Background beliefs re: Christianity

By Dave Henning / February 9, 2024

“Many of the background beliefs that our culture presses on us about Christianity . . . are not presented to us explicitly by argument.  Rather, they are absorbed through the stories and themes of entertainment and social media.  They are assumed to be simply ‘the way things are.’ “- Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller concludes his Preface to Making Sense of God as he notes the strength of our culture’s background beliefs about Christianity.  Beliefs which make the Christian faith seem so implausible.  Above all, Pastor Keller states, many Christian believers find that the culture’s stance overpowers their faith.  As a result, their faith becomes less real in their minds and hearts.

Therefore, Timothy asserts, much or most of what we believe at this level is invisible to us as belief.  For example, you may believe:

  • You can achieve a full life of meaning, hope, and satisfaction sans any belief in God.
  • You deserve the right to freely live as you see fit, as long as you don’t harm others.

Next, Pastor Keller segues to Part One: Why Does Anybody Need Religion?  In Chapter 1 (“Isn’t Religion Going Away?), Timothy cites a major study by the Pew Research Center.  In that study researchers found that in the world overall, religion demonstrates steady and strong growth.  So, Pastor Keller observes, why does religion continue to grow amid great secular opposition.  Two good reasons present themselves.  Pastor Keller presents the first reason today.

1.  An awareness of something missing from secular reason.  Jurgen Habermas, one of the world’s most prominent philosophers, believes secular reason alone fails to account for what he calls “the substance of human.”  Furthermore, science cannot provide the means to judge whether technological structures are good or bad.

Because, to do that, we must know what constitutes a good human person.  And science cannot adjudicate or define morality.  As Timothy astutely notes, “Social sciences may be able to tell us what human life is but not what it ought to be.”

Finally, the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love birthed the following ideals.  Freedom, conscience, human rights, and democracy.  No alternative exists.

Today’s question: How do you counter our culture’s background beliefs re: Christianity?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Arbiter of metaphysics: Science?”

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Dave Henning

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