Tim Keller: "Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical" | Talks At Google

Tim Keller: "Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical" | Talks At Google

Skepticism is healthy if it leads us to question the received pieties of our age. But our modern culture has elevated skepticism to such an ultimate value that belief in anything seems faintly absurd. Yet human beings cannot live without meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope—and these things all require a faith dimension. In an earlier book, The New York Times bestseller The Reason for God, Dr. Timothy Keller made a case for Christianity. In his new book, Dr. Keller starts further back, addressing those who strongly doubt that any version of religion or faith makes sense or has anything of value to offer the contemporary world.

In his trademark accessible prose, Dr. Keller invites those who have dismissed Christianity as irrelevant to reconsider. As the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Dr. Keller has spent decades engaging with skeptics of all persuasions, from the hostile to the hopeful, in personal conversations, sermons, and books, which have sold over two million copies.

Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. His first pastorate was in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has nearly six thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start more than three hundred new churches around the world. He is the author of The Songs of Jesus, Preaching, Prayer, Encounters with Jesus, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Every Good Endeavor, and The Meaning of Marriage, among others, including the perennial bestsellers The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.

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[Applause] hi thanks for having me here it's always hard to convey a book especially one as dense as this one quickly but I'll try to take about half the time conveying the book what the books about and about half the time doing questions and answers so so the book is about how belief in God or religious faith or Christian faith can make sense to somebody today it's about how how it's possible for that to make sense now I would like to make the case right now that that should be of some interest to you no matter who you are chapter one tries to make that case that no matter who you are you should at least care about how people come to their faith positions how their beliefs come to make sense to them in Chapter one I make the case that there's actually two trends that are marked in the world with regard to religion here's the one the one is and I know what I'm going to say is going to sound counterintuitive to you but the book explains and there's really not much doubt about this that the war in general the world is becoming more religious and will for the next 30 to 50 years at least it's getting more religious the reasons for that which are laid out there are everything here is brief you can always ask more later is that both Christianity and Islam are both converting people at a rate faster than the population is growing and that's the reason why they're growing secondly it's also true that religious people have a lot more children than secular people and unbelieving people so you put all that together all of these demographic projections are that actually the number of people today in the world that say they're secular no religious preference is close to 17 percent over the next 35 years that's going down to about 12% because of these trends I've just mentioned so on the one hand religion the world's becoming religious on the other hand parts of the world are becoming more secular than they've ever been before parts of the world are are going to be marked by more and more people who say religion doesn't make sense to me belief in God doesn't make sense to me now what this means is that there's two kinds of slogans that you should never believe one is that religion is going away it's just not I mean I do hear it a lot that religion is dying out younger people are less religious what's younger people the people I know okay but you have to look at the world and it's not true that religion is dying out and it won't so the idea that religion is going away is just not true but the idea that some triumph allistic in some triumph allistic sense that religion will triumph or christianity will triumph in the world that's not going to happen either and since we both these trends are true religion is not going away and yet parts of the world are going to become less religious than they've ever been what that does mean is it should matter to us how people come to their various positions increasing numbers of people are finding that belief in a universe without God makes sense to them they believe in a universe without God and that makes sense to them and other people are finding that belief in God and the universe filled with God makes sense them how do they get to those positions we actually often do not really talk enough about that because there's that people don't want to say how do you get there by the way people who lose their religious faith usually say I just saw the truth and people who get converted usually say I just saw the light but that's not very illuminating instead I'm going to make the case that the process by which we come to our beliefs to believe in it we didn't risk blackout or believe in IRA's with God are actually more complicated than that so in Chapter two what I do and I want to spend a little time here with you just for a moment to lay out what I do there is I all this simplistic idea so for example one of the things that people say a lot I see it on the internet all the time and I talk to people in New York all the time say who say this that is this it's a popular belief to say belief that there is no God is arrived at mainly through using reason so if you come to the conclusion that there is no God that happened through reason but if you come to believe that there is a god that's a leap of faith okay so believe that there is no God through reason belief that there is a God through faith I'm here to tell you actually that is a that is wrong it's naive it's simplistic the fact of the matter is both sides use a combination of reason and faith so to press a little bit I would put this here's that here's the thesis that I put out in Chapter 2 and I'll try to defend it in about four or five minutes here okay and here's the thesis to move from religion to secularism to move from religious faith to a secular belief that there is a God no God or maybe there's no God so to move from religious faith to secularism is not so much a loss of faith as a shift in a new set and shift to a new set of beliefs to a new community of faith where the lines between orthodoxy and had and heresy are just drawn in different places so if you're religious you grew up in a church say your synagogue and then you move to being