Why Aren’t You a Christian?

I’ve listed below what I bet are the responses most likely to be given to the question, “Why aren’t you a Christian?,” followed by my brief answers to those responses.

“Because the Bible is not reliable.”

Actually it is, especially the historicity of the Gospels, which tell us about the life and death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the basis of Christianity. C.S. Lewis recounts one of the key conversations that led to his conversion in his autobiography Surprised by Joy:

Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew sat in my room on the other side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was really surprisingly good. “Rum thing,” he went on. “All that stuff of [Sir James George] Frazer’s about the Dying God. Rum thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.” To understand the shattering impact of it, you would need to know the man (who has certainly never since shown any interest in Christianity). If he, the cynic of cynics, the toughest of the toughs, were not-as I would still have put it — “safe,” where could I turn? Was there then no escape?

Lewis also makes the point that the Gospels don’t read like made up mythic folklore — about which he was an expert — but like unadorned nonfiction, and Richard Bauckham makes an overwhelming case that they are, indeed, drawn from eyewitness accounts. Anyone interested — and we all should be, shouldn’t we? — can find much on this, one of the best being Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Lewis, Bauckman, and Strobel happen to be my personal favorites but, as I say, there’s lots more out there (you can start by checking the titles in my list of books in the “Apologetics” heading on the map to this blogsite here).

“Because Christianity is anti-science.”

No, it’s not. That’s shown, for starters, by the fact that many scientists — including, to give just one example, Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project and was for many years director of the National Institutes for Health — are serious Christians (Wikipedia has a list of some, past and present, here). True, you do have to accept that supernatural events can occur, but that doesn’t mean you have to reject the natural, or even to think that supernatural events are common. What’s more, there’s much in the natural world that is difficult or impossible to explain without God. There’s a lot you can read on all this, too, so I’ll be brief: Again, as a fan of Lee Strobel I’ll point the reader to my summary of his book interviewing various scientists here (this book is The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points toward God); you can also, again, refer to my list of books in the “Apologetics” heading on the map to this blogsite here. (I’m not talking here about “new earth” believers or some species of Creationists.)

“Because Christianity makes no sense.”

Actually, the Christian worldview does make sense, as I discuss here. It’s also an important theme in a book by another hero of mine, Blaise Pascal’s Pensees.

“Because Christians are stupid/bigoted/crazy.”

Oh, come on — you know that this is not a good argument for rejecting Christianity. There are plenty of stupid/bigoted/crazy people who reject Christianity, too. You can’t seriously maintain that all Christians are stupid or bigoted or crazy. The fact that Hitler was a vegetarian is not a persuasive argument against vegetarianism.

“Because being a Christian would require me to give up a lot of what I like to do, making me unhappy.”

Well, that’s pretty short-sighted. And it may not even be true in the short term, let alone the long term. If you learn that smoking will kill you in the long run, it would be unpersuasive to say that you reject that truth because if you accepted it you would have to forego the short-term pleasures of smoking. And, as I said, if you look at Christians, are you certain that they are unhappier than non-Christians in this life? As for the next life, well, if you wrongly disbelieve you’re in big trouble, and if you wrongly believe, you’ve lost nothing since there is nothing there (and if you’ve rightly believed, then of course you gain eternal glory).

And that brings us to Pascal’s Wager, with which I’ll conclude. If your aim in living is to maximize your happiness — and, if you’re an atheist, why wouldn’t it be? — then you really have to grapple with what Pascal had to say. I have lots of posts on this on this blogsite: You can start here and here, and then go to the other posts listed on the blogsite’s map under “Posts related to Pascal’s Wager.” My bottom line: If you conclude, as I think you must, that there’s a good chance that Christianity might be true, even if you are not 100 percent certain, then you should choose to believe and cultivate your faith.