Thursday, September 30, 2010

Leaping Beyond Knowledge

Occasionally, I will take on, or at least attempt, the debate of some topic or statement made by those who fall into an atheistic or agnostic category.  Such individuals are usually highly intelligent and highly educated.  Almost without exception they are highly self-focused.

Debating atheists/agnostics is difficult. They all have a set of canned arguments that generally end in some form of calling you ignorant/uneducated, etc. I try to stick to a reasoned, educated, informed argument but, there are many times that I run out of answers. There almost always comes a time though, of complete rejection by the person with whom I am "discussing" the topic with my position. I suspect such an abrupt end comes for one of two reasons; either 1) I hit close to home or 2) they become frustrated with my unwillingness to "cave" to their position. 

Again, most who are in the atheist or agnostic camp are highly educated. I don't see their belief system as a result of their education, I see it as a part of the same makeup that drives them to a higher level of education. Perhaps it is a drive to know and understand, or maybe just a rejection of that which can't be explained. It seems tied to a high level of intelligence. But, along with that intelligence comes a sense of reliance on self-understanding. A sense that if I can't touch it, feel it, understand it, it can't be real. It is a rejection of the concept of the unexplainable. It is the idea that if "I" only had more information, "I" could understand it/repeat it/whatever. It is the placing of "self" at the pinnacle. Yet, those same individuals are the first to believe that man evolved from a "primordial soup" into this "high" being of which they are among the elite highest.  And they are often the first to place mankind in general on the same level as animals or even inanimate objects.

(Aside:  It is tempting at this point to state that one of the distinguishing points between Liberals and Conservatives is a "humility" toward self, but, some of the most arrogant individuals I have ever met are Conservatives.  It just seems there are a greater number of arrogant Liberals.)

The placing of "self" above God is where it all started.  Satan thought he was just as smart as God and set himself up in opposition to Him.  In the Garden of Eden man thought, through the prompting of Satan, that he knew as well as God and chose to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree in opposition to God.  Hmmm....seems to me to be the same disease -- self in opposition to God.

To me, our very existence requires a Creator.  The Creator must lie outside the created.  That which is within the created cannot know the Creator except as the Creator reveals Himself to us.  Trying to understand the creation by looking from the inside out is like the blind men and the elephant.  One sees a rope, another a tree, another a wall, yet none see the totality with any sense of understanding because they only see a part of the whole.

I believe mankind has tremendous cumulative knowlege of the created order.  I also believe there is tremendous misunderstanding of that knowledge.  Wisdom is the proper understanding and application of knowledge. Do I claim wisdom for myself?  Only to the extent that I understand that my knowledge is incomplete and therefore imperfect.  I also realize that perfect knowledge lies beyond the scope of human understanding -- either individually or cumulatively.

Belief in a Creator requires a leap of faith.  It is a leap to something that defies explanation and is by definition greater than self or the cumulative knowledge of man.  It is a leap that seems especially difficult for some.


jbboren said...

Fascinating. You have a lot of guts engaging them in debate...I've done it in the past and I've never had enough answers to complete the process.

But as RC Sproul says, not knowing if God exists is not the problem. Basically, there are two tenets of athiesm- (1) There is no God, and (2) I hate him. That second tenet is the one that gets in the way of a reasoned argument.

Might I recommend a book? 'The Making of an Atheist' is a good look at what causes someone to move from a passive agnostic to a more radical anti-theist. (It can be seen here- on

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Thanks, JB! I'm always looking for a good read.

hpt said...

I would also recommend, Jim and Casper Go to Church.