I’ve noticed many Christians use circular reasoning when explaining why they believe what they do. They go from evidence to faith to evidence again. I’ve spoken to many Christians in person and online, and this is generally how it goes:
When I ask why they believe Christianity is true, they usually start by saying there is evidence that god exists: the cosmological argument, the fine-tuning argument, the moral argument, etc. But these arguments are not evidence; they are arguments.
And even if I accepted these arguments, I would only be convinced that a god exists, not that the Christian god exists. When I point this out, they move on to their reasons for believing the Bible. They say the Bible has been well preserved and that the earliest copies of the New Testament are reliable and accurate.
My response: So what? Even if we had the original copies, it wouldn’t mean the stories in them actually happened. If we had the original copy of The Iliad, would we believe the Greek gods exist? Of course not. Inevitably Christians point out that unlike the Iliad, there are thousands of New Testament manuscripts (most of which were made less than a thousand years ago).
Again, so what? No one is disputing that Christianity became the most popular religion in the world a millennium ago. That doesn’t make it true. After all, one of the religions had to be the most popular. If there were more ancient copies of the Koran, would that make the Koran true? (Perhaps if Christianity hadn’t been made the official state religion of the Roman empire, Islam would have become the most popular religion.)
Even if I could travel back in time and meet the original Christians, the ones who claimed to actually see Jesus perform miracles and rise from the dead, I still wouldn’t believe them. Am I just being stubborn? No more stubborn than people who refuse to believe the followers of modern faith healers and self-proclaimed messiahs.
Christians go on and on about all the eyewitness testimonies of Jesus’ miracles (we don’t actually have eyewitness testimonies, we have hearsay), but eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, especially when it’s coming from religious fanatics, who tend to exaggerate.
Eventually, many Christians give up and say, “You just have to have faith.” Okay then. It amuses me that some Christians seem reluctant to admit this considering there are dozens of Bible verses about faith.
But the problem with faith is that you can have faith in anything. Why should I put my faith in Christianity and not some other religion? When I ask them this, they say there is evidence that Christianity is true. And then we’re right back where we started: From evidence to faith to evidence again.
As Matt Dillahunty said in this video, “If you believe something based on faith and the faith is based on evidence, then what you’re really saying is that your belief is based on evidence.”
So if Christians have evidence, what do they need faith for? They need it because they don’t have evidence. Ultimately, faith is the foundation of all religious belief. But what exactly is faith? Simply put, faith is believing something when there isn’t evidence.
Of course, Christians don’t want to admit they don’t have evidence, so they have their own definition of faith. Some Christians say it means “trust.” For example, if you trust that a chair is going to hold you up when you sit in it, then you have “faith” in that chair. So they say that in the same way, they have faith in Jesus.
What they’re attempting to do is water down the meaning of faith in order to make their beliefs seem more reasonable. They say people live by faith everyday–faith that their car’s brakes will work, faith that the plane they’re in won’t crash, faith that the chair they sit in won’t break–so there’s nothing irrational about having faith in Christianity.
But there’s a huge difference between faith in a chair and faith in religion. For one thing, we’ve all sat in chairs thousands of times before, and they work nearly 100% of the time. Based on countless examples of sturdy chairs, it is reasonable to assume that the next chair you sit in will hold you up.
This is not true of Christianity. We have no examples of people performing miracles, no examples of people rising from the dead, and no examples of gods communicating with humans. All we have are stories written in books two to three thousand years ago. Unlike the sturdiness of chairs, you need blind faith to believe a religion.
The Christian apologist William Lane Craig insists it is not blind faith. He calls it “reasonable faith.” This is an oxymoron. If his beliefs were reasonable, he wouldn’t need faith.
So which one is it? Faith or evidence? It is faith, and it always has been. But as I said before, the problem with faith is that you can have faith in anything.
Faith is why some people believe creation myths instead of accepting scientific facts. Faith is why some parents pray for sick children instead of taking them to doctors. Faith is why some believers kill their enemies instead of looking for peaceful solutions.
Faith is dangerous; evidence isn’t. Choose evidence.