Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Rationality of Christianity

The point of Christian philosophical apologetics, I think, is to show that one is reasonable when he accepts the Christian faith. I don’t think the point is to dispel every objection, answer every question, and otherwise rationally compel every unbeliever and skeptic to faith on pain of contradiction or irrationality. Simply put, I am content to show that should one choose to become a believer, he has enough support to be rational in doing so. This distinction is crucial.
First, as already suggested, it implies that one need not bear such a staggering burden of proof as is often demanded by unbelievers. Second, it implies that far more Christians are acting rationally in accepting their beliefs than first thought. If one should only believe religious truths that he is rationally compelled to believe, then many Christians have little warrant (in the relevant sense) for believing what they do believe. However, if one is simply reasonably justified in holding his beliefs, many more are acting within the bounds of rationality.
Third, it means a rational skeptical denial does not count against the reasonableness of Christianity for a given individual. Simply because it is rational for some unbeliever to withhold belief, it does not follow that I am acting irrationally for holding my beliefs. In fact, so long as Christianity is shown to be reasonable for at least some persons, then no amount of reasonable denial should affect these persons, by definition.
Fourth, it means that while there may be intellectual barriers to faith for skeptics, it’s not the actual root issue. If doxastic voluntarism is true with respect to belief in God in the relevant sense, which I think it is, it means, for many unbelievers, the issue is a matter of the will (not the intellect). If one can reasonably be a Christian, then so can the skeptic (at least, this is plausibly so for many). But if one can reasonably be a Christian, and refrains from it with this knowledge, then the skeptic cannot claim that he would be a Christian if only intellectual barriers were removed.
I am quite satisfied to show Christians and non-Christians alike are reasonable in holding their beliefs. But the question of faith inherently involves volition. I believe, of course, that the evidence for Christianity outweighs the evidence for atheism. But I think, given Christianity’s rationality, one has no excuse before God. She ought to throw herself at the mercy of God and accept the sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for her sin (moral offenses toward God). Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

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