Though things change dramatically as the years and centuries unfold with the average person enjoying luxuries now that even the bards of old couldn’t have devised for the Homeric pantheon, some of mankind’s most basic aspirations and perplexities have remained constant throughout the course of history. Even though he said it dismissively in an attempt to assuage his own conscience, Pontius Pilate’s exclamation of “What is truth?” rings as true today as it did in the time of the Roman Empire.
In fact, confusion over it and related concepts can be found at the heart of many of the disputes and issues tearing at the fabric of the early twenty-first century world. In “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek analyze why it actually requires more effort to remain an unbeliever and provide a number of tools the Christian can utilize to defend the faith in hostile situations before skeptical audiences.
Often, Christianity is downplayed and its influence minimized by secularists in the broader culture through the claim that the system is not objective. From this conjecture, critics diverge into two branches.
Older Modernists will argue that their perspective, superficially free of any prior faith commitments and extolling science as the ultimate foundation for truth, is the only objective viewpoint. Postmodernists, having grown weary of maintaining such a facade, dump the illusion of objectivity all together by postulating that every perspective is merely a matter opinion with no viewpoint being any more universally authoritative than any other. In “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek endeavor to show how Christianity is the best faith alternative for successfully balancing the tensions between the objective and the subjective.
Whether the detached skeptic — often holding a tenured university chair — wants to admit it or not, everyone (including himself) holds to some kind of religious position. In their analysis, Geisler and Turek classify religious worldviews into the three broad categories of Theism, Pantheism, and Atheism (23).
The authors define the first category of Theism as the belief that a personal God created the universe but that He is distinct from it. Examples of theistic belief systems include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The second worldview category is Pantheism, the idea that the universe as a mystical totality is God. To better understand this and the differences with Theism, Geisler and Turek provide the following example.
In Theism, God is analogous to an artist and the universe His distinct artistic work that is separate from Him but with which He interacts. In Pantheism, God is the painting. Major pantheist faiths include Hinduism, Buddhism, and the New Age movement.
The third worldview category is Atheism, which denies the existence of God and often a spiritual or immaterial component of reality all together. Under this category, Geisler and Turek have included Religious Humanism because — even though differentiated from its secularist cousin in that it gives lip service to the existence of a power beyond the material realm — Religious Humanism still looks to man rather than God as the final authority.
The Modernist and the Postmodernist have further skewered the discussion in their favor by creating barriers between the notions of belief and facts. Geisler and Turek write, “Despite its apparent persuasiveness, the claim that religion is simply a matter of faith is nothing more than a modern myth — it’s just not true. While religion certainly requires faith, religion is not only about faith. Facts are also central to all religions because all religious worldviews — including atheism — make truth claims, and many of those truth claims can be evaluated through scientific and historical investigation (23).”
There is indeed a degree of correlation between what a person believes and the world beyond the self. One only needs to point out that insane asylums and mental wards are full of people who for various reasons and as a result of assorted circumstances have had their minds severed from reality. And though we as a society must exercise vigilance and even vociferously oppose those who would infringe upon the freedom and dignity of those whose outlooks run counter to prevailing perceptions but do not pose a definitive bodily harm to those around them, Christians should advocate for their worldview as the perspective that best harmonizes the inner and outer worlds.
By Frederick Meekins