Fragile Faith

When we discussed the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham in my Sunday school class this past weekend, I highlighted one major reason why Ken Ham’s variety of Christianity disturbs me.

For young-earth creationists, exposure to mainstream education, scientific evidence, and a range of viewpoints and the cases for them, is something dangerous that Christians ought to avoid. Their very faith is at peril.

The message conveyed by them is that Christian faith is something that cannot withstand scrutiny. It is not something that is compatible with an open mind or openness to evidence changing one’s view on an important subject.

If that impression which Ken Ham conveys about the Christian faith is correct, then he and his followers are declaring defeat. They may be able to hang on to their dubious presuppositions by insulating themselves from knowledge and learning. They may be able to isolate their children and succeed in having some of them persevere in the same way. But there is little chance of Christianity surviving, or having a significant impact in the world, if it is something so fragile and ultimately so dubious.

As a progressive Christian, my Christian faith is something that is constantly evolving in response to things that I learn and evidence that I encounter. It is something that grows, develops, and changes. It is something healthy, living, and robust.

If you are a Christian who is tired of having a faith that is an embarrassment, something that can only be defended by shielding it from close examination, I invite you to try a different sort of Christianity out for size.

It may involve so radically changing your outlook that the experience can only be described as a conversion.

Of related interest, see Peter Enns’ post on what views it is considered “safe” to hold in certain circles, and Ian Paul’s post about Evangelicals and critical engagement.


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  • This is a point I have been making for years. Sectarianism is not a sign of a strong faith even as it is a symptom of sociocultural and political stubbornness. I have had people tell me that if there was no literal, bodily resurrection of Christ as they understand it, their entire faith would be meaningless. That’s sad. Asking questions keeps faith alive and allows us to make contact with the Holy Spirit. Resisting change is like refusing to drink water because it does not taste the way we would like it.

    • I’ve observed the same thing. I don’t believe in hell and I’ve had many christians say, “If there’s no hell, then what’s the point of believing in Jesus?”

      Oddly, I have people praying that I’ll once again believe in the place where a petulant skygod tortures people forever, the central notion of their belief system.

      • Unfortunate so many loud voices believe that dreck. Eternal torture for temporal sins that apparently we have no real control over. And then we are supposed to believe in a graceful God. Shall I cross my fingers and hope for the best? What a lousy and irrational gamble. The good news is that the early church didn’t believe this and the Eastern church today is adamant about calling it a damaging heresy. Fundamentalist Christians who believe in eternal torture and punishment like this are the leading cause of atheism. Just not enough there to give comfort if the primary focus is on hell and damnation of those not like them. If God crushes human dignity and freedom like that, I want nothing to do with it and will help people to find another way to live.

        • > leading cause of atheism.

          Agreed! And Jefferson pointed out the same observation 200 years ago. Same shit, different day, I guess. :)[1]

          In fact, their torture dogma is so ungodly, I call them the Athiests or Demonists, just like Jefferson did.[2,3] Turnabout is fair play, right? 🙂

          1. “Indeed I think that every Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of a god.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823

          2. I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

          3. “I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, January, 8, 1789