Why believe in a god?

whybelieveDuring my recent DC trip I came across an interesting ad campaign.  There were posters on the Metro train that asked the question, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.”  I couldn’t wait to find out more about what was going on here.  I’ve blogged a bit before about the idea of atheists starting to “evangelize,” for lack of a better term.

After I got home I looked up their website (whybelieveinagod.org).  Turns out this is an ad campaign put out by Free Thought Action and the DC Area Secular Humanists.


Both of these  organizations cast themselves more as humanists than atheists or agnostics.  Not that they shy from those terms, they just seem to avoid those labels, which is probably a good idea and more accurate.  Regardless of their level of disbelief, it’s fair to say they put human logic and knowledge above faith in their “belief system.”

What I found most interesting is the focus on logic as a defining characteristic.  Free Thought Action chose their name with reason when they say, “We hope you’ll join us to promote eyes-wide-open facts, not blind faith, as the foundation of our society.”

The implication here is that humanism uses reason, facts, and science to come to its conclusions, while religion is more naive and close-minded.

On the one hand this characterization bugs me.  I can’t speak for the other religions they speak of , but I think Christianity is miscast too much as a foolish, non-thinking system of belief.  Faith is not the absence of all doubt; it’s not just “believing in what you can’t see.” It’s belief based on what we do know, and being willing to take the next step into we can not be sure of.  In that way I think it is actually more intellectually honest than humanism in many ways.

But I can’t help but wonder if we (christians) have painted ourselves into this corner.  By fighting against culture and society and refusing to engage, we come off bull-headed, foolish, and weak.  When we are too quick to lash out and defend, it makes us look afraid.

I think we may have asked for people to assume we don’t know what we’re talking about.

If  God is so defenseless, if culture is so scary, if our religion is on the verge of disaster at every turn . . . why believe in a god?

I know I don’t want to believe in that God.


New Atheism

From Wired.com by Steve Piexotto

Image from Wired.com

I was referred to an excellent article today on atheism by Tall Skinny Kiwi.  

It comes from Wired magazine.  The story is a discussion of the views of New Atheism.  If you’re not familiar, this movement basically asserts that atheists should not be passive, but be secular evangelists.  Some provocative books have made headlines recently from this group, one of the best know being The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.  

To varying degrees this group of atheists believe religion is actually a source of evil, and should be systematically eradicated; it is not a system to be tolerated.

But that’s another blog.

What I do plan to talk about today is how I’m not running scared.  Nope, not today.  I’m also not going to cry “apocalypse.”  The fact is there has always been disbelief in God.  Yes, their is a certain fashion to the New Atheism lately and a bit of media frenzy.

But I do know that God is not giving up any time soon, and my beliefs are strong enough not to be afraid of someone else’s disbelief.  I rather like this quote from Daniel Dennet, an athiest: 

“if you have to hoodwink – or blindfold – your children to ensure that they confirm their faith when they are adults, your faith ought to go extinct.”

I think his point extends beyond children to all of us.  If we have to run in fear and anger from atheism, then how strong is our faith really?

So how do we approach atheists and atheism then?

That’s also another blog.  One for next week at least.

Matthew Journey Chapter 8

Chapter 8

  • Amazingly, after the often confusing and very challenging words of the Sermon on the Mount, huge crowds start following Jesus.
  • People appreciate the Truth!
  • Jesus here heals people and keeps it quiet.
  • Do we find ourselves helping the hurting and healing the broken as advertisement, or do we do it because it’s our mission?
  • The centurion has power not because of his authority, but because of borrowed authority of the one over him . . . how can we borrow God’s authority?
  • I love how some of this chapter feels like friends telling stories, jumping back and forth some, little snippets here, like hearing second hand about a good basketball game from a few excited guys who were actually there.
  • This chapter raises up the faith of the random people around Jesus, while the disciples are astounded at what he can do.
  • In another unexpected twist in this chapter, Jesus performs the most miraculous miracle, and when people find out they run him out of town.

I love the contrasts in faith with this chapter. The underclass people accept Jesus, those close to him are still confused, and some groups just want him to go away. It just goes to show how God is always doing something, but it is our choice how we respond to it.