Friday, September 17, 2010

Analysis of Christianity Part 1 - "Introduction: The Logic Behind Faith"

I have been planning to write an essay about everything about Christianity for some time now.  But in the draft inside my mind, the mental manuscript is long for an essay.  That’s why I keep on postponing.  Too lazy.  But I finally decided to start it.  In a piece-meal basis.  Since it’s too long for one essay, I’ll do it in installments.  By writing in parts, it would allow me to write and leave it off when I tire off, and then pick it up again when I get motivated to continue.  I could start and stop at my convenience.     

So, let me start it…
Christianity has always been a fascinating subject to me.  Maybe because I had grown up in a Christian environment and it became my religion.  However, I am wary to call it a religion.  Religion, for me, is a human invention.  I even dared once to call it evil.  Religion is invented by humans to serve as a medium or tool to articulate worship in a way that would be convenient or beneficiary to them.  Therefore, there are many religions and many invented kinds of gods, because different people design a religion to be in sync with their own interests – to justify the actions they want to commit or to obtain benefits like power and money.  Even if morality exists in a religion, it is more so for the reason of convenience or practicality of the order brought by morality and not because they know and love the truth.                      

Christianity is more than a religion.  It was never designed to be man-centered but it was designed to be God-centered.  God himself authored it.  It is only concerned with the Truth and not convenience.  Of course, Christianity, to be able to be organized for humans, has to be practiced through the flawed mechanisms of Religion.  Therefore, throughout history, Christianity was vulnerable to being treated like other religions – mere tools for some people’s interests and convenience.  But the core message of Christianity is Truth.  And Truth will always prevail.  The Christian churches can become flawed, but God is unflawed.  So if we focus on God, since Christianity is God-centered, the light of the Truth will go through the darkness of the flaws and distortion that organized religion could bring and had brought.  

My intention, then, on writing about Christianity is to argue the point that it is not a mere religion.  That it is something more.   And that its message is the Truth.   This “Analysis of Christianity” is Christian apologetics in some sense, but I want to consider it as a series of essays that would – as what the title suggests –analyze Christianity.  This early on, I will note that this is my analysis (or parts of analyses) of Christianity and might not be the approach or interpretation or idea of some other Christians.  But this is what I believe in and what I perceive Christianity to be.  And I will write about it my way – Bernel-style.  I might err (if ever) in my arguments or analysis but I hope this would not be taken against the message of Christianity.  Christianity’s message is truth, and it doesn’t mean that if someone fail in making a concrete case for an objective truth, then the truth becomes false.  No.  Objective truth remains truth, even if someone fails to prove it.  But I will definitely do my best to be concrete and correct, and not err.  For this, I would use two basic foundations in my approach in discussing Christianity: to be biblical and logical.   

The Bible is the Word of God.  There is no higher authority than the Word of God.  It is the basis of every true Christian belief, philosophy and doctrines.   And how can we be sure that the Bible is indeed the Word of God?  The greatest proof we need is… well, because the Bible says so!  “Every Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16).  And since the Bible is God’s Word, and since there is no higher authority than God’s Word, the affirmation for itself is valid.  It seems to be a “begging the question” logical fallacy and appears to be a shallow or an ineffective argument in the eyes non-Christians, but, really, if the Bible would need its affirmation from an outside source, then it is no longer the “highest authority”, and therefore is not God’s Word.   So, by proclaiming itself that it is the Word of God, the Bible indeed proved that it is the Word of God. 

Now that we establish that the Bible is God’s Word, then it is a very sound foundation or source of evidence to support the points I will make in this series. 

As for being logical, well, faith is actually based on some form of logic.  The general assumption is that faith and logic does not mix well.  But I don’t think so.  C.S. Lewis said that faith requires both rational thinking and imaginative ability.  That is because faith is both a matter of logic and emotion.  There’s no such thing as “blind faith” for a Christian.  Remember that Christ does not “blind eyes” but “opens eyes.”  Leap of faiths made by Christian have logical bases.  They jump because they know that God can/will catch them.  With the fact of God’s strong arms as basis, Christian does not fear taking a leap to the unknown. 

