Once upon a time life was simple. In traditional societies, we were supposed to accept the customs, beliefs, religion, and traditions of the society we lived in, and our place in society was mainly defined by inheritance. Then came enlightenment, industrialization, and science. We nowadays are supposed to put everything in question, search our own individual way in life, and to enjoy an ever faster development of technology and society. The modern scientific way of thinking seems to put a large question mark behind religion, faith, and traditional Christianity. In my life, I sometimes experience this “conflict” very strongly. On one hand I am a physicist, trained in that comparisons with experiments should yield the actual truth and skilled in logical deduction and mathematical formulations of theories. One component of this way of thinking is that any logical inconsistency in the theory means that it should be rejected. Another component is that the axioms should be verifiable – that is, by comparison to experiments one should be able to tell if the axioms are true or false. On the other hand I am an active Christian, perfectly happily taking part in the life of a Methodist congregation and experiencing the presence of God and Jesus Christ in my meditations, prayers, and Christian studies. In many churches, a mindset fit to the earlier, traditional, societies seems to still prevail. The traditional rules are that I should accept a certain set of dogmas – e.g. God exists and the Bible is the only true word of God – and that I obediently should follow the guidance of church and God. The promised pay-off for the obedience is Gods mercy already here an now, and the eternal life after death. Neither the axioms nor the “pay-offs” are verifiable in a scientific sense. It also seems to be difficult (or, maybe, even impossible) to formulate the Christian faith in a way free from logical inconsistencies. The most famous example of this is the teodice problem.
This flow diagram means the following: the two Christian dogmas “God is almighty” and “God is love” fit well together. From them it follows that God should use his power to help his people. But it is an observed fact that evil exists. Hence, it seems that either God is not almighty, or that he does not love us. Both statements are – to my mind rightfully – considered heretical by Christian doctrine. Taking the scientific way of thinking at faith value, it therefore seems like I ought to reject Christianity.
Rejecting Christianity would, however, not appreciate the experiences of myself and many other persons throughout the ages. We experience the strength, love and peace of something that is greater than our self, and we get the feeling that expressing this experience in the terms of the Bible and the Christian tradition makes deep and consistent sense. Therefore I am convinced that there must exist a way to express Christianity in a way that makes sense, even for modern man. With “makes sense”, I mean statements like “is of great value in guiding my life”, “can be an important help in the strife of us humans to improve society”, “can, within reasonable limits, be logically well formulated and consistent”, and “correspond to the experiences many humans have through prayers and meditation”. In this blog, I will put some texts about how Christianity makes sense to me. Along the line we will have to revisit some Christian dogmas. I think it is possible to reach a formulation that makes sense even for modern, critical individualists.
Since this is quite a complicated task, with several different interconnected themes, it is not possible to put the thoughts in a linear text, starting with an introduction and leading over a set of connected arguments towards an end with a grand and ingenious conclusion. Rather, the texts form an interconnected web. Therefore, I present the connections between the texts in a flow diagram. The preferred way to read my blog is to surf around in the texts using the flow diagram. For completeness, I also link the texts in a more linear way. Note, however, that there is a further reason for the flow diagram: it indicates the relations among the texts and how they support each other. But some of the parts will actually contradict each other. I am convinced that this is necessary – a perfect logically closed theory can neither represent the greatness of the infinite God nor the fullness of life together with God. This is not supposed to mean that Christianity is fundamentally illogical – by careful studies, theology can come very far in formulating Christianity consistently. Nevertheless, faith life always also includes standing stunned in awe in front of the holy God, and here logic ends. Through an interconnected web of thoughts and experiences, with connections and dissonances, I think it is perfectly possible to make deep and living sense out of Christianity.
Since this is a blog, you can write comments to my thinking and texts. I am very interested in getting feedback on my thoughts. Some old comments on this page are collected here.