Let me begin by assuring the reader that I am no genius, except by some outmoded and ill-chosen intelligence classifications. Genius is a word best reserved for the supremely gifted, great and original minds such as Mozart, Shakespeare and Babbage, not third-rate novelists with a prediliction for techo-dilettantism and blogosphere debate.
And yet, I am perhaps reasonably well-suited to answer the question that has been asked many times of every intelligent and educated Christian by incredulous atheists. How can you – an intelligent individual with an expensive education – possibly take seriously what is at best archaic mythology? How can someone who is otherwise considered to be smart subscribe to what amounts to nothing more than fairytales dressed up as history? And how can anyone who is clearly cognizant of Science ever declare allegiance to its great antithesis, Superstition?
I take no offense at these questions, for if they are meant to ridicule, they nevertheless reveal that the questioner has perceived that vital dichotomy which so often precedes a major transformation in one’s thinking. It is all too easy for the highly intelligent to dismiss the convictions of the average individual, after all, especially when one’s IQ is as far from the norm as the norm is from those unfortunates who were once considered imbeciles.
It is not so easy, however, to dismiss the beliefs and thought processes of those one otherwise considers one’s intellectual peers.
The first, and most obvious, answer is that one obviously can because others of historically remarkable intelligence have. There is no shortage of devout Christians on the list of mankind’s most legendary geniuses – many of whom are still rightly revered by atheists and agnostics today. From Galileo and Newton to Doestoevsky and Tolkien, men of outstanding intellect and achievement have placed their trust in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, it is all too easy to dismiss many of these men as having lived in the pre-Enlightened era and it can always be argued, however disingenuously, that if those now dead had only been privy to the latest developments in modern science, they, too, would have turned their backs on the faith of their fathers.
The second answer is a utilitarian one. Science is a whore. Her very essence precludes certainty, which is both a genuine strength and a grave weakness. It is a strength because the scientific method of testing hypotheses encourages a continual seeking after the truth, to which no one who lives by a book that declares “seek and ye shall find” should object. It is a weakness because the inherent mutability of science is at odds with the human desire for objective guidelines by which to live. This conflict tends to repeatedly create faux-sciences, which, however outmoded, are clung to with all the diehard fervor of the religious fanatic.
For example, the field of psychoanalysis and the scientific disciplines of psychology and psychiatry are still heavily influenced by the theories of Sigmund Freud, who asserted that religion was an illusionary means of avoiding anxiety from which an individual must be freed in order to mature and reach full mental health. However, genuinely scientific studies have tended to demonstrate precisely the opposite, that at least in the Christian West, religion is a positive predictor of longevity and social maturity, as well as physical and mental health.
Being trilingual, I do not subscribe to the literal 100 percent Word of God theory of the Bible. Nor do I understand how anyone who has read more than one English translation of the Bible can hold to it. (My own theory is that the Bible is the perfect and inspired Word of God revealed through imperfect men; while there are likely flaws created by that process, it is unwise to introduce more errors by attempting to further filter it through our own logic and one does well to accept John’s admonition to neither add nor take anything away.)
And yet, I find it remarkable how often the wise men of the world, despite the advantage of two millennia’s history on which to draw, are repeatedly confounded by an ancient and static text. The archeologists and historians who cited the mythical Assyrians and Hittites as proof of the Bible’s inaccuracy have already been proven wrong, and soon those who doubt the historical existence of a rich and powerful Davidic kingdom of Israel will be embarrassed as well.
Psychologists, psychiatrists and child-care experts have led parents to turn millions of American children into drugged-out zombies because the sum total of their expertise doesn’t function half as well as the book of Proverbs. Physicists and cosmologists are proposing imaginative theories of strings and multiple universes – which suggest some interesting supernatural possibilities to me, by the way – primarily in response to the way in which the anthropic principle threatens to render their disciplines mere tautological explanation.
As for the secular humanists who are second to none in waving the black-and-white flag of Science, the ongoing demographic collapse of their cherished equalitarian societies in every Western nation is proving their theory of religion’s deleterious effect on society to be as errant and intellectually bankrupt as Freud’s is with regard to the individual. Theirs is a rotten fruit indeed.
From a utilitarian perspective, then, it makes a tremendous amount of sense for an individual or a society to live by the precepts of the Bible, even if one does so sans belief. This is, I would argue, the most purely rational position, and indeed, famous non-believers such as Voltaire and the 18th-century deists so beloved by modern atheists – as long as they stay safely buried in the 1700s – would agree.
Economists will tell you that the value of any model is its predictive ability. This is why I reject Keynesian macroeconomics – which are wildly unreliable – in favor of the Austrian school and wave theory, both of which actually work on occasion. And while there is no shortage of prophetic charlatans today, it is interesting to note how those who interpret world events through a biblical lens have proven to be more reliable than political scientists.
Every dispensationalist believed the United States of Europe was an inevitability back in the late 1970s, while the poly-sci professors and politicians were still insisting that the Common Market was nothing more than a free-trade area as late as 1994. The establishment of Israel came as a surprise to almost everyone but the wild-eyed watchers of the end times in 1948. Today, who believes that the United States will surrender its national sovereignty to the United Nations and force implantable currency on its citizens except the most literally minded Christians? ADSX and DOC are both selling near all-time lows – an interesting empirical test might be to pick up 100 shares and see what happens over the next 10 years.
The fourth answer is reciprocal action. Newton’s third law states that all forces occur in pairs, and that paired forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. Even when I was an agnostic, I marveled at the hatred and energy expended on Christians by non-Christians. I could not understand the cognitive dissonance demonstrated by the so-called experts in their rabid attempts to discredit all things even nominally related to Christianity – the nominally Jewish Anti-Defamation League’s attack on the Ten Commandments being only the most ironic example of late – as well as their ready willingness to distort and even fabricate history.
Who has not heard the Catholic Spanish Inquisition, (2,000 death sentences passed on to the Spanish Crown over 349 years) conflated with the pagan Holocaust (12 million murders in five years), and the atheist slaughters of the Great Terror, the Great Leap Forward and the Killing Fields. (4 million murders in 20 years, 30 million murders in 3 years and 2 million murders in four years, respectively.) And it is commonly asserted that religion is a major cause of war, although, as I have previously demonstrated, religion has only played a role in about 10 percent of all the wars in recorded history.
As Jesus Christ declared it would, the world has hated those who followed Him from the moment it became aware of them – from Nero to Kim Jong Il’s North Korea. While American atheists attempt to stamp out all public and private expression Christianity for fear of being wished a Merry Christmas at Wal-Mart, Christians are being murdered for their faith in Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria and the Sudan, and are being imprisoned for their beliefs in Iran, China, Vietnam and Canada. This virulent and near-universal reaction to a religion that is more peaceful than Islam, more intellectual than Hinduism, more inclusive than Judaism and more historically beneficial to human society than Humanism makes little rational sense, and can be seen as evidence of an important element of the Christian worldview, namely, a fallen world ruled by an evil god in opposition to the Creator.
Now, this is not a Christian apology and these are not reasons meant to convince one to accept the fundamental truth of Christianity. I trust, however, that it will help those who disdain religion to understand how it is at least possible to believe such things while also being in possession of an education and a functioning brain.