This week, a twist for Questions That Haunt Christianity. Lee Pendarvis (follow him on Twitter!) is a recent convert from atheism to Christianity, but that hasn’t meant the end to his questions. It has only made them more acute:
Hugh wrote in about how theologians talk about God. Basically, he leveled the charge that theologians pick adjectives out of the air, then say that God completely fulfills those adjectives. “It seems to me,” Hugh writes, “these assertions are incoherent and/or vacuous. Ransacking the dictionary for adjectives to throw at God is no way to come up with a consistent or meaningful definition.”
The God of theologians, he continued, seems to be an abstract concept, not a material entity. Abstract concepts exist outside of space and time. So how, Hugh wondered, can a human being have a relationship with such a concept?
Happily, Hugh has been involved in the comment section of Tuesday’s post, clarifying and expanding his question:
As I see it, there is a basic disconnect between the thought processes of scientists and those of theologians. The former start with evidence, and follow it where it leads. Of course you can postulate a theory and then look for evidence to support it. But if the evidence isn’t forthcoming, your theory won’t last long and another theory will replace it. Overall, the process is: start with evidence and follow it to conclusions.
By contrast, theologians start with the assumption that a god exists, corresponds to some scriptural tradition, and has X, Y and Z characteristics. Then they work backwards to rationalize this belief, even if it means redefining god radically in the process. Science is about explanation while theology is about rationalization.
Well, Hugh, you’ve raised a host of issues, so I’ll do my best to answer them.
This week’s Question That Haunts Christianity, Andrew challenged us with a question not so much theological, biblical, or historical in nature. Instead, his question is spiritual and, ultimately, existential:
Why do I not experience God like I have been taught I should? Why don’t I hear his “voice?” … If Christianity is for real, why am I not able to have experiences of God?
Ayayay. In many ways, Andrew’s question is the toughest one we’ve tackled yet. When it comes to issues of Heaven or the inclusion/exclusion of the Gnostic Gospels, I can reiterate long-standing arguments, even if I argue with aspects of them. Not so much with this one. For Andrew’s question, I need to answer from the heart.