Question: "I am an atheist. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?"Recommended Resource:
If you consider yourself an atheist with a sincere interest in truth, there are several things about Christianity we feel are critical to understand. Also, please note that, as a Christian ministry, we have no reason to defend other religious beliefs; so this article deals solely with the biblical Christian faith.
Truth matters, regardless of beliefs.
Integrity is a most important point. You as an individual should be able to explain why you accept or reject some particular view of the world. And your explanation should reflect the actual beliefs in question. This requirement applies universally, even if you prefer to define your atheism as merely “a lack of belief.” We mention this because distortions of religious belief tend to drown out the real thing. It’s common to hear descriptions of Christianity that are profoundly divergent from what Christians actually believe.
In other words, you can’t honestly say you’ve considered the message of Christianity unless you actually know what that message is. Dismissing the existence of George Washington on the basis that stories about him throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac are myths isn’t good reasoning. We cannot allow a caricature to crowd out actual facts and then make a judgment based on the caricature.
We are not suggesting that all atheists are uninformed. On the contrary, we acknowledge that many atheists can articulate the Christian position accurately. However, in our experience, many more self-professed atheists, when asked to give an explanation of Christianity, present a cartoonish view. If we are belaboring this point, it’s only because misrepresentations of Christianity are so often a key component of atheists’ arguments.
Christianity rejects “blind faith.”
Many atheists struggle with the idea of “blind faith,” but the claim that Christians are called to “blind faith” is simply untrue. There is no place in the Bible where human beings are told, “Believe this, just because.” This misunderstanding is due to a mistaken definition of faith. The Bible’s view of faith is best described as “trust.” This is certainly different from “proof,” but faith is never presented as belief without evidence or against all evidence. In fact, the Bible consistently points to historical events as the basis for our faith (Numbers 14:11; John 14:11).
Consider that “absolute proof” is actually rare in human experience. There are virtually no circumstances where anyone has the ability to prove—mathematically, logically, infallibly—anything before he acts. Does this mean we cannot act? No, but it does mean we are constantly acting when we have good reasons but not absolute proof. That, in a nutshell, is the “faith” that the Bible calls for. Rather than calling us to place faith—trust—in the world or other people, Christianity calls on us to place faith—reasonable trust—in God and His message to us.
As an atheist, you exhibit “faith” of this kind every day. The difference is in the object of that faith, not in the substance. You exhibit faith—reasoned trust—every time you sit on a chair without first checking it for stability. You exhibit faith every time you ride in a car without performing an exhaustive inspection. You act on faith whenever you eat food cooked by other people or take medicines provided by a doctor. You cannot have absolute proof that any of these things are reliable, each and every time. But you can have good reasons to trust in them.
Ultimately, you place the same “faith” in your view of the world, atheism. We ask you to consider the fact that, no matter what you believe—or do not believe—you cannot claim to have “proof.” Not in an absolute sense. The reality of human experience is that we cannot know everything. We have no choice but to act in trust—faith—based on what we have good reason to believe, even if we can’t prove it. Christianity is not an escape from reason or a freefall into blind faith. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite: a truth that draws even unwilling converts on the strength of evidence.
Christianity is uniquely tied to reason and evidence.
The Bible is unique in its approach to reason and evidence. Even Jesus Christ appealed to evidence when He was challenged. In John 5, Jesus acknowledges that others won’t—or can’t—believe what He says on blind faith. So He offers three lines of evidence as reasons to trust Him: human testimony, observations, and written records (John 5:30–47). The earliest believers constantly referred to facts and evidence as support for their message (1 Corinthians 15:13–14; 2 Peter 1:16; Luke 1:1–4).
God doesn’t ask us to follow Him blindly (1 Thessalonians 5:21) or ignorantly (Acts 17:11) or without doubts (Jude 1:22). Rather, Christianity offers reasons to believe: evidence in nature (Psalm 19:1), in science (Genesis 1:1), in logic (Isaiah 1:18), in history (Luke 1:1–4), and in human experience (Romans 1:20–21; 1 Peter 5:1). Our website has a large amount of material on each of these areas of evidence.
Modern atheists frequently point to “science” as a catch-all counter to religion. It should be noted that, without a Christian worldview, what we call “modern science” would be impossible. It wasn’t until a culture approached the universe from a Christian perspective that the modern scientific method was born. Science as we know it assumes that the universe is rule-bound, repeatable, knowable, and subject to human manipulation—all of which are uniquely theistic (particularly Judeo-Christian) concepts. Atheism, like modern science, can co-opt those tenets, but they all flow from a theistic worldview.
Also, it bears mentioning that interpretation is not always the same as fact. This is as true in religion as in science. Rejecting or disproving one particular facet of a belief system doesn’t necessarily mean the entire idea is wrong. It might only be that particular idea that is in error. Non-fundamental doctrines, such as the age of the earth, are ultimately secondary to the core message of Christianity. The so-called war between science and religion is truly a myth.
