Thursday, 17 April 2008

Unbelief: Must try harder

Unbelief is hard work. You see, it's God's world. Unbelief keeps having to collide with reality.

If the world were purely an intellectual exercise, then unbelief might just work out. Clever unbelievers can construct their own "mental universe" - their own version of reality, where fabric of existence is stitched together in a way they much prefer. The unbeliever is always trying to live in a fantasy world - which exists independently of the authority of God - but the real world has a bad habit of getting in the way.

Five favourite refuges of contemporary unbelief are postmodernism, relativism, agnosticism, positivism/scientism and determinism. They all have something in common. They refute themselves. It's hard to believe any of these "isms", because they all fail the test of self-consistency. That doesn't stop many from trying!

Post-modernism: All claims about absolute truth are attempts to grab power. They are stories told by people who want to control your life. They should not be accepted; having come of age intellectually we must rise above them and break free from them. So, let's see how that theory plays out. If all claims about truth are attempts to grab power and to be resisted, then post-modernism must itself be a power-grab, and you'll have to excuse me for resisting it.

Relativism: All truth claims are relative - there is no absolute truth. There are no statements that we can say, without qualification, are always true. Which means that if relativism is true, then relativism cannot be truly true, but only relatively.

Agnosticism: We can't know what absolute truth is - it is beyond our grasp. How exactly did you come to know that? Why are you not agnostic about agnosticism?

Positivism / Scientism: I refuse to believe anything which cannot be demonstrated experimentally in an empirical manner. This is the only sound way to arrive at certain truth. Which experiments did you do to verify that this was the only way of arriving at certain truth? Are the results published in a scientific journal somewhere? Applying scientism's test to scientism, I end up not having grounds to believe it, so please forgive me for not doing so!

Determinism: We live in a universe of fixed and immovable laws. Everything is ultimately determined by these laws. You are just the result of the chemicals in your brain. The universe is the result of a big bang and millions of years of nature's laws working themselves out. Everything can be explained by science; no need for anything else. Sadly we can never verify this theory, because if it's true then our brains are pre-programmed to come up with either the right or wrong answer. Unfortunately determinism prevents us from escaping the pre-determined result and coming to an objective conclusion about it.

Many many -isms are needed in an unbelieving world, because not one of them is stable. Many of the popular ones even topple under their own weight, let alone if you should try to build anything else on top of them. It's hard to be an unbeliever.

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