In his current post on choosing between brains and belief, John Stackhouse emphasizes that faith is a gift from God – it is not something that can be accessed by reason alone. So Dawkins and other “new atheists” are correct in stating Christianity is not reasonable if “reasonable” includes only data inferred from “empirical data or self-evident propositions”.
There simply are no chains of inference that can get you from the idea of God-in-general to God-as-Trinity. There are no demonstrative proofs for the contention that Jesus of Nazareth is God Incarnate and that his life, death, and resurrection are the basis for global salvation. There is no way to lead someone step by step from consideration of the Bible’s various qualities (archaeological vindication, literary power, moral persuasiveness, etc.) to the conviction that it is the very Word of God.But this doesn’t imply that Christianity is “unreasonable” simply because it cannot be logically deduced from 1st principles or demonstrated in a science lab. On the contrary, I believe the Christian faith is a coherent framework for the historical, scientific, and philosophical data when viewed through the lenses of God's revelation through his written Word and the Word made flesh. Faith in Christ is not the house of cards that Dawkins seems to think, and cannot be compared to faith in The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or leprechauns, or fairies. It is not, as he claims in The Selfish Gene (page 212), “Blind trust in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence”. Faith in the Living God starts with adequate evidence and is completed with consent of the will. As Stackhouse states:
The earliest and most fundamental Christian confession was this: “Jesus is Lord.” And one of the Apostle Paul’s earliest and most influential letters makes the following bold epistemological claim: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Faith is always the exercise of trust beyond what we think we know, beyond what we think we’re sure of. Does that mean we have to choose between our brains and our beliefs? No, but it means we must not let our brains circumscribe our beliefs. We don’t understand electricity, but we use it. We don’t understand light (wave? particle? both? how does that work?), but we are glad for it. We don’t know everything about our business partners or surgeons or spouses, but we trust them with our livelihoods and lives.