The other week I wrote that I can do dumb things (Christians like me ruin Christianity); this might be one of those times. This post is based on an idea that has been on my heart for awhile and I was pushed to do it after a number of clients asked me questions that will be answered below. The main goal of this post is to encourage agnostics to make a choice: There is a God and you should do something about that (e.g. do some research and pick a faith to follow like Judaism, Christianity, or Islam) or there isn’t a God and you should say you’re atheist (and preferably have a good reason for it). As a Christian, I’ve been called emotionally weak, stupid, and a pushover who can’t think for himself. Maybe these are true to some degree (I am married, so thinking for myself isn’t always an option – joking), but I disagree. Either way, I want to address the problem of being agnostic because it is the most important decision we can make since there are eternal repercussions for our decision on God. This means agnostics need to stop brushing this decision aside and make a real choice. This is also important because a decision on God can have strong emotional health benefits since faith in a higher power has helped millions of people with their problems and addictions (e.g. AA has over two million members). My hope is this post can be a kick start for people to investigate something that could change their life or at least solidify their current beliefs.
To be on the same page: Atheists believe there isn’t a God (and typically have some resentment towards Him), theists believe there is a God (e.g. Jews, Christians, and Muslims), polytheists believe in many gods (e.g. Hindu), and agnostics believe there could be a God (they might even call themselves Christian if asked), but they don’t do anything to pursue a relationship with Him. These people might even go to church, but they don’t really care about God; they go because of routine or pressure. Agnostics can be wonderful people; I have a couple friends who are more loving than most Christians I know, but something is holding them back. Based on logic I’ll explain shortly, agnostics are scared, lazy, terrible at prioritizing, or they lack information, (said with love and hugs unlike what I’ve been accused of being). I will explain each of these four options, but it’s important to realize this because agnostics aren’t doing the work to come to a proper conclusion: There is either a God or there isn’t. If there isn’t a God – fine. If there is a God and you don’t take Him seriously – ouch. You are missing out on an important part of this life and the next because if you don’t want God in this life, He’s not going to make you be with Him in the next. As a Christian, it’s hard not to get scared for people, which is why I really hope this post comes across as a message from an intention of love and not judgement.
Agnostics are Scared: Thinking of eternity and whether there is a God can be scary, especially for those who are bad at making decisions. Other times, people have been hurt by Christians and they’re afraid of being hurt again. It makes sense that people would be afraid of committing to something that can lead to hurt, especially since some people are natural hiders. Hopefully the points below will help reduce some of the confusion and fear and make it easier to further investigate a life of faith.
Agnostics are Lazy: A major reason people are agnostic is because they either can’t be bothered putting in the work to make an informed choice as to whether there is a God or not or they don’t want to do the work it takes to be a person of faith and be accountable to a God. As a believer (or to be part of any religious group), it’s work. Having a relationship with God is a lot like a good marriage: you have to spend time with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him (aka read the Bible and wise teachers), work through conflicts, and try to see the best in Him (aka not fun). If there’s a God, it also means you’re accountable because your faith should be demonstrated through your actions. As Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:25) Yes, Christians can screw this up, but if love is patient, kind, and self controlled, that’s not easy. Being a Christian is hard, and definitely not for the lazy.
Agnostics are Terrible at Prioritizing: We live in a very busy and distracting culture. It’s easy to brush God off as something that you figure is there, but isn’t as important as the daily grind as many people struggle to survive (especially when they have kids). With all of the distractions in our culture, a lot of people just don’t make the time to assemble an informed decision, but this is foolish because faith in God can help this life be better and prepare our souls for the next. At least atheists have made a committed choice – it’s usually out of bitterness rather than logic, but they have reasons why they’re anti-God (the only reasons I’ve heard are weak, but at least they tried).
Agnostics Lack Information: One of the main problems for agnostics is they lack proper teaching, so let’s address some common issues. The number one rule to remember is that Christians are called to be a people of love, so if someone is not acting out of love, they’re not doing as they’re commanded.
- “If God is real, why doesn’t He give us a sign?” Have you seen the Bible? Have you seen a cross? What kind of a sign do you want? Do you expect God to speak to you directly? Even if He did, would you believe it or would you question it after like your mind was playing tricks on you? Besides, if you told people you were a Christian because God spoke to you directly, does that make you sound sane? Faith is believing, and you have to have faith to believe there is a God or there isn’t.
