In Monday's post, I expressed frustration at the lack of response to what I considered a fair question that actually has a reasonable answer. An answer that has roots in actions that can be demonstrated historically. Certainly, when discussing religious issues, there does ultimately come a point where one must rely on faith instead of reason (for which Arthur C. Clarke called religious believers "un-sane" when writing 3001: The Final Odyssey. This was not an attempt to insult believers, although he was not a person of religious faith himself, but was the best word he could find for trying to describe the "leap of faith" that religious believers must ultimately take to justify their beliefs.). Indeed, I have long maintained that everyone, believer or not, has to rely on "faith" at some point. Everyone finds some point at which he/she has to trust that the data they've found is, in fact, reliable, and no one has the energy (human beings being finite, after all) to track down every resource to find that it is, in fact, accurate. Of course, religious believers do have a special need in this area, since at least some aspects of what we believe do not lend themselves to verification especially well. But even still, believers commit a grievous error when we give up on reason too quickly.
I'll leave it to others to debate what constitutes "too quickly," but rather wanted to highlight a serious of posts over of Scot McKnight's "Jesus Creed" blog. These posts, written not by McKnight himself, but by a regular contributor with a background in academia, are entitled "Our Reasonable Faith." There are, so far, five entries in this series. Here's the first one. Others may be found through the main blog link.
The purpose of this series is less about "giving Christians reasons for their faith," and more about encouraging Christians to think critically about their faith. Or, perhaps more accurately, to not be afraid to think critically about their faith. Reason need not be seen as the enemy.
I can see my post-modern friends (both religious and non-religious) argue that reason should not be the end-all and be-all, either. Indeed, reason has its limits. I alluded to this toward the end of my first paragraph. Still, I maintain that reason need not be an enemy. It is a tool that we use to understand the world in which we live, even if it isn't (and shouldn't be) the only tool.
I'm also pleased that this series (particularly today's entry) doesn't try to defend Christianity at those points where Christianity has been indefensible: where we have caused tremendous pain and suffering in the name of our religion. Even while suggesting that Christians who have done this have done this not because they follow their religion more strongly than others--but rather because they have missed some crucial tenets of Christian teachings, the idea of this series tends to leave us with more questions for reflection than answers.
I consider this a good thing. I'm more than a little annoyed with fellow Christians who settle for the "easy answers" to difficult questions. Let's allow those questions to sit for a while if we have to. I say this not for the sake of avoiding the responsibility of giving proper answers to these questions at all. It's not a delaying tactic, as if to say "I don't know, I just have to have faith." But rather, I say this because there are some serious questions that deserve proper reflection if they are to be given proper answers, and that simply takes time. I also believe that Christians must allow their faith to be challenged when better information comes to light. Our stubborn refusal to do so has rightly made Christianity a laughing stock on certain issues. Yes, there may well be some questions to which "faith" is the only answer I'll ever be to give. But faith shouldn't be a cop-out.