I wanted to ask, how would you respond to a comment like this, done in the form of a cartoon: http://www.martinspribble.com/2011/09/12/soldier-crab-is-hostile-to-religion I know that it is useless to argue or to try to convince people who are blocked and refuse to believe anything about Christianity, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter.
My response to this cartoon is that it is fairly well done, and, for the most part, it gives a pretty fair treatment of the question. I have a couple of small disagreements with the cartoon which are not very important. However, I have one big issue with his/her reasoning. Generally, when people make patently false premises, their reasoning goes in a bad direction. Such is the case with this clever cartoon.
The false premise is that religion discourages looking at and analyzing evidence. I am sure you are aware of Acts 17 where the Bereans are encouraged for looking at the evidence and questioning the teaching of Paul. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham reasoned that God could raise Isaac. God said to his people, come let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18).
It is definitely a false accusation that biblical Christianity as a religion encourages its adherents to NOT think and to NOT use reason. A faithful Christian is one who questions what he or she is told, based both on scripture and on experience and common sense. It is true that we accept on faith that scripture is inspired by God, but even that faith is based on reason and evidence. Those who do not question their beliefs and interpretations are bound to stay as immature Christians. Anyone who does not realise this is misunderstandint biblical Christianity.
The historical fact is that Christianity was ultimately accepted by many in Rome because it was more reasonable that the other philosophies (including neoplatonism, stoicism, epicurianism) and religions in Rome. Origen defeated Porphyry because Christianity makes sense, not because of rhetoric or purely emotional.
Now, it is true that many Christians (and Muslims and Hindus and atheists for that matter) accept what they are taught without questioning it and without apply reasoning. However, a faithful Christian will question the interpretations they hear, whether they come from a preacher or on the radio or in a book. I gave a few examples of this being encouraged in the Bible. Many more can be given.
Forgive me for using myself as an example, but I believe that in my thirty-two years as a Christian I have consistently asked and attempted to answer all objections to the Christian faith. I have found that atheism is definitely NOT as reasonable as the Christian faith. It cannot explain the existence of the universe or the existence of life. Reason, in my opinion, very strongly leads toward the conclusion that reality is best explained by allowing for the existence of a supernatural creator of the universe. Reason also forces me toward the conclusion that the scriptures of Christianity are inspired by the same creator who made the universe.
John Oakes, PhD