Posted tagged ‘Lord Richard Harris’

Reflections on Confidence in Faith and Atheism

November 29, 2018


Lord Richard Harris, the once Bishop of Oxford, and author of Haunted by Christ: Modern Writers and the Struggle for Faith, participated in a podcast discussion with the former Catholic priest, now agnostic philosopher, Sir Anthony Kenny and Justin Brierly, the host of the Unbelievable podcast. During the interview, he reflected: “On [the] issue of transcendence…. there is something about the experience of beauty which is tantalizing. It … mysteriously pulls us into itself and beyond itself, but it is ultimately ungraspable.” Harris likened this “mysterious pull” to “an elusive call that haunts us” and which “has its fulfillment in God.”

Harris is quick to note that the tantalizing pull of beauty is not an argument for the existence of God, but it is also not irrational. He says, “Once you come to believe [Christianity], everything falls into place. It coheres together. This experience of beauty makes sense, as the experience of morality makes sense.”

Of course, this observation is reminiscent of CS Lewis when he said, “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.”

Sitting opposite of Harris, Sir Anthony disagreed, saying that he grew up in the church, but Christianity makes less sense to him to day than it previously did. As “proof” he commented on a couple of different aspects of theology (the idea of punishment for sin among them) that just don’t make sense to him.

As I listened to him I thought, as I often do when I listen to atheists and decided agnostics, that Kenny puts a great deal of stock in what he, himself, thinks. Because it made no sense to him, it made no sense at all. In that sense, he elevated his own understanding into the place of an ultimate arbiter of truth.

Of course, what else are we to do? That’s a fair question. We only have ourselves, ultimately, as tools for deciphering truth.

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