Paul Copan on Christian Doubt

I have asked a few respected Evangelical scholars and authors to contribute one paragraph each on the issue of Christians and doubt. I am grateful to each one of these men for not only contributing here, but being the type of scholar who deals with such issues with openness. I am posting them one at a time over the next couple of weeks.

Most of you know Paul, but let me give you some information anyway. Paul is a Christian philosopher, apologist, and author. Copan holds the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. More about Paul below.

Paul, if you were talking to someone who is having significant problems with their faith, doubting whether or not Christianity is true for whatever reason, what would you say to them if you only had one minute?

 

Paul, if you were talking to someone who is having significant problems with their faith, doubting whether or not Christianity is true for whatever reason, what would you say to them if you only had one minute?

Sometimes doubts stem from a personal or relational insecurity that manifests itself in the wrong-headed insistence of having only 100% certainty in order to believe.

Knowledge can be defined as warranted true belief, but one can have knowledge without having 100% certainty. For those who question that “knowledge” does not always equal “100% certainty,” we ask: “How can one know with 100% certainty that knowledge requires 100% certainty?” Indeed, we can know various true things that rise to the level of “very plausible” or “highly probable” in our minds. (Isn’t it logically possible that my typing right now is just an illusion? It doesn’t follow from being logically possible, however, that this illusion is therefore likely true—far from it.)

One doubter with whom I’ve recently engaged acknowledged that his “100% certainty requirement” was really a defense mechanism that enabled him to feel comfortable in a state of neutrality—to justify his insecurity and lack of persisting in the hard work of committed belief. He confessed to his own insecurity about relationships and his own inability to commit to anything. He pointed to something from my book How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong? that helped him: “Skepticism—like relativism—tends to eliminate personal or moral responsibility since truth (which is crucial to knowledge) is systematically being ignored or evaded….We should consider the personal, motivational questions which, while not being an argument against skepticism, raise important issues that may be driving the skeptical enterprise. Blanket skepticism is an affliction of the mind that needs curing” (pp. 28-29). I rejoice that God has been very evidently at work in this young man’s life.

Paul Copan

____________________________

Paul has a Ph.D.from Marquette University (Philosophy), a M.Div. from Trinity International University (Divinity), a M.A. from Trinity International University (Philosophy of Religion), and a B.A. from Columbia International University (Biblical Studies).

You can find out much more about Paul by visiting his website: http://www.paulcopan.com/

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