Recently, I was at the Josh McDowell Institute’s Collision Conference “Being Bold in a Whatever World” with Sean McDowell, Abdu Murray, and Jo Vitale. All 3 lecturers gave some great messages, and it was a pleasure getting to meet them. I’ve been following Sean McDowell on twitter for quite some time, sharing his content.
At the conference, I picked up 2 new books, Is God Just a Human Invention by Sean McDowell and Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews by Abdu Murray, and I’ve added both to my regular morning readings. My collection of signed apologetics books is greatly increasing.
In the first chapter of Sean McDowell’s book, Is Faith Irrational, he has a section titled Everyone Has Faith that really jumped out to me, and I thought I would share it.
When people hear the word faith, they typically think of religious faith. After all, religious people have faith in God, Scripture, and other unseen things such as heaven, angels, and the soul. But the point that is often overlooked is that Christians are not the only ones who have faith – everyone does. Everyone has faith in something, including the New Atheists.
If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t eat, leave your home, or even be reading this book. Take a moment to think about the many things you have faith in:
- You have faith that a pilot is sufficiently trained and won’t – intentionally or unintentionally – crash the plane.
- You have faith that other drives won’t swerve into your lane.
- You have faith that your electrical wiring won’t spontaneously go haywire and burn down your house.
- You have faith that at a restaurant, the waitress will serve you food that is edible and safe.
Nevertheless, planes do crash, cars occasionally swerve out of their lanes, electrical wirings break down, and from time to time restaurants serve unsafe food. These things happen, but they are rare, which is why we move through our daily lives trusting they won’t. We have plenty of experiences and evidence that cars don’t swerve from their lanes and that pilots can be trusted. Thus, our faith in these objects seems to be well grounded.
Therefore, the most important question is not, Do we have faith? but, How well-grounded is our faith? Is our faith rational or irrational? This is true both for routine events, such as driving safely down the road, and for the “big” questions involving God, morality, and the meaning of life.
The New Atheists would like us to believe that only religious people have faith. Thus, Christopher Hitchens asserts of the New Atheists, “Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not faith.” However, take a few minutes to read the New Atheists and it will be quite obvious that they, including Hitchens, have great doses of faith. Some people even argue that it takes more faith to be an atheist than to believe in God. Consider a few examples of “unseen” things that the New Atheists have faith in:
- They have faith that the universe came into existence from nothing.
- They have faith that life spontaneously arose from matter. (Dawkins says he wouldn’t be surprised if chemists announce in a few years that they have solved the problem of the origin of life. Why does he believe this? Faith.)
- They have faith that multiple universes exist to help explain why our universe is so exquisitely fine-tuned for life. (Dawkins admits that there is currently no evidence for the “multiverse” theory.)
- They have faith that mind can emerge from matter, or that mind is solely matter.
- They have faith that there is nothing beyond the natural (physical) world.
- They have faith that the world would be improved without religion.
It’s certainly possible that the New Atheists could turn out to be right. Maybe scientists will detect multiple universes in the future. Maybe they will come up with an explanation for the origin of the universe. Maybe chemists will solve the mystery of the origin of life. Maybe philosophers will explain how the mind can emerge from matter. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. Until such evidence is forthcoming, however, these claims can rightly be considered articles of faith (and arguably blind faith.)