non-religious I'm a secular person I actually don't believe in God that's not so much a loss of faith as actually a movement from one set of beliefs to a new set of pleas from one community of faith to another community of faith so from one standard of Orthodoxy and heresy to another standard of Orthodox and heresy say well that I know that's kind of a provocative thesis and not most people think that let me show you I think how I can demonstrate that secular people that I know I'm not saying all of you if you say well I consider myself a person who doesn't really believe in God so I can see myself something of a secular person I'm not saying this is true of everybody I'm saying plenty of people I've talked to who say I'm secular or I'm a you know a non-religious person I actually have two sets of beliefs and they are beliefs what are they I will call them proof ISM and humanism now what's proof ISM it's a coined words not not the most felicitous phrase but I'm trying to get at this what many people will say to me is I'd be happy to believe in God if you could prove it to me I'd be happy to believe in Christianity if you could prove it to me but since there isn't any evidence that you can't prove it to me therefore I shouldn't believe it now that statement is wrong on a number of levels and actually is a statement of faith well number one when you say you shouldn't believe something unless it can be empirically proven the problem is that that statement can't be empirically proven for about 100 years philosophers have pointed that out to make a claim like that to make a claim that you shouldn't believe something unless it's proven is that itself a statement that can't be proven it's kind of it's an assertion it's not an argument it's just it's just a sweeping statement and it can't be it can't meet its own criteria secondly when people say to me why could be happy to believe in God if you could prove it to me but if you can't prove it to me I can't believe in God the problem is that everybody bases their lives on beliefs that they can't prove if you believe in human rights if you believe we ought to take care of the poor and not trample the poor can you prove that of course you can't actually everybody bases their lives on deep convictions they just can't be proven so it's quite wrong to say for example to Christians you've got to prove your beliefs but then I don't have to prove my beliefs the fact is nobody frankly can prove the most important beliefs that on which their life is based and thirdly by the way you probably would guess eventually those of you with a philosophy background is there's not a lot of agreement on what the word proof means see it is true that I think most people agree is possible to prove that substance X boils at temperature Y at barometric pressure Z and and therefore if I can demonstrate that then we could say that's been proven but beyond that how do you prove historical claims when is a historical claim that something happened 300 years ago when is that been proven or how do you prove any moral values how do you prove again well how do you prove the human rights are important there there the answer is nobody actually agrees on what proof is because some people say that was proven other people say well how do you define proof and so so in the end if you're a person who says because of my rationality I cannot believe in God or you know Christianity what you're actually doing is you're assuming a set of beliefs about how rationality operates that are really a set of beliefs and they're not self evident to everybody they're contested so they really a set of beliefs say I can't believe in Christianity because you haven't proven it is a set of beliefs then the other thing that a lot of besides what I call proof ISM which is a set of beliefs about rationality which can't be proven most secular people I know also are what you might call humanists and humanism means they believe it's important that every human being be treated with dignity that people's rights will not be trampled upon that we not oppressed people that we share our goods and our power with others and not exploit them right when you say most I mean let's put this way most of the atheists and most of the secular or non most people I know believe that but here's a question how do you prove that what is that not only is that a set of beliefs but frankly those beliefs take more faith to believe in see if you're a Hindu you believe the world is such that you will get off the cycle of reincarnation if you live a good life if you don't live a good life you keep getting reincarnated if you live a good life eventually you can be gotten be taken off the cycle of reincarnation and go into eternal bliss if you believe the Bible so if you Orthodox Jew or you're a Christian believer you believe that God made the world I love and God made the world and you should love your neighbor so that you're like God and you can know him and you can be saved in other words to live a good life of humanistic values fits in with a Hindu view of what the universe is like and it fits in with the Christian view or the Jewish view of what the universe is like but what is the secular view of the world it's a it's called a realist view which is to say there's no supernatural there's only natural there's no there's no soul there's no heaven it's just everything as a natural cause so just to show the problem with that or I'll just say the amount of faith it takes to have humanistic values with that view of the world last year I found this this was written in the New York Times it was actually a letter he says there are 30,000 galaxies of over 13 billion years old so there's 30 thousand galaxies 13 billion years old with many trillions of stars and many many more trillions of inferred planets so how significant are you he's talking to individual people how significant are you you are not special you're just another piece of decaying matter on the compost pile of this world nothing of who you are and what you do in the short time you were here will ever matter everything short of that realization is vanity therefore or it says so celebrate life in every moment admire its wonders and love people without reservation now the word so most of us think the word so means this logically leads to that what do you say so we think that somehow what comes before the so should lead you to do what comes after the so right here's a question the first part of that statement is a bracing wonderfully honest look at what it means to believe in a materialist universe you're not here for any purpose no one puts you here you came up through evolution red and tooth and claw you know the strong eating the weak your ancestors or you're only here because your ancestors killed weaker organisms and in the end eventually you're going to die then the son is going to die then civilization will die and in the end whether you're a genocide or maniac or whether you're an altruist and philanthropist