The following is a post in a series written in letter format to the skeptical non-Christian, although it is intended for the Christian (skeptic or not) to read as well, actual skeptical non-Christians might enjoy reading this also. This is not a real conversation/letters, but simply a way to engage several issues of faith as well as objections showing how Christians might be able to engage various objections also…
First, I want you to know that I am thankful for you. Yes, you. There has been the rumor that Christians are against skeptics and those who ask questions, this is simply not true. There are some who are suspicious of questioning, but such are the minority of believers and are not to be confused with the majority. If we are honest, we are ask questions. What I particularly appreciate about you, Skeptic, is that you do not hesitate to ask some of the more bold and deep questions. Christians no doubt ask the same questions, if they’re honest, but more often than not they hold them within and allow their doubts and skepticism about the Bible and parts of the faith to affect their life in Christ, their faith. Instead of overtly questioning, the Christian will hold things in and pretend as if there is no questioning, but when the extreme times of life approach such as transitions, job loss, divorce, marital affairs, pornography affecting relationships, life-threatening illness, material possessions being losses, financial hardship, death of friends and loved ones, or even one’s impending death; the Christian is prone to wander into a place that is not simply a crisis of faith, but an honest place in which they are able to deal with the questions more openly in their life whereas before they might not consider doing such a thing. It’s in asking the deep questions, as you, Skeptic, do so well, that we as Christians are able to grow in our faith.
Who am I? Where did I come from? How did we get here? Does God exist? Is the Bible true, if so, how does one account for certain passages? Is Christianity true, if so, how can one be so sure amidst so many other religions in the world? Is there only one way to God or many? How do we understand which parts of the Bible are binding on Christians and which are specific to the people of Israel? If God is good, why is there evil in the world? If God is all-powerful, why this or that? How can a loving God allow so much suffering in the world? If Christianity is true and good, why has the church been responsible seemingly for so much injustice? Hasn’t science disproved Christianity and the Bible?
These are tough and complex questions, which deserve an answer and not a blank, hazy-glazed stare or a quick dismissal without any consideration.
The church could do a better job of responding to your questions and for that, I apologize. However, this is a two-way street. There are some things you could do a better job with such as the problem of evil.
Have you solved it? With all the science and enlightenment reason in the world, has evil been settled? It hasn’t. Christians haven’t always articulated it well, but part of the reason we believe in God is that the problem of evil actually helps us to believe as opposed to being a hindrance. Yes, I am going there Skeptic, as Christians, we believe that evil has come into being through simply rebelling against God which happened before the creation of humanity with angels, but the rebellion enlisted and recruited humanity in the Garden of Eden in the Bible (Genesis 3). We believe that this rebellion against God on the part of humans which we call sin has not only affected angels and humanity, but all creation, the whole earth. Now, my friend, you might object at this point and say, “Well, you’re just deferring to something else to free yourselves of the evil and responsibility of your own actions.” To that, let me say this, the complete opposite is actually true. Christianity is not about deferring evil to an external, transcendent, less real entity, but rather it’s about understanding that the problem is within us. As much as we try to defer the blame to others, we are the problem because we are sinful by nature.
What makes Christianity different from other religions, one case, is that instead of being about freeing ourselves from the bad, earthy existence, a platonic dualism in various forms you might say, Christianity is actually about redeeming flesh, not discarding it. It’s not about freeing yourself from your own existence and it’s not like the self-help folks who believe we all have the solution to the problem within us as well as the problem, Christianity says all humanity active and passive are a part of this rebellion and the solution cannot be within them because they are affected by the problem. You wouldn’t throw dirt on top of dirt in order to clean it, would you?
Now, you might say, “Well, I see where you’re going, but this is just some kind of philosophical conclusion in order to make yourself happy in light of our obvious human predicament. It’s simply wish-fulfillment.” To that I would say it certainly sounds like wish-fulfillment, but it certainly isn’t. Does a clean boy playing in the mud dream about a bath having no knowledge of cleanliness and a bath? Of course not, C.S. Lewis had it right that we are actually quite content with our human predicament. We are as a child playing in the mud and being perfectly content to do so because he cannot fathom what it might be like to experience a holiday at sea. Can someone who doesn’t know what is right figure out what is right in his own eyes? There must be some standard by which one can understand what is right and wrong. You believe in survival of the fittest and evolution. Let me ask you then, what is wrong with war? What is wrong with a stronger nation overcoming a weaker nation? What is wrong with political figures oppressing peoples? What is wrong with tribes in Africa slaughtering other tribes, even young children? If it’s simply survival of the fittest, that’s the way nature works. That’s the way of all animals, isn’t it? A lion attacks and slaughters a gazelle, there’s no outcry. A strong man kills a weak man in order to take his belongings, there is an outcry. What is the difference if we are indeed no higher than animal life? Explain that.
There is a difference. However, be careful here, as you can run into some deep water. If you go the route of the higher and enlightened being, that humanity are the most enlightened beings being able to think and reason above and beyond others, this can become a slippery slope to injustice on your part. Then, if our innate value as human beings is in our ability to reason, then it would follow that the disabled, the elderly, young children, and less intelligent could justifiably be discarded as they would be unnecessary to such a society. Do you believe the disabled, the elderly, young children, and people who aren’t as intelligent can be discarded? Then, you need to label who is considered intelligent, what is the standard, Stephen Hawking is intelligent, does that mean all others less intelligent should be discarded? Arnold Schwarzenegger in the peak of his day was incredibly strong and was Mr. Universe, does that mean everyone who is not as strong as him in his prime could justifiably be discarded since they are weak?
For the next letter in this series of posts and the rest of the ‘conversation,’ click this link Letters to the Skeptic (pt. 2).