When I am speaking with an agnostic or an honest atheist about cosmoview there are a few usual points we tend to reach. I’d like to speak about one: Contradiction.
At some point in an interesting debate we will get to the statement that all religions have contradictory elements. It is absolutely true, all religions have contradictory elements. Including the religion of rationalism to which most atheists subscribe.
Now, as you know if you have been reading this for a while, I don’t subscribe to the religion of Christianity, if there is even such a thing. I subscribe to a relationship that I believe has been offered to me. But that doesn’t really help me answer the question of contradiction because relationships also have contradictory elements. You ever heard of a love / hate relationship?
Look on the face of God, according to the bible, and you die; yet Moses saw God face to Face and lived. God cannot look on sin, yet He became sin; contradictory.
But rationalism claims not to be contradictory, as does religion; relationship makes no such claim.
The redeeming factor in relationships is that you don’t hear people saying, “well if it is a love / hate relationship then it is no longer a valid relationship.” Because even love / hate relationships are valid relationships, dysfunction does not invalidate a relationship. In fact a dysfunctional relationship may often survive the individuals in the relationship, like a black hole survives the stars in a galaxy. But rationalism cannot be contradictory and still remain rational, and a religion cannot be contradictory and remain a valid religion. Contradictions cause dilemmas, but it is only the relational God (of all the gods) who claims to face dilemmas.
A love / hate religion has a contradiction at it’s core, it suffers a fatal, self inflicted wound. It is a kingdom divided against itself.
Islam is such a religion, It is not relational at it’s core, it is religious at it’s core, and we must ask if it is a valid cosmoview. But it is also contradictory at it’s core, its love is the same at its hate. How then is anyone to accept it under any conditions?
I think that a valid and necessary debate is to be able to look at the core of religions and cosmoviews and see if there are any fatal flaws in them. If there are how can we believe them? For the sake of tradition, or control, or ethics? No. Those are no reasons to adopt or continue with a cosmoview.
Now what I find without fail is that atheists throw Christianity in with all the other religions they have encountered and label the whole lot as as ‘contradictory’. It is guilty by association. But this is an assumption and it comes from dealing with Christianity as a religion, which it is not.
I don’t blame them, because Christianity has been presented as a religion… by Christians. Fortunately though not by all Christians, and certainly not by Christ after whom Christianity is named. Just a cursory view of any of the gospels ought to dispel preconceptions of a Christian religion.
The other common argument used to label Christianity as contradictory usually comes in the form of a question: “which God are we to follow? Is one not merely a newer model of the old? If the religious don’t believe in each other’s gods why should anyone?”
But this is not a contradiction. I am married to one woman; I do not, by my marriage, deny the existence of all other women; neither do I uphold the virtue of all other women; neither do I have the intimacy with them that I do with my wife.
We must dissect our cosmoviews with socratic precision, to their very core, be it a religion, a metaphysical or a relational faith or pure rationalism. Once you are looking at the indispensables of a cosmoview you are on solid ground. You are comparing apples with apples, as they say; but you are also evaluating ‘them apples’ as legitimate or not.
And the conclusion you will come to is that firstly there is a lot of pretense going on, but secondly not all cosmoview is pretense.
Everyone has a view of the cosmos, even the agnostics and the skeptics , and everyone is convinced that his cosmoview is correct.
Perhaps it would be helpful to do this exercise on this blog, take the dominant global cosmoviews and dissect them to their core values looking just for contradiction.
Rationalism = mathematics is the universal language, God must explain his existence.
Hinduism = love is God.
Amimism = all is spiritual.
Islam = all is physical, God demands perfection.
Christianity = God is love, God is holy, God is three persons.
Let me know if you think that would be a good idea, as always the debate is an open one. Anyone can contribute, comment etc, but not anonymously.