Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Narrow Minded Faith

At Evangel, David T. Koyzis writes about "Reductionism and the narrowing of minds." He recounts the story of a young man that lost his faith at Harvard because, "...his professors persuad[ed] him that his childhood view of 'a universe which revolved about the central figure of an omnipotent Deity' could not stand up to a scientific view in which '[a]ll events in history were manifestations of cause and effect operating upon the natural level.' In short, a fairly naïve conception of science all too easily vanquished a similarly naïve faith." Koyzis then concludes:
What I find especially curious about such stories is precisely this: The narrowing of vision and the discovery of a supposedly single, naturalistic form of causality (e.g., economic productive forces, psychosexual motives, natural selection) comes disguised as an opening of one’s vistas to the real world. By contrast, those who retain a worldview recognizing the inescapable complexity of the cosmos and who refuse to see it as self-contained are almost always portrayed as cramped and closed-minded.

Yet would it not make more sense to assume that those who, with the psalmist (e.g., in Psalm 104), take joy in the sheer variety of God’s creation and live their lives accordingly are the open-minded ones? Would it not be more accurate to judge that those buying into reductionist explanations of reality have the narrower minds? Yet the peculiarly modern prejudice to the contrary dies hard, and there are still many people willing to take it at face value, particularly in the academy and the popular media.
I do not and cannot disagree with Koyzis as far as he goes, but I also find this approach a bit narrow-minded. It remains tied purely to the intellect.

I spent years of my life, especially when in academia, learning about Christian apologetics, it seemed vital. Then I took a course on C.S. Lewis' apologia taught by an atheist writing a book to refute Lewis' various arguments. His argument was that he did not have to refute Lewis because in A Grief Observed Lewis "admits" that when confronted with the death of his wife, no apologetic was sufficient, there was only faith and habit. I found Lewis correct here and the professor's argument compelling. No apologetic is sufficient.

If we are attempting to help people become better Christians we need to give them faith and habit, and pray that with that faith and habit they touch something of the supernatural and are transformed on levels beyond mere worldview. We need to give them access to a God that remains when all that is their reason tells them He does not.

God is indeed reasonable, but He is beyond reason. As long as we limit our access to Him to our reason, we place ourselves before Him and make our reason an idol.

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