Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Week 2 - Bible and philosophy

I began my philosophy class with a friendly discussion among students. We had a good amount of time before our professor showed up, so we turned to each other to get the philosophical ball rolling.

I can not recall the exact question. The religious studies major first voiced his position through the lenses of his field, turned to the business major for his interpretation, and then to myself as the "theologian." It was fascinating to be in such a mutual learning environment! All I remember about the topic was what I shared, I think it was surrounding the Atheist and how he can believing in an incomprehensible universe. Something like that. My response, again, as the theologian, was that "doesn't the theologian (notice my objectivity! I craftily avoid proclaiming my stance..) believe in an incomprehensible God?"

So class begun shortly thereafter. We delved into all the problems with religion. From the problem of evil, to the problem with Arminianism and the fact that if God is omniscient, we have no free will.

After this, in facing all the problems with God head on, our professor clarified and said "now we cannot take off our glasses." In other words, we look at all this through Christian lenses and do not remove them. So although we realize none of this makes sense, we still believe in our God.

So I asked myself. Is it that simple? Is faith really just a matter of wearing glasses? What about me, have I taken the glasses off? If so, can the glasses be put back on? Would I see God clearer through these lenses? The ultimate question: Can I face the fact that none of it makes sense, and still believe?

Certainly, if we destroy all of our doctrines, we simply strip God of human definitions, do we not? We do not actually destroy the possibility of his/its existence.

But then what would I be believing in? If it is devoid of the capacity to define it, can I still call myself a Christian? Although, naturally, the Christian believes in more than God, the Chrsitian believes in the Bible and in Jesus, which is embeded in those glasses.

Which leads to the next class, and next thought process:

If the Bible can be found to be true, does Atheism fall apart?

I have though long and hard (*giggle* long and hard...) about this and have not come to a consensus.

For one, can the Bible be proven to be true? I recall lists that can easily be found on the internet of "problems with the Bible." But every time I go to my classes, the Bible makes more and more sense. The questions are explained, it it suddenly makes contextual sense. So what if all those problems can be answered with reasonable, contextual, critical analysis? Would it be true? Just what does it take to prove something like the Bible as true?

Furthermore, if I can find the Bible to be true, can I again accept Jesus? Can I make that step? Can I intellectually grab a hold of the concept that I am a sinner although I find such a doctrine as absolutely repulsive? Can I wrap my arms around the fact that I must accept this man, Jesus, who lived 2000 years ago as my "savior" (from what, I don't know) from whom I am granted access into the afterlife?

Even further, do I have to? Well, the Bible says that if I do not, I burn. So I have no choice if I find it to be true. But I wonder if I have the capacity? It makes no sense to me, but many things don't make sense and are true. I look at the platypus for example and think... well that's just odd! It doesn't make sense to me and is, to me, the strangest creature to be found. But it is real.

Then again, my use of "sense" is not congruent with logic!

So can the Bible make logical sense? I wonder!


  1. Nice analogy. Raises an interesting question: is God an illusion, embedded in the lenses, or is it that these metaphorical glasses give us the vision to see him? Until I have evidence of the latter, I suppose my natural vision will have to suffice.

    A general question: what motivates you to study the Bible?

  2. Good questions. Definitely something I have thought about! To the Christian, I'm not sure it matters which it is?

    As to your personal question, it's a long story. I began studying the Bible with the intent of entering youth ministry and pastoring. =) So the question is, why do I still do it?

    I can't answer. I've only recently fully accepted Atheism (the process was a long one!) so part of it is to finish what I started. I only have a year left to finish my BA, so no use to abandoning it. I have been asking myself what I am doing with my life. An Atheist? Studying and teaching the Bible?

    Sounds ridiculous. But the Bible has fascinating history. The fact that so few people understand what it actually says enthralls me. It's impacted 3 major religions, and milenia of human history. It seems like something worth studying and teaching.

    But I can not fully answer. I'm still in the process of thinking about what I want to do now. But it is a good question!