Christianity has the support of experience.
It’s important, at least for the sake of argument, to consider what happens when people actually apply a particular philosophy in the real world. Naturally, no two people have exactly the same understanding of how to live out a specific idea. And people often do things completely contradictory to their stated beliefs. Yet it’s possible to look at world history and see which ideas seem to work and which do not.
Beliefs have consequences. Atheism, like most worldviews, has no particular reason to consider human beings valuable, equal, or meaningful. Just as modern science owes its existence to theism, so too do the concepts of morality, democracy, and human rights. The positive impact of Christianity is clearly seen in history and in current events. The ideas of equality, self-governance, social welfare, and so forth are all rooted in Christian heritage. Even today, cultures with a Christian background are overwhelmingly ahead of non-Christian cultures in the various moral issues most atheists find meaningful.
Popular culture frequently takes the position that Christianity is a philosophy of abuse. Consider the claim that “religion causes war.” According to secular scholars such as Charles Phillips, Gordon Martel, and Alan Axelrod, religious motivations only factor into about 6 or 7 percent of all the wars in human history. Remove Islam from consideration, and that number drops by more than half. In truth, Christianity’s emphasis on compassion and peace has done far more to prevent and soften violence than it has to inspire it.
If you’re an atheist who rejects Christianity on the grounds that it’s anti-science, blind faith, or abusive, please reconsider the evidence. Those accusations are based on false narratives and caricatures. Comedians and celebrities can repeat them ad nauseam, but that doesn’t make them true.
Atheism means Christianity is worth consideration.
If the practical effects of a belief system matter in a culture, then they also matter in one’s personal life. Atheists of all stripes throughout history have pointed out a major problem with atheistic thinking: nihilism. Belief in pure naturalism or the complete lack of any deity has logical implications.
Force of logic leads atheists to reject objective morality, meaning, purpose, and so forth. This is a dominant struggle in atheistic philosophy: how to stave off nihilism or cope with its implications. This is the reason atheism, more than any other worldview, has lent itself as justification of the atrocities of dictators.
Ironically, this means that atheism itself presents good reasons to at least consider the Christian worldview. Why? If there is no meaning, purpose, or ultimate plan, then we might as well choose the worldview that leads to the best results: one that provides intellectual satisfaction, personal fulfillment, meaning, order, and morality.
The best possible option—the one that leads to the best results—is Christianity. Not that this makes Christianity true by default or that anyone can convince himself against his own will. But it’s at least a reason to take the claims of the Bible seriously. And, of course, Christianity deserves better than a shallow, meme-driven, or cartoonish approach. Atheist pundits have sometimes spoken of acting “as if” there is meaning when they “know” there is none. In that context, it’s hardly unreasonable to nominate the Bible as a reasonable option for voluntary belief.
Christianity offers hope and meaning.
As you’ve seen, our view of Christianity is in no sense driven by “wishful thinking.” We firmly believe that reason, logic, and evidence are important aspects of a vibrant faith. At the same time, we acknowledge that intellect and reason are not the complete picture of human experience.
Every person has his own reasons for his beliefs or lack thereof. Often, these reasons are more emotionally driven than we’d like to admit. The message of the gospel is not one human beings instinctively prefer. But, once a person truly understands the biblical Christian worldview, the caricatures and myths fall away, and what’s left is compelling and powerful.
To you, the atheist, we’d respectfully like to summarize that biblical message as follows:
God loves you so much that He made a way to be forgiven for every sin, so you can spend eternity with Him. The Bible says that each person needs to be saved (Romans 3:23), each person can be saved (Romans 1:16), and God wants each person to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).
What separates us from God is sin. No matter how good we think we are, we are all guilty of sin (1 John 1:10). Since God is absolutely perfect, everyone deserves to be separated from Him forever (Romans 5:16). No amount of effort, good deeds, money, talent, or achievement is enough to take away this guilt (Isaiah 64:6). Fortunately, God doesn’t want us to be separated from Him, so He made a way to fix what’s broken (John 3:16–17).
That one and only way is through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). God Himself came to earth as a human, living a perfect and sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). He willingly died as a sacrifice to pay the debt for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). According to the Scriptures, anyone can be “saved”—forgiven by God and guaranteed heaven—through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:13). This isn’t a call for blind, ignorant belief (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1). It’s an invitation from God to submission and trust (James 4:7). It’s a choice to let go of everything else in order to rely entirely on God.
Christianity still has more to offer.
We fully understand that no single article, answer, or conversation can completely cover every possible detail. There are thousands of legitimate questions and concerns related to the Christian faith. We respect all people, including atheists, who are willing to seek truth in depth.
Even if you don’t think that Christianity is true, we sincerely hope you’ll continue to learn more about it. You have nothing to lose. At the worst, you’ll have a more accurate understanding. At best, you’ll come to realize what so many other skeptics have: that Jesus is, in fact, the truth.
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I am an atheist. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek and The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias
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