Saturday, March 26

God is Not Yet Dead

The Guardian has an article on the recent tidal wave of books breaking violently against the God domain.

There's the God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, End of Faith by Sam Harris, and most recently, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens.

People are burying God all over the place, and gleefully sending flowers.

Thing is, I think they're bombing the wrong building. God doesn't live in people's minds so much as He lives in people's hearts and souls and experience. God is not dead as long as He lives in people's hearts.

That is not to say that I refuse to grapple intelligently with religious questions. That is not to say that I cling foolishly and blindly to unsupportable beliefs. That is to say that when I wrestle with the issues, and I do wrestle, I wrestle with something that is alive inside of me, something that is an inextricable part of me because it is a real (not imagined or imaginary) part of my experience. It is my faith.

I know: such an intangible thing FAITH. So 'how do you keep a wave upon the sand' like.

I should probably concede, at this juncture, that it is very unfortunate that some have used religion in recent times in the public domain in such a manner as to bring it into disrepute. OK, I will concede, I do concede. But, I must also add that, before I point the finger outward, my particular brand of believing obliges me point it selfward. And selfward tends to silence.

All this reminds me of a story I stumbled upon, a while ago, that really hit the switch that turns on the squirming: the blasphemy challenge story on ABCNews about a website where non-believers were encouraged to express their non-belief by cursing God.

The numbers of those who do not believe are swelling in certain parts of the world. I think I get that.

I see an upside. I see that the label Christian has fallen into disrepute there. As a result, people are more and more unwilling to wear it. It is no longer a label that they pick up and drop absentmindedly, randomly, as they go about the business of defining who they are. Instead, they think about it a little more. A lot more. And, when they do take on that label, it is because they know what they believe and why they believe it. Certainly they need to believe it enough to stand being accused of being stunted on the evolutionary chain because they still need to believe in a God.

I don't think that's altogether a bad thing, as things go.


egm said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I was looking for the person that first said a philosophy should not be judged by its abuse, but rather by its claims and was unable to find the source. But the search led me to this link which I intend to read when I get off work that is in line with what you write.

egm said...

Me again. After some more digging on Google, I came up with the source. The quote, as atributed to Saint Augustine is, "Never judge a philosophy by its abuse"

Anonymous said...

Great post. "The Church is an anvil that has worn out many hammers." - Theodore of Beza.

Anonymous said...

I'm yet to read any of the books, though I did read Terry Eagleton's snarky review of Dawkins on the London Review of Books (too lazy to link).

I do think hyped up and over-televised "Christian" personalities and organizations have a lot to answer for in making some leftists (many, not all) want to kill God-is there a name for that? It used to be called "science" or "philosophy." But none of the recent studies are worthy of the name.

I will admit that I've been shocked to see how much a show like the 700 Club (I cite it not because it exemplifies Christianity, but because it is so influential and widely watched), sounds an awful lot like many other talk shows (Oprah, Rachel Ray, Doctor Phil). The stories of success are similar; the only difference is some shows use religion less (Oprah has her "spiritual" moments, but I have no clue what she believes in). To abbreviate an already long comment, I do think we need to look at how the mass marketing of "Christianity," through mass market media, has transformed and, in some cases, lessened the power of Christianity.

It is this, I think, that is under attack in the new writings. (But I freely and happily admit I may be wrong.)

R said...

Hmm... Theocide?

R said...

Kenyanalyst, nice quote. Interesting that that came early in the first millenium of the common era (if my church history serves me right) and continues to be so true today.

Egm, Augustine is one of my all time favourite Christian thinkers/apologists.

That statement's a gem innit?

Acolyte said...

It's always good to glean thoughts from the feet of philosophical giants, nice discussion!

Anonymous said...

R, yeah, interesting times those were. Contemporary Christian thought owes much of itself to the classics. Amazing, though, how the early Christian thinkers wrestled with such issues as the now before us.