Where Did All The Faith Go?

Hi friends, @Interested_in_Evangelism,

This week Ryan Yu, a student at Amherst College, added his perspective in the Wall Street Journal, as part of the Future View section. I thought he offered a very thoughtful and interesting perspective.

In part, he wrote this:

Free and independent thought is not a new concept. But over time, it has progressively rationalized the world such that its great mysteries are mysteries no longer. Faith has fallen out of favor as a way of knowing. It’s natural, then, for younger generations to reject organized religion, which requires faith. Consider the growing skepticism toward traditional institutions in general, and an even further abandonment of religion might seem inevitable.

How would you respond to Ryan - or someone who held the same view?

To be clear, I’m not asking how you would respond simply to the objection itself, but also to a person who held this kind of objection.

Take this as a prompt to grow in your own walk with the Lord and a way of preparing yourself for conversations with people around you. I look forward to learning from each of your respectful, thoughtful answers!

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I’m not sure how helpful this is, but there are parallels between what Ryan observes and the story of Judges. Israel slowly shifts away from God, culminating in the last verse which says:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

Everyone doing what is right in their own eyes seems to be the spirit of the age.

In addition, Judges mentions in several places that the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. Comparing a society’s shift away from what God sees as good, to what we think is good in our own eyes might be a good starting point? Then you can shift into a discussion about living to please “the flesh” versus living to please the spirit. And ask which works out for the better in the end?

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@CarsonWeitnauer

Cracking question… and probably a fairly accurate picture of how people are thinking.

I think my first question would be “What does he mean by faith?”. If he means believing something without any evidence, or worse, believing something despite the evidence… then I would say society’s view would be a good one. I don’t believe that Jesus died and rose for me based on no evidence… I trust that what I have read and been told is true.

On the other hand… you could go down the line that we live in the most faithful society of all time. Most of our knowledge (and I’m generalising here) is attained from Google, the Media (in any form), Wikipedia or just hearsay. I think we do less and less of Luke’s ‘thorough investigation’ and instead take everyone else at their word and just believe what we’re told to.

As I say with anything though… those are only thoughts and the situation may bring up a different way of answering, or I may freeze and forget everything I ever knew. :slight_smile:

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Unfortunately this simply sounds like someone who hasn’t actually experienced much of life in the world outside of the books they selectively read. So far in my experience each answer regarding the great mysteries of life has uncovered many more questions and science still can’t explain with any certainty very basic things. How did it all begin? Why do we sleep? What is the essence of life? Why are we here?

As an engineer I learned that the deeper into my discipline I studied the less certain things became. It requires a certain intellectual integrity to admit that it is by faith humanists believe in Darwinian Evolution, it is by faith that Athiests posit there is no afterlife and it is by faith that we are educated with historical facts today that only end up being yesterday’s news when tomorrow comes.

The veil of arrogance is very thick on this and any generation who believes that they are not operating on faith in something. We as believers are humble enough to admit that the God of Scripture is the better object of faith than any human and the next time you choose to disagree and replace God with rationalism try creating a tree without a seed.

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Faith, (F A I T H), Father And I Traveling Home. The problem:, Man wants to be independent. Faith in Christ is knowing you are not alone and are dependent on Christ. See John 15:5 . Independent people have faith in themselves or not depending on the circumstances. Faith is and will always be a part of rational thinking. A triune God is a great mystery that is accepted on faith. Science has yet to explain that. Not all mysteries have been solved. To abandon or reject faith because of a lack of understanding of it goes against the art of science. God is Good to All , Psalm 145:9. Fred Proch

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It appears that the younger generation is rejecting organized religion in favor of other organized entities, like LGBQT, that espouse certain ideas that require faith to believe.

@CarsonWeitnauer:
This is modern day epicureanism. If anyone is interested the 2018 Gifford lectures are spot on this whole train of thought. Here are a few of my notes from the lectures that I try to keep it mind when I encounter people that are full on rationalist.

“Scientific and medical progress has produced a type of “Providence” but without God which has led to us to a sense of innate superiority .”

“What in ancient times took money and slaves was now available to the moderns, the enlighten ones, the ones who know how things work, we live in the new epicurean paradise made a available my progress and with a cost born by others.”

“Modern thought about postmortem Christianity is that it is a single stage reality, you die you go to heaven with no thought about a new heaven and a new earth or a new creation at all. This is supported in the pulpits by declaring that we are souls longing to return home, “heaven”. This is Plutarch not Paul.
If this world is not my home can I trust the what the Bible says after all what can I learn about a holy God from this wicked world?”

…epicurean elitism, interiorized and individualized combines with the plutonic secret inter-reality to highlight ,not a sinful that needs redeeming and transforming soul but a true self that needs liberating from the distortions of the outside world and even one’s own body might try to impose on it. Like progress itself this view has recently become orthodoxy.
The political elitism which allows enlighten westerns to look down at the rest of the planet either bless it or bomb it goes well with an inward elitism of those who know themselves to be the spiritual highflyers the real moral heroes.

