When you pick up, on a typical day, the arguments of atheists and agnostics against the Christian worldview, you almost always get the sense of straw men on the loose. You hear of god up there “in the sky”, of faith portrayed as emotional crutch, once relevant in the infancy of humanity, now useful only for the weak, the fearful, and the, shall we say, “unevolved”. You are told about a belief system that constructed a moral order on the substructure of fear and unreasoning dogma. The lazy critic loves his straw men, of course. They are built for easy “kill”, and they tickle the fancy of those unwilling to engage with care and rigour.
Serious minded, conscious Christians know all too well that the caricature of the “god in the sky”- a certain feature of anthropomorphism- is long discredited, and doesn’t feature in their beliefs. And so is the dubious construct of faith as the enemy of reason.
In short, Christians believe that the universe was created, ex nihilo, by an infinite-personal God. Now of course there will be those who disagree with Christian beliefs, but what can hardly be gainsaid is the intellectual credibility of its ontological formulation and the practical sensibility of the Christian worldview.
The first intellectual and practical implication of Christian ontology is that the universe does indeed have a meaning, and humans have a purpose within it. Humanity is not a fortuitous concourse of atoms, but purposeful creations with the capacity to make morally meaningful choices, with the power to, in effect, make love or make war. Within this canvas, there is no space for moral nihilism. Yes, our perceptions of what is right or wrong may be blurred by cultural lenses or hampered by acquired biases and learned dishonesty, but these do not change the objective essence of right and wrong, good and evil. This objective reality is validated -dare I say only- within the framework of Christian theism. For, to use rather colourful examples, if the universe is meaningless, and human life purposeless, a man may well have his neighbour’s arm for dinner, and murder will be just another game.
The second implication of the Christian worldview is that, contrary to suggestions that it is intellectually sterile, it is in fact most intellectually invigorating. If the universe is meaningful, it is our exciting duty as humans to locate the meanings with the powerful tool of our rational minds. A meaningful universe is more stimulating than one without meaning, without order. The treasure chest is out there in the vast space, and we have been given the tool and the clues to find them.
The third implication is that faith is the essential foundation of all epistemology. To parody Descartes, we believe, therefore we know. In the world of natural sciences, no empirical knowledge begins without philosophical propositions and theoretical assumptions. This is as true of physical experiments as it is true of logical postulations . Faith is not the enemy of reason, it is its anchor, its launching pad. The engine by which it flies to places. This is why, in more sense than one, Christians say that “faith without works is dead”. True faith is working faith. Authentic faith is reasoning faith.
*To be continued*