- “What if you’re wrong?” My faith has given me a better life, so I’m still good. The better question is what if Christianity is right? Check out Pascal’s Wager.
- “Aren’t all religions the same?” Is a Chrysler the same as a Mercedes? Sure, there are similarities, but there are some drastic differences, and with Christianity saying you need to Jesus to go to heaven and not just good works, you’ll want to make sure the religion you choose is right.
- “How do I know Jesus is real?” Check out my blog on non Christians who wrote about Him here.
- “Isn’t being a good person good enough?” Not in Christianity. Besides, what is a good person? If you don’t have the rules given by God, who decides what’s good or not? People? As someone who doesn’t really trust humanity, that sounds terrible.
- “I’ve met very argumentative Christians.” Being argumentative is a sign of bad communication skills and insecurity, and it’s everywhere. This isn’t a God thing; it’s a human thing. Add the fact that Christians are people who admit they need God’s help because they are sinners and you get a collection of potentially very insecure people who either just do as their told or they go into attack mode.
- “Being Christian is just doing what culture tells you to do.” Actually, since there are more agnostics than Christians in Western culture, you’re conforming by agnostic.
- “There are bad Christians” Yes there are, and there are many good ones too like Shane Claiborne and Desmond Tutu. FYI, there are also bad agnostics. If you look in a prison, it’s the ones who find Jesus who tend to have the best reforming behaviors; is that coincidence? Maybe, but it’s worth investigating.
- “Church is so boring!” When you worship God there can also some very joyful moments as seen in this music video. We’re very lucky to have different styles for different people in this age, so saying church is boring means we haven’t connected to the right place yet. That being said, connecting to a group of Christians can be very hard if you don’t know anyone, and lockdown adds a whole other element of challenge. Online church isn’t the same because half of church is being around friendly people who encourage and give us hope as we do the same for them.
- “The Bible was written by people.” Yes, it was. So is everything else you read. Anyone who says God wrote it is misinformed. Even Jesus made reference that Moses wrote the first five books. The only thing directly written by God in the Bible is the 10 Commandments.
- “Isn’t the Bible misogynistic, racist, encourages slavery, homophobic, etc.” The Bible is written by people based on cultural context and needs. It’s like how the Apostle Paul wrote about the dangers of women in church leadership because in Corinth he was trying to combat the obsession with shrine prostitution and idol worship of a female deity. In other passages, he wrote about women who were in leadership roles and Jesus ministry was actually sponsored by rich women, so women have a higher position than many realize. The real problem is the Bible is read by people who can twist what they read to justify what they want to believe. For instance, I have scriptural evidence supporting gay marriage – is that me twisting things or reading it properly? In my mind I’m reading it properly. To others, they’re reading it properly by saying gay marriage is wrong. Ultimately, this proves why it’s so important we read the Bible for ourselves and try to understand context, intended audience, and the spirit behind what was written with the foundation of knowing the two greatest commands in Christianity are to love.
- “I do yoga and meditate.” (Or “I pray to the universe.”) Yes, yoga and meditation have very good physical and emotional health benefits, but you’re still missing the important ingredient of who is God (or god). If God’s name is I AM, Father/Jesus, Allah, or Krishna, those are four very different paths. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing even higher powers prefers to be called their actual name, especially because it shows greater respect than a nickname or general term for whatever’s out there.
- “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Yes this can seem unfair, but there is no rule that if you’re “good enough,” you’ll be safe from bad things. In fact, part of life is experiencing bad things, and it’s how we deal with them that sets apart people with good character and perseverance from those who don’t. Either way, we are all bad in some way. What’s crazy is in Christianity we believe that a perfect Being, Jesus, came to Earth to suffer and die to save people. If Jesus was willing to suffer and die (and the Father sat back and watched) when He was perfect, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to question why we suffer, especially when a lot of our suffering is from our own bad choices.
- “Why is there cancer?” You could also ask: Why does humanity continue to damage the world and make things that are cancer causing? A lot of the problems we face in the world are from us abusing the earth. How can we blame God for things we do to ourselves? You could even argue how can we blame God for hurricanes that devastate cities when we build cities where they can be devastated by hurricanes? If you put your hand in a fire, it’ll get burned because it’s hot enough to cook meat. It’s foolish to put your hand in the fire and then blame God for the burn. Ultimately, we need to respect the earth more and take responsibility for our own actions.
