OK, this is a rather heretical thing to say, so I need to actually defend it before I say why it is I that I do think that Christianity is probably true.
Atheists are going to struggle with this statement because some of them assume that you don’t have faith because you think it is true. Faith is about believing and feelings, not about evidence- at least, that’s what they’ve been told. All I’ll say to this one is that I simply disagree, and I think the Bible disagrees too. Christians should have good reasons for believing what they believe. We claim that faith can be rationally defended.
Christians though aren’t going to like this statement either. Some Christians will complain and say- do you only think Christianity is true? How can you say it is probably true? Don’t you know it is true? Let me spell out the difference between thinking, believing and knowing, as I understand it.
We’ll start with knowing. Philosophers define knowledge as justified true belief (although some argue about that, as philosophers love to do). That is, if you know something- you’ve got to believe it yourself, it must be true (otherwise your knowledge would in reality not be knowledge), and your belief must follow from the evidence (and not just be coincidentally right). That might be a little confusing, but never mind. The point I want to make is there are some things we know which are immediately justified without any evidence. I may know that I am in love, even if I can’t prove it. I may know that I am innocent of a crime, even if all the evidence is stacked up against me. I may know something from my memory which I cannot demonstrate to anybody else. In the same way, I may know that God is real, even if I can’t demonstrate his existence to anyone else. God may have become so real to me personally that doubting him is not even an option, even though this cannot be explained or be helpful for anybody else. In this way, many people say they know God is real. There are times too in my life when I know God is real in this way.
However, thinking usually is less certain, and weighs up the evidence for and against. When I look at the reasons for and against God and the truth of Christianity, there are certainly puzzles to be wrestled with. That is why I say I think Christianity is probably true. There are times when I wrestle with doubts. However, when I just look at objective reasons for and against, I think the evidence is sufficiently good on the whole to win the case for the truth of Christianity. So that is why I say when I am acting in thinking mode, I think Christianity is probably true.
And that brings us to belief. Belief implies a choice or decision to accept something. I could remain perpetually open-minded and undecided as I continue to think things through until I reach 100% certainty. But then I would never accept anything at all as true, because it is always possible to question anything, even my own sanity. But of course we don’t do that. We don’t demand 100% proof for everything. There comes a time when it is right to move out of indecision and to decide to accept something is true, on the basis of good probability. That has now become belief. When it comes to Christianity, I believe you may do that because for intellectual reasons. You may do that simply because you know it is true. I would argue there is also a moral dimension- because we become convinced it is the right thing to do as well.
But I guess the big question really is what is this knock down case I’m claiming for the truth of Christianity? I summarise it in 3 words. Experience, Creation, and Jesus. There you have it. That’s the foundation I’ve come to for my conclusions, which I’ll be sharing with you. But first- what about evolution and the big bang? Haven’t they knocked the God theory totally out of the water?
Next chapter: Why evolution and the big bang are somewhat irrelevant.
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