The Misconceived Faith

I’ve read a fair amount of prose written by doubt-poisoned Christians, and I’ve noticed that they have an uncanny ability to describe the problems with their own beliefs. I thought of this because I just thumbed through another such book on the shelf at the local Chapters.

We had a good eye for describing the problems. We just didn’t have any adequate solutions. At the root of all doubt-poisoned works is the insidious argument from incredulity. They all translate something like this:

“Look here, I understand the problem completely. It’s just like so. See this impossible difficulty? Who could ever answer it? What about this one? At this rate, nobody could ever be a Christian! But you see, I’ve just written this fine piece of work where I completely described the problem, and I know it’s the same problem you were thinking about. This book here is written by me, a fine, humble Christian who goes to a church just down the road, and if I can still believe in spite of these problems, you mustn’t have anything to worry about, so I’m sure you won’t mind if I just end this piece of writing without ever having addressed any of them to any great degree and HEY, OVER HERE…!”

We knew that it was pretty much impossible to patch the holes, so we got it down to a simple formula:

“I get where you’re coming from. I do. But apparently you can do the acrobatics and keep on believing. Just look at me go! And what I think really needs to be pointed out here is that you should believe this if you can. Eh?”

And maybe there’s a sound point there. But it ceases to be helpful when your sucky acrobatics fail you, and nobody has installed a net.

I cannot count the number of times I have read things of this sort. “Some people think it’s like this,” they begin. “God is a big, mean guy called Uncle Ben who…” and they proceed to describe what is supposed to be a straw man of Christianity, but ends up sounding a lot like the real thing. “Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel about it!” I’ll think to myself. So where’s the part about how it really is? Why, exactly, is it a mistake to see it that way? Silence.

On this count, at least, I don’t fault the conservative evangelicals who raised me. They just flat-out deny the problems, and in some ways it is a more consistent approach.

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