Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why Ask?

The title of pastor Timothy Keller's CNN Belief Blog post, "My Faith: The danger of asking God ‘Why me?'," seems slightly inaccurate to me. After reading it I think a better title would be "The Danger to Faith from Asking Questions." The piece is in no way about asking critical questions or encouraging thoughtful inquiries. It is about finding pleasant thoughts. It is about finding comfort. I do not have anything against making yourself feel better. That is perfectly fine. However, passing off pleasantries as if they are automatically profound or are the product of serious thought, that I have a problem with.

A good example of this type of faux-intellectual questioning and insight is this tid-bit Keller offers after oversimplifying and misrepresenting Nietzsche, "So abandoning belief in God doesn’t help with the problem of suffering at all." He never seems to notice that "belief" in general does not solve the problem of suffering. What led him to questions of "Why me" was his struggle with cancer. Here's a thought, medical research can help alleviate the problem of cancer. Faith does not make medical advances. Human activity and critical thinking, on the other hand, most certainly does.

The whole piece is essentially designed to make himself feel good about rationalizing his continued desire to believe in God after having been through an ordeal. This is not that uncommon. It is also not necessarily a source of insight. It is just a warmed over more pleasant bit of apologetics. I actually did feel for him and I am glad he is doing well. That does not validate the feeble arguments he tries passing off. It also avoids what really makes asking questions of God dangerous. It can lead to the realization that you are actually just asking yourself those questions. The reality that God and religion cannot survive serious sustained questioning is probably too scary for most believers. Assuming they allow such thought at all.

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