- “Why are there so many different groups of Christians?” At one point we were all Catholic (the universal church) and then through challenges and different needs, different groups grew. For instance, many groups like the Salvation Army wasn’t intended to be a new denomination; it grew out of a movement in the 1800s when a married couple started helping alcoholics and those most in need of physical help, which they continue to do today. Each denomination had a different goal when it started, but it’s the same God with the same book with slightly different interpretations and emphasis and worship styles. The good thing about this variety is we can find a style that is more suited to our own comforts and familiarity.
- “Is it okay to question Christianity?” Questions should be encouraged. The only people who don’t like questions are insecure and afraid of looking dumb. Questions create conversation and help develop understanding.
- “What about Buddhism?” In university, I learned more about my faith as a Christian by learning about Buddhism and nonattachment. There are great teachings in all religions. Christianity just takes things further by focusing on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (For more about Jesus, check out this link) and how that brings atonement for humanity.
- “Christians used to believe the sun revolved around the world.” Yes, and it was a Christian who corrected that misunderstanding. Either way, I’m pretty sure Christians aren’t the only ones to be wrong about something.
- “I believe in science and not Christianity.” Those are not two opposite things. Christianity is very pro science and discovering all the wonderful things God has given us the potential for learning and developing.
- “Christianity has caused a lot of hurt.” Yes and what group hasn’t? People can suck, especially leaders. At the same time, ever wonder why so many schools and hospitals are named after Christians? Because health care and education as we know it are largely because of Christianity. Ever notice how most charities have Christian connections? Christians are encouraged to be charitable, which leads to them being good at starting charities. For any damage Christianity has caused (aka dumb people being dumb), it has done so much more good.
- “Why do bad people prosper?” What’s bad and good is all perspective. For instance, is it better to become rich and achieve everything your heart desires, but end up lonely and miserable or to struggle in life and develop strong character and wisdom (two things that only develop through struggle)? Besides this logic, we have to consider what Jesus said: “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Mat 19:24) Being rich may be fun, but is this life more important than eternity?
- “Why do bad people get away with being bad?” This can be frustrating, but in Christianity we can take comfort knowing “we reap what we sow,” (like karma) and that there is a Judgement Day. It’s also important to note that good and bad is either a self-made perspective thereby nullifying its universality or it’s been given to us by God. If the latter is true, you just proved there’s a God by believing in good and bad. If the former is true, than this question has no merit because there is no official good or bad.
- “Christianity is a crutch for the weak,” taunted a smug student in my philosophy class. This is an interesting thought. Jesus said he came for the sick and not the healthy, so that makes sense, but what I don’t get is would he mock someone actually using crutches or a wheelchair?: “Only weak people use a wheelchair even though it makes your life better. You should want to suffer unnecessarily.” Who’d have guessed, a smug university student could be stupid?
- “Aren’t you a Christian because your parents are?” Maybe, but you could say the same about agnostics and any belief we have. But let’s consider this: Most young people leave organized religion because Western culture encourages it. This makes sense when you consider the work it takes to be a Christian; eventually, you have to make a choice for yourself. Most go through this period between 14 and 25, which is difficult because most people that age want to live carefree and not be accountable to a higher power.
- “The Trinity doesn’t make any sense.” Yes, it’s confusing, but does that mean it’s not real? I was once told the Trinity is like water where there are three forms, water, ice, and vapour, but they are all H20. I shared this with some pastors who scolded me for liking it, but it makes sense to me, and who are they to say it’s wrong? Regardless, the Trinity is weird because Jesus was God, yet He prayed to the Father who is God in heaven and then after Jesus went to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit, which is also God – weird. As a believer, we will never have all the answers, so we need to find joy in the mystery.
- “Doesn’t being Christian make you weird?” Yes, there are weird Christians, but we don’t own the market on weird. Have you been to Comic-Con? We’re all weird in some way, and how weird we are is perspective. What’s weird to one person is normal to another.
- “I don’t believe in being religious.” Actually, we’re all religious in some way, especially since being agnostic is a “religious” title. Do you mean you don’t like rules? That can’t be completely true because rules are important. Do you mean you don’t like being judged? Christianity teaches to not judge; thus, any judgement experienced in church is by people not acting out their faith, and therefore, not a reason to hate Christianity, but to hate human nature that Christian tries to fight.
