Douglas Groothuis: Hope without truth is pointless

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“What if hope cannot extend beyond human endeavor itself and is never answered by anything beyond it? What if the millennia of human cries echo only into the empty sky and not further? That possibility must be faced if the quest itself is to have any meaning. In the end, hope without truth is pointless. Illusions and delusions, no matter how comforting or grandiose, are the enemies of those who strive for integrity in their knowing and being. Statements such as ‘I like to think of the universe as having a purpose’ or ‘The thought of an afterlife gives me peace’ reflect mere wishes. These notions do not address the truth or falsity of there being purpose in the world or of our postmortem survival, because there is no genuine claim to knowledge: a warranted awareness of reality as it is. A hearty, sturdy and insatiable appetite for reality—whatever it might be—is the only engine for testing and discerning truth.”

– Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, p. 16

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Douglas Groothuis: Religion, A mental construct?

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“In recent years a host of brain researchers have been exploring and conjecturing as to the biological basis for religious beliefs.  The basic thesis of many of these opinions is that beliefs in God or the sacred can be explained on the basis of certain functions in the brain.  That is, neuroscience gives the answer to why we have religious beliefs, and it has nothing to do with any objectively real state of affairs that we perceive or discern.  Most of these accounts presuppose materialism and so beg the question philosophically: Since we know there is no God and no sacred realm (all is material), we need to explain (and explain away) why so many have religious experiences.  Of course, this is not an argument, but a presupposition not argued for.”

“However, it is no threat to religious belief if certain brain states correlate with certain religious beliefs or experiences.  We are material as well as spiritual beings.  The mind interacts with the body, as Scripture teaches and our experience confirms.  The threat to religious belief only appears when this correlation is understood as a reduction of the spiritual to the material (see chapter 17).”

“There is another problem for this reductive view: it works as a boomerang against itself.  If religious beliefs can be explained away as illusory simply because their neurological components (physical states) are identified, we must, by the force of the same argument, explain away as illusory the belief that religious beliefs are illusory (there is no God) because they too are merely neurological states.  This kind of reduction and refutation would extend to all beliefs that can be identified with brain activity.  But this conclusion results in an epistemological nihilism that is unsupportable logically and existentially.”

“It speaks volumes to note that while millions of dollars in grant money goes to explaining the neurological basis of religion, nothing goes to explain the neurological basis of atheism or skepticism.  Apparently, atheism and skepticism are innocent until proven guilty, whereas religious beliefs are just plain guilty.”

“In conclusion, all the advances in the knowledge of the neurological workings of the brain and its relation to religious beliefs and experiences in no way refute the truth of these beliefs.  That would be the work of philosophy.  Here, as in so many other areas, naturalistic science (i.e. materialist explanation) is an unaccredited usurper of intellectual authority.”

– Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, p. 384

Douglas Groothuis on Truth

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“Without a thorough and deeply rooted understanding of the biblical view of truth as revealed, objective, absolute, universal, eternally engaging, antithetical and exclusive, unified and systematic, and as an end in itself, the Christian response to postmodernism will be muted by the surrounding culture or will make illicit compromises with the truth-impoverished spirit of the age. The good news is that truth is still truth, that it provides a backbone for witness and ministry in postmodern times, and that God’s truth will never fail.”

– Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay, p. 81-82