Why There Is a God -- and why it matters
Regis NicollRegis Nicoll's weblog
- 2017 Jan 22
Preface to "Why There Is a God and Why It Matters," available at Amazon here.
There was a time when it was nigh impossible not to believe in God. It wasn’t because of man’s irrational fears and superstitions, as atheist critics like to spin it, but because of nature’s rational design.
For most of human history, the intelligibility of nature pointed to an inescapable fact: an eternal, uncreated source (the uncaused Cause, Yahweh, Logos, Nature’s God) brought the universe into being with a rational structure that made knowledge possible.
By the 18th century that fact led to a methodological system of inquiry that liberated knowledge from the limits of natural philosophy and the errors of alchemy and astrology. Ironically, it also opened the way for disbelief in the thing that made true knowledge possible.
It wasn’t long before the sweeping successes of the Scientific Revolution produced a shift in conviction from nature’s God to man’s mastery over nature. And with that, a certain script emerged: God is unnecessary, man is his own savior, and the unlimited powers of science and human reason will place civilization on the inevitable march to progress.
Over the last century, the story line, while having limited success over everyday folks (the vast majority of people today still hold religious beliefs), has exerted considerable influence over cultural-shaping institutions: the scientific establishment, the mainstream media, the arts and entertainment industry, education, and the courts and legal system.
The result has been an erosion of societal support for religion, making religious belief harder to maintain. Since 1960, the number of people who poll “no belief in God” has risen over fivefold from 2 to 11 percent, and those with no religious affiliation have increased eightfold from 2 to 16 percent[i].
At the same time, Judeo-Christian norms have been eclipsed by a secular moral census; religious liberty has become ever more tenuous; and the social pathologies of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, non-marital sex, co-habitation, single parent homes, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases have burgeoned.
How we view these developments and the world in general, ultimately hinges on our views about God: his existence, his character, and our relationship to him.
While most Christians know what they believe about these things, too few would be able to summon up anything more than a self-referential, “bible-says-so” if challenged. They may believe with all their heart that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose from the dead 2000 years ago, but when pressed by a naysayer they withdraw or go silent because they have never examined the reliability of the historical record, nor considered how they would articulate a winsome response to someone who deems the bible a work of man rather than the word of God.
In the preface to his book, The God Delusion, atheist popularizer Richard Dawkins makes no bones about his goal: “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.”
In similar vein, my goals for this book are that 1) unbelievers who open it will be believers when they put it down, and 2) believers who open it will be more confident in their beliefs and in their ability to give them voice.
Get "Why There Is a God and Why It Matters," here.