Joe Six-Pack atheist is proud to say he doesn’t have enough faith to be a Christian. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek responded with a nice Judo technique in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Alas, neither has it right. It isn’t about how much faith one has, but rather what kind of faith one has.
Think of a geographic analogy. I just finished watching Werner Herzog’s wonderful 2010 documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga for the second time. The film is a beautiful and harrowing depiction of the marginal life one ekes out in a Siberian village. After a couple hours of tundra, blowing snow and buzzing mosquitoes I’m left with the thought: I could never live in the Taiga.
Interestingly, many of those who live in the Taiga couldn’t live anywhere else. Those trappers who hunt in the bush for months at a time, living a solitary liminal existence with their dogs, they draw their life blood from the permafrost, bone-chilling wind and endless frozen expanses. Place them in the desert heat of Arizona and they’d wilt faster than an orchid in a furnace. (Okay, maybe not faster, but still pretty quick.)
The lesson is that we all find different climates (and environs) to our taste. One person tolerates dry heat, another humidity. One person can handle the rain and grey clouds, another the blazing sun. One person loves being hemmed in by mountains, another needs the open skies of the prairie.
It isn’t that the resident of the Taiga is hearty and the resident of Arizona is weak. Nor is the reverse true. Rather, each finds his place in an environment with the set of challenges — freezing cold or scorching heat, for example — that he can tolerate.
The same is true of worldviews like Christian theism and atheistic naturalism. Each individual accepts certain puzzles and problems with his worldview as surely as the residents of environments the world over accept the challenges of their location in the world.
Thus, the question isn’t whether you have enough faith to be a Christian … or an atheist. Rather, the question is: what kind of faith do you have?