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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Faith or Reason

The author of the book of Hebrews wrote:

11:1--Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

11:2-- This is what the ancients were commended for.

11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

11:6--And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Perhaps the greatest of the early church Fathers, Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), preached (Sermon 43.7,9): Believe in order that you may understand (Latin--Crede, ut intelligas ). Following his lead, Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109 CE)wrote: I believe in order that I might understand.

So, according to these Christian theologians, man is supposed to believe (have faith) in God first and then try to understand. If there is a conflict between faith and reason, then faith prevails. In other words, one must subordinate his reason to his faith. The Bible college where I used to teach had the motto--Revelation over Reason.

As pointed out in a previous post, this is precisely what William Craig does when he says that he believes because of the witness of the Spirit and no evidence can defeat his faith (see Luke Muehlhauser's excellent discussion of this point). Presuppositional apologetes, such as Greg Bahnsen and John Frame, essentially say the same thing. They maintain that one must first presuppose the truth of Christianity and then it makes sense. Alvin Plantinga is not much different when he says that belief in God is properly basic and is justified even without arguments or evidence. All of this seems to boil down to: God said it; I believe it; that settles it.

I find this to be intellectual suicide. If the Christian God is real, then he created us in his image with the largest brain of any other creature. It would seem that he expects us to use our brain not "check it at the door." I found when using my reason that the Bible cannot be a divine revelation and that evangelical Christian theology is not only non-sensical to the human mind but its internally inconsistent itself. Therefore, I left evangelical Christianity for a more reasonable position.


  1. You are absolutely right about christians demanding that we check our brains at the door. It really is a clash between two different philosophical worldviews. One side has reason and facts and the other side has faith and superstition.

    David McBride

  2. "But since the devil's bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she's wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil's greatest whore."

    Martin Luther from his Last Sermon in Wittenberg

  3. I love that verse which says, "so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."

    How did these pre-scientific folks know this? It is universally agreed that our visible reality comes from an invisible reality.

    When you find intelligence in the Creation, how is it rational to deny intelligence is the original cause? It is clear that man is unique and made in the image of God.

    Craig is not a presuppositionalist which you claimed; rather, he is a classical apologist so your claim is either based on ignorance or deceit so I wanted to help you along.

    God Bless...

  4. ZDENNY - Have you ever heard of the Ancient Greeks? Maybe people like Anaxagoras (500BCE - 428BCE) or Leucippus and his pupil Democritus?

  5. Yes, but the disciples were Jews and uneducated...

  6. ZDENNY - Your quote is of course from Hebrews, of which is anonymously written. If, as some claim, it was Paul, I guaruntee he knew of the ancient Greek teachings.

    Plato - "whose state is most like that of an individual man. For example, if the finger of one of us is wounded, the entire community of bodily connections stretching to the soul for ‘integration’ with the dominant part is made aware, and all of it feels the pain as a whole."

    Paul - "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it."

    Plato - "we now term the head, being the most divine part of us and the lord of all that is in us; to this the gods, when they put together the body, gave all the other members to be servants."

    Paul - "[Christ] the head of the body, the church."

    Plato - "we shall find the cobbler a cobbler and not a pilot in addition to his cobbling, and the farmer a farmer and not a judge added to his farming, and the soldier a soldier and not a money-maker in addition to his soldiery, and so all the rest."

    Paul - "If [a man's gift] is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage…"

    Plato - "But, while [the enthralled one] continues demented, he cannot judge of the visions which he sees or the words which he utters; … And for this reason it is customary to appoint interpreters to be judges of the true inspiration."

    Paul - "anyone who speaks in a tongue … utters mysteries with his spirit. … [He] should pray that he may interpret what he says."

  7. guarantee - geez how did I spell that so bad.

  8. ZDENNY said...

    Yes, but the disciples were Jews and uneducated...

    Paul of Tarsus was uneducated? That is news to me.

  9. Zdenny,

    If you will read my post again carefully, you will find that I did not call Craig a presuppositionalist. I mentioned only Frame and Bahnsen. However, when you boil down what Craig, Platinga, Bahnsen, and Frame argue, they all come down to a sacrifice of reason.

    Yes, I know about apologetics as I taught it for 9 years.

  10. ZDENNY, can also go back to your question?

    "How did these pre-scientific folks know this? It is universally agreed that our visible reality comes from an invisible reality."

    How did the ancient Greeks know this? They must have been divinely inspired by Zeus. Praise Zeus!

  11. Hey BeamStalk, I don't know much about the origins of creation ex nihilo, but I'm reading a book on the Middle Platonists, and it says Aristotle and Plato thought the cosmos was eternal. For Plato, there's some controversy: some say the Timaeus means that a demiurge formed the cosmos out of raw material (which isn't creation ex nihilo), while others say the "creation" is eternal, meaning the cosmos is eternal. But did Anexagoras and the two others you mention believe in creation ex nihilo?

  12. James,

    Have you seen the latest Mr.Deity video about this subject of creation ex nihilo? Its pretty funny.

  13. James, they started atomic theory. That there were things that we could not see, because they were too small, that made up everything we can see. In other words, that the visible world was made up of the invisible.

    Creation ex nihlo was not a common though of the Greeks, most believed that Chaos existed first and everything was created from that.

    It is also not certain whether the writers of Genesis believed in creation ex nihlo. The first few verses are commonly attributed to Priestly sources written while in exile in Babylon. They use the word "bara" which can mean to create or spatially separate. The older Sumerian and Babylonian myths all talk of water and creatures being on earth before man and that the Gods separated it all. So it is safe to assume that they could easily be the same thing the Priests were writing about here. Notice the first true mention of creation ex nihlo is in 2 Maccabees 7:28 - "I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things; and in the same way the human race came into existence."

  14. I'll have to take a look at it, Ken!

    Hi BeamStalk. I must've misunderstood what you and ZDENNY were talking about. I thought it was about creation ex nihilo, since Hebrews 11:3 seems to concern that. So I was interpreting ZDENNY to be saying that the Big Bang confirms that. But, apparently, the topic was atoms---meaning ZDENNY may have been saying that, according to Hebrews 1:3, the cosmos was made using unseen materials---atoms.