I used to think I was a rational evangelical. My professors presented Christianity as consistent with science and logic. It was the unbelieving world who were unwilling to accept the facts because of their sin nature. Mans’ intellectual capacity was tainted by sin which made it impossible to acknowledge the truth. For years I subscribed to this theory until one day I started trusting my own ability to rationally discern fact from fiction. I refused to default to my faith defense and instead let the evidence and reason guide me. Thus ended my Christian faith.
“A reasonable faith” is not necessarily oxymoronic. Christians have historically been very adept at modernizing their faith to suit the intellectual times of the day. However, when a faith group, like evangelicalism, decide to resist and ignore scientific and rational progress because it impinges on their faith, it becomes irrational.
There is a huge difference between irrational and non-rational faith. The latter being currently beyond scientific verifiability and the former being contradictory to scientific laws and rationality. For instance, science cannot, and may never be able to, definitively claim “God” does or doesn’t exist. Miracles, on the other hand, contradict the laws of physics and may be said to be ancient fiction (since not a single true miracle has ever been independently verified in modern history). Evangelicals would counter, there’s no proof they didn’t occur either.
It is in this dim and nebulous space evangelicalism thrives, where truth is cloudy and facts can be manipulated. Jesus rose from the dead unseen and except for a vacant tomb and a handful of mystical encounters with Jesus and angels no evidence exists to support this belief. Christianity rests upon this lone fact. Everything else must conform to it or be rejected as false.
I used to think the bulk of evangelicals were in it for the love of God as I was. After several years of meeting Christians whose faith would be described as mediocre at best, I changed my entire theory. Christians, like evangelicals, are primarily interested in the future benefit — heaven. This also explained why they put so little effort into living holy and pious lives. Fear of death not fear of God was their motivation.
Fear makes a person irrational. Christians are unaware of this because they have subverted it with hope. Few can even remember the terrifying fear of dying because most converted at an early age. However, if you engage an evangelical in a vigorous discussion about the rational basis of their faith, emotion not reason rules the day.
Invariably any serious discussion about the intellectual merits of Christianity will devolve into the question of the existence of God or the possibility of miracles. If you cannot disprove God exists, you cannot disprove the possibility of miracles, especially the resurrection of Jesus, and therefore the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Check mate! Not quite.
The issue is not over the existence of God or even the possibility of miracles. All roads lead to whether the Bible is an historically reliable document and worthy of unconditional trust on matters of the supernatural. This is a debate that can be easily evaluated because we have copious amounts of biblical data to synthesize and analyze. Claiming the Bible as the verbal, plenary inspired word of God is an impossibly high bar and one capable of being scrutinized by those willing to take the time.
Obviously a study of this magnitude goes well beyond this article. It is a lifetime effort which I know full well. I am at the other end of the journey looking back and able to say, “The Bible fails to satisfy the claims of those who say it is infallible.” Though some Christians will admit to historical, chronological, scientific and factual errors, not many will concede Jesus died a disillusioned man with broken messianic dreams. Or to put it more succinctly, Jesus did not rise from the dead. Christianity is a farce and the Bible is wholly the product of ancient mens’ religious imaginations.
The evidence is there for all to see, but realistically, who’s really looking?
I spent years immersed in theological training and I was completely blind to what is now so obvious. Faith obscures truth especially if you’re eternal destiny depends on trusting the Bible, which it does for evangelicals.
Evangelicalism is an irrational faith because many believers have an abject distrust in science and reason that spills over into everyday life. Secular education, the media, scientific findings even “liberal” judges are often looked upon with suspicion if they conflict with evangelical ideology. It is in the evangelical psyche to be wary of anything that might challenge the underpinnings of the faith like the resurrection of Jesus.
Fear is a powerful motivator and no more so than when it comes to believing the unbelievable. The promise of heavenly bliss is faith’s reward, and no matter how irrational it is, it is a small price to pay for eternal hope.