The new minority philosophy has become the new majority.
Never before has a whole culture organized its life on the bases of a radical separation between our world and the world of the gods, if any.
Never before has it been harder to talk about natural theology or to even take the necessary steps toward that and that is to talk about Christian origins.

The current worldview is a not new but is an observable variant of a well know ancient one advocated in the early modern period on social, cultural and political grounds long before anyone looked for scientific evidence. The only new thing about it is its sudden dominance.

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Could it be that what we are seeing is not a world view, but a view held by Americans that are not born again Christians. I fear we assume the entire world looks at this issue from a western perspective. In other words, replace world view with western view. Just a thought. God is Good to All. Fred Proch

Hi friends (@Andrew_Shaw, @tsbehan, @David_Evans, @Elena, @Jimmy_Sellers, @fredproch), it was so interesting to see how many different ways we might respond to Ryan!

As a follow-up, I’d like to invite each of you to respond to someone else in this topic.

In doing so, pretend you are writing from a perspective similar to Ryan’s. How well has the concern been answered? Would you find it persuasive? What further objections might you raise? Our goal is to get to the heart of the questioner and not just discuss ideas in the abstract.

I’ll give it a start… here’s how I think someone in a similar position to Ryan might reply to Jimmy:

@Jimmy_Sellers,

The comparison of my views to ancient epicureanism is perhaps of academic interest, but it doesn’t move me. Scientific and medical progress has produced a type of “providence,” if that’s the word you want to use, but this doesn’t have to lead to an innate superiority. After all, it seems that many Christians think of themselves as ‘holier than thou.’ Instead, we can look at the vastness of the world and our own smallness, and be quite humbled by our insignificance. As it stands, I don’t know what your objection to free and independent thought might be, but I find it preferable to taking things on faith. This method of engaging with the world is leading to incredible advances on a daily basis and I’m excited about how we can continue to improve the world through the use of reason.

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Am I to reply to myself or one of the other connect member in this thread?

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Replying as Ryan

I don’t think one person’s opinion on this will cover a whole generation’s view but isn’t it organized religion that has caused so many of the problems that this generation must now resolve? As far as following other organized entities I feel that organization is the natural evolution of a more advanced thinking. We have learned from the mistakes of previous generations and are so grateful to them for the lessons they taught us so we can now create a better, more inviting and more inclusive world for everyone than any of the former religions ever could.

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Hey @Jimmy_Sellers reply to mine :wink:

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Hello Jimmy, This is just a thought on Faith. Let’s start with this: (A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. ) a phrase that seems to apply in today’s world. Adam and Eve went against God’s will and we know the result of that. Satan used flawed reasoning to convince them to sin. Therefore they did their will and sinned against God. Faith in what God said should have been enough. However, mans will got in the way. I agree they learned a lot about their will when they left God out. The sovereignty of God and our responsibility to live by Faith In God and His Word should not be compromised. Children in public school are getting the sciences, etc. and not Biblical teaching. God has been left out. Faith is not mentioned. No surprise they grow up with little or no thought of God’s will and faith in God. God is Good to All. Fred Proch

As Ryan:
I appreciate that you took the time to respond to my question but I don’t find anything in them that will moves the needle for me. Your appeal to the beginning is becoming a mote point as even the “church” agrees in a big bang type of event. Why we sleep? I have to confess I haven’t given that much thought. What is the essence of life? For me it will be a life lived well and then I will die. The why are we here question has some appeal but I feel sure that consumption of goods and serves is not one of those reasons.
I did like your article but I failed to see how it supports your point, evolution is an on going process with no end and no timeline.
With regard to the veil of arrogance I would said that it was a veil or ignorance that 2000 years of reason is slowly tearing not for the top to the bottom but from the bottom to the top to expose that nothing is there.
With respect,

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As me to Ryan:

Identifying you as a modern day epicurean was not intended to move you it was intended to challenge you and point out that your POV is well tested over the years and gained momentum after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 when the results demanded an answer to “Where was God” and is indeed being propelled with the fuel of science today. Your reply assumes a linear trajectory of human wisdom not to be confused with human knowledge. History would refute that. I would challenge you to show me where free thinking was a product of a godless society? You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the Greco-Roman that didn’t bump into a temple or shrine that acknowledged a deity and if you did like this one there was always another. It was from this culture a “godly” culture that you can enjoy the intellectual fruits of their labors. If you are interested in being humble don’t just compare your insignificants to the cosmos be humbled by those that came before you. Just out of curiosity how much faith do you think it took to believe in atomic world in the year 500BC? No instruments no science just free thinking fueled by nature, another way of saying the 'gods". I think that even though you are not a member of connect this link will take you to more information.

As me replying to the @Jimmy_Sellers version of Ryan

Thank you very much for the thoughtful response. This certainly offers me more clarity to find common understanding. Part of my faith I’d like to share with you is that I believe your needle of opinion on any matter will never be moved by any effort or argument from me but rather it is a deeply personal and internal “heart” decision that will only happen between the spirit inside you that is given to you by God and the Holy Spirit who is whispering truth to you. I am convinced by my faith in God that to the extent you are willing to listen to the still small voice that is speaking, you already know what the truth about God is as it says in:

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”

I am just here on faith to help awaken that knowledge already inside you.

