Thursday, 8 February 2007

"...the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe....For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. (1 Cor 18-21; 25)

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools (Rom 1:21-22)
Say the word philosophy to most conservative or fundamentalist Christians and you will probably get the above verses quoted to you at some point. If you raise philosophical objections to their faith or their belief in an inerrant text then they will probably feel these verses are an adequate enough response. They feel they do not need to enter the realm of the philosopher, as their Bible makes it clear that their religion is superior to philosophy.

The circular reasoning is almost comical. It goes something like this:
  1. The Christian message and the Bible are true.
  2. The Bible says philosophy is foolish.
  3. Therefore, philosophical objections to the Christian message and the Bible are foolish.
  4. Therefore, the Christian message and the Bible are true.
How easy for them. How convenient for them.

I remember arguing with Mormons about their 'proofs' for the Book of Mormon. They would quote the promise to those who wished to know if the book was true...from the book itself. There is something there about asking with a pure heart and then you get a 'burning in the bosom' or some other thing. To me though, the whole process seemed like asking a used car salesman if the car he was selling was any good. Of course he'll respond favourably to his product. The Book of Mormon isn't going to suggest a test of itself that will fail. That would just be self defeating for the Mormons. What I wanted from the Mormons was something outside of the Book of Mormon, not verses from within their book. They had very little.

Because of this experience, it unsettled me as a Christian when others would apply similar reasoning as an excuse to avoid philosophy or its objections to the faith. To reject philosophy simply because your religion or inerrant text teaches it is 'foolishness' is no different from what the Mormons do.

Here's my perception of what really goes on in the minds of many Christians:

9 comments:

Kyle said...

Troy,
I came across your site by pure accident but you sparked my interest so I just wanted to say something about this blog entry. Somewhere you and I crossed tracks and traded places. I started out in a non-christian home being convinced that Christianity was created by people for psychological, social, and/or political reasons. When I was 22 years old and committed to empiricism and agnosticism I found my life turned upside down. I experienced what I can only describe as the calling of God. He used my circumstance to cause me to reevalute some of my assumptions about life and the truth about God. I came to recognize that in my life of unbelief that I worked very hard to have a reason to explain my unbelief in case God ever asked. If I didn't really think God was there why did I bother and why should you? If you don't believe, really, then let it go and quit trying to justify it in your mind. I suspect you still have doubts. Consider Romans 1:18-19 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who supress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them." Guilt causes men to suppress what they know about God. God knows all our dark secrets and sent Jesus to suffer the penalty so we can be free from guilt and the power of sin. If you want to be totally free of the guilt, turn from sin to Jesus and he will forgive you.
God's best to you,
Kyle
P.S. Feel free to respond. kyle@ou.edu

Troy Waller said...

Thanks for your comments Kyle. I'd actually be keen to know more of your story. Do you have a blog?

Kyle said...

http://faithdefined.blogspot.com/

I wrote out my conversion and used it as the first blog entry for the blog link above. I have made a blog before but not on this subject. I hope you can relate to what is in my story and that perhaps God will reveal himself to you. Here's wishing you immeasurable peace and eternal joy.
Respectfully,

Troy Waller said...

Kyle

I read your blog. On it you wrote:

I took a hallucinagenic drug...I was very disturbed by the effects...I had a sickening feeling that I was about to die. Under this strong delusion I recalled that experience some weeks before where I felt some Power was revealing itself to me...I was flooded with thoughts of my life...it happened, I died. So it seemed. Immediately after my heart stopped I was facing the judgement of God right there in my friend's apartment living room. I felt myself as a spiritual being detached from my normal existence...God was speaking to me through a person on the television telling me that I was guiltly. I did not argue. I continued to sit in that living room thinking I was in hell and that the overwhelming feelings of guilt and condemnation would stay with me forever. At some point I fell asleep after what seemed like hours.

You experienced what is called a 'bad trip'. I had a couple where the devil was after my sould, I was sure my friends were possessed by demons and I thought I could read people's minds. My good friend had one where Jesus appeared to him in a mirror. Both he and I became Christians not long after those trips.

I, like you, based my conversion on these experiences. For years I told people my stories, never once considering how much like a nutcase I sounded. It all seemed so real to me at the time that I never thought that to others, it just sounded like an acid trip.

