Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Missing the Point

This article by an atheist is part of a long critique of the last chapter of a Josh McDowell's book Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Though rather byzantine (and a tad confused), this part's basic point is that the reality of the "transformitive power" of the "Christian experience" ("I was a [insert vice of choice] before I got saved") in no way proves that Christianity is true, mainly because all religious and secular organizations that purport philosophical ideals and ideas about life have their own "experiences" based on some sort of "transformitive power." In short: Christianity's experiences do not prove it is the right way, but only one way in a sea of different ways (and he lists quite a few).
The atheist's point is right, but it is only right because he is missing the real point. I can't speak for Josh McDowell (I have not read his book, so I don't know what he was actually saying), but I can speak as a Christian. The real point is not that Christianity has these experiences, but that these experiences exist at all. Why is it that when people adhere themselves to a certain set of ideals and ideas they suddenly (or gradually) "transform" at all? What is it about these ideals and ideas? Why do they have such power?
One book I have read is Lewis' The Abolition of Man, and in the second chapter, Lewis freely admits that various religions (and secular moralists) across time hold and have held to similar ideals and ideas. His point was not that Christianity had some sort of monopoly on the truth, but that there really does seem to be a "truth" that we really can "know" and that really does "set free" when it is adhered to. Furthermore, although numerous religions, sects, cults, and philosophies hold similar beliefs, they all held similar beliefs (with minor variations). Why is that? What is it about all those different religions, sects, cults, and philosophies (emerging from numerous different cultures, histories, societies, regions, beliefs, and times) that they seem to adhere to the same thing? Is there a unified, objective truth that all know?
This atheist has missed the point and, consequently, the real issue. The point is that there apparently really is a universal, inherent moral code based on the truth and a "compass" within all humanity that seeks for (and even finds) the truth, a truth that really affects for good and that really says something about reality (i.e., we really shouldn't murder, or lie, or dishonor our parents, etc.). That is the point, and it raises the real issue: Where did this code and compass come from? Why is it that reality seems to better itself by conforming to that code?
Christianity's uniqueness (the only "uniqueness" it has ever consistently claimed) is the Incarnation. It's "experiences" prove only that it too adheres to a moral code that tries to ascertain the truth. That is not a vital issue. What is vital is whether or not there is a truth we can know, and from whence did it come.