CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Faith of Unbelief

Dec 3, 2006

If it takes faith to be a person of faith, it also seems to take a lot of faith to be a person of no faith. That is, unbelievers seem to require as much faith as believers do. Just consider some of the bizarre explanations they have to come up with to explain religion and other things not commensurate with, or understandable by, philosophical naturalism.

For example, an October 2004 issue of Time magazine had a cover story about the “God gene”. At the same time Dean Hamer wrote the book, The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes. What is this all about?

Darwinists and secular scientists have long been baffled at the phenomenon of religious belief. If there is no transcendent being, if all that matters is matter, then why this persistent and universal belief in the supernatural and God? Well, some are now positing that our DNA compels us to seek this non-existent God.

Indeed, whole new fields, such as sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, are trying to explain a whole lot of things that do not seem to make sense from a naturalistic framework. If nature is all there is, then how does one explain altruism, selflessness, the love of music or the hunger for transcendence?

These folk come up with some pretty incredible answers – answers that seem to require as much faith as does belief in God. Indeed, if it is true that every culture throughout human history has believed in God or the gods, or the supernatural, it seems that a likely possibility is that such things actually exist.

Why would a godless universe put in a god gene if there is no reason for it? The reply of evolutionary psychology is that although we are made up of nothing but selfish genes, it does seem that selflessness exists. But in fact this is really selfishness in disguise. On and on the convoluted reasoning goes.

If the principle of Occam’s Razor is relevant here, then we should go for the simplest explanation, or the one with the least number of assumptions being drawn upon. And in this case that would seem to be this: nearly everyone believes in God and/or the supernatural because God and/or the supernatural exist. Of course other explanations can be offered. But this one seems as likely as any other. And it seems to require no more faith than any other.

Chuck Colson, writing in the November 28 2006 Breakpoint, also makes this point. He cites a book by the late Australian philosopher, David Stove (Darwinian Fairytales, 1996) in which he takes on Darwinism and socio-biology. Says Colson, “As the philosopher David Stove pointed out, altruism – the willingness, that is, to sacrifice for others – is obviously disadvantageous in what Darwin called ‘the struggle for life.’ In a world where the goal is to pass on your selfish gene, helping someone else pass on theirs makes no sense.”

He continues, “In the Darwinian scheme, true altruism ‘has no place in nature.’ When you start from the assumption that our behavior is the product of ‘selfish genes,’ then you must agree with the sociobiologist who wrote ‘scratch an ‘altruist’ and watch a hypocrite bleed’.”

“Little wonder that Stove called Darwinism, especially sociobiology, a ‘ridiculous slander on human beings.’ Darwinism not only cannot account for what is most essentially human – that is, things like altruism and music – it insists on denigrating them, as well.”

Quite so. But the biblical worldview makes much more sense. Because we are made in God’s image, men and women are capable of doing great and selfless deeds. But because we are fallen, we are also capable of doing great evil. As Colson concludes,

“In contrast, Christians understand that while we are born with the capacity for selfishness and even cruelty, we are also capable of caring for others. Because we are created in the image of God, we not only don’t have to be at war with our neighbors, we can willingly die for them, as well.”

Whether this approach to life takes more faith to believe than that offered by the philosophical naturalists is a moot point. But it seems the overwhelming majority of the world’s population would subscribe to the former view. It not only seems to make more sense, but it seems to require a lot less faith to believe in as well.

www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=5844

[733 words]

Leave a Reply