Certainty for the “Neurologically Disordered”

Here is a somewhat interesting discussion between Bill Maher (maker of the documentary movie “Religulous”) and Governor Mike Huckabee.

I like Mike Huckabee, but I think his engagement of Maher’s points is weak. He let Maher keep the conversation on the historical, human level. The conversation never became genuinely theological–that is, it never became a reasoned argument about God. Huckabee never brought up the fact that the existence of God is evident from the order of the world and the depth of human personality.

At one point, Maher said: “I don’t know. And you don’t know either. You don’t know what happens when you die, and I don’t know either. I am sure you don’t know, because I don’t know, and you don’t have power I don’t possess.”

He is right that Mike Huckabee does not possess superpowers. But the basic idea is wrong in two ways. What Maher said is a fundamental thesis of agnosticism, and it is false. We have some certain knowledge about what happens after we die.

vitruvian-manFirst, we can say for sure that bodily death does NOT mean the end of existence. The body is obviously animated by an immaterial soul. There is no physical force that can destroy or corrupt an immaterial thing. The soul certainly continues to exist after bodily death. The soul is not mortal like the body is.

Human beings have always known this. Because we have, we have concocted myths from time immemorial about what happens after death. Some of these myths possess some truth. Maher and all agnostics are right, though, to dismiss the myths of pagan religions as generally false.

This, however, brings us to the second reason why Maher’s statement is wrong. He is right that we do not on our own have the power to investigate what happens to us after we die. But we have been given detailed information by God Himself.

God became man and taught us what happens after bodily death. He did not teach us everything by any means. But He taught us enough to give us certainty on these points:

1) We will be judged.

2) Our ultimate destination will be either heaven or hell.

3) At the end of time, everyone will rise from the grave. We will live forever, body and soul, either in heaven or hell.

To be certain on these points is not “neurologically disordered.” It is clear that the Lord Jesus taught these things. It makes more sense to believe Christ than to disbelieve Him, all things considered.

The Christian faith is indeed a divine gift, but it is not in any way unreasonable.

2 thoughts on “Certainty for the “Neurologically Disordered”

  1. Father White, you criticize Huckabee for never truly engaging in a “reasoned argument about God.” What would a discussion about God that’s based on reason — as opposed to faith — sound like? Is it possible to have such a discussion? I ask this question in all insincerity, because your use later in the post of the words “obviously” and “certainly” seem more like conclusory statements rather than reasoning. Why is it obvious? How is it certain?

  2. Owen, thank you for chiming in. And thank you for pointing out my incorrect use of the word “obviously.” The existence of God is not obvious. It is made evident by reasoning from obvious things.

    To put it in a nutshell, what is the most reasonable explanation for the existence of 1) the ordered material world as we experience it through our five senses, and 2) our own capacities to know the truth and to love what is beautiful and good?

    Is there a more reasonable explanation for these evident realities than an all-powerful, all-knowing Supreme Being?

    To acknowledge that there is a mysterious Supreme Being is not the same thing as faith. Christians have faith in everything that God has revealed about Himself in the course of history.

    It is not possible to demonstrate conclusively that Christian Revelation is true. It is possible, though, to demonstrate that it is more reasonable to believe what the Church teaches than not to believe it.

    It is by no means obvious that Christ is God. But it is more probable that what He said about Himself is true than it is that He lied.

    If you believe that Christ is God, then His teaching is by that fact certain. It makes no sense to doubt the teaching of God Himself. This is the certainty of faith.

    Hit me back, brother. Thanks again for writing in. I hope the family is well.

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