Happy New Year. Be blessed and be a blessing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Reason For God

It's a title of a book written by Tim Keller. He came to our campus last Friday and delivered a mind-blowing message. The following is summary of what he said. I learned a lot and I hope that you will be enlightened too.

Christianity is built based on the exclusivity of the truth claim. So do other religions. In fact, this exclusivity of the truth claim is one of the main reason for lack of peace. Imagine this, Islam says that it is right. Judaism says that it is right also. Soon, fight occurs. Simple logic, right?

So, the question remains. How do people deal with the exclusivity of the truth claim that Christianity throws at them?

1. They hope it away.
What does this mean?
It simply means that the people hope that the religion will just thin out as the technology flourish in our secular society. However, that belief is ultimately false because in the reality, religion has been thriving all over the place alongside with secularism and technological advancement. Thus, it doesn't work to just hope that it will go away one day. You just got to learn to deal with religion and can't hope it will die out sooner or later.

Conclusion, hoping it away doesn't work.

2. They outlaw/suppress it.
This doesn't work too. Foe example, China kicks out all the western missionaries but Christianity continues to grow. The reason for this is that, by kicking out the western missionaries, the Chinese government is actually making the religion even more indigenous. So now, it becomes Chinese Christianity, untainted by western culture. It does not work to suppress the religion because it only makes the religion purer and stronger.

3. They explain it away.
A lot of people tend to do this. They try to explain things off but it doesn't work too. One of the reasons that most scientists will give is that the religion is part of the natural selection in which the ancestor takes the belief of God, chooses it, and that trait is passed on to the newer generation. It is not because you believe in a God, but it is because you are hardwired to believe in God since that belief helps your ancestor survives in the past. To bring this point further, scientist claims the existence of belief forming faculty in our mind that tells us religions make sense to us and that the belief forming faculty is there to help you survive. Thus, you should not believe in your belief forming faculty because it is unreliable.

If you cannot believe what your belief forming faculty is telling you about religion, how can you trust or believe your belief forming faculty to tell you the right thing about evolution?

4. They argue it away
Normally, people get questions like this:
How dare you say that your religion is true?
The problem like this exists again, due to the exclusive truth that every religion holds. For example, bible clearly says that Jesus is the only way to God.

The following are some of the common points for arguing against Christianity
I. All religion are equally right.
This is impossible because every other religions say that "I am a prophet coming to you to show you the way to find God" except Christianity.

I do like the doctrine of Jesus Christ but I like the teachings only.
That claim simply means you have not read the bible at all. He claims that he is God and that statement is everywhere. How could you believe all that he says except the part where he claims he is God when that is the statement that gets repeated over and over again? If Jesus is indeed that God who comes to find His people, then Christianity has to be the superior religion here.
In conclusion, Christianity can only be superior or inferior to other religions. There is no way of saying that all religions are the same

II You are all equally wrong.
This claim asserts that all religions are wrong because they all say that they have truth but they don't have. The most elegant example that they come out with is the story of the blind men with the elephant. One holds the tusk and thinks that elephant looks like a tusk. Another holds the tail and thinks that elephant are small and flexible. That's the analogy to the current religions. In short, they are all blind.

The problem with that is that the whole point of the story is overlooked. The story is told from a man who can see. Without a man who can see the whole picture, how could you know that the blind people see different parts of the elephant? How could you know if you were blind too? Therefore, the only way to see it is that you can see. So there cannot be all false religions.

What about people who say this:
"No religion is true. You are dogmatic. You are arrogant. What are you trying to do to me? Evangelize? Trying to convert me"
For these people who think that Christians are arrogant and are trying to push their beliefs on others, what are they doing? They are doing the same thing too. So Christianity cannot impose their beliefs on others but others can impose secularity on Christians? How awful. When people say that you are pushing their morality/beliefs on them, it's the same as saying they are pushing their morality/beliefs on us too. If you say don't evangelize me, you are evangelizing me. So who is more narrow-minded here? Ultimately, it is fine to make exclusive truth because everyone makes them.

What is narrowness?
- attitude toward other people who don't share your belief
- if you make jokes of them, you are narrow yourself. You are fundamentalist yourself.

So there we go, it doesn't work.