will make no difference in the end there won't be anybody around to remember anything that anyone's ever done so in the end nothing you do will matter right therefore he says love one another see here's the question if that's the case the nature of the universe why should I love other people if my ancestor got here by is by destroying and eating the weaker organisms why should I now suddenly become unselfish and the answer is if you want to believe in humanistic values I'm glad by the way I am really glad the more people that believe in humanistic values I think the better world will be but it doesn't follow from your view the universe at all it's a huge leap of faith unbelievable leap of faith it doesn't take huge faith to go from the Hindu view of the universe to humanistic values or from the Christian view of the University of Minnesota use but it does from the materialistic the second of you to Mystic Valley you can believe them but don't tell me that that's not a leap of faith it's an enormous leap of faith and you know who's going to tell you Nietzsche Friedrich Nietzsche is going to say and this is what he did say and he argued incredibly I would say an incredibly convincing way he would say if you say I'm an atheist and then you say but we should not starve the poor and we should treat everybody as with an honor they're equal why see since you're still a Christian whether you admit it or not because he says those ideas came historically into the Western society when people believed in the Christian understanding of the universe that you're here for a purpose and you're made by a loving God and you're made the image of God and all human beings are children of God he says those values made sense when we believed the Christian view of the universe but we don't believe that anymore and therefore if you hold on to those values you're actually being a Christian and a very very inconsistent person even though you won't admit it and I don't think you can answer Nietzsche so now here's what we are fundamentally there are no irreligious people at one level absolutely everybody has a set of beliefs including secular people and irreligious people have a set of beliefs about the universe that eh you can't prove empirically be it are not self evidence of most of the rest of the world see even if you can't prove something sometimes you can say but everybody knows that well you can't say that about any particular set of beliefs about the universe so in other words they're there that you can't prove that if your second person your beliefs you can't prove B your beliefs are not self-evident most people enroll and see as I'm going to show you here in a second is your beliefs have as many contradictions and problems that attend to them as any religious faith does so what does that mean does that mean oh me there's no way to know the truth no no see I'm trying to say everybody gets their position religious people and irreligious people get to their beliefs because in the end what you hold is a belief by a combination of reason and intuition so for example how do you use your reason to come to a conclusion one is you look at the the logical consistency of your beliefs that's using reason another thing you asked do the things I believe fit in with what's out there in the world does it fit in with what I see happening in the world that's using reason but then there's also a part frankly everybody to some degree or other also uses their emotions when it comes to believing what they believe and they also look socially they say I see other people who have these beliefs and how's that effect in your life so basically the way any particular set of beliefs comes to make sense to you is for emotional cultural and rational reasons it has to make sense to you emotionally has to make sense to you socially culturally you see it how the belief flushes out in the lives of other people and then thirdly it does have to be logically consistent than there does need to be rational reasons to and so everybody uses those three things to get to their beliefs now what I do in the rest of this book and the other books already been mentioned the reason for God is I lay out mainly in this book the emotional and cultural reasons why Christianity tends to make sense to a lot of people and then at the very end I start going into the rational reasons the more traditional kind of arguments for for God and Christianity but I started a star it but on the other hand I finish it you might say in the reason for God so somebody asked me what's the relationship of making a sense of God's a reason for God they say is making sense of God a sequel to reason for guy said no it's a prequel because basically the way we get there is we use our emotions we use our relationships and we use our reason to decide what we think about the universe now what I'm going to do in only six seven minutes I guess is I'm going to actually tell you what I say in these other books as the emotional and social and rational reasons why Christianity does come to make sense to a lot of people but I'm actually going to do it as a series of assertions on it so this could be infuriating to many people so I'm really hoping that here at Google you know we're all civilized and you don't you don't rush the podium snarling at me because I'm not going to make the case for any one of these assertions I'm going to say people who find Christianity making sense come to believe this and in the books I actually lay out all kinds of reasons for why so in other words nothing I'm about to tell you is really groundless it just it's just going to nothing it's all got they've all got in the end if you read the books you might disagree but what I'm saying is not arbitrary or groundless okay none of the things they're all kind of worked out in the books but if I was going to make a case in five minutes which one which I am for why Christianity can make sense to for a lot of people and how it makes them for a lot of people I would say Christianity comes to make sense for us when we see three things when we see the faith it takes to doubt it that is Christianity the faith it takes to doubt it the problems we have without it and the beauty we see within it now what do I mean by that first of all fast here the faith it takes to doubt it one of the ways in which people who are doubting Christianity come to embrace it is when they realize that all their doubts every one of their doubts is always based on a leap of faith which is harder to justify than the thing they're doubting follow that wasn't that easy no I didn't tell erase every time you say I doubt Christianity your doubt is based on actually an assumption of faith which itself needs to be justified very often it can't be so let me give you three examples number one one of the objections are here to Christianity all the time is there can't just be one true way to believe there can't be one true faith there can't be one true way to God there just can't be one