“And you say, ‘Well the religions of the world say God is a God of love.’ Don’t you believe that. Buddhism doesn’t believe that God is personal. Neither does Hinduism really. And actually one time I remember having a dialogue, a public dialogue, with the Muslims–Muslims and Christians together–and we talked about God’s love. And the Muslims are willing to say ‘We believe in God being merciful,’ but when I brought up the Christian idea from the Bible, ‘God is our spouse, God is our lover, God is our father, God is our friend, God sheds his love abroad in my heart.’ And our Muslim friends said, ‘That is disrespectful. We would never talk about God that way.'” -Tim Keller, sermon “The God Who Is”
“In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” -Thomas Nagel, The Last Word
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“As a matter of fact, I am sure the opposite is the case and that materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational. Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat.” -A.N. Wilson, “Religion of hatred”
“The answer to the questions, ‘Who are you,’ ‘Why are you here,’ ‘What’s wrong with the world,’ ‘Where are you going,’ ‘How do you fix it’–everybody has that baseline narrative in their life and it has been shaped and formed–your answer to that reveals who your teacher is.” -David Bisgrove, sermon “Marriage and Discipleship”
“You might decide simply to have as good a time as possible. The universe is a universe of nonsense, but since you are here, grab what you can. Unfortunately, however, there is, on these terms, so very little left to grab – only the coarsest sensual pleasures. You can’t, except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with a girl if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties both of her person and of her character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by the collision of atoms, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from the behavior of your genes. You can’t go on getting any very serious pleasure from music if you know and remember that its air of significance is a pure illusion, that you like it only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like it. You may still, in the lowest sense, have a “good time”; but just in so far as it becomes very good, just in so far as it ever threatens to push you on from cold sensuality into real warmth and enthusiasm and joy, so far you will be forced to feel the hopeless disharmony between your own emotions and the universe in which you really live.” – C.S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age”
“It will not do … to say that Jesus’ disciples were so stunned and shocked by his death, so unable to come to terms with it, that they projected their shattered hopes onto the screen of fantasy and invented the idea of Jesus’ ‘resurrection’ as a way of coping with a cruelly broken dream. That has an initial apparent psychological plausibility, but it won’t work as serious first-century history.
We know of lots of other messianic and similar movements in the Jewish world roughly contemporary with Jesus. In many cases the leader died a violent death at the hands of the authorities. In not one single case do we hear the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming that their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better. ‘Resurrection’ was not a private event. It involved human bodies. There would have to be an empty tomb somewhere.
A Jewish revolutionary whose leader had been executed by the authorities, and who managed to escape arrest himself, had two options: give up the revolution, or find another leader. We have evidence of people doing both.
Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option.
Unless, of course, he was.” -N.T. Wright, Who Was Jesus?
… you actually don’t know the future. Take this example from letter written by Pope Leo X to Frederick the Wise, exhorting him to give up Martin Luther. Notice the appeal to what future generations would say:
Beloved son, the apostolic benediction be upon you. We recall that the chief ornament of your most noble family has been devotion to the faith of God and to the faith of God and to the honor and dignity of the Holy See. Now we hear that a son of iniquity, Brother Martin Luther of the Augustinian eremites, hurling himself upon the Church of God, has your support. Even though we know it to be false, we must urge you to clear the reputation of your noble family from such calumny. having been advised by the Master of the Sacred Palace that Luther’s teaching contains heresy, we have cited him to appear before Cardinal Cajetan. We call upon you to see that Luther is placed in the hands and under the jurisdiction of this Holy See lest future generations reproach you with having fostered the rise of a most pernicious heresy against the Church of God (as quoted in Roland Bainton, Here I Stand, pg. 71).
Pope: Give up Luther, or you’ll be on the wrong side of history.
Frederick the Wise: No.
Whether it’s ego or the worst extremes of ‘sovereign self’ thinking, we need to come back to the rather obvious points that a) no one knows the future and b) it’s incredibly arrogant and manipulative to think I can presently control what future people will say about me and c) in any other context such a mentality in which my decisions are based primarily on what other people think of me could be labelled as some form of codependency.
With the Reformation, we saw people who stood with conscience and were not concerned what future generations had to say about it.
The problem with this viewpoint is that it can’t live up to its own standards. How could you empirically prove that no one should believe something without empirical proof? You can’t, and that reveals [strong rationalism] to be, ultimately, a belief [an act of faith].”
“Strong rationalism also assumes that it is possible to achieve, ‘the view from nowhere,’ a position of almost complete objectivity, but virtually all philosophers today agree that is impossible. We come to every individual evaluation with all sorts of experiences and background beliefs that strongly influence our thinking and the way our reason works.”
From Tim Keller, The Reason for God , pg. 118
- The Big Bang: What caused it?
- The Fine-Tuning Argument: Why are the constants and regularities of the universe tuned to exactly what is needed for the universe to exist?
- The Regularity of Nature: Why does the universe follow predictable patterns that make observation and induction reliable guides to truth?
- The Clue of Beauty: Why does art strike us as meaningful as opposed to something that is just ‘there’ like a trash heap or a colorless piece of canvas? Why is there love?
- The Reliability of Our Cognitive Faculties: If what our brains tell us about God (as well as morality, love, and beauty) is not real but just residual genetic leftovers of earlier species coping with life, then couldn’t the same apply to naturalistic beliefs about the world–they are just chemical reactions in the brain that can’t be helped, and certainly shouldn’t be trusted to determine what is real?