The Christian Mind: Checkpoint

You might know that in the business world a “checkpoint” is a quick meeting to ensure everyone is on track. No one wants to discover someone is not on track when it is too late to do anything about it, right?

So with a few articles behind us in our series on the Christian Mind, I thought it would be a good time to take a quick checkpoint and see how Christianity is doing.Speaking of checkpoint, I cannot help but think of the game of Chess. I am horrible at Chess. My sons are avid board game players and they force me to play with them, especially during the holidays. It is not that I dislike board games; it is just that I always lose. My oldest son especially is a master strategist. He kills me at Risk® and Stratego®. We do not actually play Chess, but if we did, rest assured, I would be clobbered.

Like I said, I am horrible at Chess and do not even know all the rules. But I, like most people, know what checkmate is. That’s when you have maneuvered your pieces on the board such that your opponent’s most valuable piece, the King, cannot move in any direction without being captured. And if you move one of your pieces in range such that the King must move to avoid capture, that of course is when you say “check.” Perhaps that point in the game is called a checkpoint, also.

The Christian faith in the modern world can often feel like a game of Chess. Christianity is the stately King who has been around from the very beginning. But modern ideas are like the opponent’s pieces, persistently challenging its position on the board: science, evolution, pluralism, tolerance, feminism, same-sex marriage, social justice —and so forth. The checkpoints these days seem to be so frequent, one may wonder whether a checkmate exists in the near future.

The Christian faith in the modern world can often feel like a game of Chess, with modern ideas persistently challenging its position on the board. Yet give the small ground covered so far, it seems Christianity is a strong contender.

Yet given the small ground we have covered so far, it seems Christianity has shown itself to be a strong contender. To the accusation Christianity is intolerant, for example, it has managed to show that such an accusation is, in fact, its own form of intolerance.

And to the accusation Christianity is irrational, Christianity has likewise shown that such an accusation, resting on the claim that science can speak with authority on supernatural matters, is itself irrational.

And as for it apparent lack of evidence, Christianity has demonstrated that since God is not an object of this world but instead the Creator of all things — including us — it is only reasonable to assume that evidence for God would not come by us reaching out to God, but God reaching out to us. Which we call faith.

But beyond faith, evidence for God in the world exists; we have bumped up against it already. When we discussed the evolutionary explanation for how humanity came about (namely, through chance molecular processes only), we pointed out such an explanation has difficulty explaining how humanity would ever come to know what we call truth. Molecular reactions, after all, do not know anything, no matter how many there are and however complex. Things like Consciousness, free will and thought are merely illusions.

But if this is so, then certainly the things we think about are equally just an illusion —  and that includes the theory of evolution itself. It would seem, then, evolution is forced to rethink its position.

Neo-Darwinian evolution claims we are no more than molecular reactions, and molecular reactions do not know anything, no matter how many there are and however complex. But if this is so, then the things we claim to know are also an illusion — including the theory of evolution itself.

It would also seem consciousness, free will and thought are non-negotiable: No theory can deny them without destroying itself in the process.  But if this is so, then this means something important: We are more than matter; we are more than the molecular reactions that comprise our existence. In other words, there is a part of us that lies beyond the natural world. We are — what is the word? Oh yeah — supernatural.

Just as Christianity claims. God has left his calling card with the strongest evidence no human can deny: Ourselves, conscious and rational creatures with the ability to apprehend truth.

So I believe Christianity is on track. In fact, it may just be me, but I believe we may have this Chess analogy all wrong. Maybe Christianity is not the King, but the Queen. Because so far, it has not only managed to outmaneuver its opponents but has forced them to reassess their own position lest they be annihilated. In Chess we call that “check.”

12 thoughts on “The Christian Mind: Checkpoint

  1. Really good stuff, Patrick. I especially liked the way you said this:

    “…since God is not an object of this world but instead the Creator of all things — including us — it is only reasonable to assume that evidence for God would not come by us reaching out to God, but God reaching out to us. Which we call faith.”

    Amen. Besides our existence (being), consciousness, objective morality, and other tangible evidences, we can know this invisible, other-than God because He became one of us. We have material evidence of an immaterial God in the person of Jesus Christ.

    I also agree. While Christianity has been under heavy attack, we’ve been doing just fine. The best is yet to come.

