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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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Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 | 5 comments

Two Voices Calling: Tradition and Atheism

Two Voices Calling: Tradition and Atheism

There are two major intellectual motifs I encounter at seminaries and theological institutions: engaging more with the tradition and becoming an atheist. When faced with the cacophony of voices that represent theology’s history, students often find themselves down roads they never thought they’d travel. Sometimes the dissonance leads them to Catholicism or Orthodoxy, other times it leads them to sultry post-Christian philosophers writing on the topics of Being, beauty, and the Other. Thus, many young theologians and biblical scholars sit somewhere between committed faith and an orientation toward nothingness, peering at once into both. They hear a call from two  voices: one is an ancient tradition with liturgy, rituals, and a robust theology that demands both intellectual rigor and radical faith; the other is an atheism that finds despair a normal orientation toward the world, and yet, balanced with a sort of hopeful hopelessness grounded on beauty and love. These young scholars are a Janus, one face seeking a glimpse of the divine, the other peering into the void....

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Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 | 3 comments

Zizek, Enjoyment, and the Atheist Bus Campaign

Zizek, Enjoyment, and the Atheist Bus Campaign

Along with his penchant for dirty jokes and obsession with American movies, philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s willingness to discuss trivia such as national differences in toilet design is easily mocked. But Zizek’s interest in everyday details is part of his unique gift to communicate Marxist philosophy and Lacanian psychoanalysis to a popular audience. Zizek is therefore the perfect guide to help us interpret the recent atheist bus campaign. Running on buses worldwide, the advertisements carry a slogan penned by U.K. comedy writer Ariane Sherine: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” What is of interest here is not the premise – “There’s probably no God” – which is of course the obvious point of the campaign, and functions as an intervention in an established public debate about the existence of a being with a certain name and qualities. Rather, the ideological key of the slogan is the second sentence: “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” These words can be read in a modest way as...

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