Is Religion the Practice of Avoiding Truth?

by Luke Nix

A month or so ago, I came across an interesting challenge to Christianity. A skeptic told me that religion was an exercise in avoiding truth- a willful delusion. He observed that many Christians (and religious people, in general) tend to believe the claims of their “holy” books over what has been discovered about nature, history, or the very nature of reality. He noticed that many religious people have a precommitment to a particular understanding of the world and no amount of evidence provided will persuade them otherwise. He, as an intellectual, does not want to make this same mistake. In this post, I want to explore the possibility that he is making the same mistake based upon the philosophical foundations of the claim he makes for rejecting religion, and Christianity specifically.

Missing Philosophical Foundations

While several things did strike me as dissonant about his claim, one of the first things that I noticed about the language the skeptic chose was that his naturalistic worldview could not provide any such grounding for the claim. I am specifically referring to his references to the will and ability to reason.

The Missing Will and Intentionality

First, if naturalism is true then any specific event is the cumulative result of the events prior to it, governed by laws of nature. Not only does this apply to any specific event, it applies to all events in the history of the universe all the way back to the big bang. On this view, ultimately, the laws of physics and the initial conditions of the universe fatalistically determined every event that would take place. This includes every “willful” “decision” that humans would make. Ultimately, there are no true decisions being made, no person is “willfully” denying anything; they are merely reacting to the events prior to their “decisions.” The claim that anyone is doing anything “willfully” does not make sense in a naturalistic world. So, the naturalist cannot actually claim an intentional anything and be speaking accurately about reality…

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Is Religion the Practice of Avoiding Truth? | Faithful Thinkers