Posted on June 13, 2012
The Reason for Faith, Part 2
Part 2 in this series discusses the objectivity and subjectivity of our beliefs.
The Nature of Truth Claims
Some claims are subjective, private, and personal. Other claims are objective, public, and factual. If I claim that the capital of Georgia is Atlanta, and someone responds “That’s true,” then what others believe is irrelevant to the objective fact of the matter. Objective facts are either true or they’re not. On the other hand, if I claim that Atlanta is the most beautiful city in the world and someone responds, “That’s true,” then what others believe is relevant with regard to matters of taste, preference of architecture, etc., since this is a subjective claim.
Likewise, there are some aspects of Christianity that are subjective and others that are objective. Since Christianity makes claims about all objective reality and these claims are public and not merely private, then these claims are either true or not and there must be evidence to support them. If there is evidence to support objective Christian claims, then that means we can know them to be true. Some things may still be true but not supported by reason alone, for example the Christian idea of Trinity. Reason cannot comprehend this mystery and prove it, but reason can demonstrate that it’s not irrational to believe. Not all beliefs are false because we lack full comprehension.
When Christians claim that Christianity is true, we are not simply claiming that it fulfills some function in our lives like providing peace of mind, purpose in life, etc. While it does provide these things, Christianity provides these things because they’re rooted in a larger claim about all of reality (e.g., “God exists and we need him.”). True religion must be grounded in reality and not merely in the psyche. If the claims of Christianity are true, then there is evidence to support them. Otherwise, there’s no reason to hold the claims.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.
I’m indebted to Gregory E. Ganssle’s Thinking About God for most of this material.