Converting the fossilized remains of long-dead organisms into a means of mass conveyance; splitting the atom to generate near limitless amounts of energy; the formulation of equations by parsing infinity into units, then subjecting these units to a rigid abstract legal paradigm in order to organize an otherwise chaotic physical environment, enabling the creation of everything from tuffets to skyscrapers to battleships. All of these are universally efficacious, categorically productive, infinitely applicable, and are a part of the knowledge reliably categorized as capital-T Truth. None are by any means easy to do or understand, by any reasonable standard. Indeed, what watersheds of man’s existence are easy? Very few, if any. For any Truth I submit is necessarily arcane, enigmatic, and elusive, if not downright paradoxical.
Yet despite this, we are led to believe that the very epistemology by which man can know the difference between Truth and Falsehood in the first place is simple. Why, even a child can grasp it.
It’s the blowing of a dandelion.
All philosophical truths can be reduced, in all of their complexities and facets and nuances and archetypes and qualifications and distinctions, to the size of a bumper sticker. A small, sticky rectangle is all that is needed to adequately express the Truth.
In no better place is this notion exemplified than in Christianity. In the course of the past seven years of my commitment to calling out rational fallacy within the church and in human thinking in general, I have been scolded by Christians again and again, implicitly and explicitly, for my criticism and dismantling of orthodox doctrines. They tell me it constitutes an over-complication of the simple “faith” to which they ascribe; my thinking and teaching is a stumbling-block to the unsaved and seeking, and a barrier to those who proselytize them with Christ’s “simple” gospel of God’s forgiveness.
But is it really that simple, or is simplicity merely a matter of one’s point of view? Or is it something else altogether? The answer, as it may or may not surprise you, is both and neither…which is entirely consistent with the exasperatingly reasonless nature of Christian apologetics. You see, without contradiction, the church wouldn’t have any doctrine at all. The whole of Christian faith is built upon smoke…the fog of the burning bodies it leaves in its wake is so thick that it has become a facade of solid ground. Smoke so thick you believe you can actually walk upon it…yes, this is the essence of Christian thought.
Smoke. Gilded bullshit. Call it what you like, but the “faith” which is so simple yet so hard predictably falls apart when subjected to rudimentary logical examination.
Let me explain.
As I have mentioned, Christians are never slow nor reluctant to tell us how simple and universally accessible their message is. Yet on the other hand the Church has spent thousands of years weaving their orthodoxy into doctrines of incoherent paradox, contradiction, and doublespeak. And because of this we have, concordant with the notion that Christianity is intellectually accessible to the most nitwitted among us, the notion that Christian theology is an inexhaustible ocean of intellectual stimulation. Certainly, it isn’t uncommon to find Christian apologists who insist that one who dares wander along the road of the theological literati shall find that God’s revelations sufficiently challenge even the most intellectually gifted. And, in keeping with Christian manipulative tradition, where apologists engage in an intellectual war of attrition as opposed to rational discourse, qualification and equivocation are always the typical response to accusations that Christian orthodoxy isn’t complex and deep so much as it is heavily reliant upon tautology which has been sufficiently wrought enough to give the faith a relatively effective veneer of substance. But Christian metaphysics declare humans in all ways existentially depraved, including intellectually. And this is likely the greatest argumentative cop-out of all time, because it makes actual truth beyond the capacity of man by virtue of his very birth as man. And this grants Christians a convenient excuse to avoid their obligation to rationally defend their ideas, because rationality only goes as far as man’s mind, and that’s not far enough. What they believe, in other words, is so complicated that it is beyond the human capacity to know. They cannot actually explain it to you, because it’s beyond man, outside of him, literally and absolutely. Which means that they cannot actually explain it to themselves. Which means that they don’t actually believe anything at all. Therefore “Faith” and “belief” are mutually exclusive according to Christian metaphysics. Faith has nothing to do with actual belief, because belief requires a sufficiency to the Truth of God that man simply does not possess by nature. And THAT’S Christian apologetics in a nutshell.
So let’s open the nutshell a little here. I’m afraid we shall discover that the nutshell doesn’t contain any actual nut.
Saving faith, they declare, is open to all, and because “saving faith” is open to all, it is therefore so simple a child can understand. And yet, on the other hand, the faith is so complicated that man is, by nature (by being man), incapable of ever truly grasping it, and thus, man cannot actually believe on his own behalf so that he can be saved by belief…that is, by understanding. Because of this, he is really elected by God to salvation; it is a gift of God, and a product of God’s all-determining power.
Do you see what’s being done here? Faith is both simple and a matter of Divine, predetermining Will. But how can this be? Either the faith is so simple that all can apprehend it sufficiently to be saved or belief doesn’t matter because salvation is in fact a matter of Divine determinism—that is, since God elects who shall be saved, whether one can actually understand the Gospel message or not is entirely irrelevant.
And here enter the cavalcades of Christian equivocation and objection. Because in God’s world—a world where all is possible, and where “all” includes the conflation and synthesis of complete opposites—up is simultaneously down, left is simultaneously right, wisdom is simultaneously ignorance, etc. These contradictions, when interpreted via “God’s wisdom”, are all perfectly consistent; it’s all most clearly and necessarily true. Indeed, the recognition of entirely different rational standards for religious thought and secular thought is the very basis of holy faith. Hence, why “belief” is so easy. Because, in essence, it requires absolutely no intellectual capital because by man’s nature it cannot be accessed in the first place. And yet this is also why faith is so utterly complex…it’s so complicated that man cannot ever fully understand it. It is simply beyond him.
Faith is all about trust without belief. Thus, one let’s go of their insufficient human wisdom and embraces a reality where God’s mind rules, which makes anything possible…and presto change-o…contradiction becomes completely reasonable.
You see, saving faith is intellectually simple because the intellect is irrelevant. Believing “by faith and not by sight” is to accept truth whilst acknowledging that you cannot possibly know why the truth is true. Truth and reason are split apart, and thus faith is easy, because it requires no reason for it. And this is the “faith like a child” which saves. This is why so many Christians embrace simple-mindedness as a virtue.
Now, ironically, this simple saving faith, where the corollary between belief and why one believes is torn in two, provides the framework upon which the vast“complexities” of Christian theology are built. In the theological fantasyland of Christian orthodoxy where there is belief without reason, anything can be true…or nothing. Truth has been emancipated from the confines of reason, Christians, especially divinity scholars, theologians, and the leadership, can make the particulars of the Faith as arcane and abstruse as they like, and on a whim. Where “truth” doesn’t actually mean anything, you see, it can mean everything. When A is simultaneously B, then the corridors of Divine Wisdom become an infinite maze of rational subjectivity. One enters and one leaves as one pleases. Out is in; in is out. The complex is easy; the easy, complex.
And that’s how they do it. That’s how Christianity gets away with peddling their ideology as both beautifully simple and infinitely challenging…a one-size-fits-all for any mind, of any ability, at any time.