true way to believe and here's the problem with that how do you know that I mean that's an assertion not an argument how do you know that there's not one true way the only way to know that there's not one true way to God would be actually if you have the ultimate perspective on truth that you just said nobody's allowed to have and actually what that means is that you are your your doubt is based on an assessment of your perspective which actually is a major leap of faith and I think it's hard to justify here's a second one people say I can't believe in a God who allows such evil and suffering in our by the way I'm a pastor I am NOT just I'm not a scholar I'm not a academic I'm not a person who mainly does thinking I'm a pastor so I've walked with plenty of people through people through through horrible suffering so what I'm saying here I do not mean to be so cursory I told you this is the problem with I'm about to do is but but here's the point when someone says I can't believe in God because you'll ask such evil and suffering what you actually are saying is this because I can't think of any good reason why God would allow evil and suffering therefore there can't be any good reason because I can't think of it he can't possibly have one that I can't think of see the only way to walk away from God is to assume there can't be a good reason and why can't there be a good reason because you can't think of it but why in the world if there is a God couldn't he might make me me maybe he's got an idea that you don't have and you see ancient people philosophers to point out the ancient people though they struggled with evil and suffering never thought evil and suffering was a reason not to even God you know why because they were a humbler about the human reason we are not so humble we have an assumption that we have the powers of exhaustive surveillance that we should be able to look at the universe and if we can't think of anything I mean our ancestors would never been this arrogant because we can't think of any good reason for evil and suffering therefore there can't be any so you see you're actually assuming something you have a doubt but it's based on a faith in yourself which is you know how justifiable is it here we give you one more there are lots and lots and lots of objections to various parts of the Bible and you need to realize that virtually virtually all the objections you might have to things the Bible teaches are based on high faith in your culture and the superiority of your culture so for example years ago not too long ago I once talked about Christianity to a Chinese graduate student brilliant young man was in Britain when I was at the time and you know what he had no problem with the idea that God would send people to hell no problem at all because he says you know I you know I'm not a I'm not a westerner and it's the idea that God might have the authority to send people hell doesn't bother me is I have no problem with that exercise of authority but he says what I can accept is this the individualistic nature in Christian salvation means that if I believe in Jesus Christ I would not be with my ancestors and I don't want to believe anything that would separate me from my ancestors now my guess is the average Manhattan young professional is that's not the main problem they have with the Bible okay I talked to a Middle Eastern intellectual over there and what she believed interestingly enough which she says I have no problem the idea that God would send people to hell no problem at all you know if there is a God why couldn't he do that he created us doesn't he own us why wouldn't you but then she said but she cannot accept what the Bible says about forgiveness this idea that we are obligated to forgive no matter what the other person has done that we have to forgive and you know even though most young Manhattanites don't think about the difficulty of that generally speaking that's not another reason why it's probably not the average New Yorkers problem with the Bible but it talks about forgiveness too much however the average New Yorker is going to say I just can't accept a God who would send people to hell you know why because what you're at that moment what you're saying is my cultural location is superior to theirs my culture is absolutely right and it's never going to change you know for all you know 100 years from now your great-grandchildren will think that your approach the things is stupid in fact inevitably they will by the way if the record of your political views is somehow preserved your great-grandchildren would think you are horrible and yet on the basis of your cultural location which you're kind of absolute izing on the basis of your historical moment which are kind of absolute izing you're going to throw the whole Bible over see every doubt of the Bible is based on incredible faith in something else which is really hard to justify faith it takes to doubt it do you see that that's the virtually always Christianity starts to make sense when you begin to see what incredible faith it takes to doubt it secondly the problems you have without it now I'm really going to be fast but here's the point there are emotional cultural and rational problems with not believing in God now here I'm kind of going at secularism and of course you do have to weigh Christianity other religions secularism but I don't have time for that unless you want to ask me about it but here's the problems number one if you don't believe in God there is a problem with meaning because the meaning that you create for yourself will be too thin for you to handle suffering the secular culture unlike religious cultures do make you find your meaning in life in something here which means suffering can take it away and every other culture whether it's Hindu or Islam or Christian but every other kind of religion helps you locate your meaning in life outside of this life so that suffering can actually help you accomplish your meaning in life but if your secular person suffering will destroy your meaning in life and the secular culture gives its members less resources deal with suffering in any culture in the history of the world and we are much more traumatized by it number two just these secularism the idea there's no God gives you a view of identity which is incredibly fragile every other religion says you find who you are by connecting to something more important than you the secular culture says you find your identity by looking inside and doing whatever you think you want to do most and you assert it over and against everybody else and lots and lots of studies have shown that that kind of identity which is really unique it's not the way it works the rest of the world are in history makes you incredibly fragile because you desperately need a kind of recognition that it actually can enslave you thirdly it's not just a problem of meaning and a problem of identity is also the problem of freedom modern culture says defines freedom is