A couple of months ago I wrote a post detailing a review of one of the chapters in a book entitled “True Reason.” This was put out by a Christian ministry in an attempt to argue that Christianity is actually more reasonable than non-belief. Now, the arguments in the book were pretty far from rational, the entire book did nothing but rip on logical failures of atheists. Some of those failures were real, some were imagined, but in either case the book failed to make strong argument for how Christianity was rational on its own merits.
Reading through this made me start mulling over something interesting. Irregardless of how much of a failure this book actually was in terms of rational argument, I realized this is a book that would never have even been published a decade ago. The reason is that Christians were not, by and large, concerned with being the most rational.
I spent a number of years as a fundamentalist and involved specifically in a student ministry called Student Mobilization. We were not generally concerned with our beliefs being rational, in fact I can think of several examples of people speaking highly of our willingness to be irrational for our beliefs.
Once in a bible study the topic of the trinity came up and we all had to admit that would could not really explain or understand it and our leader spoke about how great is was that we were willing to believe in something that made no logical sense.
In another instance I was told by several leaders, including the one in the previous story, that when evangelizing someone I should avoid speaking about evidence and should instead focus on my own personal conversion story because people cannot argue with personal experiences.
These stories were hardly a-typical, in fact that were quite common, we generally accepted that our beliefs would appear to be crazy to anyone who rationally thought through them.
Fast forward to today, the atheist movement is growing and garnering attention, it is getting better organized, and many people point to various books written by atheists as catalyst that finally tipped them into non-belief. It seems to me that Christians are becoming more concerned with arguing their beliefs are rational precisely because of the impact that our arguments have had on the discourse, suddenly religion is no longer being viewed as being beyond rational inquiry and debate, and what’s more it is loosing that debate.