Tuesday, 4 September 2007

John Humphrys on Giles Fraser, and Giles Fraser on the resurrection (apparently it's a "don't know")

(Ed: The whole article is far too important for you to just read this bit, but Giles Fraser is a regular commenter on Evangelicals, and so I find this interesting.)

[...] It was his interest in atheism that made him take religion seriously. He did his PhD on Nietzsche, and theology became “a sort of hobby”. He immersed himself in the great theologians and, after years of looking into theology from the outside, he discovered that he was on the inside looking out. He realised that he believed in God. He seems genuinely puzzled by it.

There are many like him in the Anglican Church who share his scorn (if not contempt) for the more traditional approach to Christianity. He is embarrassed by “stupid” Christians thinking they know more about the nature of the universe than clever atheists like Dawkins. Ask him to prove that God exists – one of the subjects of his philosophy lectures at Oxford – and he cheerfully admits that he can’t. He goes further: “The so-called proofs of God’s existence are all rubbish.”

Ask him if the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened and he says: “Umm . . . dunno . . . can’t prove it.”

Ask him about evangelical Christians and he snorts: “Evangelicals have misunderstood the Bible. They turn it into some bloody Ikea manual.”

Ask him to sum up the state of battle between militant believers and militant atheists and he says: “Atheists have the best arguments, which makes belief such a precarious thing.”

In hours of conversation over the kitchen table I have tried hard to pick a proper argument with him about theology – he teaches it – but I have failed. That’s partly because he freely acknowledges that theology is not some sort of intellectual platform on which faith can be built. He quotes Augustine: theology is “faith seeking understanding” – which means you get your faith first and then try to make sense of it. And faith is not a belief that certain propositions about the world are true. It is not grounded in rational argument and neither is there any good line of reasoning that can persuade one to believe. Belief just isn’t like that, says Fraser. So what is it like? Why does a believer believe?

What’s interesting is that you get much the same answer to that question whether it comes from a philosopher/vicar like Giles Fraser or a theo-logian/archbishop like Rowan Williams or an old lady who has never read a book on theology in her life and wouldn’t know the difference between an ontological argument and a pork pie. Why should she? Theology, as Fraser says, is not the foundation of faith. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

No comments: