Killing Faith: Deconstructionist Christians
Is proving the Bible really doing the work of God?
December 07, 2006
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By Brian Dunning, Skeptoid Podcast
Episode 12, December 07, 2006
Today we're going to take a leap of faith into a soft cushion, to see what happens when proven knowledge makes faith irrelevant.
There is a profound contradiction rising in the world of religion. Proponents of various religious dogma such as Creationism, Noah's Flood, and Revelations have taken a disturbing turn. They are crippling their own religion by attempting to do scientific research in an effort to prove their religious claims, thus directly attacking their religion's central pillar: faith.
Abraham is regarded as the father of faith among most of the world's people, including Muslims, Christians, and Jews. He earned this title through demonstrating the mightiest act of all: being willing to sacrifice his own son Isaac, indeed with the dagger poised above his head ready to fall. Isaac was saved when God sent an angel at the last second to put a stop to it, who told Abraham that he'd proven his faith. It was an act that very few among us could have duplicated; I certainly wouldn't have done it. For this reason, Abraham is rightly exalted. It was truly an act of heroic faith.
Consider this question: If Abraham had known that God would intervene at the last second to spare Isaac, would his act have been as heroic?
Theological tradition tells us no, it would not have. The reason the Abraham story is important is that it's the supreme demonstration of faith. Abraham raised his dagger fully intending to kill his beloved Isaac, all for his faith in God. He felt every ounce of the unimaginable anguish. Could you have brought the dagger down and plunged it into your own child? Achieving this level of faith is the essential goal of all Christians, and for that matter, it is for Muslims and Jews as well. Faith is the absolute pillar of religion.
Now let's turn the clock forward a few thousand years and see where the faithful are today. Surprisingly, I see a lot of them doing the equivalent of asking questions before raising the dagger. Questions like "Can you please prove to me that the angel's going to intervene?" Can you show me the scientific evidence that proves Intelligent Design? Can you please prove to me that Moses parted the Red Sea?
The Associates for Biblical Research (abr.christiananswers.net) publishes a quarterly PDF document called "Bible & Spade". It's all about archaeological projects throughout the middle east that they say supports the Biblical record. The current issue offers evidence from Egypt on the location of the Exodus crossing of the Red Sea. They have an exhaustive mission statement page, in which they state and restate their belief that the Bible is absolutely and literally a correct and true historical document. It is "infallible, inerrant and authoritative". Their purpose also includes "Edifying the Christian Church by encouraging a deeper knowledge of, greater appreciation for, and stronger faith in the Bible through knowledge and correct interpretation of the findings from archaeology and science." In short, they are all about proving the Bible is true through archaeology. They call this "encouraging stronger faith in the Bible". Encouraging faith through proof. They want to force us to believe it.
Maybe my dictionary is out of date, but faith and proof are oil and water. Faith needs no proof, and in the presence of proof, faith becomes irrelevant. Faith means to believe without proof; indeed, it means to believe in spite of evidence to the contrary. Where is the heroic faith in believing in something that's proven right before your eyes? That's hardly a demonstration worthy of Abraham. To seek to marginalize the element of faith by showing supporting evidence, is to seek to undermine the whole basis of the religion.
We see the same thing happening in any of the numerous groups seeking to find Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat in Turkey. On some of their web sites you'll find tremendous amounts of information about how a wooden ark could have survived 6000 odd years, how it could get so high on the mountain when there's not enough water on the planet to do it, exactly where it's located in the satellite photographs, exactly how two of every animal could fit on one ark, what its dimensions are and where and how it was built, and so forth. But nowhere did I find an explanation of why it's important that it be found. To my way of thinking, even if you're of the mindset that Noah's flood was simply a literal account of an incident and not a meaningful allegory, then allowing it to be found, thus proving the story, would be more likely to be on Satan's agenda than on God's. Why would God want to marginalize faith? I can think of every reason why Satan would want to do this, but not God.
Is proving the Bible really doing the work of God?
Abraham's faith did not need the crutch of supporting scientific evidence that God is real, nor would he have made much of an impression upon God if he'd had such. I challenge Christians who are true believers to stick with their faith, and to hold their faith to be (if I may borrow the terms) "infallible, inerrant, and authoritative". Or, if you want to use what science tells us instead, then admit that you're no longer keeping your faith in the infallibity of the Bible. You cannot do both. A true Christian must question their fellow believers who attempt to erode faith through the application of science to scripture. If faith is not enough to support religion on its own, then faith has already been killed.
© 2006 Skeptoid Media, Inc.
References & Further Reading
Anonymous. The Bible (King James Version). Various: Various, 2006. Genesis Chapter 22.
Corbin, B.J. The Explorers Of Ararat: And the Search for Noah's Ark. Online: Great Commission Illustrated (GCI) Books, 2009. 73-108.
Hoitenga, D.J., Jr. Faith and Reason from Plato to Plantinga: an Introduction to Reformed Epistemology. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.
Moberly, R. W. L. The Bible, Theology, and Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Rosenberg, David. Abraham: the first historical biography. New York: Basic Books, 2006. 40-45.
Shorto, R. Descartes' Bones: a Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason. New York: Doubleday, 2008.
Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "Killing Faith: Deconstructionist Christians." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., 7 Dec 2006. Web. 11 Dec 2013. <http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4012>
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