I believe that logic is a valuable but limited tool for analysis and other thinking functions.  Limited in a sense because it is dependent on the perfectness of the premises of its argument.  Thus, if premises are false, it would usually give a false conclusion.  That’s why logical mathematical fallacies and logical errors exist.  It may follow a logical form, but it gives false conclusions.   Logic, in its design, is perfect.  It only commits errors because of any errors of the factors it is dependent upon and its wielder.  And humans, being imperfect, can err in wielding logic.  I believe that even if an argument follows a logical method, but if it follows a false premise, the argument should be dismissed as illogical.  Logic – as it’s designed by God – should always operate in correct premises, because its aim is to find truth. 

This world perceives Christians as “illogical” because they believe in an invisible Being, but those who criticize Christianity are actually the ones that function “illogically” since their premise is wrong.  Those that “logically” dismiss the Christian faith as ridiculous and illogical are actually functioning in a false premise of the denial of God’s existence, or the denial of the Bible (the Christianity’s foundation of its beliefs) as God’s Word, or both.  Christians, however, operate in the correct basic premise in their logic that God exist and that the Bible is the Word of God.  But how can I be sure that a Christian’s premise is correct and complete and theirs – the ones who dismiss Christianity or deny God’s existence – is not?  Well, it all comes down to the fact that it is God who opens eyes, and only when God opens someone’s eyes would it make sense to him or her.  And it is God who “opens the eyes” of Christians that enabled Christians to – not only believe – but to KNOW the Truth.  Non-Christians can’t really dismiss this claim: that Christians know that what they believe in is true because of a personal encounter with God.  How can they dismiss it when they haven’t encountered it?  It's like two men - A and B - that think that vanilla is the best ice cream flavor in the world.  Then, A got a taste of "cookies and cream" flavor and discovered that it's the best flavor in the world.  Now, A insists that "cookies and cream" is the best, but B still thinks it's vanilla.  The only way for B to objectively dismiss A's claim - that the "cookies and cream" flavor is superior to vanilla - is for him to have a taste of "cookies and cream" first before passing judgement.  In the same way, the only way to invalidate the Christian premise is for non-Christians to have the same “encounter” that Christians claimed to have experienced and then after it, they were not able to see the truth of the Christian premise.  There was never a case of someone having the encounter of getting his or her “eyes opened by God” but failing to see the correctness of the Christian premise.      

Let me give an illustration:

There’s a community of people that are all color-blind and has no concept or knowledge that they are color-blind.  They think that everything is just gray, white, and black.  One day a stranger – an eye surgeon – arrived in that community and he picked a man and told him, “I will give you a normal sight; you will no longer be color blind.  You will be able to see colors.”   And so the surgeon did operate the man’s eyes, and then left him. 

After the operation, the man finally saw and realized that the world is not black, white, and gray.  But it is red, blue, green, yellow, pink, etc.  He was delighted and excited and went to his friend and told him the story.  He took a flower and said, “Look at this sunflower!  It’s colored beautifully yellow!” 

But since his friend is color-blind, he dismissed it, “You’re ridiculous.  It is definitely gray.  How can you say it’s a color called yellow?  And what surgeon?  There is no surgeon.  I don’t need surgery, I’m seeing the sunflower just fine.” 

Now, the truth is the sunflower is indeed color yellow, but the friend would not be able to see this, and he’ll not be able to grasp the concept of yellow since he never encountered or saw it before.   His concept is the colors that only exist are white, gray, and black (the flawed logical premise), when there are actually many different kinds of colors (the correct logical premise).  Moreover, he doesn’t believe in a surgeon or that he needs surgery since his eyes are “just fine” (just like how a spiritually blind person functions) according to him.
How can the man make an argument to prove to his friend that the sunflower is yellow?  His only option is to use the premise of someone that can see colors (which is the correct premise) - that, indeed, there are many kinds of colors (even if the friend thinks otherwise) and that the sunflower is yellow.  The man can’t abandon that premise since it’s a truth.  So, his arguments would be based from that premise, even if it seemed ridiculous to his friend.

But the friend will not see the validity and truth of this until the surgeon reveals himself to him and perform surgery on him to give him normal eyesight.  And when he finally can see colors, then he would see that the sunflower is indeed yellow. 

This may sound ridiculous, illogical and biased to the ears of non-Christians.  But that’s just the point, they will never really get the logic of it until the Surgeon operates on his or her eyes for them to see that the premises – Christian principles – that Christians use are correct. 

You might not be convinced by the arguments, but this is how this will work in this series: a logical discussion WITH Christian truths as premises.

(Before we move on to topics on Christianity, let us first prove the validity of the basic premise that God exists.  So, next in line: Part 2 – “Believing in God is Only Logical”)

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