Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:24

With All Your Mind

Written by  Matthew Jordan
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Oxford University Professor Brian Leftow once wrote, “I am a philosopher because I am a Christian. To many intellectuals, this probably sounds like saying that I am a dog because I am a cat.” Indeed. And even those of us who don’t live amongst “intellectuals” of the sort Leftow had in mind can presumably agree: in this day and age, many people simply take it for granted that the life of faith and the life of the mind are intrinsically opposed. This assumption is both harmful and demonstrably false.

Certainly, quite a lot has been written about reasons to believe in God, as well as reasons to disbelieve. But the very abundance of philosophical essays and books on such topics reveals that it is possible to be an intelligent, thoughtful person and also to be a serious and devout follower of Jesus. There are hard questions that believers must face, yes, but there are also good answers. We need not check our brains at the door every time we walk into a church. The reality, in fact, should be the opposite; Jesus calls us to love God not only with our hearts, but also with our minds.


In that vein, consider how you might respond if someone asked you whether there are any good reasons to believe in God. If the first response that comes to mind is something like “you just have to have faith,” let me encourage you to dig a bit deeper. Space precludes any detailed discussion here, but there are quite a few good reasons to believe in God, reasons that do not depend on any prior religious convictions. Briefly, here are a few of the core arguments for theism that have been developed, discussed, and defended through the ages.


(1) Theism explains why there is something rather than nothing. At least as far back as ancient Greece, thoughtful people have recognized that the physical universe is a “contingent” thing; its existence needs to be explained by something more fundamental, something that exists necessarily… something like God.



(2) Theism explains the existence of life and consciousness within the universe. Even for the most committed Darwinists, the existence of life itself (not differing species, but life) and conscious minds are persistent and vexing problems. These things do not fit comfortably into a naturalistic view of the world. By contrast, if the universe was created by an intelligent and conscious being, then it is not so surprising that it would contain living creatures who are themselves intelligent and conscious.



(3) Theism provides a basis for the values that make human life worth living. It is difficult, if not impossible, for rational people to live as though nothing is genuinely good, or right, or beautiful, or meaningful. If atheism is true, however, it is very, very difficult to see how there could be such things as real goodness, rightness, beauty, or meaning. It seems that all such values, along with phenomena like love and humor, would be illusions or accidents. And that is a serious problem for the atheist.


Obviously, these brief comments barely scratch the surface of the relevant philosophical issues (and I have not even pretended to have addressed objections that could be raised). My hope is that they are helpful nonetheless, and that they may encourage some readers to go further in thinking about the intellectual foundations of theism and Christianity. Let us use our minds not in spite of our faith, but because of it.







Last modified on Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:29
Go to Top