I am obviously a bit late on this but I found out today that Jonathan Edwards lost his faith, six months after it was reported in the Times. This depresses me.
I am depressed not because he has lost his faith, but because it took him so long to lose it.
Read the article if you are interested. For me the crucial sentence occurs about half way through,
“I never doubted my belief in God for a single moment until I retired from sport….when I retired, something happened that took me by complete surprise. I quickly realised that athletics was more important to my identity than I believed possible.With one facet of my identity stripped away, I began to question the others and, from there, there was no stopping.”
And there you have it. Any normal person encountering the world we live in has to doubt the existence of God from the first time they start to become fully adult (12 – 14) if they are lucky and way before that if they encounter the evils that life has to offer as a child. And yet he states clearly and I believe truthfully that he never doubted God’s existence for a single moment before retiring from sport.
This speaks of a chronic lack of self-knowledge and a superficial experience of the God he never doubted. Even Jesus doubted God – “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” the kind of faith that allows no questioning, that insists on rigidity that discourages investigation is the kind of faith that crumbles at the first sign of challenge. And I think he is right that without his faith he wouldn’t have succeeded – blind optimism and confidence is incredibly valuable to an athlete at that level of competition, a rock solid belief in destiny, God, or self can give you that edge between winning and losing.
I wrote before Christmas about The Golden Compass. (follow me it’s not a complete tangent!) I went to see it. I loved the visuals and I sort of enjoyed the story but I found Lyra unpleasant. But it did make me stand by my earlier statements. Children have to be allowed to ask questions in safe environments and this film provides an excellent one in which to look at challenging the authority of religion and examining self.
What does this have to do with Jonathan Edwards? He was an evangelical Christian – a form of Christianity which actively discourages people from questioning – eg when I told my evangelical friend at Oxford that I didn’t belive in the literal 7 day creation of the earth she said, “But how can you believe in the Resurrection if you don’t belive in that?” she couldn’t brook anything that deviated from the”facts” of the Bible because if she deviated in one thing then everything else “crumbled around her ears”.
What’s happened to Jonathan Edwards is just waiting to happen to any number more Christians out there who have never bothered to ask questions or have never been allowed to do so.
Blind faith is no faith – it’s just an atheist waiting to happen.