Some take the position that some knowledge is the work of Satan. Some take the position that critical analysis can strengthen good ideas and weaken bad ones. Should Christians seek out information that is antithetical to their faith?
If I may, here is my idea of the scientific view: yes, it can. If you look for arguments against Christianity, thinking that you may find some, but you don't find any, this is evidence in favor of Christianity.
Evidence, you see, is all about correlation. Whether or not your shoes are untied is strongly correlated to whether or not they appear to be untied. So, when you see that your shoes appear to be untied, you can conclude, with great certainty, that they actually are untied.
Likewise, Christianity is correlated with arguments. Whether or not Christianity is true is correlated with whether or not there are good arguments against it. If there are good arguments against it, this is evidence that it is false; if there are not good arguments against it, this is evidence that it is true.
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The truth should not hide from argument.
Truth is like an anvil: you should be able to take the biggest hammer you have and bang on it all day and not break it.
It is how Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell came to Christ
You can read their books it is very good at explaining their story
A case for Christ
Evidence that demands a verdict
They both where skeptics who did not believe in Christianity, but they investigated the evidence and found out that Christianity has a lot going for it.
I second that one...something tells me the answer has something to do with Faith...here's a link to what I found that helped me (in my blog): Religion is never the sort of thing you can narrow down by arguments, that's why it's based on Faith...
You'll have about as much luck proving that your wife loves you by arguments and logic as you will proving that God exists or that God loves you.
You'll drive yourself crazy trying to do that.
If you seek out knowledge that doesn't agree with what you believe, without having a sufficiently strong understanding of the foundations for your beliefs, then it would be easy to be led astray, as other beliefs also have some backing, otherwise they wouldn't be believed.
Also, you need to be careful about what evidence you are considering, as it is easy to read something that may appear true but is actually wrong, so your research will be flawed, without knowing that.
For example, if you read the book Roman Catholicism, you may think it is legit in it's attacks, but when you research you will find that it isn't.
If you truly want to look at other beliefs, your best bet is to be able to explain those beliefs to someone who does believe them, in a way that they agree that you understand what they believe. Once you can do that, then you can consider why are their beliefs not correct, but this is much harder than you may expect.
You will find many misconceptions spread about Muslims, for example, by people that claim to understand their beliefs, but are being less than truthful.
Your best bet is to read the primary sources these beliefs are based on, then, make certain you understand their beliefs, then critically analyze.
For those that want to defend Boattner can look at this for a rough idea: http://www.canapologetics.net/inventions.html
Yes. But sometimes it's painful information. Here's one example.
The Barna Group is widely considered to be the leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. Their surveys are quoted in various opinion pieces.
Here's one of the more recent surveys done by the Barna Group: Self-Described Christians Dominate America but Wrestle with Four Aspects of Spiritual Depth
If you're a church leader or pastor, this is some depressing reading. Here's one sentence from the survey:
You can read this survey and be pessimistic about what you're doing and whether or not you're helping people. You can read this survey and see that you have your work cut out for you as well.
It's not so much the information, as what you do with the information.
"Truth does not blush." - Tertullian
"The fear of scholarship is the mark of a false prophet." - Karl Barth
Christians should never be afraid of searching for the truth, and that if a Christian fears scholarly discussion of the faith, be careful because GOD wishes us to love him with all of our minds as well.
Just be careful, "the message of the cross is foolishness" (1 cor 1:18), apologetics may have their place but you really can't "convince" or argue someone into the Kingdom of God.
Seeking arguments against Christianity may be helpful to know what types of questions one might be asked. But if you are honestly seeking Truth, you need not worry about your faith, as Christians we believe that Jesus is Truth (He has said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life).
I would like to finish with another quote from Karl Barth,
"Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it."
Proverbs advises to "seek wisdom". Knowledge as Wisdom is not "of the Devil". But it does suggest a practicality or a direction to that knowledge, in developing us as a mature disciple.
Proverbs 26 also gives two counsels about arguments with fools. It says both argue a fool on their own terms to show them their folly, and don't argue a fool on their own terms to avoid becoming as big a fool. This is not the textbook "contradiction" atheists make it out to be but illustrative of a tension on the principle upon which you should decide these things. You need the wisdom to know what end you're likely to achieve and to assess the pitfalls. And you have to be wise enough to know the gain and the risk of doing so.
If you over-judge your capacity to solve the God-level complex issues, you may be as big a fool. "Lean not unto your own understanding" is not counsel to not try to understand anything, but to not rely on your own capacity to know how successful an argument is. Regardless of which way you go, you will have expressed your character in humility or pride in honest assessment or overstepping.
God created the Tree of Knowledge; God holds all knowledge and wished not to burden us with the knowledge of Evil. I don't respect the reading ability of anybody who says that the Bible says knowledge is Evil. They're just people who find the lack of tensions simpler.
All that said, I have found it very valuable to find out what opponents of Christ say against Christianity, and I have either found godly rebuke or arguments to tear down strongholds. But if God has not given you those tools, be at peace. The richness of the Spirit means that not everybody has to have the same analytical capacity. That everybody needs the capacity to answer for their beliefs is an idol from the atheists of the world.
Remember that everything is permissible, but not everything is profitable. Don't fear "knowledge", just realize that what can be regarded as "knowledge" does not necessarily get you to your destination.