The Not Self-Assured Believer

Morgan Meis ponders the similarities between Kierkegaard and the New Atheists:

Søren Kierkegaard was not an atheist. He was a Christian. All of his writings are either directly or indirectly about Christianity. He’s thus a natural opponent to Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris. Except for one thing. Kierkegaard detested Christianity as he found it. He considered the vast majority of Christians to be hypocrites. Kierkegaard took a look at the Christianity practiced in his time and proclaimed it complacent and self-satisfied. Christianity, thought Kierkegaard, was mostly an excuse for being lazy and dumb.

How they differ:

Real religion, thought Kierkegaard, is doubt-wracked. Real faith, Kierkegaard wanted us to know, is profoundly involved in working out the deepest paradoxes of being alive. That’s why Kierkegaard once said, “The self-assured believer is a greater sinner in the eyes of God than the troubled disbeliever.”

That’s a strange thought for most Christians. What did Kierkegaard mean? He meant that if you are self-assured in your belief then you have neutered faith to make it intellectually palatable. Faith requires belief in things that are insane from the perspective of reason. It doesn’t make sense that God became man on earth. No amount of thinking about it is going to make it logical. It is a strange and shocking and downright crazy notion. If you are going to believe it (and live your life accordingly), you are going to have to find resources within yourself that transcend reason.

Recent Dish on Kierkegaard here.