JUST THINKING…

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

An article in the LA Times, April 26, 2012 reports …

“Scientists have revealed one of the reasons why some folks are less religious than others: They think more analytically, rather than going with their gut. And thinking analytically can cause religious belief to wane — for skeptics and true believers alike.”

The article goes on to say that this scientific “discovery” shows that “belief may be a more malleable feature of the human psyche than those of strong faith may think.”

It seems to me that this “scientific discovery” may be just a bit deficient and a whole lot biased. It presents the idea that religious people are either too dumb, too lazy or too indifferent to think and that real thinking people are too smart to be religious. But there is no good reason that an analytically thinking person should not be a Christian. Christianity, in fact, is eminently rational. Some of the greatest scientists in history have been Christians.

There just may be some reasons that non-thinking people aren’t “religious.” I believe any sane, sensible, critically thinking person can be religious and be intellectual at the same time. But for many, religion is more a matter of tradition than reason. They grew up in a certain religious tradition and that is what they are rebelling against. They see the flaws and inconsistencies it the religion of their younger age and reject all religion on that basis. Or they see the shallowness of some of what passes for Christianity and reject that. It really doesn’t take an intellectual giant to see the weaknesses and inconsistencies of various religious systems and doctrines. It takes intellectual honesty and moral courage to examine not only religion, but one’s own motives and biases in the direction one takes in regard to the Bible.

With others it is a matter of dogma. Much of that which is taught and believed in the religious world is dogma and many see this as the essence of religion. Dogma is something held and asserted as true without any proof of its truthfulness. Dogmatism is being “positiveness in assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant; a viewpoint or system of ideas based on insufficiently examined premises.” Dogmatism is the antithesis of a reasoned faith. No thinking person is going to buy into something so patently anti-intellectual. To be accepted, dogma depends upon people not thinking. It depends on people accepting the dogmatist as being authoritative. Any analytically thinking person can easily see through dogma. It just doesn’t stand to reason. Dogmatism, in fact, is vehemently opposed to intellectual examination.

Another reason some analytically thinking people may reject religion is because of their own arrogance and pride. Prejudice is not the exclusive property of mental midgets. Egotism knows no limits as far as mental capability is concerned. Some people just believe they are too smart to even consider whether or not religion could be reasonable. One who will not examine the reasonableness of faith – genuinely biblically based faith – is intellectually dishonest.

There is, of course the probability that what was considered religion in this study reported above was religion in general. If you take a general view of religion, certainly no thinking person is going to get involved with such a confusing, contradictory composite of cockamamie. There is everything imaginable that passes for religion out there. That doesn’t mean that all of it is unworthy of investigation, nor does it say that one should not look for the genuine article because it may be obscured in this forest of confusion.

True religion welcomes investigation because it has nothing to fear. True religion invites investigation because it asks to be accepted with the mind as well as the heart. The Bible is a book that invites investigation. God asks to be engaged in a dialog with men – reasoning together, and tells us why we should do so …

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

“What do you think?” was a question Jesus often asked as well as the apostles. (Matthew 17:25; 18:12; 21:28; 22:17; 22:42; John 11:56; 2 Timothy 2:7). The apostle Paul was a highly educated man. Some have suggested that by today’s educational standards he would have held the equivalent of a Phd. His epistles are masterpieces of logic and analytical thought, the book of Romans, particularly. Some of the things Paul wrote are not easily understood as Peter said (2 Peter 3:16). He doesn’t say his writings are impossible to understand but that one must apply great diligence in getting out of his writings what he put into them. It is an intellectual challenge to understand his writings in other words.

No Christian has to feel intellectually inferior to some analytical egghead because he doesn’t believe in religion – or more particularly doesn’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God. What they fail to realize is that if they would just honestly examine the evidence the would be forced to the conclusion that Jesus actually lived, that he died, was buried and that he arose from the dead. There have been atheists who have set out to prove that the Bible is not true and that Jesus was not real who ended up becoming believers and staunch defenders of the Bible and of Christianity.

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