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Friday, December 05, 2008


Mark Brumley

It's an interesting question. Why indeed? What, in fact, does the question mean? Does it mean, "Why affirm the existence of God?" or does it mean, "Why affirm as true what God says?" or does it mean, "Why commit your whole self to God?"?

Sometimes a distinction is made between knowing and believing, with knowing involving the perception of the truth of the matter, either because the truth is self-evident, or the truth is evident to the senses, or the truth follows as a sound conclusion from a set of true premises, or some combination of the above. Believing, on the other hand, is understood as affirming the truth on the basis of the reliable testimony of another.

Not everyone would agree with that way of putting things, but if, for the sake of discussion, the above distinction is in place, what is being asked when we are asked, "Why believe in God?"?

Sometimes a distinction is made between believe that and believing in. Every act of believing that, if it is reasonably grounded, is a kind of believing in. I believe that China exists because I believe in the testimony of the people who tell me they have seen it. But some forms of believing in go deeper, because they involve a deep level of commitment to the one who is believed. This is the sort of commitment to another we affirm when we say to a good friend, "I believe in you".

Again, not everyone would accept that way of putting things, but if, for the sake of discussion, the above distinction is in place, what do we mean by, "Why believe in God?"?

El Zorro

MB--It seems that the campaign's approach is to try to provide an answer to the third question at the beginning of your post: "Why commit your whole self to God?" The ad with Michaelangelo's creation scene cites God's creation of us and His love for us as the reasons to believe in Him. This suggests something more than mere affirmation of His existence or of the truth of what He says. I think it implies a definition of faith as a way of knowing, and experiential knowing, at that. To that extent, it seems not to be aimed directly at the strict atheist.

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