the absence of restrictions Isaiah Berlin the philosopher is a Berlin so there's two kinds of freedom there's negative freedom there's positive freedom the negative freedom is freedom from positive freedom is freedom for negative freedom it simply says I'm only free if I have no restrictions at all and they're hope you all know that that means if that's really what freedom is then that is antithetical to love because the greater that the more committed your love relationship is the less free you are and yet by the way the more you were in a wonderful look committed love relationship generally the happier you are the fact is we've got a culture that and a belief said it doesn't support positive freedom it you know it only supports negative freedom and as a result freedom actually tends to eat up love love relationships it's one of the reason why we have fewer and fewer lifetime committed love relationships because the the view of freedom that comes from highly individualistic view that goes along with the secular view undermines that there's a whole lot of emotional problems but then there's the rational problems and I'll just simply mention them there's the problem by the way of existence itself there are really good arguments that say it's difficult to understand if there is no God now why there's something rather than nothing if you want ask me about that we can go into it but it's one of the it's one of the problems you have if you don't believe in God another problem you have we don't believe in God is the problem moral obligation if you don't believe in God no trouble accounting for moral feelings like you have moral feelings right everybody in this room has some things you feel this is I feel this is right I feel this is wrong and if you don't believe in God no problem explaining it it could be evolution that's why we have those feelings or it could be your culture has taught you those things or could be an existential choice of yours whatever but if there's no God it's hard to see how there could be moral obligation see a moral feeling says I feel this is wrong a moral obligation is to say you must stop doing that whether you feel it's wrong or not see how can you say to another person even though you feel it's okay it's wrong and you ought to obligations stop doing it see why should your feeling trump that person's feeling well the only way to say that is to say there's a higher law there's something outside there's a moral source outside of both of us we all have to honor that but what could that be if there's no God you know Martin Luther King jr. and his famous letter to Birmingham jail put it like this he said if there's no higher divine law if there's no God no higher divine law there will be no way to tell if a particular human law was unjust or not because it would just be my feelings versus your feelings big problem lastly the beauty the beauty that we find within it Christianity has a beauty to it I mean there's first of all there's the idea that God the Christian idea of God is that God is not an individual but God is a Trinity of three persons who have known and loved each other from all eternity and you all know if you're ever even into a into a you know if you're in a love relationship that's when you're really the happiest so if you have Father Son and Holy Spirit according to the Christian teacher having perfect love relationships for all eternity they were utterly happy totally happy you might say why would you create a world filled with other personal beings if you're already perfectly happy and the answer is to share your happiness with them there's no other good reason you already have everything why would so the Christian idea is that God actually created us to share his happiness and love then secondly the Christian story is that we turned away from him and that's the reason why Things Fall Apart the centre cannot hold mere anarchy is loosed upon the world Christianity as a story of what happened to the universe that explains both the ruin and the glory of the human race any any story that just looks at human beings as trash or any story that looks at human beings as basically good and does not recognize the good and the evil in them doesn't really account for how things are doesn't lead you to expect what's going to happen tomorrow and so Christianity the beauty of the story is a God who wants to share his love and happiness with us a an account of what's wrong with us then thirdly a love story he comes into the world as Jesus Christ Dorothy Sayers wrote a Dorothy Sayers one of the first women who ever went to Oxford and she wrote detective novels and one of her detectives was Lord Peter Wimsey and she wrote a series of stories and novels about him he solves you know mysteries at halfway through the the stories suddenly a woman shows up named Harriet vane she's one of the very first people who ever you know wince it she went very first women who went to Oxford and she was also one of the very first she also raped mystery stories so Harriet vane character shows up in the Peter Wimsey stories she's one of the first women graduates of Oxford she writes mystery stories and she's not particularly good-looking wait a minute who is this Dorothy Sayers which many people believe looked at this character that she had created saw how lonely he was and wrote herself into the story out of love and Harry Devane saves him and of course the Christian story is you know might you might say oh that's sweet what a sweet idea the Christian story is that's exactly what God that he looks into the world he created he sees us harming each other ruining each other and he writes himself in the story and in Jesus Christ goes to the cross and dies to pay for our sins so that God can forgive us and still be a just God you know if you're really if you're a judge you can't just forgive people you know the law needs to be paid you can't just say oh it doesn't matter what you've done you know you go off well then justice falls apart but how could God be both just and forgive us and the answer was Jesus Christ God in a sense writes himself into the story and because He loves us and does all that for us and that's the reason why in the end by the way many people if you read the Gospels one of the main reasons that people come to believe in Jesus Christ is they they read the Gospels and they see Jesus they see his claims they see his humility they see his grace they see his courage and you read through the Gospels of Matthew Mark Luke and John and you're amazed at this and some years ago there was a pastor I knew who was confronted by a non-believer who said I would believe in God if you can give me a watertight argument and the guy said the minister said read the New Testament and he said you mean there's a watertight argument there he says well not exactly there's Jesus Christ and he says you know what if God didn't give us a watertight argument to lead us to himself what if he gave us a watertight person against