My brother Kyle and I recently (and seemingly continually) had a bout on twitter. The back and forth centered around who the ultimate authority of a persons life is. My stance of course is that God is that authority, and his position is that each individual is the authority over their own life. He wanted me to clarify my way of thinking about this and that is hard to do 140 characters at a time.
The first thing I need to say before I delve too much further is that I am not an incredibly intelligent person, nor am I the best writer. In fact, I think it would be helpful to include a list of those whom have shaped my thinking the most. If you are so inclined I have added a list at the bottom of this post of those books and authors.
Secondly, one of the things that is important to know is that there really isn’t a question about Christianity that is new. Sure it may be new to you, but that does not mean that someone 1,000 years ago did not also have the same question, discovered the answer and then wrote about it. As a culture we are very arrogant to think that all of these ideas about there not being a god of any sort to be really new ideas, but this is all the same ground we have covered over and over again. Hitchens claimed often that God was our (Humanities) first and worst attempt to explain the universe and all things in it.
How could he know this? Where did he get this special revelation from? If we are a species that has been present between 250,000 and 100,000 years as he claimed, then a few thousand years ago we come up with the idea of god is then in the grand scheme of things a rather new idea even if it is old to us. And further, we don’t know what was in the minds of early man, though we can guess.
And my guess is that Atheism, just like Theism has been with us from the start. There have always been those who have not believed just as there have been those who have. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I wish to make 4 main points and I’ll try to keep them brief.
1. Objective truth exists in the Universe
There is such a thing as a wave length of light even if the color red is subjective. There is such a thing as matter and energy. There is such a thing as things. When we are not capable of trusting our most basic of faculties, that is when reason truly ends. And this isn’t to say that we can’t be tricked. Optical illusions are wonderful because they expose our limited ability to perceive the reality of things. But the illusion revealed is just as wonderful because it shows us that there was a true thing all along, even if we didn’t see it rightly to begin with.
However, if I believe that our faculties were merely the sum of chance+time. Why should I believe that my ability to reason leads me to anything that is true? In other words, if evolution exists for the primary purpose of passing along my genetics, then why should I believe my own mind?
But, since I believe we have been created I also then believe that there is a mind behind my being.
2. Objective truth exists outside of my acknowledgment of it.
This is easy. I am affected by gravity regardless of my willingness. It doesn’t matter if I believe in it or not. It is a constant force, one of the fundamental realities of the universe. It doesn’t need my permission to be true.
God then is true (or not) regardless of my assumptions or convictions. Imagine two rivers. One is the belief that God is real. The other is the belief that God is not. OK. Now, only one of these rivers exists and the other one is a lie. The choice then is to believe in something that does exist or something that does not exist. And the rivers both lead somewhere, even imaginary ones.
3. There is a truth giver
Since I believe in a river that God is. I believe that this leads me to a place (that will take a whole other post) to Christianity. I believe that God has given us faculties to see truth, to seek it out with science. I believe that discovery and technology are important parts of knowing more about God’s creation and God himself. I believe that He is the one who has an objective view of all things and that leads me to…
4. Objective truth is knowable.
God reveals it. There is a process by which it is revealed. Some things are revealed through His word. Some through natural observation of His world. Some through more rigorous testing. Some through His Spirit. Some through other people. God created the Heavens and the Earth by speaking it into existence. Essentially, all of the natural world is a supernatural event. This is why explaining to a child a caterpillars transformation into a butterfly feels more like a fairy tale than science. Reality then, is the language of God.
To summarize; I believe that there is objective truth, which also means I believe there is a truth giver. I believe God is that giver of truth and has the monopoly on all things true. I believe that because of this there is a way to know what that truth is and the best news is that truth became a person.
1. G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy
2. C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity
3. John Lennox: Gunning for God
4. Douglas Wilson/Christopher Hitchens: Is Christianity good for the world?