Many people I know think Christianity is for the weak, the simple minded, the superstitious, or the poor. Marx called it the “opium of the people” implying that the only way to numb the pain of a wretched existence is to conjure up a fantasy where all the troubles of today are no more. Freud called it a neurosis based on our inherent weakness and inability to understand the world, he said that faith is a mental disease by which we attempt to control and maintain influence on the outside world. And Nietzsche said Christianity is an attempt to find meaning, and that “God is dead” and so we must make our own meaning for there is no true purpose to our existence.
Today many say Christianity requires a blind faith that is the antithesis of rational, reasonable, intellectual thinking. You need to check your brain at the door. To believe in things that are not visible, that are not empirically verifiable, you must abandon reason and embrace mere wishful thinking. They say there is no way to conclusively prove your view on religion is true, therefore to believe in it you must be delusional. You may think that to believe in Christianity requires you to believe in the unprovable, untestable, unfeasible, and unknowable. That it requires you to make a truth statement about something that you cannot know is true and therefore it’s too much of a gamble for you. You might think that you are too intellectual to trust something invisible.
But what if I told you this is exactly what you are doing.
You see Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche accused Christianity of being false because it was invented to find comfort, control, and meaning, but their anti-religious stipulations were exactly that, a way for them to find their comfort, control, and meaning. You may accuse Christianity of being an unprovable faith statement, but your own statement against it, is just that, another unprovable faith statement. When Christians say we believe in a Creator who is the cause of all things, you respond by saying that is not true specifically because we can’t prove it, but can you empirically prove the opposite? Your view on religion is also based on faith. We both make faith statements, we are both theologians and philosophers, we both believe something about God, and we both ultimately have to rely on our faith to make statements about the unseen. I trust my faith in saying that God is real, you trust your doubt by saying He is not. We both bank our life on a faith statement about religion. My question is, how much do you trust your faith statement? After exploring alternatives, I have placed my life on the line with my faith statement, do you feel confident doing the same?
Now I know this does not prove Christianity, you could say there may be an invisible spaghetti monster and because we can’t disprove its existence, we must blindly believe in it. That is not what I am saying, I don’t ask you to believe in God simply because ‘either way you need to make a faith statement’ and so just randomly pick one. Instead, I urge you to critically evaluate your own faith as I have done. Explore Christianity. Read the New Testament, examine serious books by theologians and philosophers, hear what reasonable Christians have to say, listen to the best arguments for Christianity. Explore.
The thing is, if you don’t believe that Jesus is God, but you haven’t seriously examined that possibility, you are taking a huge gamble by making a faith statement about his nonexistence. Because your statement is not empirically proven and hasn’t even been examined; your life trajectory is simply based on your feelings. That is the most illogical and blind kind of faith possible. And until you have seriously evaluated Christianity, you are like a man on a bridge stepping out in faith, claiming that there is or isn’t something under your feet, but never bothering to look down.
If you are a committed and researched atheist, I believe there are answers to your questions, though perhaps you won’t like them because they are not what you want, but either way I respect you for taking the time to explore and come to conclusions about your faith. If you decide to reject Christianity after a serious evaluation of what the best Christians minds have to offer (not caricatures postulated by fringe groups) then I respect you and have no desire to force anything upon you. Yet if you reject or mock Christianity because you have a feeling of doubt, or it just seems too crazy, or some Christians you know are weird, but you haven’t searched for answers, you haven’t seriously examined it, you are making exactly the type of blind faith statement with no intellectual support, that you accuse Christians of doing.
There may be two questions in your mind right now, “How does any of this show Christianity is true and other religions are false?” and “How can Christianity be true if there are so many different groups of Christians?” I agree there are other faith groups making faith statements, and you don’t merely have two choices: theism and atheism; there are many choices. But whatever conclusions you come to, atheism, Christianity, or others, you are still picking one unprovable faith statement out of many. This should not be a reason to chose blindly, or based on your feelings. Before you make a faith statement denying the Christian faith that 1/3 of the world believes to be true, you owe your intelligence a rational exploration of what Christianity truly is.
I know some Christians get into useless fights and say stupid things, but if you deny Christianity because of them, you are basing your ultimate faith statement on the failure of some people, not on an exploration of the nature of truth. It would be like denying that Apple makes good computers because some of their employees really suck at explaining how they work.
I know you may have questions, I know it might seem crazy, but since you are making a faith statement anyway, why not explore Christianity before rejecting it? Read authors like CS Lewis, Timothy Keller, John Stott, James Packer, examine it for yourself, don’t place your trust in your doubts, don’t place your trust in caricatures. Explore. If Christianity is false, but you believe, life is futile and you have lost almost nothing. But if the things Jesus said are true, and you ignore it, you have lost everything.
Step out and explore (click the image below):