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Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 | 11 comments

C.S. Lewis, Roman Catholicism, and Bad Apologetics

C.S. Lewis, Roman Catholicism, and Bad Apologetics

After giving his talk, the venerable old Dominican friar came and sat near me, sipped his beer, and began to ask me questions about myself. Before long, it became clear to him that I was not Catholic but Anglican. As seems almost inevitable among intelligent Catholics, the discovery that I am an intelligent Protestant with high church leanings led to the question, “But why aren’t you Catholic?” Among some (my girlfriend on our first date, for example) this is a genuine question. For others, it’s more a reaction of incredulity—it seems that some believe that any intelligent thinking person will through a process of simple syllogistic logic arrive at an understanding of the superiority of Catholicism and convert. Which brings us to C.S. Lewis, because the venerable old Dominican brought him up as an admirable Christian thinker. And, reflecting the attitude I experience towards myself, he expressed his puzzlement at how such a great thinker (certainly greater than I am, I hasten to add) could have remained Protestant. The...

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Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 | 3 comments

How Should We Do Apologetics?

How Should We Do Apologetics?

Throughout my life I’ve been simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by apologetics. As a teenager I wanted to help people (including myself) who had sincere questions about the Christian faith. But many of the apologetics books I read seemed overly confident and simplistic in their approach. They gave the impression that their answers were conclusive and final, that nothing more needed to be said on the subject. If that was the case, then why did so many people find these answers insufficient? Should we even want irrefutable answers to every question? Furthermore, I grew up in an environment that often treated “faith without evidence” as a virtue, as if it was commendable to believe something without good reasons. To me, this seemed to obliterate the difference between Christianity and any cult that keeps control of its members by praising blind obedience and punishing honest doubts. But neither could I ignore the way the Bible praises faith as a virtue. What could it all mean? What follows is a three stage...

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Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 | 3 comments

Is ‘Suffering’ Still the Greatest Objection to Christianity?

Is ‘Suffering’ Still the Greatest Objection to Christianity?

I want to suggest that over the last few decades there has been a slow decline in objections to Christianity taking the form: “How could an all-powerful, loving God allow so much evil and suffering in the world?” The question itself comes from a modernist culture which had a very high view of human intellect, and very little room for mystery (i.e. anything that is beyond human comprehension). What has replaced it, in my experience, is a view which takes the form: “Religion is too dogmatic and constraining; it tells everyone what they should and shouldn’t believe/do, obstructing the freedom and diversity of true spirituality.” In a postmodern culture, where what’s-true-for-me is not necessarily what’s-true-for-you, the real problem is with anything that makes absolute truth claims affecting both of us. The odd thing is that these two objections are almost the opposite of each other. In the past Christianity was chided for not having enough answers. Now it is chided for having too many answers. Previously the failing of...

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Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 | 4 comments

On a Knife’s Edge: Belief in the Evidence of God

On a Knife’s Edge: Belief in the Evidence of God

Earlier this week, Barney wrote about proof for the existence of God. Rightly, he asserts that there is no proof for that Being which grounds our very notion of truth. This is important for Christians to know: scientific proof and theology should not be correlated. It is an issue of metaphysics (and history, I’d add). Barney said, “If the Christian God is real, then he is at once further away than the furthest galaxy and nearer to us that we dare to ourselves. If he is real, then everything in creation shouts his existence.” I argue here that arriving to this assertion is a rather complex one, and that it’s not far off from total disbelief in God. It would seem to me that our approach to faith hangs on a knife’s edge, waiting to fall on either side.[1] Some of us are cut in half, and thus oscillate between the two. But the existence of God is found, or not, based on our implicit or explicit answer to a primal question:...

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Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 | 4 comments

There Is No “Evidence for the Existence of God”

There Is No “Evidence for the Existence of God”

One of my most intelligent childhood friends abandoned his Christian faith at age 20, telling me that he couldn’t find a single scrap of evidence for God’s existence. It would be an insult to both his friendship and his intelligence to call such a view ridiculous, and my friend is far from the only person I know who says such things. Besides, with religious belief (or its lack) a lot more usually goes on than rational weighing of probabilities. But it is probably worth something to show that the kind of God described by Christianity is not the kind whose existence “evidence” could ever prove or disprove – that it is rather like Othello demanding evidence for Shakespeare’s existence, or Harry Potter asking whether there is a magical spell so powerful it can reveal J.K. Rowling to him. The Christian definition of ‘God’ is not that he is an invisible spiritual being who is extremely powerful and has the ability to produce stuff out of nothing, who once produced the...

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