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David Brooks
 on May 23, 2022

David Brooks on Faith in Polarized Times

New York Times Columnist David Brooks ponders what faith can offer us in polarized times, and reflects on his own conversion to Christianity in this excerpt from the BioLogos Faith & Science 2022 conference.

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New York Times Columnist David Brooks ponders what faith can offer us in polarized times, and reflects on his own conversion to Christianity in this excerpt from the BioLogos Faith & Science 2022 conference.

Before You Read

Dear reader,

We’ll get right to it: Young people today are departing the faith in historic numbers as the church is either unwilling or unable to address their questions on science and faith. BioLogos is hosting those tough conversations. Not with anger, but with grace. Not with a simplistic position to earn credibility on the left or the right, but a message that is informed, faithful, and hopeful.

Although voices on both sides are loud and extreme, we are breaking through. But as a nonprofit, we rely on the generosity of donors like you to continue this challenging work. Your tax deductible gift today will help us continue to counter the polarizing narratives of today with a message that is informed, hopeful, and faithful.

New York Times Columnist David Brooks ponders what faith can offer us in polarized times, and reflects on his own conversion to Christianity in this excerpt from the BioLogos Faith & Science 2022 conference.


Transcript

(beginning at 0:26)

“Why are our institutions so bitterly divided? Because people are moral creatures!

If you give them no moral system in which sin runs down the heart of every person,

they’re going to adopt a very easy moral system where sin runs between groups, between us and them.

The problem with that, is if you are asking politics to deliver salvation for you,

you are asking more of politics than it can bear, and it is ultimately self-defeating.

You end up not with moral chaos, but just moral moral war. So it’s a bad solution.

Where might a better solution be?

Well it might lie with a group of beliefs – the beliefs that sin and salvation are within us and toward a greater being.  And that we’re deeply broken and gloriously made. Which is actually true.

And to me, some sort of confident projection of a superior human anthropology, and a superior set of how you be a moral person, is within the Christian world.

(1:40)

And I speak autobiographically here.

I spent many years touring, speaking at Christian colleges and Christian organizations and going to Christian conferences, when I was a complete atheist.

But I found it so deep and beautiful. I would read Reinhold Niebuhr and [Tim] Keller and all these people, and I just found it convincing and beautiful.

And then gradually it seemed true. I didn’t have a moment where Jesus walked through the wall and said “Come follow me.”  It was gradual.  And I really think it was in part by spending so much time on Christian college campuses, and with our old friend Michael Cromartie used to have a thing called the Faith Angle Forum, just meeting and imbibing the ideas.

And they went from beautiful to true. I became a Christian around 2013, 2014 (a transition I liken to investing in the stock market in 1929).

(2:45)

So my message for all Christian organizations, but especially a unique Christian organization that has scientific literacy, is always “Be not afraid, you have what the world is hungering for,”

which is a spiritual vocabulary, a spiritual focus, an actual way to orient your life to a higher good.  And believe me – I teach at Yale, a secular school, and my students are hungering for that. And if fed it in the right way, they would be delighted to learn.

So there is just such power, moral power in the 2000 year [Christian] tradition and the demonstration of sincere and beautiful faith.