Fools Talk: CHAPTER 5: ANATOMY OF UNBELIEF (Pgs.79-105)


In this chapter Guinness tackles the issue of unbelief.  What often is held to be the case is actually the converse when it comes to why people don’t believe the Gospel.  The reason many modern thinkers don’t come to faith is not because of philosophical reasons but for ethical ones.  Eminent contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel admits his deepest objection to Christianity is not rational but visceral—fear:

“…I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.  It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief.  It’s that I hope there is no God!  I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” (Pg.82)

It’s not about the truth, facts or evidence, Nagel, like many people, have psychological, not rational barriers that cause them to resist faith in God.  That is, instead of conforming their thinking to reality, many choose to conform reality to their thinking because something is at stake.  Guinness mentions that Huxley is one such example of a person who embraced a philosophy of meaninglessness because morality interferes with “sexual freedom”, and Pascal is quoted to say that: “Men despise religion.  They hate it and are afraid it may be true.

Guinness continues and points out that the philosophy of meaninglessness twists the truth into deception and makes reality conform to its thinking rather than the converse.   Thus, at its core, unbelief is the suppression of truth (Rom.1), and because Gods truth won’t go away, self-deception results.  This self-deception comes about ultimately because the creature rather than the Creator is worshiped.

Moreover, in a meaningless existence diversion turns out to be king, the examined life is neglected and thus the numbing effects prevent us from pondering the realities of faith and death.  The many diversions are swallowed up by the greatest of them all—false religion—which clothes lies in the garb of “truth” and fools people into thinking life has meaning.

According to Guinness, at the end of the day, unbelief is an act of the will choosing and how to deal with unbelief requires much wisdom.

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