Dr. Erik Strandness is a physician and Christian apologist who has practiced neonatal medicine for more than 20 years. He continues to practice neonatal medicine and engage in apologetics through speaking, writing, and blogging. He is passionate about helping Christians understand their faith so that they can effectively engage their critics as well as winsomely proclaim the Gospel to others with gentleness and respect.
This post which I have abbreviated is taken from his excellent article Dave Rubin: Why I’m no longer an atheist published on http://www.patheos.com
Dave Rubin is one of the bright lights of the intellectual dark web. He occupies that unique niche inhabited by the likes of Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray, where the sacred and secular rub shoulders. Tired of living in a contentious world of non-overlapping magisteria, these men seek a parley. They aren’t puppets of a particular ideology but a curious audience who just wants to know who is really pulling the strings.
Rubin, while raised in a conservative Jewish home, considered himself a cultural Jew content to adopt the atheist label. However, things began to change during one of his yearly self-imposed technology sabbaticals when he began to realize that he was no longer an atheist.
Rubin already knew that a political or cultural agenda without a foundation is not only unworkable but dangerous. He recognized that this bedrock must be outside of us because only then can we hope to find universal truth. He acknowledges that the biggest threat to foundational unity is the wrecking ball of postmodernity.
“The postmodern project calls each of us to create our own purpose, live by our own rules, and do what makes us happy. It insists that we become the master of our fates, the captain of our souls. In other words, it tells us we must sail alone. I would suggest that the source of the problem is the original sin of wanting to become like God. Thinking we can create our own personal kingdom without boundaries we also end up with no citizens. We are forced to be king, handyman, and chief bottle washer, which is great as long as you don’t have to fix a broken faucet or clean up after a night of hard-drinking. The world becomes millions of kingdoms ruled by “divine” despots who are constantly stepping across the line and gerrymandering the boundaries of their personal fiefdoms.”
Postmodernism reduces metanarrative to improvisation and instead of being characters in a grand drama, we are reduced to comics taking suggestions from the audience. One group finds their place in the greatest story ever told while the other creates their own personal reality.
Unfortunately for our postmodern friends, improvisation just becomes a “theater of the absurd,” amusing to watch, but practically useless as a way to understand the world in which we live.
Postmodernism, however, encountered a problem as it wielded its wrecking ball of deconstruction: how could it hold the crumbling cultural structure together while simultaneously trying to destroy it? The answer was the flimsy duct tape of tolerance, a concept that appears quite friendly and inviting on the surface but is fraught with all sorts of difficulties. Rubin weighed in on the problem of tolerance:
Who are the most intolerant people in society right now? It’s the people that are constantly telling you how tolerant they are; that’s the irony – it’s the people that tell you you’re a bunch of racists and bigots and homophobes and the rest of it. And that’s the real bizarre flip that we have happening in society, and I think that is linked to – however, you want to phrase it – either a post-Christian world or a post-Judeo-Christian world or a post-modern world, however, you want to define that.
Postmodernism has not only destroyed political, scientific, philosophical and historical foundations but has ushered in a crisis of meaning. It’s no mystery to our young people that the world is a lonely place. They know they are spiritually broken, but their schools tell them that spirit doesn’t exist. They feel a crushing darkness and then are told to light the divine spark within even though they know that it has always been a fire hazard. Told they are just molecules in motion, they turn to happy chemicals to numb them to the blind pitiless indifference of the universe.
In this digital age, our young people have unprecedented access to sexual partners, mates, and friends? So why are they so lonely? The internet promised us a global village but ended up building a digital monastery. I would argue that the loneliness that plagues our young people isn’t due to a lack of personal contacts but a lack of a cosmic presence. They don’t feel alone in their communities but rather feel alone in the universe.
You can play video games all day, you can do whatever it is to fill up that hole, if it’s an existential hole or a hole in belief or in whatever it is. But there are a lot of ways to fill that hole. Jordan, in my opinion, has given the best set of beliefs that take from a religious tradition and blend what I would say are Enlightenment values or basically secular values, Judeo-Christian values – and he’s blended them in the most effective way.
While Rubin has been outspoken on political and cultural issues, he has been a bit reticent to share his personal thoughts on religion, which makes this Unbelievable? show so interesting. He clearly recognizes that the world has a problem and that problem is due to a foundation that lacks spiritual concrete.
Rubin has graciously given us a ticket to join him on his spiritual journey and while we hope that he makes Jesus the conductor we are grateful that he has let us come along for the ride.