Part one of two – let’s be honest about the who and what of our underlying presuppositions…
“[Christ] told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves,’ but also ‘as wise as serpents.’ He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good as children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.” C.S. Lewis ~ Mere Christianity
Many believe that people must check their intelligence at the door of faith in order to be a Christian. Certainly atheists and agnostics think so, but believers also act as if intelligence is something that must be discarded or even worse, not to be trusted.
A read through the Bible, however, reveals that God is as concerned about a person’s mind as He is about a person’s heart. In fact, the mind and the heart are often mentioned together. (See Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27)
If we believe in God, and believe He created the heavens and the earth, then we can trust the intellect He gave us. In fact, if He gave it to us, does He not expect us to use it?
Interestingly, we read that the heart is deceptively wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), but we don’t find similar things said about the mind. I think that is because our hearts lead us astray faster than our heads.
Paul considered intellectual exercise part of his ministry: to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” (2 Cor. 4:5)
Atheists and agnostics approach the world from a different view point than a believer. Atheists and agnostics claim that believers are not objective and open minded because we approach the world with the premise that God exists.
I think many of us fear we are guilty of the charge, and fearful, also, of facing the truth of that claim.
The truth is that atheists and agnostics are no less given to presuppositions that drive their thinking (and predetermine their conclusions) than believers. We do see the world through a filter. We all do, even atheists. We can be honest about that.
Once we have have been born again, everything changes. Everything should change! We find that God is not a what, but a who!
We can also be honest about the light that colors our view. As with C.S. Lewis, the believer sees the world by the light of Christ:
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
Different from a believer, an atheist approaches the world assuming no God with the premise that nothing exists unless they can touch it, see it, hear it and quantify it. The questions they ask limit the answers they find: they ask “what causes the wind”; they never think to ask “who causes the wind.” If they can’t find an answer to what, they will settle for asking “how” the wind operates and ignore the ultimate questions.
They ask whether the universe had a beginning and, if so, how did it happen. They sidestep where matter came from. They ask what is matter, not where did matter come from. They presuppose that the universe and matter simply exist – shutting the spigot of inquiry off because we can’t go there with our natural senses.
They don’t ask, they never ask, who created the world; they would never ask who, because that question presupposes a who, and they only presuppose a what.
Part two of two is next ~ Intellect and Faith