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  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • TIM KELLER: Hi, thanks for having me here.

  • It's always hard to convey a book,

  • especially one as dense as this one, quickly.

  • I'll try to think about half the time

  • conveying the book, what the book's about, and about half

  • the time questions and answers.

  • 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 it's possible for that to make sense.

  • Now, I would like to make the case right now 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 counter-intuitive to you,

  • but the book explains it and there's really

  • not much doubt about this-- that 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-- 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 the 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%.

  • 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, 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 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 younger people?

  • The people I know.

  • OK, we 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 in some triumphalistic sense

  • that religion will triumph or Christianity

  • will triumph in the world, that's

  • not going to happen either.

  • And since both these trends are true,

  • religion is not going away, and yet part 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 a universe filled with God makes sense to them.

  • How do they get to those positions?

  • We actually often do not really talk enough about

  • that because 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 a universe without God

  • or believe in a universe 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 tackle 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 who say this.

  • And 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 there is a God,

  • that's a leap of faith.

  • So belief that there is no God, through reason.

  • Belief that there is a God, through faith.

  • I'm here to tell you actually 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, here's a thesis

  • I put out in chapter two.

  • And I'll try to defend it in about four or five minutes

  • here.

  • And here's the thesis.

  • The move from religion to secularism,

  • the move from religious faith to a secular belief that there

  • is no God or maybe there is no God--

  • so to move from religious faith to secularism

  • is not so much a loss of faith as a shift

  • to a new set of beliefs, to a new community of faith

  • where the lines between orthodoxy and heresy

  • are just drawn in different places.

  • So if you're religious, you grew up

  • in a church, say, or a 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 beliefs,

  • from one community of faith to another community of faith,

  • from one standard of orthodoxy and heresy

  • to another standard of orthodoxy and heresy.

  • 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 consider 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 non-religious person actually

  • have two sets of beliefs.

  • And they are beliefs.

  • What are they?

  • I will call them proofism and humanism.

  • Now, what's proofism?

  • It's a coined word.

  • It's 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,

  • 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 itself a statement that can't be proven.

  • It's an assertion.

  • It's not an argument.

  • It's just a sweeping statement.

  • And it can't be its own criteria.

  • Secondly, when people say to me, well, I

  • 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 a 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, could

  • prove the most important beliefs on which their life is based.

  • And thirdly-- by the way, you probably would guess,

  • actually those of you with a philosophy background,

  • is there's not a lot of agreement on what the word

  • proof means.

  • It is true that I think most people agree

  • it's possible to prove that substance x boils

  • at temperature y at barometric pressure z.

  • 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 has that been proven?

  • Or how do you prove any moral values?

  • Again, how do you prove that human rights are important

  • or that they're 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?

  • So in the end, if you're a person who says,

  • because of my rationality, I cannot believe in God

  • or 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're really a set of beliefs.

  • To say I can't believe in Christianity

  • because you haven't proven it is a set of beliefs.

  • Then the other thing besides what

  • I call proofism, which is a set of beliefs about rationality,

  • which can't be proven.

  • Most secular people I know also are

  • what you might call a humanist.

  • Humanism means they believe it's important

  • that every human being be treated

  • with dignity, that people's rights not to be trampled upon,

  • that we not oppress 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 it this way--

  • most of the atheists and most of the secular

  • or non-religious 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, you can be taken off

  • the cycle of reincarnation and go into eternal bliss.

  • If you believe the bible, so if you are an Orthodox Jew

  • or you're a Christian believer, you

  • believe that God made the world, a loving God made the world,