Many people, especially those who have a “beef” against Christianity cite atrocities committed by Christians in the past as proof that God does not exist, and that the world would be a better place if Christianty were eradicated from society.
So, for example the late atheist Christopher Hitchens’ book titled “God is not Great (how religion poisons everything)”, and Richard Dawkins’ offering “The God Delusion” both spout ideological rhetoric which criticises belief in God. Interestingly, this hateful rhetoric is mostly reserved for the Christian faith and its adherents. You rarely, if ever, hear such people specifically criticising other faiths.
- You judge ideas or beliefs on what they actually say, not by their abuse. It is disingenuous to judge Christianity by historic abuses of the faith when the teachings of Christ which Christians are supposed to follow would actually condemn those same actions. Judge Christianity on the teaching of the New Testament, not its abuse.
- You will find it difficult to point to any atrocity committed by someone claiming to be acting as a Christian which you cannot also find being committed by people who hold another faith, or indeed by someone who claims they have no faith at all (which is, actually, also a position of faith). In other words, these actions are common to all people and as such don’t stem from someone’s faith (Christian or otherwise), but from their human nature which the Bible makes clear is sinful, opposed to the things of God and in need of a saviour (read Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 7v15–25). Part of living as a Christian is overcoming the human impulses we have (the Bible calls it “the flesh”), and atrocities are evidence that such impulses still fight to control us and that they sometimes get the upper hand. I am NOT excusing such actions, (in fact they couldn’t be more wrong) the Bible condemns them as sin and subject to the judgement of God.They are wrong, and should be condemned, irrespective of the beliefs of the person committing them.
- Not everyone claiming to be a Christian actually IS one. Jesus says plainly “not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will be saved” (Matthew 7v21–23 and the parallel passage in Luke 6v46–49). The mark of a true Christian is not that he calls himself a Christian, but that he lives like one and obeys the Lord’s commands.
Atheism as a belief system has no rationale for judging any action “good” or “bad” anyway since these are moral, philosophical judgments, and as such have no meaning to those who are truly atheistic and, by implication, hold to a materialistic worldview. In atheism, ALL judgments about right and wrong are simply opinions. In other words they are merely their truth, not the truth! If, as Dawkins claims, we are all “dancing to our DNA”, we have no control over our actions, and they cannot be attributed to any “belief” we may or may not hold in any case. Nor, indeed, can they be judged as “right” or “wrong” — they simply “are”. In addition, Dawkins’ own view about our actions is simply him dancing to his own DNA and by implication should have no more importance than anyone else’s view anyway.
In fact that many believe that there is an absolute standard outside of people against which their actions can (should) be measured, very strongly points away from the atheistic worldview to the rationality of a faith position.
Which world would you rather live in?
- One which claims no action is right or wrong, but is simply a result of neurons in your brain. One which says however you live your life is fine if its “your truth”. You are merely being “you” and are not ultimately responsible for your actions? Or
- One which says yes there is an absolute morality. There is a measure of right and wrong against which every man, woman and child will be measured. That no-one will get away with any wrong deed they have committed. Every action will be judged, if not in this world, then in the next.
Our in-built sense of justice surely points to the truth that there is a God and that He will ultimately judge all of us for our sins.
Even those who commit atrocities in “the name of God”.