Friday, July 27, 2012

Does Religious Faith Have Evidence?

This week I have been reading God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by John C. Lennox. Lennox, who is a Professor in Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, has debated Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and lectured at universities around the world. 

This book is written more as a reply to the "New Atheists," addressing the question of intelligent design. He spends much of his time in the book by using philosophical arguments against the arguments of those of Richard Dawkins. Although this book is written primarily using science, it is not such that an average educated person cannot understand it.

Early in the book Lennox points out that Dawkins' hostility to faith in God is the impression he has (sadly) gained that, whereas 'scientific belief is based upon publicly checkable evidence, religious faith not only lacks evidence; its independence from evidence is its joy, shouted from the rooftops'. Lennox in turn poses the question, "Where is the evidence that religious faith is not based on evidence?" 

He adds that mainstream Christianity will insist that faith and evidence are inseparable as faith is a response to evidence. The apostle John points to this in his writing in John 20:31 "But these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."  Likewise the apostle Paul points to nature as part of the evidence for the existence of God.

The thing with Dawkins' and those like him, they require evidence that they themselves do not give in their own definitions. For example, in his own definition of faith, which he calls 'blind faith,' he gives no evidence, but then he himself requires it of others. In Dawkins case he provides no evidence for his definition for faith because there is none; but in the case of a Christian we can and should provide evidence for our faith because the evidence has always been there.

1 comment:

  1. It's notable that evidence depends on presuppositions. There is a place for evidence in faith where the influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer inclines the believer to understand the evidence rightly. So the influence of the Holy Spirit is the source of our presuppositions. Likewise, the witness of our life and message in Christ is evidence of His truth.

    Dawkins' interpretation of the evidence that he touts begs the question of the godless presuppositions that he is says the evidence supports. The irony is that he is thus guilty of that for which he derides the faithful. The catch is that our presuppositions are defensible on their own merit where his are not.