Why do christians believe? There must be many reasons.
Why do I believe? That’s a much easier question to answer. Here’s the briefest summary I can make.
Reasons to believe
- The universe is more likely to have been created than to have appeared out of nothing with no cause.
- The universe is very precisely designed to provide the conditions necessary for complex life to evolve and the odds against this occurring by chance are astronomical.
- Most of us believe some things truly are right and others wrong, and without God there seems to be no explanation for this.
- How could we trust our rational thinking processes if we had evolved by natural selection (which favours what leads to more offspring surviving, not necessarily by what produces abstract truth).
- It seems we find it hard not to think humans have value and free will, and, again, natural selection cannot explain how this would be so.
- Millions of people claim to have experienced God, through miraculous healing, a vision, guidance or comfort. We cannot know that they are all false claims, or if any are true, but it is hard to believe they are all false.
- Millions of people live as christians and find that their belief makes sense of life and the world. It ‘works’!
- The historians say that we can know a significant amount about the life and teachings of Jesus. Based on what they affirm, there is sufficient to form a judgment about him. The gospels and subsequent history make most sense if Jesus told the truth about himself.
Reasons to disbelieve
There are of course, some reasons to disbelieve:
- The amount of evil in the world makes it harder to believe in a loving God. (But this argument depends on our assessment of evil being really true, something only possible if God exists.)
- Why is God so hidden? (This is an interesting question, but can only be an argument against belief if we have a reason to believe God should show himself more.)
- Much evil has been done by religion. (But much evil has also been done by irreligion.)
- The Bible contains nasty things and errors. (The above arguments don’t depend on the Bible being perfect, just that the New Testament is historical, so this argument loses much of its force.)
- It is hard to believe that God would do things the way christians say. (But many true things are hard to believe. THis isn’t really an argument.)
A question of balance
How do the arguments tally up?
It seems to me that the arguments for God are more numerous and more powerful. The only argument against that really bites is the problem of evil. This is a powerful argument, but before we can use it, we have to be able to explain how the world and human beings got here, and why the evil is truly evil – all things which point to God.
So it seems to me that the anti-God arguments are all secondary, that is they don’t address matters as fundamental as the pro-God arguments.
The arguments for God win reasonably easily, in my view, and life as a christian tends to confirm this conclusion.
What do you think?
Read more on all these arguments
You can find a more comprehensive summary of these arguments, plus links to pages where individual arguments are address, at Why believe?.