Recently I was asked by an online acquaintance to discuss the reasons why I am a believer in God and in the Bible in particular. Despite my fondness for reading apologetics literature I am not someone who has written a great deal of it. One of the more interesting insights one gets from apologetics literature is that it is hard on the people who write them to reflect upon the reasons why they believe what they do, especially since such reasons often do not seem all that compelling to explain to other people. Even so, as someone who believes that it is of considerable importance to be willing to give an answer for my own personal faith, I have agreed to undertake this rather personal task. Given the complexity of the turnings of my mind, I thought I would lay the groundwork for this statement by discussing something of the nature of defending one’s faith and my thoughts about the genre and request as a whole.
Apologetic works for Christianity go back a long way. In the larger sense of the word, at least two whole books of the Bible in Luke and Acts, as well as Hebrews and Galatians, are apologetics for Christianity in a large sense, as is much of Romans. While these books are well beyond the scope of this essay, they at least demonstrate that the defense of the reasonableness of Christianity was an issue from the beginning, especially when one considers the tense relationship between Christianity and Judaism on the one hand and between Christianity and the Roman state on the other, which had a strong degree of hostility to new religions in general. One can compare the religious climate of the classical era with that of the contemporary era as being a place of religious and philosophical ferment in an atmosphere of political tensions extending from the decline of a multipolar Hellenistic world to a world dominated by a few massive powers like Rome, Parthia, and Han China, which then faced their own crises in late Antiquity, starting in about the third century.
Even so, for the vast majority of Western Civilization, it is those who did not profess a belief in God who felt it necessary to be apologetic about it. If it seems necessary in the contemporary age that an obvious intelligent and highly intellectual person about it like myself would need to defend a belief in the supernatural in the face of naturalistic assumptions, it was previously seen as obvious that someone who was rational would in fact view reason as being proof of the action of deity in forming and creating such a capacity in mankind. It is not merely that one believes in the existence of God and in the inspiration of the Bible, but rather that it is true believing in the blessing of mortal mankind with reason and intellect that it is possible for us to truly know anything at all in a rational sense. Without a belief in the gift of the mind and the reasoning process in the first place it is impossible to know anything rationally in the first place, as someone who denies rationality is an emergent and purposeless phenomenon.
It is strange, therefore, that whereas previously it was seen as axiomatic that believing in mankind as a rational being implied a belief in this rationality coming from somewhere else and being given to mankind as a gift, that rationality is seen nowadays as being the province of those who believe in a lack of purpose and design and order and who believe that such qualities magically sprang up from nothing through the random wandering and drift of genetic mutation. I will have more to say about this shortly, but it has always fascinated me that people have tended to think of themselves as rational given the obvious irrationality of much thinking that exists. Yet it must be admitted that most of us are rather sensitive to the irrationality of other people but rather casual about our own irrationality. That which strikes me as blindingly obvious and axiomatic may not be so convincing to others, but we must reveal the results of our own thinking patterns when we seek to explain to others why we think and believe as we do.