As a former atheist, there were many reasons why I was not a theist (nonetheless a Christian). Usually, when the discussion of Christianity would come up I would have a few pocketed arguments I would reach for when pressed on the issue. You know, the usual, “Well I’ve met some bad people who are Christian, therefore I am not a Christian” or even the “All religion is evil!” argument. Or, I would just mock their lack of what I would call “intelligence” for even insinuating that Christianity could possibly be true.
However, the more I learned about logic, Christianity, and my own personal biases, I realized that I was not being intellectually honest, open-minded, or rational. Surely, many reject the Christian faith for many reasons, some I have held in the past and some I have not. But, here are three (of many) poor reasons to reject Christianity.
1. “I Have Met Some Bad People Who Are Christian”
Nobody likes hypocrisy. Jesus was staunchly against it. In Matthew 23, Jesus is prescribing woes upon the Pharisees, calling them “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” and even a “child of hell.” These were the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, and they were hypocrites! Jesus even plainly tells them that “they preach, but do not practice” (Mt. 23:3). While hypocrisy is vile and detestable, it does not in and of itself affect the truth value of Christianity. If we are to judge a religion, we must do so by its tenets and by its claims.
A poor practitioner of a religion does not affect the religion’s validity or worth. Being opposed to Christianity because of hypocrisy implies an understanding that there is value in Christianity, otherwise, the hypocrisy wouldn’t be surprising or off-putting; it would be expected. Rejecting the Christian faith because of bad Christians does two things 1) admits that Christianity has some type of higher standard which its followers are amenable to, and 2) makes a large illogical jump to a conclusion.
If the Bible (the standard rule of Christianity) claims that we are to love our neighbor, and Jimmy your Christian neighbor hates you, how does that make Christianity false or not worth following? It says a lot about Jimmy, but not really anything about Christianity. However, if the Bible told us to hate our neighbor (which it does not), and Jimmy was hating his neighbor, that would be a different story. If you are going to reject Christianity, do so because of its tenets and claims, not because of the imperfect human beings who are attempting to cleave to such tenets.
2. “Some Religions Are Evil So All Are”
Such a stance is a logical straw man. Usually, the argument is that since we can know and list some examples when atrocities were performed by religious fanatics, all religions and beliefs in a god are bad for society and should not be adhered to. I could do the same thing with atheism and agnosticism. Easily I could say, “because people who were atheists have done horrible things, agnosticism cannot be true.” While atheism certainly does cheapen human life and the sanctity thereof (it’s difficult to make an argument that a random collection of atoms which evolved from a primordial soup of dead matter by chance has unalienable rights), I cannot write off agnosticism as false because adherents to atheism have performed atrocities.
The belief that all religions are harmful to society because some are is akin to believing that I shouldn’t eat any fruits because some are poisonous. Such is illogical and ridiculous. “New Testament Christianity does not stand or fall based on the validity of other competing religions…New Testament Christianity is unique, logically valid, historically documented, and philosophically flawless. It does not crumble with various other religions that are filled with ‘vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge’ (1 Timothy 6:20)” (Butt).
3. “All These Smart People Are Not Christian”
This is kind of a mash-up of several logical fallacies, but I would say that for the most part, this is a bandwagon/straw man hybrid fallacy: “all these smart people aren’t Christian! Christianity is false!” Obviously, the spurious data of “all smart people are not Christian” is not a sound premise by which to determine that Christianity is false. Once again, the rejection of Christianity shouldn’t be upon the baseless conclusion that “all smart people are not Christian” but rather upon the tenets and claims of the religion itself.
To hold to the imaginary conclusion that Christians are stupid and all smart people are not Christian (or that the smartest people are not Christian) is to be intellectually dishonest. Quite frankly, it’s a cop-out. If I were to state that all the smart people I know are Christians and that all the atheists I know are not as smart, it would not make Christianity any truer, nor would it make atheism any less true. I would just be riding an imaginary intellectual straw man filled bandwagon into a land of invalid and unsound conclusions.
There are many reasons to reject Christianity, some more valid than others. Hopefully, you aren’t clinging to one of the above three. But if you are, I hope you are willing to change your mind, adopt some intellectual honesty, and open your mind to reason, even if it is coming from the mouth of a Christian. Because at the end of the day, hypocrites, bad religions, and perceived intelligence levels do not affect the truth value of the Christian faith.