II Ok, you love your view but you need to keep it private.
To illustrate this, take our modern day. When you argue for public policy, you never use a religious reason. You must always use secular reasonings. Why? Because religion is conversation stopper since there are other people who don't share that view. So let just do things pragmatically and use practical solution. Put religious ideas behind the work.

No, that doesn't work.
It doesn't work because everyone argues. If you say that society must be this/that, there is no God, morality is relative, human has the right to determine right/wrong, can you prove all that? Even those claims are religious statements and more so, not everyone has access to that view point except for those who agree with you.

Should divorce be easy or hard?
Traditionalist: Individuals are less important than the family - so divorce should be hard
Modernist: Individuals are more important than family - so divorce should be easy.

How can you use practical justification when different people are rooted in different beliefs that are unprovable too?

Let me introduce 2 terms to you.
Privileged secularism - people can only use secular methods to build laws
Procedurral/ Pushy secularism - the state is not going to support any religious ground but everyone has the freedom to argue out of the religious ground.

US is taking the latter approach and you can see how privatization just doesn't work here. Religious belief will emerge no matter what.

So the suggestions to you guys are:

You need to recognize why we have big problems in our country. Take responsibility that you are the problem. Only then can you be the heart of the solution.

If you say, "I'm a good person because I perform" then you are feeling superior to others.
If you say, "I'm good because I'm religious" then you are looking down on other who are not religious.

Remember about the grace narrative. A salvation is accomplished in our weakness. You can never look up to your own performances to feel superior. You must be weak to accept God. If you have a little bit of grace, just a little bit, then you won't have the self-righteousness and pride that you feel superior to others.


In the past, the Graeco Roman believed that everyone had their own God. And what happened to the society? The weak and the poor were despised.
The Christian came and say that they only had one God. But all the poor are loved.

When trouble came, the Romans fled while the Christians remained to help out with the people there.
So how could Christians be narrow if they live the most inclusive possible lifestyle out of the most exclusive truth claim?

People are linking fundamentalists to terrorism now. NO. It all depends on your fundamentals. If you fundamentals is a God/man sacrifice for people, you will have the most inclusive life. An example of this will be the Armish people. They are fundamentalists too but can you imagine an Armish terrorist? No.

God becomes real and died on the forgiving people. That that to your heart and you will be the heart of the solution to the problems we have now.


Later he holds a Q and A session and one of the questions that struck me is this:

Bible lacks details. Parts of the bible looks bias. How could you ask people to forgive other seventy times seven times? There should be justice, there should be vengeance.

Aristotle thinks that same sex marriage is bias.

So if you take either one of the position (same sex is bias of forgiveness is bias), that's because you are bias yourself too.

The bible HAS to be bias if it is the ultimate truth because it won't agree to a certain culture only.

Culture A might think that a is good while b is bad.
Culture B might think that b is good while a is bad.

It is easy to see how bible can never be truly be free from bias simply because everyone has his or her own different views. So if the bible is bias, that means it is good.



In His Service


Eu Jeen said...

hahahah never once ur post dont have some sort of set and subset explanation.

Brian Chee said...

Hey...great message. Yes, this is the kind of response that really challenges the beliefs of atheists, agnostics, people of other religions who claim that Christians are exclusivists. In fact, they are being exclusivists themselves.

I believe that people do not accept Christianity because they're afraid that they might lose something, like the freedom to indulge in personal pleasure, should they choose to accept Christ. It's not that there are not enough evidence for Christianity. In fact, there has been a wealth of evidence that supports the claims of the Bible. I guess it's either people themselves do not put in the effort to seek the truth, or they are afraid to embrace the truth out of fear of losing their "freedom".

It's a great article. It really strengthens Christians, and helps them realise that they're not putting their faiths in something that's merely "fable" or "legend", but rather on something that's grounded on solid evidence and logical reasoning.

Leen said...

set/subset makes explanations easier than no-set/subset.

Eu Jeen said...

hahah and yeah i cant really imagine an Amish terrorist.. maybe in a sitcom.. maybe..

and an amen to brian ^_^

keropok lekor said...

Did Tim Keller really came to INTEC Campus Alive?????!!


Leen said...

No. -__- He was in my campus for book tour the other day. So I managed to attend that talk. He was not in INTEC. XD