I have just read a friend’s latest blog entry, in which he considers the “integrity of faith and reason.” (See below for a link.) He says, in a nutshell, that either one, or both working in concert, can be a path to “peace, love, and understanding.” He likes the term “rational Christian.” I do, too, though frequently it’s an oxymoron.
“I find that the closer I feel to God and the more I embrace the teachings of Jesus,” my friend observes, “the less affection I have for religion.” Of course he feels this way. So did Jesus, who detested religions, and who would have chafed at being called a “Christian.” He was against all such systems.
Faith and reason, my friend maintains, can go hand in hand "if we teach truth, in science, in politics, in history, in literature as manifestations of God’s will.” (Italics mine.) Let’s examine that assertion.
The truth is that there’s a lot of evil in the world. The fact that one creature feeds on another is one variety of evil (in the eyes of the one being eaten, at least). According to my blogger friend’s logic, it is a manifestation of God’s will that one creature should eat another. It’s part of His larger manifesto, that evil should be allowed to exist. The tired mumbo-jumbo about man being the cause of evil just won’t do. Even in that scenario, evil had to exist for man to choose it.
So what are we to make of a God who created evil? It also won’t do to say, as my friend does, that He is “a God of absolutes and ideals that I find consistent with universal moral and ethical principles.” Not if this absolutely and ideally good God is also omnipotent, as the Christian believes.
The Judeo-Christian religions just can’t explain evil. If God is responsible for it, He’s a monster, not a paragon. If He’s not responsible for it, He couldn’t have designed the universe. If He’s not the Designer, how can we affirm that “truth, in science, in politics, in history, in literature”—how can we affirm that anything-- is a manifestation of God’s will?
Christianity, my friend writes, is “the universal search for faith and intellect.” But Jesus made no such appeal to our intelligence. He was indifferent to the arguments for and against God’s existence, and even about the nature of God. He simply felt God within him, and said that He is within all of us.
So my friend is right when he says it doesn’t matter how we arrive at “ideal behavior.” Just don’t give me, for one, that old-time religion.