- “Christians don’t believe in evolution.” Actually, many Christians believe in theistic-evolution where God used “evolution” and maintain that the Adam and Eve story is more of a teaching lesson. I, however, believe in the Adam and Eve story because… I choose to. Many Christians would disagree with me, but in my brain how can I pick and choose which stories I believe in the Bible? Why would the authors use some real events and some made up stories? This is a particular problem when Genesis (the book the Adam and Eve story is in) is full of genealogies to give timelines and family history. In my brain, why do people believe in evolution? Because it’s in books and it was taught to them? Why do I believe in Adam and Eve? Because it’s in books and it was taught to me (plus it has 1000s of years of tradition behind it and connections to tribal stories around the world). Maybe believers and non believers aren’t so different, so we shouldn’t judge. For me, the main problem with evolution is it’s a theory that’s constantly “evolving.” For instance, did you know they now believe the T-rex had feathers and dinosaurs sounded more like birds? (Or maybe the evolution book I read it in was wrong; who knows? There’s isn’t a “Bible” for evolutionists, so there is no consistency among its followers.) Evolutionists also keep changing their mind on the brontosaurus who was once believed to have been real and then they said it wasn’t for awhile and now they’re saying it was real again. At least my belief is consistent. Either way, what I believe about creation doesn’t change whether there’s a God or not, so it’s okay to believe either side.
- “The Bible is confusing.” Yes, it can be if you don’t know the history and culture in which it was written, but it is incredible once you learn a few things. Tip, never start from the beginning as a first timer – it quickly gets overwhelming (and boring). The book of James summaries Christianity in 3 pages while Luke and Acts give a summary of the start of Christianity or if you want more intimate writing, a lot of people like the Psalms, which are lyrics. These three options are much better spots to start.
- “I don’t know where to begin,” or “It’s overwhelming with all the information I don’t know.” It’s amazing how far we can walk when you take a step and another step and another… God doesn’t expect us to have all the answers. He just wants us to care enough to get to know Him more and include Him in our daily lives like a normal parent.
- What about aliens? Why can’t Christians believe in aliens?
- What about ghosts? There is a story in the Bible of a medium bringing back a prophet from the dead to share a message, so Christians should believe in a spirit world.
- What about psychics? There is a story of a psychic in the Book of Acts who lost her power when the demon was taken out of her. If she was psychic because of a demon, maybe I should avoid seeing psychics to be safe.
- “Christians are told to give 10% to the church.” That’s not actually true; that’s a Jewish rule. What a Christian gives is between them and God, but 10% is encouraged as a guide. Giving to God shows Him appreciation and that you trust Him to provide while it promotes not being obsessed with money. This spirit of the law is to teach us not to be selfish and look to God, so I say it’s a valuable teaching for everyone even non Christians. We should be giving a portion of our income to charity in order to help others rather than just ourselves.
- “Christianity is all about rules.” Rules are meant to help and protect us. Some people take them too far, but a world without rules would be terrifying.
- “Christians are closed-minded.” Sure, but stubbornness and being pig-headed is a human thing and not something taught in Christianity. It’s actually a sign the person is insecure or a bad communicator because we should be close-minded on some level. We should have beliefs and opinions that don’t constantly change because of who we’re around. Personally, I’m closed-minded because I’m set on being Christian, but I’m open-minded to hearing other beliefs and ideas since that’s good communication skills for building friendships.
- “What about the crusades?” You mean the event that was a political agenda hidden behind religion? The truth is no matter whom is given power, bad choices will be made, but that doesn’t mean the belief system or group is bad. It just means some people suck.
- “How can I trust the Bible?” How can you trust any book? It’s a choice. Unlike other books, this one has been cherished by billions of people over thousands of years and millions have died for believing in it what it teaches.
- “If Christianity is real, why aren’t the numbers growing?” Christianity thrives in places of persecution like China. In North America where we’re spoiled and distracted, all religions struggle, but that doesn’t mean religions don’t have validity; it just means we’re too busy and have bad priorities.
I know this has been a long post, but I hope it can be a start for finding answers to whether you will believe in there being a God or not, and which God to follow because it is the most important decision we can make in our lives. This decision doesn’t just impact us now; it has an effect on our eternity.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)