A voice cries out:

In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!

(Isaiah 40:3)


    The goal of this book is to put Christianity on a firm intellectual footing. Assuming this is not the first place you have looked, you have learned that there is a large amount of nonsense written both for and against Christianity and that it is easy to despair of ever finding a reliable source. Even when you find well-thought-out sources, every proof and opinion is based on assumptions that have not been substantiated. You can read an entire book and never feel confident that the earliest foundations of the author's arguments were well-established. It is my desire to help improve this situation. As you read this book, you will find the discussion organized in such a way that you can see every logical dependency at a glance. It is my hope to use this device to prove Christianity to you beyond a reasonable doubt. There are few, if any, genuinely new ideas in this book. However, with this device you can understand the rational core of the faith much more rapidly than if you had to read and organize the thousands of pages that I used as source material.

    This book is targeted at those who have some sympathy for the Christian world view, but find their intellect getting in the way. You may be a practicing Christian, but selective in what part of the faith you practice. You may be an atheist who is unsatisfied with the problematic conclusions of atheism. You may be a devout Christian, but wish your faith had more foundation. You may be spiritual, but not Christian, and wishing to expand your understanding of the Christian faith. This book works to resolve intellectual challenges by feeding the intellect with the nutrients that it requires. If you have no primitive sympathy for the Christian world view, then no argument, no matter how rational or factual, will convince you.

    You must be willing to question your long held assumptions and resolve to question my argumentation. This book will only be valuable to you if you have a genuine desire to learn. Even if you learn something other than what I intend to teach, aspire to make your time with this book as valuable to you as possible. In this way, your time (and mine) will not be wasted.

    I should also say what this book is not. It is not a balanced survey of current thought on Christianity. It is a balanced survey of my thoughts on Christianity. I will bring up opposing arguments sometimes, but only to counter-argue. My views are those of orthodox Catholic Christianity, and I do not knowingly contradict the Church in this book.

    This book is also available in paperback, kindle, and nook/ePub formats.

Fundamental Assumptions

    I say above that I desire not merely to explain my beliefs about Christianity, but to prove them to you. Ideally, this means that I make zero assumptions. In practice, this is not possible. There are two assumptions that are, by their very nature, not provable. I can make them plausible, but I cannot prove them. However, realize that rejecting these assumptions means rejecting all human knowledge, not just philosophy or theology.

Truth Is Logically Consistent

    That is, the statements:

        1) A equals B

        2) A does not equal B,

cannot both be true. Other statements, such as A cannot be both greater and less than B fall under the same category. All proofs depend upon this assumption. You cannot prove that truth is logically consistent, because all proofs require the consistency of logic as an assumption. However, the premise is a reasonable one. All of current science and engineering depends upon it. A computer follows the laws of logic. If it did not, it would be impossible to design one that functioned. The ideal laws of science are self-consistent. In the past, whenever a law of science has been inconsistent with another law, the problem has been with the laws, not with the universe. In the present era, one of the primary motivations behind theoretical physics is contradiction removal, because it has been so useful in the past. It would be strange indeed if everything in the physical universe is self-consistent; but once you start asking questions about the deeper nature of reality consistency is broken.

Language Has Meaning

    That is, this book reveals actual concepts that you are capable of understanding, in the same way that I understand them. I must be careful to define unusual or difficult concepts; but once this is done, it is possible for me to relay information to you. It is impossible to prove that language has meaning, because no proof can be made without language. This premise is plausible, because all of science and engineering depends upon this, as well as all human relationships. I would not be able to repeat experiments carried out by Isaac Newton and get the same answers unless we had a shared understanding of what he wrote in the Principia, more than three hundred years ago. Language, however, can be an issue in any conversation. It is important when you read this book, that you use my vocabulary. For example, I speak of God frequently. In the beginning, my understanding, and therefore my definition, of God is very minimalist. As we learn more about God, I expand my definition, until it matches that of the Christian God. It is important that you follow these changing definitions in order to properly understand my book.

    In addition, there are also a number of facts that I assume because I believe that every rational and educated person accepts them. This includes basic things, such as the knowledge that a hydrogen atom is composed of a proton and an electron, as well as more advanced things, such as the understanding that humans are conscious.

Faith and Reason

    As discussed in the previous section, we must be careful to agree on the meaning of the words we use. One such word is "faith." It is used in many different and not entirely consistent ways. Usually which definition is being used must be determined from context.

    Blind faith is to believe something to be true without adequate evidence. When atheists say faith, this is frequently what they mean. I will never use the word in this way, as I am incapable of discovering truth through blind faith.

    Faithfulness is to be loyal to an idea, a person, or God. This is not a matter of belief, but a matter of commitment, as a wife is faithful to her husband, and a husband is faithful to his wife. This type of faith is important, but is not the focus of this book.

    Personal faith, as the term is used by Catholic theologians, is a free assent of a person to the whole truth that God has revealed in scripture. I occasionally use the word in this way.

    Personal faith, as the term is used by non-Catholics, is typically a belief system of a particular person. What it depends on (scripture, experience, etcetera) depends on the person. I will not use the term this way in this book.

    The Catholic faith is the collection of truths promulgated by the Catholic Church and summarized in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. This is the meaning of faith that I use in the phrase, "the rational faith." When I speak of faith in this book, this is usually the kind of faith I am talking about.

    A faith tradition is a collection of fundamental beliefs accepted to be true by a group of people or an organization. This is similar to the previous definition for faith, except that it does not explicitly refer to Catholic teaching. When I use this term, I am explicit in writing "faith tradition."

    I must also discuss different types of reasoning. In practical as well as technical discussions, they often blur together.

    Inductive (a posteriori) reasoning is extrapolating and generalizing from experience to gain knowledge. This is the most basic form of knowledge as even young children are capable of it. It is always limited by our ability to experience all relevant situations necessary to form a proper conclusion.

    Deductive (a priori) reasoning is deriving conclusions from premises by following the rules of logic. Premises cannot come from deductive reasoning, so deductive reasoning can never be confirmed to correspond to truth without some inductive reasoning.

    Scientific reasoning is using the scientific method to gain knowledge. Science uses both inductive (experimental) and deductive (theoretical) reasoning with the added principle that experiment and theory inform and correct each other explicitly.

    Biblical reasoning uses both inductive and deductive reasoning, with the legitimacy of the Bible accepted as a premise. Inductive biblical reasoning consists largely of reading scripture directly to determine truth. Deductive biblical reasoning takes what was learned while reading scripture and derives appropriate conclusions.

    In Catholic theology, it is standard to speak of knowledge gained through philosophy and science as reason-based while speaking of knowledge gained through scripture as faith-based. However, the language is difficult, because theologians still use inductive and deductive reasoning when studying scripture. The difference is that instead of using the natural world or ordinary experience as their data, they use scripture. Before this can be done, the authority of scripture must be justified. In this book, I speak of rational proofs which find their source data in science, philosophy, or scripture. I do not typically explicitly categorize these as faith- or reason-based, but it easy to tell by noting the nature of the source data.

This page was last changed on 2011/08/28