whom in the end there is no argument read him and you'll see there's almost no way to account for the beauty of this of this person unless maybe he as we said he is okay slightly longer than I want to go because and also slightly faster they wanted to go so I'm just I'm an unhappy guy so let's see let's see what we can do so that's those are some ways in which why we need to worry about and be concerned about how people come to their beliefs and how if you or you know how it's possible for Christianity makes sense even today questions the best way to do it would be to go to your go to your mic because otherwise you will not be picked up for the recording yes go ahead well first of all thank you so much for coming this has been really really interesting and a great opportunity um and I wanted to ask I know you talked a lot about kind of the arguments for religion and the arguments against secularism but I wanted to ask you about spirituality in that um I and some of my peers you know very much do believe that there is a higher power and we don't believe in secularism like there is something that you know connects us all that created us on this earth but that doesn't necessarily translate into religion and there's a lot of the dogma and Christianity and other religions don't you know necessarily appeal and make us uncomfortable especially the way it can be used sometimes for for hate yes yay and also necessarily kind of figuring out differences between them like why would one choose Christianity over Judaism over Hinduism when they all have kind of these different beautiful ways of they do people together so but you're obviously a pastor end of the Christian faith so you made a choice well yeah so just you have to keep thoughts on that you only have yeah you know generally speaking it's hard to have more than one career it's hard to be both a Muslim and a Buddhist anti-christian cleric you know five years or each it doesn't work I'll tell you what I would suggest two things I'm going to read you something out of the book believe it or not thank you actually you asked a question that gets me to the book Oh were you finished with the question okay I would suggest on the on the the multiple faiths there's a book a call by John Dixon he's Australian who wrote a book called the spectators guide to world religions the spectators guide the world religions now he's a like me Christian minister but I read the book recently and it's he said I'm trying to create five small vignettes he didn't he did Islam Hinduism Buddhism Christianity and Judaism and he lays it out very very as objectively as he possibly can does everything he possibly can he says he says I'm sure critics will say it's obvious to see you know even the way you handle Buddhism that you're a Christian and you did it but he says I tried real hard besides that everybody who would write a book like that will have to come from some position generally and it's a really really helpful book because what it does is it just lays out the differences and tries very hard to say now you make the decision rather than him doing that's that's one side here's the other side though the last part of this book is actually the story of a guy named Langdon Gilkey Langdon Gilkey was a young man who graduated Harvard with a philosophy you know degree with honors in the 1930s and went to China to teach at a university there and when the Japanese overran that part of China he was put into a detention camp it was a really really really difficult place 2,000 people in less than a city block everybody had you know something like you know there was 20 toilets for 2,000 people it was a very very difficult situation and when he went there growing up he had lost his church faith he had actually believed in the goodness of human beings and rationality is the way to overcome our problems and that religion actually wouldn't help much when he was there he began to see like what he basically came to see that there is absolutely no way human beings are basically selfish he actually says at one point I'll just I marked this in case somebody asked this question he says this he said he came to he became to believe what the Bible said about sin he said self-interest seemed almost omnipotent next to the weak claims of logic and fair play as the months went by he constantly based intractable self-centeredness and he actually said he says the fundamental bent of the whole human self in all of us was inward toward our own welfare and were so immersed in it that we hardly are ever able to see this in ourselves much less extricate ourselves from dilemma he says everybody he saw who were really being cruel they always rational it had gave rational and moral reasons for what they were already determined to do he says he says even the most moral and religious people because there were a lot of priests and missionaries there he said you know who had been working in China who were thrown in with everybody else he says the most religious people found it incredibly difficult not to say impossible to do to will the good and to be objective and to be generous and fair and what they actually did though was they always gave religious reasons for what they were doing so he got incredibly disillusioned because he was the secular people they were be incredibly selfish and here are the religious people and they were being every bit as selfish the secular people were using rational reasons for why they were being selfish and cruel to the other neighbors are just trying to survive and he says the religious people were using religious reasons so he started being pushed back toward belief and sin but then there's one guy now the guy in the book the guy's name is Eric Ridley but it's actually Eric Liddell that you might know was was in Chariots of Fire he he was a Presbyterian Scottish guy who wouldn't run on Sunday but then did win the 400-meter a gold medal in 1921 Olympics he went to the he went to China as a missionary and he was put in the camp and he died of a brain tumor in there at the age of 43 but he had an amazing impact and this is actually believing his answering your question had an amazing impact on Gilkey Gilkey said it's rare indeed when a person has the good fortune to meet a saint but he came as close as anyone I ever had known little was Eric little was concerned administered to the teenagers of the camp he cooked for them he supervised recreation for them he poured himself out for them he was about the only person that that Gilkey saw in the whole camp who was always overflowing with humor love of life sacrificial kindness for others and inward peace and when he died of a brain tumor suddenly the entire camp was stunned so he's trying to say what made this guy different I mean there were a lot of missionaries there were a lot of religious what made him different and this is what he said he says little was Ladell excuse me this is what Gilkey says was a committed Presbyterian missionary who believed in