Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Evidentiary Pursuit

Monday, September 25, 2006

Evidentiary Pursuit

"Evidentiary pursuit" is how author Sam Harris refers to the task of the conservative Evangelical as they line up the reasons why they believe what they believe. The interesting thing to note here is that Sam Harris is an atheist, and a strong voice for the argument against any kind of faith in any God, especially the God of Christianity. His latest book, "Letter to a Christian Nation" addresses those kinds of arguments.

I discovered this work through another blog and was interested not so much in the fact that he is an atheist, but rather his stance on a particular issue within the Christian world, that being religious moderation and liberalism. One would just assume, for various reasons, that an atheist would stand closer to the methodology of religious moderation than to that of a more conservative fundamental approach. However, he does just the opposite. Notice this quote from Harris:

"Another problem with religious moderation is that it is intellectually bankrupt. It really represents a fundamentally unprincipled use of reason. At least fundamentalists talk about evidence. You ask a fundamentalist, "Why do you believe that Jesus was the Son of God and the Bible is the perfect Word of God?" and you'll get reasons. They're not good reasons, but you will immediately see that these people are engaged in an evidentiary pursuit. They'll say things like, "The New Testament confirms all of Old Testament prophecy for every prophecy in the Bible has come true." You know, these are specious claims, but contrast that to what moderates say. Moderates don't talk about evidence. Moderates talk about meaning. They talk about the good effects of believing as they do."

He also says. . .

"I have written elsewhere about the problems I see with religious liberalism and religious moderation. Here, we need only observe that the issue is both simpler and more urgent than the liberals and moderates generally admit. Either the Bible is just an ordinary book, written by mortals, or it isn't. Either Christ was divine, or he was not. If the Bible is an ordinary book, and Christ was an ordinary man, the history of Christian theology is the story of bookish men parsing a collective delusion. If the basic tenets of Christianity are true, then there are some very grim surprises in store for nonbelievers like myself. You understand this. At least half of the American population understands this. So let us be honest with ourselves: in the fullness of time, one side is really going to win this argument, and the other side is really going to lose."

And finally,

"Another problem with religious moderation is that it is theologically bankrupt. It is not like if we just read the books more closely we would discover all these reasons to be moderates. I've got news for you, I've read the books: God is not a moderate."

Maybe we need more atheists involved in Bible teaching. Just kidding of course, but it is intriguing.


Blogger Barry said...

I'm not quite sure how he (and you, I suppose) defines "religious liberal" and "religious moderate". I would, off the cuff, probably define myself that way but if I take the meaning here in context to be those who doubt the divinity of Christ or the divine inspiration for the Bible, then I think that would be better defined as "religious confused"...

September 25, 2006 10:03 AM  

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