*I do not have much academic knowledge about this. These are just my thoughts.*
I have never attended a Durham Christian Union talk before, but this one struck me.
‘The Ultimate Imaginary Friend: Isn’t believing in Jesus just a crutch for the weak?’ Interesting topic, I must say.
The speaker was Pete Dray, the NE team leader for UCCF. (Don’t know what that means – just copied it from the advertisement…) and his main point of argument was whether religion, and in particular Christianity, was simply a psychological projection. Is Christianity simply a delusion for those who need a higher being to satisfy mortal needs and insecurities?
Freud asserts that as people mature from child to adult, their needs become more complex and these needs can no longer be fulfilled by their earthly, human parents. So people just make a god up. They make a supernatural father whom they can cast their burdens on. To Freud, religion is a psychological crutch. Religion is weakness and the refusal to own up to reality.
Ludwig Feuerbach once said ‘Religion is the dream of the human mind. But even in dreams we do not find ourselves in emptiness or in heaven, but on earth, in the realm of reality; we only see real things in the entrancing splendour of imagination and caprice, instead of in the simple daylight of reality and necessity.’
Marx mocked religion as the opium of the masses.
To all these arguments, Pete Dray made a very interesting point – any argument of psychological projection cuts both ways. If religion can be accused as a psychological clutch, then atheism is also a psychological clutch! (Essays have also been written about whether atheism itself is a religion). Some claim that there is a fear-filment by Christians and that’s why we have this whole religion and God thing going on. But then again, there is possibly a fear-filment in those who don’t believe in a God – a fear that there is actually a higher being out there that is above our human minds and free wills. Of course, there is much more to say about this in several commentaries so I will not elaborate further.
As mentioned before, Freud argued that a belief in a god was a result of psychological pressures. However, Alister McGrath in Ravi Zacharias’ book ‘Beyond Opinion’ cleverly points out that ‘This resonates with much sociological and historical analysis of the rise of atheism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which emphasise how so many longed for a godless world and chose to create one in which reality was adapted to their longings’.
Czelaw Milosz wrote in his article ‘The Discreet Charm of Nihilism’: “A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death – the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged.”
He also highlighted the comparison of delusion vs lie. To both these notions, I think he cleverly refuted them.
LIE –> Christianity and Jesus’ resurrection cannot be a lie. Psychologists have explicitly stated that no one would ever die for a lie. If they know that the facts are not true, it is not worth dying for. And yet, that is what 10 of the 12 disciples did. They were all martyred for the Gospel. Of course, they could have come together and came up with this (by the way, highly improbably and unbelievable story of a man being raised from the dead), but they would not have risked their lives for this conspiracy theory. It is black or white. Either it was a lie, or it is so unbelievable that it has to be true.
DELUSION –> There is historical evidence for Jesus’ existence, for the disappearance of the body of Jesus’ from the tomb, for the existence of the spread of the gospel, for the dead sea scrolls. Countless evidence!
Yet, the things I drew from the talk were not only the express points that Pete made.
NOTE BEFORE I START: I don’t know why, but this blog has really encouraged and emboldened me. I have become more reflective and more set apart. I cannot even believe I went up to my friends to invite them to this talk – I NEVER DO THAT!!! Even though no one reads it, it has really helped with my personal growth – and it’s only been a week! PS: if you are reading this, please do tell me just for encouragement’s sake 🙂
Many people always say that Christianity is merely blindness. It is a belief for the dumb, for the narrow-minded, for the timid. But no!
Faith is absolutely far from fear. Faith is looking at ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND YOU, yet casting them aside and giving them to God. Faith is having the courage to trust a higher, supernatural being with our lives. Faith is firstly, being aware of your surroundings, and then secondly, boldly giving the situation up to God. It’s not timidity, it’s bravery!
Also, I don’t think faith is for the narrow-minded. You see, the term ‘narrow-minded’ can swing both ways. Non-Christians could be narrow-minded because they do not want to consider the idea of something out of the earthly mortal state that we are in. Additionally, Christianity is not for the dumb. There are intellectuals who are Christians – CS Lewis, JJ Thomson, Martin Luther … the list is endless!
It is also interesting to note that I happened to chance upon the ‘Atheist Facebook Page’ last year and the one thing that astounded me was that the only things that these members posted were memes about Jesus. Funny – an atheist page that only mocked and ridiculed Christianity and no other religion. Also, these were just 9gag memes! There was no intellectual conversation going on, nothing. Just memes. Wow. Not to mention, such arguments are at the lowest levels of Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement – Name Calling and Ad Hominem.
So people might say Christianity is blind faith for the non-intellectuals. Well, the Atheist facebook page seems to join the club.
2. The Longing And Desire For Eternity
‘He has planted eternity in the hearts of man’. Up till this day and age, there is still so much debate about religion. Not only that, from very early on in history up till now, Christianity still exists. There are still people coming to church, and still hearing about the gospel. You see, there is innate longing for more; for God.
I found a very good 3 minute video about whether God exists. Ravi Zacharias sums it up very well.
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if i did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”