    1. Thanks Mel. It’s funny, I tried explaining the idea represented by that quote to a skeptic and their response was, “There is absolutely no need to make things more complicated than they are. So you’re wrong.” I would hate to approach Quantum mechanics in the same way. I thought to myself, “If this is the best you got, skepticism is really in trouble.”

      I love your list. And I would add, “And He lives within us.” to your list.

      Thanks again for stopping by, and for your ability to contribute to the theme of the post concisely and thoughtfully. Blessings1

    2. Your gleeful hope for Christianity’s demise is wishful thinking at best, deluded at worst. What has taken the biggest hit in Christianity is the nominal cultural version of “Churchianity” in the West. Those who no longer need to keep up the pretense of being a “Christian” because of their cultural upbringing. However, Christianity is thriving among those who have a fuller and meaningful relationship with God. The other problem you have is that secularism (including atheism) is expected to decline as a percentage of world population over the next 30 years (from 16% to 13%) according to Pew Research. Btw, the same research says that Christianity’s growth will keep pace with world population over the same period (35%).
      So, prepare for disappointment.

      Yes, I’ve heard of David Robinson. Isn’t he the one that led atheist Richard Morgan to Christ through one of Richard Dawkins’ forums?

  2. You must have grabbed the Thesaurus by mistake 🙂 Let me take your def and respond, then offer my own def from Meriam-Webster and respond. Here goes.

    If we pick the word “sensible” or “commonsensical” out of your list, one could make the claim that Christianity is not rational because to you and perhaps many others, it many not seem “sensible” or “commonsensical.” I have no objection to that.

    But MW says rational is: “relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason” In other words, conforming to logic. Example: “Christianity is irrational because it is based on presupposition.” Answer: Christianity may not be TRUE if it is based on presupposition (but only if the presupposition is false), but it is not irrational because it is based on presupposition, because all rational thought is based on presupposition.

    Example Two: Christianity is irrational because it is based on the supernatural. Again: not sensible on this basis? To some yes. Why: They do not believe in the supernatural. They believe only idiots believe in the supernatural. No objection here.

    But if by irrational we mean belief in the supernatural violates some law of logic, not so. After all, it is reasonable to allow for the possibility the supernatural exists. Is it helpful? This depends on one’s presuppositions about reality.

    But regardless, I am arguing that using science to validate whether the supernatural exists is not logically sound and therefore qualifies as irrational, expressly because the presupposition of science, methodologically speaking, is that the supernatural does not exist.

    1. I get what you are saying. This is how I would think about it: The possibility of flying horses is rational, though it may not be true.

      I am surprised you did not bring up “the flying spaghetti monster” or “santa clause”. But I would also call the possibility of such entities rational, though not necessarily true. In saying this, I am defining the term rational. (And please note the world “possibility”).

      Now any such belief may appear to us as absurd, but this is subjective and largely based on what we know. We know santa clause to be a myth based on the evidence. I mean, parents know he does not exist even as they tell their children. The flying spaghetti monster is made up intentionally: There is evidence against such claims.

      With Christianity however, it is difficult to say there is absolutely no truth to the claim such that they qualify alongside santa clause and the spaghetti entities. It is more difficult to say there is no evidence for God. The question in my mind is whether we are warranted to assume that if such evidence exists, the scientific laboratory would be the place to find it. I say that is a presupposition.

    1. Hi Ark: Not exactly. It is my contention that the classic neo-darwinian claim that material processes alone gave rise to all of life including our own not only cannot explain consciousness or rationality but is ultimately self-defeating. (Evolution itself based on some other philosophical foundation could still be arguably true.)

      1. Sorry I was out for a bit (and will be leaving again). Regarding the theory of evolution, it would be more accurate to say I readily accept natural selection and even change over time and even mutations as a contributing role, but I am more skeptical of the claim that the theory as commonly presented is suitable as an all-encompassing explanation for both life’s origin as well as the origin of advanced life. I plan on doing a post on evolution at some point, FYI.

  3. In part, yes. Clearly “I don’t know” is a good and necessary starting point for all of us. Whether we can ever move from there to true knowledge and a certainty of what is true depends largely on what we believe about how truth is acquired. To say philosophical argument are nothing more than arguments is to reject rational argument as a means of acquiring truth. To say faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind is nothing more than baseless and irrational is to also reject that as a means of acquiring truth. In both cases, I would argue that is less “I don’t know” and more “I do know that no one can possibly attain true knowledge in that way.”

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