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A lot of people are affiliated to different faith. Christianity is among the world’s renowned religions, which encompass Islam, Judaism and Hinduism. Stephen Evans seemed to get bothered by perceptions created on Christianity as the main culprit or victim in an equal measure!
In his authored book: ‘Why Believe?’ Evans was trying to answer some of the prevalent queries raised by people of different categories. He observed that Christianity at some points has been unfairly judged. This, for example, he brought to people’s attention, when he said: “Social reformers and critics often weigh in at this point with claims that religious beliefs, especially Christian ones, are a barrier to social progress.” The author, therefore, sought to clarify some of the contentious issues surrounding his religion. He viewed this as a direct assault or mob-lynching without any valid cause!
Stephen Evans views the tragic end of his favorite student, Andrew as his own failure. He is convinced that a little effort to extract some deeper information about the victim could have averted the tragedy. He remained ashamed of himself and guilty of his actions. Personally, I see this as self incriminating and judgment, which ought not to be there. This contradicts the values highlighted in the Christian holy book (Bible). The book vividly teaches against being judges of others or even ourselves, since the only individual entrusted with this responsibility is God. He knows everything and is, therefore, felt everywhere; hence the name Omnipresent.
The author intimates that being a faithful or non-believer is influenced by some forces. He embraces this view on account that, external forces like exposure to either religious or unreligious environment, for instance, extended families, can directly lead to the aforesaid results. This belief has been brought clearly by Stephen, when he said, “The causes for this may, of course, not be primarily intellectual. Nevertheless at the University, Jim was presented with variety of distinctly temporary problems that loom as barriers to faith for many people, older as well as younger.”
In the above view, the author tries to acknowledge that a change is almost eminent in every religious component not acquired through personal feelings, but rather forces from outside. I feel sailing along with his perceptions, but at some point.
Interestingly, when contrasting Jim’s behavior with the author’s early version, there emerges contradiction. Jim, who was born in to a strict religious family does not maintain the faith closely associated with his parents, but could be seen lopsided on this issue. The writer says, “Jim was raised in a religious home and had a faith of a sort himself. Then in a surprisingly short time at the University he lost it.”
The above sentiments confirm the author’s recognition of how belief is a challenge even if one is raised in a religious environment. The above argument forms my beef to chew with the writer’s point of view, which qualifies my statement of agreement with him, but to a certain level.
Evans’ thought about things that make religious advancement unsuccessful include modern science and personal attitude towards religion. According to him, the emergence of modern intellectuals such as sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists and philosophers have led to inhibition of various religious growths, which is due to their interpretations. Anthropologists and sociologists see religion as an object used to cultivate good morals for the overall benefit of the society. They hold the view that the social conditions of a given social set up is determined by the way people worship or religion the people belong to. To my view, the writer here brings the issue of cult worship; which to some extent is true. If a society is deeply immersed in such worship, the moral standards are immensely undermined.
Stephen’s view of philosophers’ arguments also gives some sense to an extent. He says, for instance, that some of these intellectuals voice their concerns about the contradictions raised by religious interpretations. Christianity, for example, looks at questions raised by the philosophers concerning the most powerful and good God. Their bone of contention with this version is that why then could such extra-ordinary person allow his people to be ravaged with unending problems and misery. They continue to wonder, if such powerful God is in a position to deal with the evils bedeviling his own creation. To this level, I think I am supporting them. This needs thorough expounding of clear message, especially to the non-believers in Christianity.
The mystery surrounding miracles is still a testimony to these social scientists. Theirs is a logically and methodologically reached solution. Anything that is at variance with these proves defective. Religion does not offer such avenues. Christianity through its holy book, the Bible, gives an account of how God started and completed His creation. The criterion used was shrouded in none compliance to the normal procedure of nature as scientists believe. Things were made out of simple mentioning of words, absolutely marvelous. The author point out that despite these perceptions, still there are some intellectuals, just like the opposers who agree to these facts. Some are intelligent ardent believers. Although their perception carries some weights, my concern is about those intellects who believe in such at the same time.
