It would appear to the casual observer that the consensus view of science is abject materialism, and that the current theory of evolution, which embraces an unguided process, is correct. You will not find a scientist or scientific paper that supports theism as even a possibility, at least publicly.

In scientific terms, the hypothesis of Intelligent Design is just as valid as any forensic study of intelligence in the universe. It is rejected, however, not by consensus opinion, but by proclamation of those who rule, primarily the funding and regulatory agencies.

But does it really mater, since faith in God is a personal choice? I'm afraid it does, since academia has now become the perch where materialism roosts, and one cannot enter the scientific arena without traversing it on nearly a daily basis, and for six years on average, to become accepted into that realm. Supposed 'rational thought' and atheism are likely candidates for their resulting world view as well.

Your mention of Richard Dawkins is correct. He, along with a growing number of others (Hutchins, Coyne, PZ Myers et a), and with unwarranted support from the heads of science, including organizations like AAAS, NAS and NCSE are committing a great disservice to society. Today's youth is confronted with what many consider to be a new enlightenment, but which I consider to be another 'dark age', in fact one a kind of 'fascist' rule.

My goal is to dissuade the youth of today from buying into the lies being fed to them, and if they must use 'rational thought', to use it more objectively. When they realize that they are being led like sheep, rather than given the privilege of true objectivism, I predict there will be a countering movement.

I blog around ten to twenty hours a week, and have over the last ten years. My message to atheists is to not allow themselves to be led like lemmings by the popular press, by the plethora of atheistic videos and blogs, and worst of all, by a constrained educational system where the mere mention of ID in a term paper can easily result in a failed grade.

Keep up your efforts, Leo, and keep in mind that once they enter the materialist realm, they will not respond to God's message directly. The ID movement has become a 'ground clearing' operation, where like C.J. Lewis and Anthony Flew, many may reconsider their world view, based on the evidences of design and purpose. I pray that for most, it will happen much sooner, though.

Lee Bowman
blog as leebowman
and Beau Leeman

Anonymous said...

Well done, Leo, and well said. I will send a link to this article in your blog to a good friend of mine in Houston. I know he'll enjoy it. I am proud to say that I have read many of the books you mention but want to read the others.
May

Editor said...

Leo

I couldn't agree more. I am putting together a new website called www.createdcosmos.com. It deals with the issue of God's creation. If you get a chance, check it out.

Thanks,
Gordon

feeno said...

I'm glad Mat has you for an Uncle.
Amico del cuore, feeno