Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Without God

Atheists won't let Evangelicals have all the evangelism fun. The image above is from a bus campaign, mirroring a successful campaign run in the UK and Canada for Alpha, a course examining the Gospel as the reason for meaning in life.

While I was filing today (one of my new year's resolutions) I was watching a lecture by Steven Weinberg, 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics; Professor of Physics & Astronomy, University of Texas
2007 Trotter Lectures at Texas A & M University. Here's the synopsis from iTunes:

The advance of science has contributed to a widespread loss of belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. Dr. Weinberg says those who have lost or are losing this belief then face the problem: How is one to live without God?
The gist of the bus campaign and his talk was: religious people have selfish reasons for being good (we want to go to heaven when we die.) Atheists and scientists have good, altruistic reasons for being good - we like people, because people are all there is and all there ever will be (or a vastly improved version of the good people we are today). We don't have any ulterior motives.

Here is his concluding statement to that effect:

I don't claim that those of us who don't believe in life after death can look forward to the future with the same unanimity as those who have convinced themselves that there is life after death. But there is one other consolation I can offer that gains strength from the weakness of everything else that I have said; and that is, that living without God, we can at least enjoy the knowledge that we haven't chosen our beliefs for their comfort, but we've chosen them in the way most admirable, on the basis of our reason and our experience without wishful thinking.

It seems that Prof. Weinberg's whole argument relies upon wishful thinking. He himself has sacred texts, incontrovertible dictums of authorities, and is motivated by a desire for the facts of God, judgement, and moral accountability to be proved untrue.

This fact of agnostic and atheistic faith is something that Tim Keller handles well in his book The Reason for God. Every human is driven by a religious impulse that causes us to be heavily invested in the truths that we hold to be true, even if we don't name them "beliefs". Keller calls all of us "believers" to speak with truthfulness and charity regarding the things we and others believe, and we can best do this by dealing with these truths as belonging to the realm of belief.

Another great resource in examining the issue of rationality of belief for secular and religious people is Longing to Know by Esther Lightcap Meek.

1 comment:

stephy said...

Hey Shawn! How's it going? You were at our wedding but I haven't spoken to you much besides that. :) Anyway.
I saw your blog today after clicking around. It looks like you wrote this post the same time I wrote this post about being friends with atheists or any people who aren't Christians. So I thought I'd link it here for ya. http://lollytruly.blogspot.com/2008/12/back-and-forth.html
Hope you're doing well.
stephanie drury