Christ but that his salvation was accomplished by God's sheer and free grace he did not believe and this is the Christian teaching you do not believe that you got that God loves you because you're living a good life because you are surrendering your will because your charitable the people believe it's totally sheer grace because of what Jesus did and Gilkey then points out that religion all by itself does not necessarily produce the change heart capable of moral selflessness often religion can just make our self-centeredness worse especially if it leads us to pride in our moral accomplishments so he came to see religious people were kind of self-centered in their religiosity because they thought my religiosity makes me a good person that's why God loves me and he says it actually didn't make them less selfish it made him part of the problem people just scrambling and trying and trampling other people so they can survive it says and so jokey said Gilkey says in little we have a picture of what a human being could be if he was both humbled and yet profoundly affirmed and filled with the knowledge of God's unconditional love through undeserved grace and this is the last thing Gilkey said he's quoting Reinhold Niebuhr he says religion is not the place where the problem of man's egotism is automatically solved rather it is there that the ultimate battle between human pride and God's grace takes place if human pride wins the battle that is to say if you adopt a religion that makes you more proud of your of your goodness he says it says if human pride wins the battle religion can and does become part of one of the instruments of human sin and this is what you're talking about but if there is a self that does meet God and surrenders to something beyond its own self-interest the grace of God religion may provide the one possibility for much needed and very rare release from our common self concern so I would say check out all the different religions but the genius of Christianity even though many people who are professing Christians don't see it is that religion by itself actually makes you as bad as everybody else in fact it can make you worse because make you Pharisee but but the doctor of the grace of God that you're saved by sheer grace humbles you and yet affirms you at the same time you're so bad Jesus had to die for you but you're so loved that Jesus was willing to die for you and so Gilkey saw here's a guy who actually got it and he was different so that would be my answer the reason was long was because with a great question my answer and also because I had wanted to say it anyway yes sir thank you hey thank you for speaking on it seemed to me like a lot of your argument against secularism or humanism was predicated on this idea that human evolution and evolution in general is sort of Hobbesian and ruthless and I'm wondering if how you would respond to an alternative hypothesis which is that humans and like some other species actually evolved having a lot of benefit of social cooperation and in group goal setting and that nested within that there's actually a huge benefit for us to tell stories and have beliefs in order to get us to work together as a group and if that's plausible why it wouldn't actually make more sense for us to buy some democratic process come up with a new form of philosophy rules governance social norms that lead us to cooperate and have a lot of the humanist ideals that I think many many religious people and many secular people would find advantageous to us as a species right three things by which I will defend myself guess I really that's a great idea great thoughts there number one I would say it's that's not most that wouldn't be most I do yes you're right in saying that's part of my argument against secularism but it's not the whole thing so number that's a minor one number two as you know not everybody believes that groups you know not everybody believes that groups survived because they learned to be altruistic and to take care of each other there is a huge amount of debate about that you said if it could be shown well it hasn't been yet it might be but even there by the way you do know do you not that it's hard and it makes sense you might be able to make the case for example that people in your clan or tribe survived because they were unselfish with each other it is hard to know how we came to the place where through evolution we actually believe that it is good to take care of anybody at all all right noise if it's true you know my my my feeling that it would be not only good to take care of my own kind but to be kind to somebody who's not my own kind how could that have ever allowed somebody to survive in the past that's that's part of the debate that why people are saying maybe what you're saying isn't provable but here's the third thing even if it was true even if it comes to be proven all that proves is that it's selfish to be unselfish all that proves is not that it's wrong to be unselfish but that it benefits you to be unselfish so in the end it's a selfish pragmatic argument that doesn't say that it's wrong to be himself it's just that it would be in your benefit see I think most of us believe not that killing innocent person is practical is impractical here in other words you the best that you could argue for is that killing somebody else or being unkind is impractical we don't believe that we believe it's wrong whether it's practical or not see in other words evolution can never give you an odd it can only give you what would work and in the end it can only support pragmatism and not the moral intuitions that all the religions have that something is wrong whether it's impractical or not all you could do is we say it would be impractical to be unselfish but in the end weirdly enough you're appealing to selfishness selfish motives to be unselfish and this by the way Nietzsche also took that idea apart they I he takes apart the idea that you can appeal to someone's self-interest to make them unselfish you can appeal to their desire to survive to teach them to care for other people he says in the end it doesn't really work so I got three objections and and yet I want people to have humanistic values for any reason at all frankly because it does make the world a better place so I so I in the end I using wood wood religious people like this approach he I would but I just try to show you where I thought there's still some holes in it well we can agree on that last part thank you okay yeah so again thank you for being here and in addition to filling out this room we actually have crowds in California and number of other global offices that are tuning in and so I just wanted to take a minute there was actually several questions that came in in there Dorie good I want to write one that came from Ambrose in California and he asked about technology and faith which I believe your church as a initiative going on in this area but he said technology has an immense power to improve