Kyle, that is what acid does to some, if not most,people. It blurs the line between the conscious and subconcious parts of our minds. It blurs the line between fantasy and reality. It brings people into a mimic state of psychosis. It is temporary for most of us though.

Years later, when I began to reflect on my experiences, I started to come to terms with the fact that while the trip seemed entirely real, this is what acid does. It is documented. I realised that the experiences I had while on halucingens could not be trusted, and neither could my interpretation of them. I am not saying you're crazy. Rather I am saying that you were in an induced state of temporary psychosis. Sadly, you and I both found a worldview that was prepared to allow us to see this experience as true, rather than see it as a drug induced nightmare.

Kyle, I have said this to my friend who 'saw Jesus' in the mirror, and I'll say it to you: If you have found OTHER convincing evidence of God's existence that is fine, but you cannot see your trip as part of that evidence. You must see your trip for what it was...a trip.

Think on this Kyle. Are you really gonna turn your whole life around because of what happened to you on drugs?

Troy Waller said...

I mean, are you really so silly as to think tnat while everyone else is effected by the chemicals in the drugs, you went past that and somehow touched the supermatural realm? If you do believe this then let me tell you that delusions of granduer are also common to acid trips.

Wake up Kyle, it was a bad trip. Don't carry it for the rest of your life.

Kyle said...

Troy,
I agree that it was a bad trip and I am not saying that it was necessarily God though God may have been involved. My conversion was not based solely on the trip. It was a catalyst to make me think seriously again about God. I had heard arguments for Christianity that softened my bias against it years before then. The thing that made the impact on me was my psychological response to the trip. I was ready with an excuse when I imagined that I met God. This was telling for me since I professed to not believe yet I kept a ready excuse. Since then I have found the bible to have significant evidence to demonstrate that God wrote it and if I had examined it with an open mind before hand it should have been enough to convince me. The trouble is sin keeps us from seeing the truth and only God can open our eyes. I don't expect folks to be convinced based on my experience. I think experience can be unreliable. If I found the Bible to be false since my experience I would have rejected it. But God reveals himself as only he can through scripture and my faith has been confirmed there so that I can never deny it.

Troy Waller said...

OK, well I am glad to hear you are not putting too mch stock in that experience. It is simply too tainted . I think you have taken it in the right way on one level in that you see what came out of you during the trip, that is, a fear of God and eternity. There's no point living in some kind of denial. If you have a fear of God's judgement and Hell, etc. then it cannot be healthy pretending you don't.

All the same, it all came gushing out of you when the drugs broke down your inhibitions and (perhaps) subconcious barriers (I am only speculating here).

You also said experience can be unreliable. I think the operative words there are 'can be'. Of course when on drugs like you were then experience is very unreliable. But I personally think experience is legitimate a lot of the time and plays a HUGE role in how we come to 'know' things. The trouble is how to interpret that experience I suppose.

In light of your trip, did you stop to wonder or ask why God didn't break through to you earlier? It seems God was somehow dependant on the drugs to speak to you or to bring you to a point of realisation. Doesn't that present a problem to your understanding of God? I'll ask you again, did God have to wait for you to sin and take drugs before he could get through to you? And if not, then why didn't he do something earlier or in a gentler way?

Kyle said...

The timing does not pose a problem from what I can see. I had a few opportunities before when I heard about the gospel from preachers and Christians but I rejected them. How many times is God obligated to offer salvation? Or by an analogy, how many times should a governor offer a pardon to a death row criminal? The answer within the biblical framework is zero since I had rightly earned God's judgement and any extension of grace came solely from the kind nature of God. Given that God is omnipotent, of course He could have reached me before. He usually does not consult me before ruling the universe so I can only speculate why He would have used that experience :) I was a fairly proud person and boasted that I was so sure of my unbelief that I was not afraid of Hell. Have you heard the Proverb "Pride comes before a fall?" There are numerous verses in the Bible that speak of God humbling proud people. I think I needed to be humbled so that I could understand. I honestly don't know if I ever could have believed because my pride made me closed to faith because I wanted an intellectual answer and faith seemed too simple.

Troy Waller said...

Well man, I hope it all works out for you. You sound like a smart guy, I'm sure you'll do fine in life. :)

Feel free to drop by the other blog I post on. You might find it more mentally stimulating:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/