Then there are social scientists that hold a uniquely valid view. Their arguments are pegged upon gender or sexuality nature of God. Most of them feel that the Christian holy book (Bible) doesn’t properly tackle the issue of gender parity. This group questions are God’s real sexual identity. The Bible always refers to God with the male pronoun (He). This is the main source of concern to the modern day feminist crusaders. They thrive most on the platform of gender equality; and the Bible’s reference makes them see it as the traditionally normal skewing of women’s rights. These individuals also find it difficult to agree to the explanation that it encompasses both genders. I may concur with them on the issue of another version in which theologians recognizes God as Spirit! How then is God referred to ‘He’?
There is another scanty source trying to associate religious persons with illiteracy. Some intelligent people like philosophers say that those who are deeply religious are uneducated. In view of this perception I find it quite contradictory to the real issues surrounding literacy. Some of the most educated people in the universe are theologians. A portion of them has been awarded the highest degree; doctorate, yet they are among the most religious groups. This revelation, therefore, makes the statement defective as proven.
The writer further acknowledges some incomprehensible occurrences such as, people with no religious background like Holly, who is an intelligent and educated, but has strong Christian faith. It is for this reason, where it is presumed that believing does not only come with prior knowledge from a certain predetermined source, but at times from the unlikely quotas, because these are the people with no previous religious affiliation. Could God then be planting the seed of knowledge to human race without the target’s knowledge? If that is the case, how does He do it? These are some of the perplexing questions that cause problems to religion and the foregone beliefs. Such queries need plausible answers that go beyond mere explanations, like: God speaks to one through vision. It can still attract substantial contentions.
Looking at Stephen’s attempts to satisfy the limitations leveled against religion; specifically Christianity, he comes up with thirteen sub-topics. These are highlighted in the table of contents as chapters. Their respective arrangements, starting from the first to the last are as follows: thinking about faith, God in court room, God and Santa Claus, the mysterious Universe, the mystery of the moral order, the mystery of persons, the divine Suitor, was Jesus really God, miracles and the Bible, why would a good God allow….may terrible mysteries, but are not religion just, good news and bad news and finally, making commitment. All these were listed purposely or with a noble intention to thrash out any inconceivable and tenable questions arising on this faith.
Some of the disputes raised have been conclusively dealt with in the above citations and discussions. On God in court room, the writer mainly looks at the world’s judgments of the Christian faith. Evans says that if everyone was to be given the podium of applying verdict, then everybody is guilty of biasness. He observed that, when looking for an avenue of arriving at a fair judgment, the sentiments of the chief judge are usually that the adduced evidence is beyond any reasonable doubt. Such are quite often with criminal justice system. The author’s argument in this case is that those who question the reality of God’s existence cannot justify their claims if they too cannot fully explain how the world came about.
Still on the above view, the writer associates these events mostly with the so-called philosophers. He observes that philosophers are the social scientists who mainly stand out, posturing as the voices of reason in the society. The author rebukes the scientists’ view that the world existed from nothing through the power of nature and slowly evolved to its current blistering status! This makes Stephen to wonder if their view is more right than the Christian view; which also on the same account says that the earth was created by God out of nothing, but through word. My view is compatible with the author’s argument. Here it is hard to judge who is actually right.
On contrasting God with Santa Claus, the author’s argument in his defense of Christian faith is also valid. It is quite prudent to notice the hypocrisy of the highest level that is being displayed in this story. If people can believe in Santa Claus whose identity is not well elaborated as the father of Christmas, then why cannot they also accept the existence of God whom the philosophers say that His origin and existence is shrouded in a lot of mystery? So on a fair and level playing ground such myopic arguments should not exist in the first place.
There is an argument as to whether Jesus was really God.