This post came into being as a result of a recent debate on Facebook. The debate was about different religions. While discussing the whole range of issues covered in that debate is out of the scope of this post, I’d like to comment on one particular point that I wasn’t able to explain articulately during the debate.
During the debate, a statement, which I don’t see as an argument, was used as an argument. “Christianity is based on faith”. This statement was brought up repeatedly as if it was weakening the case for Christianity. I have written about faith earlier. If you’re interested, you can read this and this. However, this post should stand on its own.
It seems that it’s assumed that if anything is based on faith, it has no connection to reality whatsoever. However, my relationship with my friend is also based on faith. Does that mean our friendship doesn’t really exist?
In our times, where empiricism reigns supreme, it has become a fashion to denounce anything that has any relation to faith whatsoever. And if that thing is religion, even more so. But if a faith is based on reason (as my post here illustrates) then denouncing that faith is equal to denouncing the reasons of that faith. Let’s look at the central claims of Christianity and see if they are reasonable.
- Existence of God
“If there was no God, there would be no atheists.” – G. K. Chesterton (Note: That’s not an argument. I’m just poking fun. Listing down all the arguments is out of the scope for one blog post. However, if anyone wants to argue, I hear comments are the place to be!)
- Historicity of Christ
Wikipedia says, “Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically”. So, if any of you have doubts about his existence, take it up to the “modern scholars of antiquity”. Whoever that might be…
- Resurrection of Christ
Yes, I know, it’s a crazy claim. You know what’s crazier? The alternative. Suppose Christ was never resurrected but still, there are 2.2 billion people in the world believing that he did. How? The most common response is that they were raised up to believe that. So, there’s a boy who believes in Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. He grows up and stops believing in Santa Claus but still believes in Jesus Christ even more intensely. Why?
There’s a better question. If Christ was never resurrected, how and why did the greatest civilization on earth at the time, Rome, after opposing and trying to exterminate Christianity for nearly 3 centuries, bowed to the cult of “one dead man”?
The answer to both of these question can be given in one simple statement. “He was resurrected.” Every other explanation comes from either the tea table of conspiracy theorists or the people with an agenda.
(Note: If you want to study the matter in detail, the case for the resurrection is well described in the books of Lee Strobel. If you’re not the reading kind, try a video.)
I can write much more about the subject, but for now, this should suffice. None of these three claims can be justly eliminated. But still, there remains a subconscious bias against faith, that anything based on it should be thrown out. Only the things that are empirically verifiable should be trusted. This is a recipe for madness. Because, if faith is ever eliminated from our daily lives, reason will go with it and what will remain, will be unreason.
Let me illustrate. Let me tell you a story of a man who decided to eliminate all traces of faith from his daily life. Incidentally, (or consequently) on the same day, he fell sick. Being an empiricist, he took a thermometer and checked his temperature. The mercury was at a level where it shouldn’t be. So, he decided to go to a doctor. He wanted to take a taxi, but couldn’t bring himself to trust any taxi driver. So instead, he took his bike and somehow managed ride it to the nearest hospital. After filling some forms, registering his case and waiting in a long queue, at long last, it was his turn to go to the doctor. And this is what happened in the doctor’s office: The doctor said, “How do you feel? What’s the issue?” “I’d like to see your license to practice medicine.” “What?” “Your license. Please.” “Is this some kind of surprise inspection?” “No, I just want to make sure that you have a proper license” “Well, I don’t have it on me right now… it’s at home. But, you don’t look so well. Why don’t you tell me how you are feeling?” “I can’t do that. How do I know you are a doctor?” “Well, I’m working at a renowned hospital which has very strict regulations for hiring…” “Well, you could’ve paid your way to your job…” “Seriously?” “I’d like to see those strict regulations…” “Mister, there’s a long line of people waiting outside who need my help. So, please, can you stop being so difficult and let me diagnose you already?” “No. I want proof that you’re a doctor.” The doctor picked up a phone and called security, and security escorted our hero out of the hospital.
Still, not feeling well, he went to another doctor. The doctor, fortunately (or unfortunately) was able to show him his credentials, but it was from an authority that our hero didn’t recognize. So, he decided to not get treated and instead look up the authenticity of the said authority. He hired a private detective to investigate the said authority. The investigator said that he’d contact him back 3 days later with the required information. Still sick, going back home, he realized what a grave mistake he had made! He “put faith” in a private detective without checking him out… “The fever must be getting to my head…” he said to himself. Went home and rested.
Long story short, two weeks later, he was still sick and his credit card was overdrawn. In his mad decision to never put faith in anything, he had managed to anger 4 doctors, 3 private investigators, 1 police officer, a parrot (don’t ask) and the head of the medical department of a renowned hospital. It was a public spectacle at his home, when on the morning of the 15th day of his life changing decision, an ambulance came and our hero was dragged to a lunatic asylum, kicking and screaming…
That story never took place in reality but it’s a very plausible scenario. And if only one person’s mad decision can cause so much havoc, what will happen if the whole world made a similar decision?
There’s one more point that I’d like to make. Someone might say that the use of faith in our everyday lives and religious faith are two different things. To those people, I’d like to ask a simple question. “How is it different?”. To me, both of them are one and the same things. Both of them depend on reasons. And these reasons are available for everyone to evaluate and criticize. As for me, I’ve not found a single philosophy/religion/belief system that is as worthy of trust as that of the crucified Christ.