On his blog yesterday Tony Jones published a piece explaining that these days his most significant reason for being a Christian is:
The vast, vast majority of my fellow human beings are theists. Globally, well over 95% of the human race professes belief in God. … Atheism is almost exclusively the purview of educated, white elites. … their [sic] are no atheists in the slums of Bangladesh, in the townships of South Africa, in the trash heaps of India.
At this point, I simply cannot abide severing myself from the rest of the world’s population, from 7 billion of my fellow human beings. I have enough respect for the collective wisdom of humanity to stand in solidarity with them in proclaiming that there is, indeed, a God.
Premier atheist blogger Hemant Mehta wasted no time penning a response so devastatingly searing you might want to don sunglasses and oven mitts before reading This May Be the Worst Argument Ever Made for Why You Should Believe in God, which wraps up with:
Jones believes in God because a bunch of statistics that he made up without doing any research show that a lot of people believe in some form of a higher power. Even though a lot of those people are polytheists, Muslim, and think Jones’ beliefs are completely ridiculous.
“Because logic.”! What delightfully awesome writing.
While Jones’s post was almost spectacularly ill-advised, generally speaking an atheist arguing with a Christian is like this guy:
doing battle against this guy:
The atheist is simply better armed. And why is that? Because logic.
It’s logic that wins arguments. Nothing else. And a Christian employing logic to win the argument that God exists—let alone that the Christian one is the only god that exists—tends to be like a hang glider employing buckets of cement to help him fly. Not so much with the helpful.
That is not to say that there is no logically sound argument for Christianity to be made. At the risk of myself being Mehtaphied, I daresay that I have made such an argument, both in my blog post The Rational Genius of Christianity and my book Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do, by God (which I swear I just this minute saw that Amazon has on sale for $12.39, down from $15.00).
As a response to the human experience, Christianity isn’t one iota less logical than atheism. But the fact remains that the locus of the religious sentiment lies beyond (or, as I imagine Mehta would put it, fixedly below) the logical mind. In the final analysis the phenomenon of the human spirit communing with the eternal divine is not a thing which can be discussed. It begins where language ends.
As intense and radical as it is, the religious experience necessarily and inviolately remains an entirely subjective experience. As such its essence cannot be captured, communicated, delineated, or explicated. It is not transferrable. It is what it is. To attempt to make more of it by universalizing it is to degrade it. To argue for its preeminence is to render it fodder for rational humanists like Mehta, who has every right to drag kicking and screaming into the ring of rational discourse any bumptious Christian he chooses, and to there soundly thrash them before sending them off with their vestigial tail tucked between their legs.
As a Christian, I get to feel as Christian and God-centered as I want to or can. What I don’t get to do–or what I should steadfastly resist the (egotistical—always egotistical) temptation to do, because it’s not only a fool’s errand but an offensive fool’s errand–is try to insist or prove that what is real and true for me must also be real and true for everyone else. That category mistake—that effort to make something that is subjective objective—is how wars are begun.
As Christians we must hold God in our hearts, minds, and souls. And then we must do what all good people do: go out into the world, and be loving and respectful toward all—especially, and even particularly, to those who do not share our religious views. Let people argue, if they must—and certainly if we give them reason to—that we are illogical beings. In the end we are, and can good-naturedly resign ourselves to being, vulnerable to that charge. But let us never give anyone sound reason to argue that we are unkind, or less than thoughtful.