This is a follow-up to my previous post. I finished the book flying back and forth from the west coast last week. Key points:
- It’s a GREAT read. I enjoyed every page, and I’m not an atheist.
- She’s the most reasonable angry person I’ve ever read. Most angry people taint their logic with bile and/or excessive snark. Using sarcasm or caustic, venomous words to make a point is amateurish and simply uninteresting to me. Greta has an edge, but I never felt like I showed up for amateur hour.
- Her logic is outstanding.
- I’m angry with most of same things that she is, although I tend to think that getting rid of religion in the world wouldn’t stop people from being utterly horrible to one another. They’d just find some other lousy rationalization for being oxygen bandits. Love of money and power seem to be recurring historical themes, even when they are couched inside of religious fervor. People just can’t seem to leave each other alone.
- She and I are politically similar on some points. While I don’t think she’s a libertarian (not really the point of the book to identify her political affiliations), as one myself, I related to her wish that all people had to freedom to believe whatever silly nonsense they’d like to believe. Right up to the point where it impinges on my own freedom. Then you can just step off. Thanks.
- I wish that more people of faith would recognize the right that non-believers have to challenge their faith. If you’re religious and someone challenges you about that, the person challenging you is not wrong just because they think your ideas are stupid. If you get mad, consider that what’s probably happening is that your own insecurities are being uncovered – a tough issue to cope with.
- One of my favorite points that came out in the book was that Christians often don’t actually know the tenets of their faith. It’s not a “pick and choose” faith. When you read the Bible, there’s content in there that you very probably won’t like and/or understand fully. And if you think you grasp all of the Christian faith and can put it all together, that’s excellent! I look forward to reading your book of systematic theology that will settle the theological puzzles that have boggled minds for centuries. But until your book comes out, I’ll simply point out that systematic theology has thus far been man’s best effort to put Christian doctrine together in a way that is cohesive and makes sense, not because it’s easy, but because it’s really, really hard. When you dig into systematic theology to determine what the Bible actually teaches and therefore come to your own worldview, you’ll be frustrated by the sheer volume of intellectually honest approaches that vary (sometimes widely) in their end result. Atheists make a fair point when critiquing Christians (as well as other religions) on this issue.
For me, the key issue of Christianity is very simple. Christ rose from the dead – or not. If Jesus is alive, then that makes Him God, and Christianity is what it is. Like it, or don’t like it. Reject Christ, or accept Him. Take Christianity and the Bible with all the things you don’t like or don’t understand (plus of course the things you do), and do your best to live a life that’s pleasing to God. But if Jesus Christ died on that cross and stayed dead, then I’m okay becoming an atheist – because honestly, faith would otherwise be utter lunacy. If God is dead (or never existed), what would the point of religion be, really? Absolutely none – and any argument to the contrary is just silly. Faith takes time, study, and money. There’s a lot of devotion involved if you’re the least bit serious about practicing a faith. Why would I bother with any of that if God is dead? There’s better things I could be doing with my time than playing pretend.
So, I’m going to invigorate some cursory work I did some time back on what we know about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The trouble is finding good books on both sides of the equation. I’ve found one book on Amazon that seems to be regarded as a more or less serious scholarly work that’s pro-resurrection. I’m trying to find a serious book on the negative side. I found a couple of titles that seemed plausible, but the reviews indicated that they were really bad as far as the scholarship went. Even (and especially) the atheists panned these titles. I shall keep digging, as I’m sure someone has written a serious work taking the viewpoint that, “Christ did not rise from the dead, and here’s how we know.” The last time I looked at this topic, I couldn’t find anything that plausibly discredited the witness of those who claimed to see the risen Christ.
As far as Greta’s book goes, go read it if you like to think through hard issues. Either you’ll become an atheist, or your faith will be reinforced. She doesn’t leave any room for you to be ambivalent, that’s for certain. I highly recommend it.