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The Letter that Mike Received At His Web Site


Though I get a lot of hate mail, some responses are valuable enough to remind me why it's worth keeping the site going. I received this email a couple of months ago. I'll post my response tomorrow:

(complete letter quoted below, all emphasis is mine, )

Dear Mike,

I am intrigued by your website, as I am intrigued by those of other atheists, and the arguments of my (sometimes militant) atheist friends.

I do find myself asking the same question over and over and over....why do you even ask for people to present an infallible argument or irrefutable evidence for Christianity? In other words, why are you so wedded to logic and reason? Leaving God out of it for a moment, do you not think that logic and reason are, ultimately, limiting? Logic leads to 'truth" in in one, very specific, factual sense. But there are other forms of truth. The world of art is a prime example of this: what logic is there to the elation and gut-wrenching response one can, at different times, feel when looking at a Van Gogh, the Sistine Chapel or the sculptures of Rodin? Not to mention the ecstasy induced by listening to Mozart or Leonard Cohen or Royksoop or whoever else turns you on. I'm sure it would be possible to trot out facts about necessity of a biological attraction to bright colours or symmetry or the basis of all music in human mating calls or something else...but that really only goes so far for me. Getting hung up on logic and evidence is like being stuck on the 26 letters of the alphabet while other people have moved on to Dostoyevsky. Our gut response to beauty and art is TRUE in a way that leaves logic a long way behind.

Christianity CANNOT be proven. Some arguments can be formed on the basis of what evidence does exist, however, there is no evidence that can or will ever convince you of Christ's resurrection, the one event on which all of Christianity is pinned. It cannot be proven. So what? Who, in two thousand years of history, has ever argued that it COULD be conclusively proven?* John Locke may be right in insinuating that Christians "use" evidence and reason – it's nice to have reiteration of things you already believe to be true – but no convert to Christianity ever based their conversion on evidence and reason. It's impossible. In fact, as you must know perfectly well, one of the primary claims of Christianity (of Christ himself) has always been that, to be a 'believer', one needs to have the 'faith of a child'. Paul takes this even further in 1 Corinthians 1:18:

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,


Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God."

(I apologise for the length of this passage...I'm not trying to thump you over the head with Scripture, but the passage can't really be truncated any more than it is already.)

In any case, again, I'm not using this particular set of verses to try to force you into change your mind, and say "Oh, I see. You are absolutely right! Christianity appears to be complete nonsense, therefore, according to this passage I should take it as truth!' As I've stated already, I recognise that there is NO argument I could present that would alter your view. I am simply using this passage to show that the notion of Christianity appearing to be foolishness is certainly not new to modern, 'enlightened' man in the last couple of centuries! The earliest Christians would have been mocked in precisely the same way that you (and so many others) mock us now.

Having said that, truth CAN be demonstrated in Christianity, although not in any way that a slave to logic can accept. Truth is shown in the transformation of lives that takes place when people encounter the risen Christ. Maybe you can bring to mind examples in your own coterie of family and friends where lives have been dramatically impacted by faith; maybe you can't .

Whatever. Examples are everywhere...from Mother Theresa to the plain, self-sacrificing spinster nurse who wipes the old people's butts at the nursing home, to the alcoholic who experiences full healing and regeneration. Knowledge of Christ transforms. Christianity is fundamentally a love relationship, a heady seduction, and Christ is the inexorable seducer.

Now, it would be pointless for me for me to conclude by saying, 'So, obviously, you just need to have faith.' If you could, presumably you would! I find that, as a person who does have faith, trying to explain or even articulate what that means is futile. It is, to use an appropriate simile, like trying to explain sight to a blind man. If you ain't got it, you aint' got it. ( If you do want to read someone who CAN articulate ideas about faith, read Kierkegaard.)

However, I would be happy just to know that I had caused you to pause and think about a few new things...though I doubt that I will do that either! I perceive your world as being much smaller and narrower than mine...again, I marvel at that extraordinarily limited notion of "truth" as being facts and evidence alone.

Anyway, all the best.


* I would contend that it is only post-Reformation Protestants – American evangelicals in particular – who have increasingly become hung up on "proving" Christianity. Protestant Christianity has become obsessed with words and thought. In contrast, much in Catholic Christianity still retains the mystical, physical, sensual experience of God that is more "true" than any word-based argument (and, as it happens, I'm not a Catholic...not yet, anyway).

The Talk of Lawrence