Alister McGrath reflects on how it’s possible to live an authentic life.
I think when I was an atheist, I assumed faith was simply believing something that was clearly not true and running away from the evidence. But I was very young then, and the world seems very simple to a 16-year-old.
Nowadays, I would say something like this: faith is the irreducible condition of humanity. To live authentic lives, whether you’re an atheist or whatever, you have to believe certain things you cannot prove to be true. And therefore it’s not about proving things, it’s about saying, here are good reasons for thinking this is right. It’s about warranted belief. It’s not about, in effect, arbitrary decisions; it’s saying, I can’t prove this to be true, but everything seems to point in this direction.
So for me, faith is a reasonable way of looking at the world, which makes sense of it – recognising these are such big questions we cannot hope to prove these things, but nonetheless saying, this makes sense and (perhaps more importantly) this is a way of thinking, a way of seeing things that is to be trusted and is to be inhabited.
What I mean by that is, the world of faith is a landscape, and you step into it and you say, I could live here. This makes so much sense, it’s so engaging, so exciting, you’ll want to go in and be there.