God’s Not Dead, Chapter 2 – Real Faith Isn’t Blind (pt14)
REAL FAITH ISN’T BLIND
Mr. Broocks begins Chapter 2 retelling a story from 2012 when he visited the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia. He makes note that “very few if any Christians appeared to be in attendance” as if that was somehow a bad thing. This was an atheist gathering, why would there be many (any) Christians there?
My goal in attending was simply to listen. I thought that if atheists were gathering from around the world, then something earth-shaking would be said that I would want to hear firsthand–maybe some new discovery in science that demonstrated (in their minds) that God does not exist.
Wat!? This may be what the author expected but I assume this is simply his way to deride the convention. Obviously this was not a scientific convention where “earth-shaking” science would be unveiled, this was an atheist convention. Also, if an “earth-shaking” discovery were to be demonstrated at the (or any) convention it wouldn’t be “in their minds“. Scientific evidence is true whether or not you believe it or want it to be true. Continuing in his attempt to mock the convention he says:
Instead of the intellectual onslaught I was bracing for, the opening-night speakers were four professional comedians.
The next day, rather than offer scientific or philosophical reasons for the nonexistence of God, speaker after speaker railed against religion and continued the tone set by the comedians on opening night.
An atheist convention isn’t about disproving the existence of the gods, please remember the burden of proof. This (and all) convention is about a group of people who have similar interests getting together to meet and greet with like minded individuals. The entirety of the weekend needn’t be devoted to disproving the gods, how would they have time to disprove every god throughout all of the history of the human race?
Comic Cons happen every year in multiple cities across the globe and the discussions aren’t completely comic-centric. They are a group of individuals who like comics and other parts of that lifestyle who want to meet other people to network with. The panels aren’t all about comics, most, if not all, are about the technologies, the businesses, and the people who work in the field producing the comics, movies, shows, games, etc.
Conventions are about the people who may not be able to connect with someone like themselves normally, not necessarily about the topic that brought them together.
The author continues, bringing up a discussion between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox. Dawkins makes a comment about needing a rational basis for belief (his definition of belief is a position based on evidence not on faith) to dissuade people being able to justify their actions saying “I’m sorry I just believe that Allah told me to go kill all those people.” Lennox’s response:
“I understand it from my own perception of the New Testament that that is not what the Christian faith is, that’s dangerous, that blind faith.”
It’s not very compelling and boils down to ‘I’m sorry I just believe God tells the right things’. How is that different from what Dawkins says is the problem with faith? How can Lennox and the author both not see the similarity between the two statements!?
A legitimate concern is when people believe without a rational basis. This allows them to carry out horrible, unreasonable acts, such as the 9/11 terrorist acts, in the name of their faith. The One who said, “Love your enemies,” is the extreme opposite of someone commanding his followers to “kill the infidel.”
As much as this sounds good it isn’t the full truth. A “legitimate concern” is when people devote themselves to an idea that is little more grounded than a dream. Faith (believing without seeing) isn’t only a bad thing when the result is bad. Not having evidence for your beliefs can lead to problematic decisions later on. That ‘kill the infidel’ remark reminds me of a radical believer quoted below.
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Troubling quote, no? I hope you’ve heard it before, I know you’ve heard of the speaker, it was Jesus speaking to his disciples in Matthew chapter 10.
Reason serves as a type of immune system helping us sort out helpful beliefs from harmful ones. When humans look at any set of events, we use our reason to draw conclusions about what has happened.
Irrationality is not a religious thing; it’s a human thing.
Making the point that real faith isn’t blind includes no blindly believing everything said in the name of “science.”
There it is, perhaps the largest single selection of text that the author and I agree on. The latter one is disagreeable because science doesn’t work that way. Stephen Hawking didn’t say black holes release radiation and everyone believed him. They attempted to prove him wrong by checking and rechecking his work when the qualified people were unable to prove him wrong and approved of the work the scientific community accepted it, called Hawking radiation. And to think that we all thought nothing made it out of a black hole.
“We use our reason…” yes and also experience and evidence come in to play. Also I must point out again that just because you use reason to make a decision, that doesn’t mean the result is true. Remember the logic/reason that a kid uses to believe in Santa clause that I described in the earlier chapter.
