This is the first entry in the Christian round of the 2012 Ideological Turing Test for Religion. In this round, the honest answers of Christians are mixed in with atheists’ best efforts to talk like Christians. It’s your job to see if you can spot the difference. The voting link appears at the end of the entry, and you can look at all entries in this round here.
When (if ever) have you deferred to your philosophical or theological system over your intuitions?
I defer to my theological system on lots of things. If I wasn’t a Christian, I don’t think I would have concluded on my own that premarital sex is wrong, or that homosexuality is wrong, or that loving your enemy is the right thing to do. I think there are good arguments for all of these, but in the absence of the moral framework presented in the Bible, I don’t think I would have arrived at these conclusions.
Obviously we can’t just cede all of our authority to make moral decisions to our belief system- that’s how we end up with suicide bombers. But Christianity has proven itself to be a truth-telling thing in my life. Whenever I have disagreed with the Biblical approach, I always find (after research, prayer, and lots of struggling) that the Bible ends up being right. So when the Bible tells me to do something, I give it the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn’t defer to any holy book that advocated violence or oppression. But I trust God, and I trust His Word, and the whole point is that Christianity is not a relationship that leads to violence or oppression, but to freedom, and joy, and peace.
I know without a doubt that I am horribly flawed. So if I know that God has my best interest at heart, and I know that he knows more than me, how could I not trust him?
Are there people whose opinions on morality you trust more than your own? How do you recognize them? How is trusting them different than trusting someone’s opinion on physics?
There are people who, objectively speaking, get moral questions right more often than I do. Mostly this is through proper hermeneutics- people who know the Bible REALLY well, and who live it out consistently in their daily life. I think you can clearly see the evidence of someone walking with Christ, and I tend to trust those people.
I wouldn’t say there’s a specific person who I would ALWAYS trust more than my own intuitions. But the Bible is pretty clear about spiritual leadership- those older and wiser and more experienced should lead those younger and less mature to a better understanding of God. Allowing someone to lead you is something that takes discipline and skill, and it requires a great deal of trust.
If we assume that we always know best, then we don’t leave room for God to work in our lives. Rejecting God’s teaching because we think we know best is pretty much the definition of pride, and pride is the most damaging sin there is.
Can you name any works of art (interpreted pretty broadly: books, music, plays, poetry, mathematical proofs, etc) which really capture the way you see life/fill you with a sense of awe and wonder? You can give a short explanation or just list a few pieces.
I hate to be so trite, but I really can’t think of any answer here other than the Bible. When I read the story of Job, or of Peter’s denial, or of Daniel’s faithfulness, I am confronted with the best and worst parts of my own nature. There’s this amazing parallel between everything the Bible teaches and everything I see in my life, and it matches so unbelievably perfectly that I can’t help but conclude this is not an ordinary book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been struggling with something, and BAM- I read a passage of scripture and it becomes so clear what I need to do. I feel such an intimate connection with God in those moments that “awe” and “wonder” are the only appropriate responses.
Also, I’m not sure if this counts as art, but worship always leaves me with this same sense of awe and wonder. Mostly it’s through songs, though I’ve been to a few churches that have alternative forms of worship (painting, dancing, etc.). Part of the worship is definitely the music, but more than anything it’s internalizing the words to the songs. I realize in those moments how small I am, and how big God is, and how amazing it is that he cares for me.