Site icon D. Patrick Collins

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.”

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