You have been given the ability to observe the phenomena around you and reason whether it is the product of blind forces or an intelligent Creator.
“the ability to observe the phenomena around you” AKA science. Now, after speaking ill of atheists using science and reason to reason themselves out of religion, the author promotes science and its advancements. He makes one mistake here:
Consider the discovery of the Higgs boson particle at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, in July 2012. This particle, nicknamed by nonscientists the “God Particle,” is unlocking physicists’ understanding of the mysterious subatomic world and producing the belief that humanity may soon understand the smallest detail of how the universe works.
While it does seem that the “God Particle” would have been coined by a non scientist the story that I know and find more compelling is described below. I even noted it in the book when I was reading it the first time. Link to the article here.
The name was created by Leon Lederman, a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist, for the title of a book (“The God Particle: If The Universe Is The Answer, What Is The Question?”). But it wasn’t what he wanted to call it.Originally he wanted to call it the “Goddamn Particle”, because “nobody could find the thing” (according to Lederman’s one-time postdoc researcher Marcelo Gleiser).
The author makes another, I think, mislead statement about science.
However, just because we know how a mechanism works doesn’t eliminate the existence of the architect and builder of the mechanism.
Yes, this is true but the meaning behind it is misleading. We, atheists, don’t use scientific advances and discoveries to rid ourselves of religion; we use scientific methods of reason, logic, and evidence to make decisions about religious claims.
The way these facts are interpreted comes down to the beliefs you hold or the lens through which you look.
Well, Ken Ham’s god glasses made it into the book too. I really hoped I wouldn’t have to bring him into this blog but if I must, I must. Facts do not get interpreted by your beliefs, facts are facts. You can wear your god glasses but just because the Bible says a global flood occurred a couple thousand years ago, if the evidence doesn’t support that claim (which it doesn’t) it should be released.
The author takes a moment to bash the atheist position that “The universe just is,” asserts the naturalist. The only commentary that I made in this sentence is to strike out the universe and the naturalist and substitute God and theist respectively. “God just is,” asserts the theist. How is that sentence any different. The author wants to deride naturalists for claiming the universe could be eternal while theists claim their god is.
More derision just a few sentences later, this time about one of the Four Horsemen, Christopher Hitchens. The author claims that Hitchens “seemed quite taken aback when he encountered Christians in his debates who actually had reasons for their faith”, but he fails to provide even a single example of such an incident.
Reason demands that we examine claims made in the name of faith or science in the same way we would examine the ingredients on a pill bottle or food item on a store shelf. Not all claims are equal.
The author writes this and agree with it but he doesn’t. He wrote it to refute it. We have FDA to enforce the laws about ingredients on our food, I wonder if the author would eat a food that had no ingredients list that was produced in an area known to use bugs in their food but the item had a label that said ‘just trust us, no bugs’. I doubt he would, he would want to examine the claim, he wouldn’t take it on faith. All claims surely aren’t equal.
I hope to demonstrate that faith and reason are vial partners and complementary components for the discovery of truth. Tim Keller, a best-selling author and pastor in New York City, made this challenge to skeptics: “I urge skeptics to wrestle with the unexamined ‘blind faith’ on which skepticism is based, and to see how hard it is to justify those beliefs to those who do not share them. I also urge believers to wrestle with their personal and culture’s objections to the faith.”
?! “‘blind faith’ on which skepticism is based” ?!
OK, sorry about that, but really, this guy’s quote is ridiculous. I urge you and him to wrestle with the unexamined ‘blind faith’ on which their skepticism is based when we are talking about mermaids. You don’t believe in them (hopefully) but why don’t you? Wrestle with your skepticism and your “personal and culture’s objections to” mermaids.
What makes an author “best-selling” anyways? I’ve never heard of this guy. That’s not an ad hominem, just a statement.
Based on the statement above and the book we’re reading, I am confident to say the author’s definition of faith (just as mine is) is that of holding confidence in an idea while having no material or experiential evidence in support of the claim (or else he wouldn’t have made the dichotomy between faith and reason).
Sorry for such a long post but I must do what is needed. Thanks for keeping up. Remember to comment if you have any!