Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Rationality of Christian Faith

Paleo-Christian Art: The Feeding of the Five Thousand
Writing in 2009, A.N. Wilson, author of Against Religion: Why we should live without it (1991), gave an account of his Damascus Road conversion from Christianity to atheism, followed many years later by his recovery of faith.

To Wilson, it became apparent that the capacity for religious faith is a natural faculty no less than the capacity to appreciate music or the feeling for language.

To say, he argues, that because the work of Bach or Beethoven makes no logical sense, does not mean we would be better off without a musical sense, any more than to say that because love makes no logical sense we would be better off without a capacity for love.

It is true that a feeling for language, the love of music or the love for some at least of our fellow creatures makes no sense if one confines one's search for meaning to the logical deconstruction of the phenomena themselves.

Yet these human faculties make obvious sense in the context of human life. Humanity has survived on this planet for the million years or so since we diverged from our anthropoid ape ancestors because we have these innate gifts and proclivities.

It is only a blithering fool like David Hume or Freddie Ayer, or Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens who fails to grasp that the universal human susceptibility to religious faith is necessary to the human condition.

It is what makes humans social creatures bound by the transcendent rules that are necessary to social life.

And when religion is denied, people do not, as Malcolm Muggeridge realized, believe in nothing:
One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we`ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.
"Anything" being sex,communism, belief in the superiority of a culture that recognizes no culture as superior, the campaigns against racism, nationalism, the family and  religion, and all the other life-destroying principles of the revolutionary liberal, fascist, and socialist creeds of the modern age.

For the "anything" is no less an "irrational" religious faith that what it replaces.

Existence itself makes no sense so far as humans can understand the world. Yet human life continues because humans, as a whole, have an irrational love of life.

For a community to prosper, however, it must have a motivating creed. Moreover, it must have a creed that serves the survival and welfare of society, not one that destroys society.

Human evolution has been driven for a million years by competition between groups. The cohesion and competitive success of those groups has depended almost entirely on their culture, and at the core of every culture is a set of logically irreducible beliefs that have the function, whatever their name, of a religious creed.

For almost 2000 years, Christendom grew and prospered. But with the enlightenment, the Western drive for knowledge began to eat away at the religious faith that underlay the culture. Only science and logic, it came to be thought, provided the basis for valid belief. As a result, today, the religious faith that underlay the success of Christendom has been largely destroyed.

And with the destruction of faith, the West itself is in disintegration. The religion of recreational sex has destroyed the capacity of the Western nations to reproduce themselves. Populations are aging, birthrates are plunging far below the replacement rate.

The Western nations will not disappear, just the people of the West. They will be replaced by adherents of religious faiths that make more biological "sense:" Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism.

If Christianity remains in the West, it will most likely be a fundamentalist variety, probably brought to the West by African migrants who have obeyed the biblical injunction to go forth and multiply..


  1. Marxism failed in Russia and in China because it was detached from the 'spiritual'.

    - Aangirfan

  2. Yes, spirituality reinforces moral belief. During the dark days of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), Stalin called for sacrifice not in the name of Communism, but in the name of Mother Russia. And the church was mobilized as a moral force: churches were opened, and the clergy were released from prisons.

    But the West is failing, not only because its faith lacks spirituality, but because it places its faith in ideas that are destructive of life, liberty and happiness.

    In fact, there are few major differences between the Communist code and the secular faith of the West.

    Not all codes work well, which is one reason why most of the civilizations that have ever existed no longer exist today.

    The West has abandoned its long-lived Christian tradition that brought it great success, for something that looks like a sure-fire losing proposition.

  3. An interesting reflection here on the damage that is done by the Western commitment to multiculturalism and the belief that all cultures are equal.