I always appreciate an article that causes my mind to strain just a little bit. That’s exactly what this article by Cole NeSmith entitled What You Believe Is Absurd (And 5 Reasons It Should Be) did for me the other day. I encourage you to read it for yourself (be sure to come back and finish this article though). For those of you who would rather just keep reading allow me to simplify and summarize NeSmith’s main thoughts. NeSmith basically reminds us that our Christian faith is absurd to those who are not believers. In other words, faith is not rational, scientific, or without questions.
1 Corinthians 2:14 immediately jumped into my mind while reading NeSmith’s article, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Spiritual things always seem irrational when viewed through the prism of carnality. I am fully aware of the temptation to try and boil spiritual things down into logic or sound reasoning. But when Jesus tells us to go and sin no more (John 8:11) for example, that sounds impossible without the Spirit guiding our thinking. When you are terminally sick and God tells you to dip in the muddy Jordan River seven times (2 Kings 5:14) that sounds a little crazy.
Faith which is the foundation of the Christian life is not rational. Hebrews chapter eleven says, “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrew 11:1). To believe in something that you have never seen is absurd when you are looking in from the outside. Look at the third verse of Hebrews chapter eleven, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” My belief that God spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:1-31) and breathed the breath of life into mankind (Genesis 2:7) is not intended to be a scientific endeavor or fit neatly into a logical box. It is an act of faith. I would contend that much of what we label as science today is in reality a belief system that also requires faith. I simply choose to put my faith in God rather than man made theories.
By no means am I saying that everything about the Christian faith is illogical. Morality makes sense when you view it objectively. Many things about our world only make sense when we understand God’s ultimate plan. The value of life itself only makes sense when viewed through the lens of a Divine Creator. Even love is not logical without a belief in God.
I think there is a danger in trying to rationalize too much about God and faith. There is a freedom that can only be found when we embrace the reality that there are some things we will never understand until we meet the Lord. There is a peace that can only be found when we realize that faith is messy and absurd.
4 thoughts on “Is Faith Absurd?”
Amen. Very well stated.
I always appreciate the occasional blog post that tries to legitimize faith because it reminds me of just how far I’ve come since breaking free from religious delusion which is precisely what this particular post does. Perhaps it is because I know that author is valiantly attempting to enlighten the world by sharing his message of hope. But alas, I have since discovered the fatal flaws in the practice of faith that I wish to imbue upon the author and his audience. I encourage you to read this post again carefully and critically. For those of you unable to view Nesmith’s article, the summation above will have to suffice. Sadly, this reminds me of the core reasons the Christian faith, or any religious faith for that matter, now seems so absurd to me, the non-believer. As worded perfectly and succinctly, “…faith is not rational, scientific or without question.” Does this not apparently serve as the perfect answer to the question at hand? It should, but let’s entertain the notion further for good measure.
1st Corinthians 2:14, an excellent example of one of those ‘spiritual things’ that is obviously irrational when viewed through the prism of objective reality. I am fully aware of the temptation to dissociate and exclude spiritual claims from the standards and tests of logic and sound reasoning, but when it is suggested that we allow a spirit referenced by the words of Jesus and other passages from the Bible to guide our thought processes, it sounds incomprehensible without demonstrating either their validity or the existence of a spirit. So, when the story is told of a man who was instructed by a spirit to dip in a muddy river seven times, indeed, that sounds a little silly.
“Faith which is the foundation of the Christian life is not rational.” There is no other statement that more accurately answers the question posed by the above title. The question has again been plainly and put to rest in a clear and concise manner, but for the sake of unmistakable clarity, I shall elaborate even further. To believe in something as a basis for truth, when its reality is not objectively demonstrated, is absurd. Otherwise, believing faith to be ‘the evidence of things not seen,’ we encounter countless dilemmas such as the Mormons’ faith in the claims of Joseph Smith’s visions of Moroni and the golden tablets or the ancients’ faith in human sacrifice as a means of manufacturing rain or the over-enthusiastic Star Wars fan’s faith in the light side of the force and his potential to control the weak minded.
My understanding of how the universe and humanity came into existence is borne of mankind’s scientific endeavor to determine the nature of our origins. It is not an act of faith because I do not choose to accept or reject anything properly labeled science because anything the requires faith without a demonstration of its truth is not science but speculation. In fact, it is only that which can be observed, measured and tested that is considered science by its very definition. I do not place faith in the scientific discoveries such as the Big Bang theory or the theory of evolution because it does not require faith to understand in the same way that mathematics can be understood without it. For example, two and two equal four. Faith is not a factor in the acceptance of the truth of the statement because it is demonstrably true. Each part can be verified as well as the verification processes themselves.
I agree with your point that Christianity is not entirely logical when viewed strictly by objective means which leaves us with this realization:
Christianity is not entirely logical when viewed objectively, and morality is defined entirely by our understanding of objective reality; therefore, Christianity is not entirely moral, and our morality is not defined by Christianity.
People make their own determinations about the value of life itself and classifications of love. Both are theoretically understandable given the right combination of biology an philosophy. What makes it difficult (and in some respect impossible) to do so is the complexity and versatility of their application and inconsistent terminological usage.
There is a danger of loosing faith in the Bible/God/Jesus/[insert supernatural concept here] when beginning to think critically about it because all reasonable arguments ultimately lead to the realization that it isn’t real and most definitely does not serve as a reliable means of explaining the unknown. There is a cognitive liberation to be obtained by embracing the reality that there are somethings that we may never be able to scientifically understand, but that’s alright because we don’t necessarily have to.
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