Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Naked God - a review

Let’s start with a quick quiz.

Do you think people who claim to follow Jesus are:
a) Delusional
b) Nice people who want something to believe in that makes them feel good
c) Logical decision-makers
d) Brainwashed

Do you think believing that Jesus really existed and died on a cross is:
a) A historical fact
b) Equivalent to still believing in the tooth fairy
c) Not the real point – it’s about getting in touch with your spiritual side
d) Bizarre brainwashing

Those are not the only possible responses to those questions but they are pretty common ones I’m guessing.

You see, I often wonder what my non-Jesus-freak friends think about my faith. When I started writing this blog that’s one of things I had in mind. Religion is still a touchy topic for everyday discussion. But I figure on a blog you can always click over to something else if you want.

So if I was able to state clearly my essential beliefs to my friends, what would they think? Would they be surprised that I take Jesus more seriously than they thought I did? Would it confirm to them that I’d finally taken leave of my senses? Would they want to ask me about it or just run away from the topic altogether?

At uni, I took a course called 'Logic and Rationality'. We had a brilliant lecturer and the tutorials were full of sharp debates. On the day of the final exam, I was wearing my newly purchased Christian Union shirt. As we all stumbled into the tram after the exam, one of the mature-aged students caught sight of my shirt.

“Christian?” she said in amazement, “But...but you’re so logical!” Apparently, the two are irreconcilable.

So does that leave me? Can you still have some logical brains in your head and believe in a real, literal, walked-on-earth Jesus? And if you do, what if you go one step further think he was more than just an inspirational teacher or a great moral guide? What if you think he was God? Can you still claim to be logical or rational?

That’s the central question of Naked God by Martin Ayers.  I’ve just finished reading and I loved it. Ayers was a lawyer before working in Christian ministry and the book is set out just as you’d expect from a lawyer – methodical, organized and logical. My kind of reading. It doesn’t aim to pull at your heart strings or deal with your “issues”. It’s not trying to win you to Christianity through some kind of feel-good ploy. It just aims to present the reasons and the logic behind the belief that there is a God. It’s evidence to be evaluated.

Ayers deals with some of the common issues that people have with Christianity:
  • Hasn’t modern science done away with the need for a belief in God? 
  • There are many different spiritual beliefs but they all point towards the same spiritual core. 
  • Surely the Bible has gone through a series of manipulations over the years. It could hardly be thought to be a reliable document! 
  • Jesus – who knows if he even really existed. Or if he did, how do we know he was anything like the gospel writers say he was? 
  • My life is just fine the way it is thanks. You go your way; I’ll go mine. 
I enjoyed his style – he’s not arrogant or preachy. There are no “thees or thines” or any churchy language. It’s the argument pared down to the basics – hence the title Naked God. And, yeah, it pretty well summed up what I believe.

So, if you’ve never seriously considered that God might be anything more than a myth, get a hold of this book. You might not end up agreeing but at least you’ll be informed. If you know me in person, borrow my copy. If you want to contact me and borrow my copy even if you don’t know me, use my contact details in the “Contact me” tab at the top of my blog page. I’d be happy to post it to you. Otherwise, you’ll find it available through Amazon, Bookdepository, Betterworldbooks and all of the other usual suspects.

Then you can let me know if you still think I could hold my head up in a “Logic and Rationality” tut. And just for the record, Doug Adeney is still my favourite uni lecturer ever.

1 comment:

Petrina said...

Adding this one to my reading list. Thanks :)