Facebook Philosophers

We’re living at a unique time, when existential relativism has reached its cultural tipping point, where the rather benign mantra of “who’s to say what’s really true?” has metastasized into an emboldened “I get to say what’s true, and you get to shut the hell up!” No doubt, social media has played a significant role in accelerating our experience of this phenomenon. What I’ve noticed in particular is the rise of the populist atheist (e.g. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris) and their legions of disciples lurking out there in self-possessed, echo chamber chat rooms, when they’re not hiding in the weeds of your Facebook news feed, waiting to pounce on your next unsuspecting Christian aphorism . . . so they can set you straight.

Now, you’d think that there must have been some sort of new philosophical break-through development within atheism, rendering all other philosophies inert and inconsequential, precipitating such a rise in advocates and inspired such a brazen attitude – but you’d be incorrect. The simple truth is that nature abhors a vacuum, and given our current culture’s ambivalence about why God even matters – the hubris of populist atheism’s dismissive tone and confident swagger, rushes into fill that void, entrancing those most susceptible . . . those set adrift on a sea of self-referencing values.

But we shouldn’t mistake this as some sort of shift in interest for all things philosophical – it is far from that. The majority of these brash new non-theists have no interest whatsoever in engaging in a civilized philosophical juxtaposing of theism and non-theism. Because truth be told – they’re largely ill-equipped to make such a philosophical argument. They’d much rather frame the discussion in terms of “Science vs Religion”, imagining that it affords them the intellectual high ground, while burdening their opponents with the task of having to defend the buffoonery of religious kooks.

There’s just one small problem — as a Christian, I have no particular problem with science, in fact, as science continues to reveal just how complex our universe is, and how things once thought random now appear to have infinite layers of design — which seems to make it far less likely that such a universe could have somehow just magically sprung out of nowhere . . . for no apparent reason. And in truth, science offers us no particular opinion in regards to the practices of faith, which isn’t too surprising, given that science isn’t actually Favim.com-36725an entity unto itself, capable of forming its own opinions.

Let’s face it, addressing a philosophical question . . . well, philosophically – tends to take all of the starch out of a populist’s bloviating script. And when you have to actually be epistemologically honest in how you defend your ontological/ cosmological theories and their unavoidable implications, it doesn’t really create a lot of opportunity for pseudo-intellectual posturing – you either know what you’re talking about or you don’t.

So if you find yourself in a philosophical debate, and the substance of your argument is ostensibly nothing more than “I don’t see God—therefore he doesn’t exist . . . and O, by the way – I’m the only one here being rational because I’m a man of science” . . . then it may occur to you that you’ve probably over played your hand . . . but then again, who am I to say, you’re the rational one.


Actually, the “Fine Tuning” argument from science suggests that it is far more probable that the universe was deliberately designed by a designer than an accident of mere happenstance.

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What’s The Agenda?

So there I was, sitting in a back office of a Christian radio station waiting for my on air interview, making small talk with one of the DJs – it was back in the 90’s and I was giving promotional support for a CD I’d just released. She says “I really liked your CD”, after thanking her, I asked “So, which of my songs is your favorite?” she said “O, that’s easy, it’s the one you wrote for your wife . . . too bad we won’t be playing that one on the air, though.” to which I asked with a wry smile and a measured tone “Is that because a husband loving his wife isn’t quite Christian enough?” After a brief but awkward pause she confessed “that’s not right, is it?” Driving away from that station it occurred to me why it was I didn’t listen to much popular Christian music . . . they obviously have a different agenda than I do.

It isn’t so much in their specific content, as it is in their reductionism. We worship a God who is so creative, that by merely speaking, a universe begins to take shape around the very syllables formed on his lips. In breathtaking scope spanning macro to micro, in the delicate details of mind numbing complexity, this utterance of God even now continues to reverberate imponderably with his ever unfolding creation – it truly is a gourmet feast for the senses. Meanwhile we’re serving up warmed over pop culture with a side of religious propaganda. But my point here isn’t really about the agenda of Christian music’s preoccupation with market share homogenizing of artistic pabulum . . . because they’re only selling what we’re willing to buy – begging the question: what’s on our agenda?

When we are moved by something evocative, it’s like being stirred out of a reoccurring amnesia. In this way, art tugs at our sleeve to come and remember who we really are, and what our lives were always meant to be. This is because the God we worship is, as Thomas Aquinas puts it — ipsum esse subsistens (the act of being itself), he’s not an object among created objects – he is entirely other . . . transcendent to what is created. Giving glory to God should be on our agenda, and art has the unique ability of widening the scope of our worship by ushering us into a deeper consideration of God’s transcendence – that we might leave behind, if only for a moment, the limitations we’ve come to believe have us earth bound . . . limitations that for far too long have been setting our agenda.

couple-in-sunlight

Created in the image of a creator, is the very first thing God wants us to know about ourselves (Genesis 1:26). So you’d think creating should be somewhere on our agenda – whether we’re creating, or being attentive to what others have created. That we might acquire a jeweler’s eye for what’s truly evocative, a discernment for interpreting the richer subtext that exists just beneath the surface of our everyday, so that the superficial may give way to the profound. Because it is the whole creation story, not just the culturally understood religious bits, that bring glory to God. When we create false dichotomies between sacred and secular, we fail to find God’s transcendence in everything . . . and a powerfully sacred act like a husband being in love with his wife, is tossed aside as a secular notion, as if it were somehow a non-essential to God’s creation . . . so in answer to that DJ’s question, I say — Yes, that isn’t right!


Here’s the song in question – “Love’s Lullaby”