Is Christianity Just Wishful Thinking?

One of the most honest and heart-wrenching objections to Christianity that I’ve ever heard goes like this:

“I would absolutely love to believe that Christianity is true. The idea that I am unconditionally loved, that I will live forever in paradise after death, that an all-powerful God will hear my prayers, that someone good is looking after me, and all the rest… I would love to believe that message is true. But I just can’t bring myself to do it. It sounds like wishful thinking, and I’m too realistic for that.”

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Christian Hypocrisy and Unbelief

The problem of Christian hypocrisy is a major reason for unbelief. As Ghandi perceptively noted, “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.” In the same line of thought, one …

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The Atheistic Leap of Faith

In the course of having thousands of conversations about the ultimate issues of life, I’ve encountered many skeptics who, out of a deep respect for their religious friends, are reluctant to explain their objections to faith. These skeptics have noticed that, for their friends, the practice of religion is fundamental to filling their lives with meaning, purpose, joy, and service to others. Out of a gracious and loving spirit they decide, “Hey, if that works for you, that’s great. I don’t want to mess with something that’s so beautiful to you.” Also to their credit, when sincerely invited to be open and direct about their perspective, these skeptics have been excellent conversation partners, and we’ve had rigorous, intriguing conversations about our respective beliefs.

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Reason, Science and Progress: Who Wants it More?

In recent years, many atheists have prominently championed their allegiance to intelligent thought. For instance, there is “The Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science” and Sam Harris’ book “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.” Atheists sometimes refer to themselves as “freethinkers” and “brights.”

The public perception that these atheists are working hard to strengthen is the idea that there is a cavernous divide between “faith” and “reason” or between “faith” and “progress.” The strategy is obvious: atheists are to champion their love for reason and progress while highlighting stories of religious people who evidently hate reason and fight for culturally regressive values. Over time, this strategy is intended to further displace religion and develop a far more secular perspective around the world.

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The Problem of Blind Faith

In talking with skeptical students around Boston, I have learned that few things drive them as crazy as Christians with a blind faith. They are perplexed: “How can your core convictions be completely divorced from reason and logic?”

Three examples, just from the past year, illustrate the problem:

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If you were born in another country, would you still be a Christian?

One very common question about Christianity goes like this:
 “If you were born in another country, a place like Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran, would you still be a Christian?”

The presumptive answer, from an honest look at the demographics, is simple: it would be very unlikely. (Though you might be surprised to learn that in 2000, 60% of all Christians lived in Africa, Latin America, or Asia).

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Why Are Christians So Crazy?

Depending on where you grow up or currently live, it is possible that all or nearly all the Christians that you know strike you as crazy. For instance, they might:

  • Be opposed to science
  • Be hypocritical
  • Make racist or sexist comments
  • Treat people with different beliefs in a mean-spirited way
  • Know less about the Bible than you do
  • Take dreams, numerology, angels, demons, or “signs” way too seriously
  • Loudly share abrasive political opinions
  • Love comforting lies and wishful thinking
  • etc., etc., etc.

If the Christians you know act like this, it is probably enough to drive you a bit crazy too! There are at least three reasons for this:

  1. Crazy is bad.
  2. Expectations are high.
  3. We’re fed up.

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Is God an Unknowable Mystery?

The search for God can seem so puzzling and so difficult that many people feel like, “All that God-stuff is a mystery, and no one really knows what’s true.”

If this is how you are feeling, it makes sense to dig into this instinct and see if this objection to faith can withstand a rigorous investigation.  Let’s start by considering some of the main reasons why the search for God seems strange and even impossible.

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Paula Kirby: Are Humans Spiritual?

The word “spiritual” is a common, everyday word that many people use to describe a wide variety of apparently transcendent experiences. But should we be more careful? Has “spiritual” become a word that some people deliberately use in order to deceive others?

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Paula Kirby: Is Religion a Parasite?

Paula Kirby, a “consultant to secular organizations,” recently wrote in an article for The Washington Post that, “Religion is a parasite that feeds on all that is good in humanity as a whole and then proclaims it as its own gift to the world.”

That’s a very strong, unqualified, and unconditional statement. If true, religious practice is a very serious problem, one that we should all work to eradicate.

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