As we make our way into a series of posts on apologetics (explaining or defending your belief in Jesus), let’s start by exploring the foundations of faith and doubt. Before beginning today, I’d like to remind everyone that everything I say here I mean with utmost respect for those who are not yet followers of Christ, and I do not mean for anything I say to be insulting.
Starting with faith, I have heard non-believers saying they don’t have faith or they’re not a spiritual person because they “follow the science”. However, I’d like to point out that every time someone who “believes in science” accepts a scientifically proven fact without understanding the science behind it is really exercising faith. In other words, they believe that thing without fully understanding it. That’s faith.
Let’s take flying on an airplane as an example.
How many people who get on an airplane fully understand the laws of aerodynamics that cause a metal tube, which can weight in excess of 875,000 pounds (396,893 kg), to be able to lift off the ground and stay airborne? Without understanding that, everyone who gets on a plane expecting it to get them safely to their destination is demonstrating faith in that airplane and the science they don’t understand.
All of this is to make the point that there is no such thing as a person who does not have faith in something.
So then it comes down to the veracity of the things in which people put their faith. We will unpack the science and veracity of Biblical faith in upcoming posts.
Next, let’s look at the 10 most common root causes of why people doubt Christianity:
- Believers behaving badly – sadly, this happens more than I wish it would, but if someone is treated poorly by followers of Christ, it can make that person bitter toward Christ himself, especially if there’s a pattern of such treatment. Even if people witness bad or hypocritical behavior by Believers that’s not directed at them, it can still turn them away from Jesus. For example, if a Believer shoots a doctor who performs abortions, what kind of message does that send to the watching world? Is this the way Jesus would have wanted us to act? Is it any wonder news media outlets devour stories like this?
- Superficially believing that science and belief in God are mutually exclusive – there is, of course, nothing wrong with science, as long as its followers are willing to follow the scientific method. This means that they start with a hypothesis on a particular topic, then begin an open-minded investigation into the facts to determine whether or not their hypothesis is correct. I start with “superficially” here because I believe that people who reject Christ for this reason have not employed the scientific method in investigating the veracity of the Bible.
- Apathy – this isn’t so much a root cause for doubting Christianity as it is for doubting the importance of Christ in the world or in our lives. However, the end result is the same–people in this category don’t accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. As I’ve alluded to previously, this most closely identifies where I was when the Hound of Heaven found me.
- Laziness – similarly, some people have a vague notion of the unbelievability of the claims of Christianity, but don’t make the effort to investigate them. I also think this applies to people who are dabbling around the edge of Christianity, some of whom may even consider themselves to be Believers. It is not for me to judge, so I am not, but my concern is that people like this may fall away from the faith at the first setback they encounter. They do not know the Peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding. Jesus never gave us the option to dance around the edges of following him–either you accept him as your Lord and Savior and receive his gift of grace so freely offered, or you remain in darkness. There is no in between. There must be a reason Jesus told the Parable of the Sower, as recounted in Luke 8:1-15.
- Behavioral (on the part of the unbeliever) – some people are cynical or skeptical by nature. Others may have some sort of emotional baggage associated with the faith that keeps them away.
- Egotistical – some people live under the illusion that they don’t need anyone else, including God. To believe in God would displace themselves at the center of the universe, and would mean handing over the keys to their fate to someone else. Similarly, sometimes this comes in the form of superiority, as in the sentiment that poor, little weak and stupid Christians are not as strong or as smart as they are since we believe in this supposed mythology.
- Social / Social media – for people in this category, it is more important to be liked by their peers (or even people they don’t know) today than it is to ponder what happens to their soul in eternity. This is the very definition of the herd mentality.
- Way of life – some people back away from the edge of the cliff of following Jesus because they are concerned they will have to change one or more things about their way of life, which they do not want to do.
- Circumstantial – it’s quite natural for someone to whom bad things keep happening to question the existence of a loving God. That questioning is fine as long as it is followed by an honest and earnest investigation into the Truth. But unfortunately, often the notion of the existence of God is dismissed in people like this without investigating because they have the mistaken impression that God has promised us an easy life–so if their life isn’t easy, there must not be a God. There is no such promise in the Bible, which they would see if they investigated. In fact, like Jesus himself, most of his followers named in the New Testament were executed for their beliefs. Where in that story would anyone get the impression that being a Christ-follower means we should have an easy life?
- Theological / Preferential – there are stories about God in the Old Testament that can make him seem like a monster, especially when taken out of context. People may latch onto those micro-pictures of God without stepping back to look at the broad, sweeping narrative that in the end shows how much God loves the world and everyone in it. They may point to these stories and say they don’t want any part of a God that is such a monster.
I’ll unpack and address the evidence and science behind the claims of Christianity in upcoming posts, but I wanted to lay this additional groundwork before jumping in.
Did I miss any major reasons why people reject Jesus? What have you encountered, or experienced yourself?