This post is a little unusual because there are some fundamentalist Christians who might actually agree with most of what I have to say. But I’m not writing this for them. I’m writing this for average everyday Christians, people who believe the Bible and perhaps even go to church on a regular basis, but who otherwise lead very ordinary lives.
If that sounds like you, then I have a question: Do you actually believe what you claim to believe? I’m sure your initial reaction is, “Of course I do!” But frankly, I’m a bit skeptical. Normally, beliefs affect behavior. For example, if you found out you have twenty-four hours to live, then tomorrow you would behave very differently than you would on a typical day.
Most Christians say they have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. The creator of the universe! That’s a really big deal, to put it mildly. And yet, most Christians don’t seem very excited about it. Sure, there are some Christians who talk about god nonstop. But the majority of Christians don’t seem to even think about god very often.
Penn Jillette was once on a news show where they were discussing religion, and he referred to himself as a hardcore atheist. Someone asked, “What is a hardcore atheist?” and Penn said, “I don’t even believe that other people believe in god.”
I wouldn’t go that far. Some people clearly do believe in god; I know I did. But I think he’s on to something. It seems as though the majority of Christians don’t really believe in god, even if they think they do.
This might sound a little strange, so let me break it down. I’m going to offer 4 reasons why it seems like most Christians don’t actually believe what they claim to believe (even if they think they do).
1. They Haven’t Read The Entire Bible
If you’re a Christian and you haven’t read the entire Bible, I want you to do something. Tonight, go outside and–weather permitting–look at the countless stars in the sky. What you’ll see is just a narrow slice of a single galaxy, which itself is but a speck among billions of galaxies. You mean to tell me that you have a personal relationship with the creator of all those galaxies, and you haven’t finished reading his book yet?
How embarrassed will you be if you die right now and go to Heaven, and Jesus meets you at the pearly gates and says, “Hey, have you finished reading my book yet?” What are you going to say? “Oh… sorry, I’ve been swamped. I’ll finish it first chance I get”?
How is it that millions of Christians claim to believe the Bible is the word of God, yet after years–sometimes even decades–they still haven’t finished reading it? Granted, it’s a long book, and sooo boring. But certainly they could make time if it’s important to them. Don’t they want to see what the creator of the universe has to say? Don’t they want to read his message to them?
2. They’re Not Very Worried About People Going To Hell
Many Christians claim to believe that some of the people around them are going to burn in Hell forever, yet they don’t bother doing anything about it. Even worse, they don’t even seem very worried about it.
If you’re a Christian, imagine you know someone–say, a coworker–who has terminal cancer. Now imagine you have the cure for cancer. Wouldn’t you tell them about it? At least once? Granted, they would probably say, “Yea, yea, I’ve heard that before. I don’t believe it.” But still, wouldn’t you at least try?
If people around you were dying of cancer and you had the cure, would you say, “Well, hopefully they’ll find it on their own”? No way. Maybe you wouldn’t harass them lest you inadvertently push them away, but wouldn’t you try to get through to them at least once? And wouldn’t you always be friendly and kind in hopes that they would reach out to you?
This isn’t even a great analogy because cancer doesn’t even compare to an eternity in Hell. Yet some Christians go their entire lives without trying to convert anyone or going on a single mission trip. It’s as if they don’t really believe other people are going to Hell. Either that, or they just don’t care.
3. They Commit Blatant Sins Even Though God is Supposedly Watching
I’m also puzzled when Christians commit sins even though they claim to believe God is everywhere. I’m not talking about accidentally swearing or losing one’s temper; I’m talking about the kind of sins where there is plenty of time to stop and repent.
Here’s an obvious example that all Christians should consider: Would you visit a porn site if your mother were standing behind you? Not a chance! But God is standing behind you all the time, right?
Well, maybe you don’t visit porn sites. 😉 But studies have shown that religious states consume the most porn, so it’s safe to say that a lot of Christians are watching porn. Do they honestly believe God is in the room with them when they do this? I’m not so sure.
The same could be asked of other types of sins: lying, coveting, working on Sundays (all of which are in the 10 commandments). Christians, if Jesus appeared in the flesh and followed you everywhere, wouldn’t you behave differently? If so, then I have to wonder whether you actually believe in an omnipresent god.
4. They Don’t Pray Very Often
It’s strange to me that many Christians don’t even pray on a daily basis. There are dozens of bible verses about prayer, and yet the average Christian only prays on Sundays.
If you’re a Christian, I want you to do something that you’re always telling atheists to do: Look at the trees! Think about how you can drop a seed into the dirt and watch it slowly stretch out of the ground and grow leaves and fruit and even more seeds. Or consider the complexity of the human body, all those organs working together to keep the body alive. Or the human brain, a computer far more powerful than any computer built by humans, and it runs on a fraction of the energy!
You believe the same being that designed all those incredible things knows you and loves you and is listening to you all the time, and you hardly ever talk to him?
I also find it interesting that Christians usually only pray for things that could happen on their own by coincidence. For example, they might pray for someone’s cancer to go into remission (something that can happen naturally), but they won’t bother praying for an amputee to grow his arm back.
I suspect this is because deep down they know there’s no one listening to their prayers, but they don’t want to break the illusion by praying for something that is obviously impossible. So they continue to pray for simple things–a better job, a better marriage, even winning the lottery–but always things that have at least a small chance of happening anyway.
Now as I said in the introduction, I’m not claiming that no Christians believe in god. I’m suggesting the possibility that most of them don’t, even if they think they do. They don’t believe in god; they believe that they believe in god.
The ones who really believe are on street corners with signs, volunteering in homeless shelters, and going on mission trips. We can be fairly certain that those people believe because their behavior actually reflects their beliefs.
If you’re just an average everyday Christian, there are two ways you could react to this post:
1. You could feel guilty and decide to rededicate your life to Christ. Please don’t. Or at least take the time to read my thoughts on god and the Bible first. It would be a shame to waste your one and only life on something that isn’t true.
2. You could be honest with yourself and admit you don’t really believe all that nonsense in the Bible. Maybe you could become a deist who still thinks god is the best explanation for the origin of the universe, or you could admit that technically there is no way to know for sure and label yourself an agnostic. Whatever. But at least admit that you don’t actually believe in the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent god of the Bible.
Because if you really believed that, you would act like it.