The point I was making regarding the questions (about sleep, the big bang and the true essence of life) no human outside of a faith description has ever fully answered is to indicate that there is clearly knowledge that exists beyond humanity’s capacity to understand it. It reminds me of a passage from Job 38:2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” This is God essentially stating he is the one that has a plan and knowledge beyond any man’s understanding.

The point I was making about evolution is that it is a theory in flux; changing with new information that comes out regularly. The comparison I will draw between the current state of our scientific and rational understanding and the Word of God in scripture is scripture’s unchanging nature and proof through prophecy along with the person of Jesus Christ vs. the constantly changing face of science and human understanding. We as a human species are clearly continually straining to achieve a level of further knowledge and understanding than we currently have. The interesting thing to me is that Scripture has already described why we as humans are trying to do this apart from God - it’s the story of the fall of man choosing to go his own way with “knowlege” apart from God above “relationship” with God. Jesus Christ as God incarnate came down to restore that relationship broken by the rejection of God’s relationship by Adam and Eve many years ago; he needs to be addressed by any philosophy as either what he claimed to be or not.

I’m very curious to hear from your perspective. Who do you think Jesus Christ is?

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Hi @Jimmy_Sellers,

A potential reply from someone in a similar position as Ryan:

I think you’ve made my point for me. There’s no need to have a Christian culture to have free thinking. We can look through history and see that it has taken place outside of the religious traditions that are so prevalent today. As for today, as a sociological fact, there just are plenty of godless free-thinking communities today. There are agnostic free-thinking communities too. And so on and so forth. Most university professors and research scientists aren’t religious but they are leading the way in academia. Some would even argue that not being constrained by religious dogma helps us think new and more interesting thoughts.

At the same time, you ask how much faith it took to believe in an atomic world in 500B.C. I don’t know. Maybe it was a lucky guess. Maybe they meant something very different about an ‘atomic’ world, in their pre-scientific time, than we do today. Either way, I’m not interested in taking things on faith. That’s what is so great about using our reason, and our applied reason in the scientific discipline. This process is how we now know that the Greco-Roman gods aren’t real, nor any other gods, but we are still making incredible intellectual progress.

Isn’t it great that we can be humbled both by the cosmos and by history? Your original post seemed to claim that those who disagree with your religion are elitist and proud. I don’t know what motivates you to assume bad motivations of me, but I appreciate that we’re both interested in becoming more humble as we consider how much we still have to learn.

Reply to the new guy:

Could we agree on a definitions of faith? How about the this definition complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Is it possible that free thinking can lead you to faith? Is it possible that free thinking could take you to a point in life or your discipline were you will have to take a position with incomplete data? Can you think of anything in your life that demonstrates the need for faith? How about a faith in your parents, your friends, your career choice, your wife, your children? I would be interested in your thoughts.
I think one of the best example of faith is money. We all have faith that if we work we will get paid with paper that represents a promise to exchange this paper for goods and services. The whole process is faith based. Anyone in the chain can break it.
What about you when you become the object of faith i.e. your make promises that other people will take on faith?
I love science and technology but try as I might I can not see how we can use an empirical process and apply it to history, literature, music, art, even religion?
I hope at the minimum, you can at least sort through the things in your life that demonstrate the need for a faith response, if you are honest with yourself you will find many examples.

A possible reply :slight_smile: I will let you have the last word!

Yes, I’m with you on this one! I’m no complete skeptic. Of course we take some things on faith, like the fact that there’s an external world and other minds. It seems to me that religion might be an overgrowth of this important capacity. We have faith there are personal agents whom we can’t see, then we supersize this into the idea that there are gods or even the great big god. Then the gods we’ve made up start to tell us how to think - or, at least, their priests take on this responsibility. Dogma begins to constrain us. I think a ‘secular’ faith, in the general ways you’ve described it, is more conducive to reasoning than a spiritual faith.

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Let me leave you with this to think on as I think that we can agree that there is room for faith in this journey of life. It’s a quote by a really smart guy,

Knowing is a whole person activity it involves all aspects of being human. All human knowing involves the body and the emotions not just the senses and the brain. If we try to detach these different aspect from the person from the act of knowing we end like the logical positivists with supposedly scientific knowledge being objective and ethical knowledge being merely emotive or subjective and for what it matters theology and metaphysics being just nonsense.
NT Wright; A New Creation: Resurrection and Epistemology, 2018 Gifford Lectures

Further on the lecture he goes on to say:

The real knowledge isn’t your knowledge of the world or God but God’s knowledge of you and your answers to that knowledge is first and foremost love because the revelation is itself love and that’s why loving God and neighbor are the greatest commandments overtaking all sacrifices and burnt offerings and that’s why faith and hope and love are the greatest.
NT Wright; A New Creation: Resurrection and Epistemology, 2018 Gifford Lectures

This knowledge is only available in the person of the resurrected Christ Jesus, available to all who will come. Give it some thought.