Thursday, May 29, 2003
Dean Esmay posted about his religious beliefs over the weekend. Just so you know, he's very frank and straightforward.
It's hard to make an argument against the views of those who've been raised in the Christian culture, have studied its tenets, and still disbelieve. There are arguments to be made, but they're of the "have you considered this piece of evidence?" variety and not "2+2=4." When I run into people like Dean, they're usually agnostics who've been struggling for many years with their faith, and simply want to have what they see many other people having (they've usually resigned themselves to the idea that there's something wrong with either themselves of the nature of the universe which prevents them from knowing the Truth). I do not say these things condescendingly. These people, whom I'll call "serious agnostics" for my purposes, are very often more "devout" than Christians. However, I often think that they're trying too hard. It's as if they're trying to make a pencil from scratch, including mining the lead, cutting timber, learning woodworking, fashioning tin (I think it's tin) to hold the rubber eraser into place, and then making the paint to coat the thing. This isn't an easy task. However, while through extraordinary effort and a lot of setbacks, you may well come up with something that works as a pencil, you could also get your own ready-made, high-quality pencil at a store for about ten cents. In the time it took you to manufacture your pencil, you could've used the one that you acquired to write novels, biographies, or do physics equations.
Serious agnostics usually believe that there is a God, and that God even occasionally intervenes in the world. They often pray for faith, and get very discouraged when they don't literally find their heart warmed. I can say these things because I've been a serious agnostic before. Too often, serious agnostics get caught up in one thing they can't resolve and "shut down" because of it. I remember that when I was first becoming a Christian, I stopped reading early in Mere Christianity because Lewis said that if you didn't believe that Jesus was God, then you weren't a Christian. At the time, I considered myself an Arian, and so I stopped reading, since I knew that Lewis' arguments would center around the divinity of Christ. Later, when I had decided that I did believe Jesus to be God, I picked up where I left off, but I had "shut down" over that issue. The most common issues I've found are the un-Christian attitudes of Christians (ranging from things we consider felonies to simply being stingy), not seeing God working in their lives, and theological issues (usually what are seen as Bible contradictions or the nature of God). I can offer counter-arguments to most of these (which doesn't necessarily make me right, but may be worth considering for their validity or invalidity), but that's not my purpose in this post.