Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Stephen Pinker & the Rationality of Christianity

Stephen Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard is one of our age’s chief atheists. When Harvard’s Committee on General Education suggested that students take courses under a “Reason and Faith” requirement, Pinker considered it scandalous.

“Universities are about reason, pure and simple,” he trumpeted. “Faith—believing something without good reasons to do so—has no place in anything but a religious institution, and our society has no shortage of these.” To give such significance to religion “is to give it far too much prominence.” Religious belief “is an American anachronism.”

In a TIME Magazine article Pinker said, “It’s natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth.”

One could conclude from Pinker’s words that:
Science = Reason; Faith = Irrationality

Who wants to be on the side of irrationality? I don’t.

Frankly, when you lump all the faiths of the world together under the heading of “religion”, there is a lot that is irrational and some of it fits my definition of crazy. After all, it is “religion” that is behind most of the world’s terrorist’s attacks today. It is “religion” that keeps millions of people hungry (can’t kill sacred animals for food) and in poverty (perpetual class systems).

Ironically, Pinker contends that once we have been cleared of the historical blight of religion, morality is really a rather simple matter: “to treat others as we wish to be treated…” If those words sound familiar to you then you recognize them as the Golden Rule, which is declared in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as well as by Jesus himself (Matthew 7:12).

At the risk of sounding elitist, I must point out that Christianity is not a “religion” (man reaching up to God) but rather it is a “relationship” (God reaching down to man). This is what separates Christianity from all other faiths. It is Christianity that upholds the sanctity of life, the virtue of giving rather than receiving, freely offering forgiveness and forsaking vengeance and serving others above self. I’d like to ask Dr. Pinker, is there anything irrational about those values and virtues?

I know that life is busy and hectic and many are doing all they can to maintain some level of sanity. Who has time to delve into weighty matters of science and faith? But, on the other hand, if Christianity is true, and if life is short, then friend the most important thing you can do is to settle the issue of what one is to do with Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

CmR said...

I enjoyed reading this one. Thanks for posting it.