Christianity as the Best Explanation

by Melinda Pinner

Christianity can be seen as an explanatory hypothesis to account for certain phenomena we observe in the world: the origin of the universe, the design of the universe, and the universality of morality. The explanations that Christianity provides to this empirical data provide a cumulative case for the rationality of Christianity, and in fact, the superiority of Christianity to other belief systems. Monotheistic religions (namely Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) enjoy a special rational advantage over other kinds of religious beliefs in their explanatory power, but, as will be shown, Christianity is the most rationally satisfying. Three criteria can be applied to developing the positive case for Christianity and simultaneously the negative case against other religious belief claims: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and existential viability.

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Logical consistency seems to be more “cut and dry” than the other two criteria. Logic is a natural function of human minds and is universally practiced. In fact, the universality of logic itself needs to be explained in a religious worldview. Many religious beliefs can be dismissed at the outset because they fail this first criterion, for example eastern religions that deny rationality and logic. They not only cannot account for logic, they fail the test of rationality since they hold contradictory beliefs.

Christianity is sometimes accused of being illogical, but on closer inspection is rigorously logical. The doctrine of the Trinity is often dismissed as illogical, but is only done so because it is misunderstood or mis-defined (sometimes by ill-equipped Christians). The charge that the Trinity entails a contradiction fails from a category fallacy because the doctrine is sometimes defined as “three gods and one god,” or more simply “three in one.” The doctrine of the Trinity was carefully and meticulously formulated by the early church with great attention to the laws of logic and metaphysical categories. In fact, much of the first 1500 years of the history of Christianity was marked by great intellects who recognized that, if God created the world, then rationality was one of the features of the creation and it must be brought to bear…

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