people's lives and make a positive difference in the world which is why many of us here at Google does the Christian worldview have an opinion about how technology should be used are there categories or problems that technology technology can't solve or at least improve well I think laymen Gilkey was yeah I'd say Lena goki would say that the the basic selfishness the human heart which most of us don't see it hides he says when you get into a place like he called the shanked incontinent when he was in that compound and everybody was in close he says when when you are when it's about survival he says very very few people are kind I mean and open and he said he says there's a human beings are so selfish and so out for themselves they hide it from themselves till push comes to shove I don't know how has technology changes that in fact what Gilkey actually says is you know what he actually says is is if you love yourself if your highest goal if your highest good is your is your own self then it's going to make you selfish if your highest good is your your people it'll make you a racist if your highest good is your family it will create patriarchy and paternalism it's really the only way that you can make decisions about right and wrong is what is your highest good and ease if your guys good isn't god it's going to be one of these other things and you're going to turn that into an absolute and that's going to actually be another vehicle for self-interest but only not only belief in God but a but an experience of the grace of God can actually change that inner that inner self absorption itself senator which is the the reason for all of the the problems in the world and my friend just a minute ago I was trying to make the cases that if the best thing you can do is sort of harness it by appealing to selfishness then you're really still not going after the root what you're doing is you're trimming it is in fact that's what we do with our kids generally out of selfish out of selfishness we teach them to be unselfish because frankly it's it'll get them where they want to go I mean I'm afraid a lot of that happens it to really get at the root according to this I think as a Christian minister you're going to need spiritual reasons spiritual resources not not just technology technology ultimately is a tool but it's an instrument it's a means but it's not an end and some you're gonna have to decide what your end is yes sir were you going to give we going to do some others or was that okay go ahead okay okay I'll be fast dr. Keller I like the way that you talked about those who are religious and those who are secular and the things that are actually very similar between them even though they might not recognize it one of the things that the tech community in particular and the broader community in general has been focused on is is gender equality and gender balance and it's been a big struggle in the tech community and I don't have a perspective on this from the from the Christian perspective from an outside point of view at that talks about God the Father and Jesus the Son and the 7 and the 12 apostles has a very male perspective on it and I was kind of curious if you could talk about how you see the Christian community and your fellowship struggling with with some of these things that are interesting both to seculars and people who are religious didn't you hear the lady two minutes and in the remaining 60s they are not helping gee look in the at the very beginning of the Bible it says it says God made it he says God made humanity in his own image then it says male and female he created them and there's indications not only that obviously male and female are both equally made in the image of God but there's even maybe a hint though this is debatable there's even a hint that male and female together reflect all the glories of God better than either male or female what that would argue for and this is basically what I think the Christianity not all I mean there's great differences I'm just making this a short answer so I can take one more question but basically I think the Christian approach would be to say male and female are equal and not absolutely interchangeable in fact a lot of feminism would say no they're not there is a female way to lead that is going to be different that they are equal and they're but they're not interchangeable and yet at the same time they are frankly they should be there irreplaceable for each other in other words each one brings certain of God's glories and strengths into and into a process into an event into a community the other one can't bring and because of that we we desperately need each other so they're equal not interchangeable but equally important and and actually we're interdependent we really can't live without each other and that's whether we're married or not we need to be you know in into communities where we're both male and female are using their gifts and their abilities that's about it do you want to do that one more question or do we Barbra do we feel we don't yeah do we have one more from outside of the yeah and that'll be it this is also coming from Mountain View says I'm a twenty-something Christian and American I'm often told by other Christian friends and family that America is becoming increasingly secular Christian morality is disappearing Society is digger dating and we're a perilous point in history do you think that's a valid assessment or should Christians be concerned how do you think Christians should get respond to cultural shifts towards secularism well we're in luck because that's an easy question to answer believe it or not the point is that it's both good and bad news the answer is I don't like the full decline narrative if if God is in charge and America is getting more secular then God's got some good purpose for that okay and the and one of the witches I think is too humble Christians and to say you know to some degree when we were more in power we didn't use our power very well so it's time to really rethink who we are and and what it means to relate in the world so it's not all it's just not all bad news but it's not but on the other hand it is getting more secular yes and the future will be I think difficult for Christians to adjust to be American Christians I'm so glad that I'm an American on a Christian because frankly there's almost nowhere else in the world where where Christians are in you know have have this this memory of sort of past influence because most everywhere else Christians are minority and they learn how to be good neighbors and still to lift up the you know what they believe and still serve others I don't think American Christians are going to have to humble themselves and become frankly better neighbors than they have been in the past and that's not bad news but there will be there will be some sad things happen too it'll be some things lost in our culture too okay [Applause] you


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