History is rife with leaders doing bad things in the name of God. Is this justification to say all religion is evil? This is an excellent question. This is often brought up by opponents of our faith who make a common mistake: They assume a causal agent without justification. Let’s consider something other than religion and see if this way of thinking sounds like something our critics would accept if we were to apply their standard to something else.
There have been a lot of bad things done in the name of science. There have been some pretty gruesome crimes committed in the name of advancing knowledge. If you Google Tuskegee Syphilis Study, you’ll see just one of the many kinds of torture men are willing to put other’s through in the name of science. Notice I said, “in the name of science.” I did not say science caused them to take malicious actions. The Tuskegee study is just one example of how flawed men will justify their evil actions by shrouding them in something noble like science or faith. In reality, it is their lack of morality and lust for success that causes their wrongdoing.
It’s important to note that it is very possible the men and women who do evil in the name of religion, science or anything else may not be aware of their own motivation. It’s human nature to deceive ourselves to justify our actions. Proverbs tells us, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” The secular world may call this rationalizations or self-serving justifications. Isn’t it interesting that the number of atrocities committed in the world have not dwindled as the number of theocracies have decreased in world governments? Atrocities remain, the justifications change. The Second World War was not fought over religious differences. Neither was the first.
The Bible tells us humans are flawed. Science tells us we tend to justify our actions and even deceive ourselves into believing that we are doing good when we are doing quite the opposite. The next time someone brings this up as “proof” that faith causes evil, ask them how they ruled out other causes (lust for power, success in a theocracy in spite of a lack of faith, etc.) and put their answer in the comments below. I’d like to see what they have to say.
Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer
An atheist writer once opined: Atheism is a conclusion, not a belief. Is there merit to this non-believer’s words? To answer this question we need to be clear on a few things. What is the difference between “a conclusion” and Christian faith. What is Christian faith? It is also important to ask from where does Christian faith come? Let’s consider these things and determine if the writer’s conclusion is reasoned.
Let’s use Webster for the definition of “conclusion.” It seems to be the most, if not one of the most, widely-accepted dictionaries. Webster defines a conclusion as a reasoned judgement. I’ll concede that one could reach atheism as a conclusion depending on what evidence he or she has. To be clear, I did not say it is a correct conclusion. One must rule out the source of Christian faith or not be aware of its source, before he or she can call the writer’s conclusion reasoned. So what is Christian faith?
I’ve watched debates where non-believers reject a Biblical definition of faith while accusing Christians of re-defining words to win an argument. But a Biblical definition is the only one that matters if we are talking about Christianity and what Christians believe. The book of Hebrews tells us, “…faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” This is part of the needed information. This definition says nothing about the source of our faith. It speaks only to its definition. So from where does Christian faith come?
Saving faith is a gift from God. Ephesians says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” For a person to reasonably conclude that there is no God they must reasonably reject all evidence of God. They must have a reason to reject the idea that saving faith is a posteriori knowledge (knowledge from experience) that comes as a gift from God. If one does not have a reason to reject this evidence, then they have only an idea or a belief. It is not sound logic to say, “God does not exist therefore he could not give you knowledge of His existence,” without first demonstrating there is no God. Let me restate that a different way: A logical argument can’t use the premise “there is no God” if the conclusion is “there is no God.” That’s circular logic. At the center of all of this is the difference between saying “I don’t know” and having a reasonable conclusion. If an atheist says “I’m simply not convinced…” or “I don’t know,” then they have not reached a conclusion.
As of this writing, Webster online defines atheism as, “a lack of belief or strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods.” An atheist who doesn’t know if God exists has not reached a conclusion. An atheist who says he or she strongly disbelieves in God has a belief; that is, a belief that God does not exist. The writers claim that atheism is a conclusion is either based on limited evidence, rejection of evidence without reason, or a belief.
What are your thoughts?
FLOYD ROGERS – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer
A YouTube video titled, “Why most rich people will end up in hell” was brought up in discussion. For full disclosure: I did not watch the video. I’ve found that a person usually doesn’t really know what they’re talking about if they can’t make a point without telling me to watch someone else’s video. But the title piqued my interest. After all, the Book of Matthew does say, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The Bible uses a lot of metaphor. Its books are written in the common-person’s language. People back then were not that different from modern folks who use metaphors like saying my car died on the way to work. We know the person who says this doesn’t believe their car was alive. I think Matthew is using a similar metaphor here. I don’t think he’s saying it’s impossible for a rich person to go to heaven, but that it can be very hard for a rich person to do so. But why?
Our redemption is a gift from God. We don’t earn it, but we can reject it. We can also allow things to become more important than God and money can become a stumbling block. Too, other types of wealth can cause us problems. Consider that the book of Matthew says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” It’s not wrong to love your family, but it is wrong to love people more than God. The point I’m making is that a thing does not have to be intrinsically evil to become a stumbling block. Could this be why Matthew records Jesus asking, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”
What are your thoughts?
FLOYD ROGERS, TEXAS GOSPEL CANADA VOLUNTEER
There are two words I’ve heard Christians and non-Christians alike use to start sentences during an argument. The two-word preface may carry more implications than some would like to admit. The words are: “You want…”
In the heat of argument one may say, “You want to cause trouble…” or “You want to seem smart…” sort of poisoning the well, if you wish, as they portray their opponent as someone with a malicious motive rather than someone with whom they disagree.
Consider, 1 Samuel tells us, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for the man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Corinthians in the New Testament tells us, “…who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit.” There are other scriptures that seem to say God alone is capable of knowing someone’s true motivation.
It may be comforting to believe that the only way someone could disagree with us about important matters is if they have some nefarious incentive. But given that we can only guess what goes on within someone else’s heart, should we really speak as if we have the ability to do so? Too, shouldn’t we ask God to make sure we understand our own motives before casting judgement on others?
What are your thoughts?
Can people tell you are a Christian by what you post on Facebook?
I once told a woman that what she posted online was not very Christian at all. She responded by telling me, “We aren’t in church and I’m not bound to any biblical rules or principles. This is FB and we make the rules.”
There is at least a grain of truth in that statement: We can choose to go against God’s principles. God does not force us to live as we should. Is it not hypocritical to claim you are following Jesus while purposely doing our own thing? Doesn’t this misrepresent to the world what being a Christian means?
What are your thoughts?