“From religion to secularism”

By Dave Henning / February 12, 2024

“To move from religion to secularism is not so much a loss of faith as a shift into a new set of beliefs and into a new community of faith, one that draws lines between orthodoxy and heresy in different places. . . .  Many secular people . . . assume that belief is mainly a matter of faith while unbelief is based on reason.”- Timothy Keller

In Chapter 2 (“Isn’t Religion Based on Faith and Secularism on Evidence?”) of Making Sense of God, Timothy Keller talks about the deeper narrative behind loss of faith stories.  That religious people live by blind faith.  While secular and nonbelievers in God ground their position in evidence and reason.

Actually, they’re shedding one set of moral narratives for another.  Furthermore, Charles Taylor dubs this narrative the “subtraction story.”  Because people claim that their secular outlook consists of what remains after science and reason subtract their former belief in the supernatural.

Therefore, Pastor Keller takes a close look at the beliefs many secular people adopt.  Timothy refers to the first set of beliefs as exclusive rationality.  It’s the belief that science serves as the sole arbiter of what’s real and factual.  As a result, they contend, we should only believe things we can prove through empirical observation.

Above all, Pastor Keller underscores, atheists espouse an untenable view when they demand Christians prove God’s existence.  If they want atheists to believe.  However, this view presents insurmountable problems.  Because, for one thing, it cannot meet its own standard.  No empirical proof exists for their position.

In addition, few of our convictions about truth can be proved using the scientific method.  We’d justify little using the same standard of evidence on our other beliefs. A standard that many secular people use to reject belief in God.

Hence, Timothy asserts:

“Reason is a critical and irreplaceable way to help us weigh competing beliefs. . . .  We should, therefore, stop demanding that belief in God meet a standard of universally acknowledged proof when we don’t apply that proof to the other commitments on which we base our lives.”

Today’s question: How do you counter people who move from religion to secularism?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Doubt belief A = accept belief B”

About the author

Dave Henning

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