I want to believe

Today on his blog, my friend Cliff Martin summarizes the ultimate basis for his belief:

I am a believer in God, first and foremost, because I choose to be.

I have not abandoned those reasons for belief. I still value the rational approach of the Thomists the Natural Theology espoused by Thomas Aquinas, but I recognize that my belief does not begin there. Nor can it logically stem from the Presuppositional approach favored by many Christians who claim that belief must begin with the presupposition of divine revelation contained in the Scriptures, a view which I completely reject. My belief in God must, at its inception, be a matter of choice. I believe in God because I wish to.

Belief does not end with a choice. Those who choose to believe can and likely will, in my view find ample confirmation of that choice, a stream of rational and experiential evidences more than sufficient to validate belief. And though my faith is bolstered and reinforced by observation, reasoned consideration, spiritual experience, etc., my faith begins with this simple admission: I believe in God because I choose to believe in God.

via OutsideTheBox: Approaching Belief Naturally Part II.

As I mention in the comments, this bears a strong affinity to my own recent musings on these matters. Although I initially found a strong resonance with the words on Mulder’s poster, I eventually came to think that it amounted to fideism, a position which I still reject.

But I recently began to reflect that there’s an important difference between thinking that faith is by (Kierkegaard’s) definition independent of and even hostile to rationality and the essentially humbler and more negotiable conclusion I’ve come to that is consonant with reasoning through the available rational data and not finding it conclusive. I’ve looked at all the options — and seriously considered it all — but in the end, I just don’t think we have enough indisputable empirical or philosophical facts to go on that would justify throwing out the system of belief that I have found has the most potential of making our world an intelligible place. So in the interim between now and certainty, I’m going to believe what seems to me to make the most sense of the experience of humanity: theism of an essentially Christian character.”

Make sure to read Cliff’s post!

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  • Travis Jacobs

    This really makes me want to go and get that poster. Very tempting at only 12 bucks.

  • Travis Jacobs

    This really makes me want to go and get that poster. Very tempting at only 12 bucks.

  • I have no problem with the presuppositional apologetics as articulated by VanTil and Bahnsen. After reading many of their writings and listening to lectures by Bahnsen, rationality’s only end point is the God of the Bible. All other worldviews lead to contradiction or absurdity.

    Mickey

  • Mickey, I can see how presuppositionalism might indeed be personally fulfilling. Not being familiar with Bahnsen's or Van Til's specific approaches, I must say that, like Cliff, I find what I know of it to be unsatisfactory because it depends upon a perfect revelation we don't actually have. From what I've seen, the Bible – not just the teachings of the Bible, but the Bible itself – is the centerpiece of this faith, and for obvious reasons I have a major problem with that.

  • Rodericke

    Presuppositionalism is based on Romans 1:20 which says: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”

    We believe in a “god” not because we “choose” to, but because we're hardwired that way. It then comes down to WHICH god, if any is the REAL God?

    In Acts 17, even Paul dealt first with the Athenians innate belief in God. He didn't use the Bible to get them to believe, he simply declared to them the One and Only God, whom they saw as the “unknown god”.

    More: http://thekingdomcome.com/epistemology_example

  • I already have a similar one. I had it on the wall in my office at
    work for quite a while. Few people asked about it; they probably
    thought I was an alien nut or something. 😀

  • Thanks for your comments. I really like your approach and perspective. You state: “I’m going to believe what seems to me to make the most sense of the experience of humanity: theism of an essentially Christian character.” Could you elaborate a bit more on that? Have you all found a church you enjoy? I’m curious what denomination you ended up in?

    I agree with you about presuppositional apologetics. I gravitated to them at first when we joined the PCA church 3 years ago, but then I found them more damaging than helpful to my faith.

    • You state: “I’m going to believe what seems to me to make the most sense of the experience of humanity: theism of an essentially Christian character.” Could you elaborate a bit more on that?

      Good question, but I think the answer is something I think you have also intuited to some degree. C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” My experience as a human says that there is morality independent of our cultures and personal attitudes. Christianity helps me make sense of the centrality of family (you and I agree on this, I think) and even holds a mirror to my desire as a parent to rear up my children regardless of how unsatisfactory my choices are to them at the time: the relationship between God and the universe, and humanity in particular, is more than that of mere Inventor to contraption, but of Father to children (as Jesus emphasized). The evolution of humanity has been toward the adoption of Christian ideals, through Christian influence* certainly, but also no doubt through some independent maturation of consciousness that God subtly seeded. No, of course these aren’t “evidences” or even “pointers” per se. But as I have seen the Christian faith as responsible for some of the most good works in our world and have been left unable to argue with its influence on some of the best people I know — and indeed, when I consider that the ethics and virtues I value in non-Christians to be the very things the Bible pointed us toward, I find myself concluding that my world, for all its defects, is a thoroughly Christian world.So was Jesus really resurrected? I’m convinced he was — and probably even bodily! At very least I know that he somehow works in the lives of most of the people I know, and has left the most positive and indelible mark on human history. With this almost empirical observation in view, my own obsessive study brings the hope of discovery rather than despair in my journey. And I really hope it can for you, too.Believe it or not, right now we go to a PCA church; I never thought I’d be able to do something like that, since I’ve never been close to a Calvinist. But at this stage, we are there as a way of being a part of our local community and for the strong support for homeschooling families that is there. Not my dream scenario (and boy do I shake my head on that back pew!), but believe it or not, I get most of the kind of “church” that I need in my online interactions with people like Cliff and yourself. Even though I wish I had this kind of network more locally, my community of faith grows constantly. Thanks for being a part of it — “insane” though you may feel at times. ;-)* Not to feed your book habit even further 😉 but if you’re interested in how Christianity has positively impacted history, be sure to pick up the unfortunately titled Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies (another of Cliff’s excellent suggestions).

  • ps- off to read cliff’s post now.