Faith and Reason - by Paul Ogle

© In a Fox News op. ed. by J. Warner Wallace (9/9/18) asked the question…

“What is the real reason young Christians are leaving the faith?”

The answer lies perhaps in a 2016 Pew Research Center survey that allowed respondents to answer questions in their own words. In this study, most [no longer Christian] said they no longer identified with a religious group because they no longer believed it was true. When asked why they no longer believed, many said their views about God had evolved and some reported having had a crisis of faith. Their specific explanations included the following statements:

  • Learning about evolution when I went away to college”;
  •  “Religion is the opiate of the people”;
  • “Rational thought makes religion go out the window”; and,
  •  “Lack of any sort of scientific or specific evidence of a creator.”

The data from this 2016 study may explain why young ex-Christians question a lot of religious teaching, as was reported in a more recent 2018 study. The specific “teaching” they question most often seems to be the existence of God. When Christians walk away from the faith, more often than not it is due to some form of intellectual skepticism. Ex-Christians often describe religious beliefs as innately blind or unreasonable. Many have left the Church because they don’t think anyone in the Church can or will answer their questions or make a reasonable case. At Whitefish Christian Academy we accept our responsibility to explain, as best we are able, what Christianity proposes and why these propositions are true.

Let me give four reasons why I believe there is a God who exists and who is worthy of my devotion.

1. The Evidence of Conscience. Human beings across every culture and throughout recorded human history have always believed that some actions are right and other actions are wrong. We experience feelings which flow from that reality such as guilt, pride in achievement, and a desire for justice. For an individual of our species to survive, it only requires they take actions that favor themselves. (This is a foundational principle of evolutionary theory, i.e. “Survival of the fittest.”). Social responsibility, moral values, caring for other people, or just being concerned as to how my actions might impact someone else (called deontological ethics) can be detrimental to my personal health, success, or even survival, and yet I am repulsed by someone who seems to lack this moral compass we call “conscience” in their character. Why? Right and wrong must be sourced in us from outside of our species.

2. The Evidence of Order and Beauty. Chaos and decay rule our world; over time, everything left to itself deteriorates, crumbles, breaks down, dies, or collapses. Scientists call this entropy, an observable fact that contradicts another evolutionary principle that, over time, complexity and order developed spontaneously all by themselves. But in our world, how can complexity, order, and beauty exist? We count on the seasons, tides, and circadian rhythms being predictable, and we enjoy the glory of the natural world that feeds our souls. We marvel as scientists discover intricate patterns and delicate balances woven into the universe from the simplest molecules to the largest galaxies. We admire artists who can create beautiful paintings, designs, music, and sculptures, and we grieve over the destruction that wars, illness, disasters, and anarchy leave in their wake. Without some outside agency interposing itself, creativity and complexity, beauty and order could never happen and would never remain in a world that is the victim of entropy.

3. The Evidence of Miracles. There have always been unexplained phenomena. People regularly encounter things for which our scientific knowledge can as yet offer no explanation. Let me say quickly that I do not believe in a ‘god of the gaps’ (anything that isn’t easily explained = god), but I do believe in an invisible spiritual realm and in a God who is both inside and outside our universe. He can suspend, when He chooses so to do, the natural laws which He instituted. I have a friend who says, “When I pray, coincidences happen”. I may not be able to always explain when or why, but God is still active in His world and responding to those who are seeking Him.

4. The Evidence of Personal Experience. If you want to know my story, my experience of meeting Jesus as a teenager at University studying science, please ask me. I’d be happy to share it with you.     

1 Peter 3:15. “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have; but do this with gentleness and respect.”

Paul Ogle  (Science teacher to 5th through 8th grades and 6th grade Humanities)

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