Even when Christians Fall Short, it’s No Excuse to Refuse Belief in Christ

I recently heard a podcast episode which features a well known, conservative commentator. In said episode, he mentions how atheists frequently engage him and detail their excuses for not assenting to Christianity. According to this commentator, the most legitimate among these excuses has to do with Christians’ lack for fervor. Their alibi goes something like this:

“If Christianity is true, Christians would more zealously act in accordance to their faith. Since they don’t, it means that Christianity mustn’t be true. Therefore, I cannot believe.”


Examining the excuse objectively, the pretext is far from legitimate – it’s a feeble cover for their lack of belief. Consider that atheists whom employ this excuse are placing the onus of provability on the behavior of Christians instead of the evidence and historicity of the faith itself. Think upon it: the truth of the faith is the truth of the faith no matter how those who say they’re Christians behave. That behavior in no way diminishes the veracity of Christianity.

 
Granted, when a self-denominated believer does not attempt to live up to Gospel standards, said hypocrisy can and will leave a bad impression on others whom aren’t of the faith. (Romans 2:23-24) Nevertheless, it’s still not an excuse to refuse belief, considering that the Bible, the standard for faith and practice, demonstrates what pure Christianity is in contrast to that which isn’t.

 
It is also important to note that when atheists use this justification for non-belief, it is an implicit generalization that slanders Christians who do live according to the Biblical standard. To claim that all believers are hypocrites is outrageous, false and reeks of duplicity itself.

 
I encourage Christians who are sincerely attempting to please the Lord through faithful practice to rebuff excuses like the one covered here. Let it not be that in refusing to show non-believers the absurdity of their justifications, they delude themselves into thinking that they are correct in their refusal to approach God’s Word and His glorious Gospel.

4 thoughts on “Even when Christians Fall Short, it’s No Excuse to Refuse Belief in Christ

  1. Hi, Mr. Cristo. Interesting blog.

    As a nonbeliever, I agree that the truth or falsity of Christianity can only be ascertained by means of the evidence and arguments. Any atheist who rejected Christianity on the basis of how Christians act would be committing a serious logical error.

    That said, I’ve never actually met an atheist who said that they rejected Christianity on the basis of how Christians act. If there are any atheists who base their atheism on how Christians act, I suspect they are not among the more thoughtful and informed advocates of atheism.

    I hope that in the future, you will engage with the powerful and persuasive cases for atheism made by professional philosophers like J. L. Mackie and Michael Martin, rather than criticizing thoughtless comments allegedly made by unnamed laymen.

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    1. Thank you for reading and for your comment.

      Firstly, you imply that I am unfair in my criticism of atheism and atheists by declaring that I mischaracterize atheists. You do so by stating that I am “criticizing thoughtless comments allegedly made by unnamed laymen”. Allegedly? Unnamed? No, sir. Not allegedly nor unnamed. I am not the only person who has heard non-believers claim that one of their chief reasons for unbelief is because of the supposed hypocrisy that characterizes Christians. The Internet is replete with articles, videos and infantile memes from atheists who assert said idea.

      Secondly, your defense of atheism in this instance is predicated on two notions: 1) lay atheists are not the prime example of substantive atheism and 2) you’ve presumed I’ve not fielded the arguments postulated by non-believers who present their ideas in a more intellectual fashion. Hence, my rebuttal of atheism in this article is trivial and proof that I am needing more substantive schooling on the matter, otherwise, I wouldn’t rebut atheism. Both assertions are categorically and empirically incorrect.

      I’ll use just one of your examples of supposed thoughtful atheism to make my point for the sake of brevity. J.L. Mackie couldn’t empirically prove that ethics are an “invention” and neither could he prove that objective morality is a human concoction. In fact, he contradicts himself in what many would call his seminal book by claiming that there are ways to curb selfishness. If there is no such thing as objective morality, how could he advise the reader on how to reduce selfishness in the world, so as to make it more tolerable, if he doesn’t subtly admit that selfishness is inherently wrong? Also, don’t you find it reprehensible that Mackie calls for the annihilation of “defective” newborns? Isn’t he making an absolute value judgment? Lastly, Mackie himself promoted Dawkins’ “Selfish Gene” to others. This fact alone proves that the thread that ties “lay” atheists to more “thoughtful” atheists is an uninterrupted chain – severely defective, but uninterrupted.

      In the end, my belief in Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible and the truth of Scripture is predicated on incontrovertible proof, both internal and external – proof that I am ready and willing to defend and confirm at any time.

      In conclusion, to implicitly characterize this writing as a reductionist mischaracterization of atheism is disingenuous and egregious at the same time.

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  2. As an advocate of objective morality, I agree that Mackie is assuming the existence of objective moral values when he commends certain actions to other people. Moral nihilism is absurd, and its proponents have to contradict their stated convictions just to get out of bed in the morning.

    However, it is strange that you choose Mackie’s writings on ethics as an example of thoughtful atheism, since moral nihilism is irrelevant to atheism. An atheist can hold any position on the nature of morality that does not invoke the existence of God (in my case, ethical egoism). When I mentioned Mackie, I had in mind *The Miracle of Theism*, not *Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong*.

    You mention that Mackie cited *The Selfish Gene* as evidence of a connection between thoughtful atheism and lay atheism, but *The Selfish Gene* is not primarily a work of philosophy, nor is it particularly relevant to atheism. A Christian can accept the theory of evolution, and many do. In addition, nonbelief was perfectly tenable before Darwin (Hume is an example), so it is not dependent on evolution for its cogency.

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    1. By agreeing with my description of Mackie’s ideas, you implicitly admit that the foundation for his beliefs are contradictory, reprobate and therefore absurd, contrary to your claim of his being an example of a “thoughtful”, “persuasive” atheist intellectual. Why then give him the benefit of the doubt as it pertains to “The Miracle of Theism” if everything that is written within “Ethics” is part and parcel of his non-belief? Both works, along with others he wrote on the subject of belief/non-belief, are to be taken as an expository whole on his views within atheism. With all due respect, you cannot selectively parse through his writings on the matter and choose which is relevant or not. Mackie’s views on ethics undoubtedly sprouted from his non-belief. The fact that he held to moral relativism, which is the only position consistent with atheism, proves this. This is evidenced by the fact that atheists have no foundation from where to define morality apart from God. Mackie is a perfect example of this because he failed to prove that ethics are a human invention, mainly due to the fact that said evidence for such a position doesn’t exist.

      “The Selfish Gene” does contain traces of philosophy when, for example, Dawkins claims that morality was somehow and inexplicably instilled within nature and humanity by Darwinian evolution. It is part of the reason Mackie endorsed the book and was inspired to write “The Miracle of Theism”. You cannot arbitrarily discount “The Selfish Gene” as not being particularly relevant to atheism when Dawkins wrote the book with the explicit intention of counteracting the Biblical narrative of Creation, and Christianity more specifically, with a secular explanation for all natural phenomenon. Therefore, there is a connection, contrary to your assertion that there isn’t between “intellectual” and “layman” atheism. And no, a Christian cannot be consistent if he accepts evolution, because it runs contrary to what Christ Himself, the founder of Christianity, endorsed in Matthew 19:4 – namely the Genesis narrative of Creation. Just because some self-denominated Christians embrace theistic evolution doesn’t make their position on the matter correct. Numbers of subscribers or the popularity of the subscribers to an idea plays no role in the rightness or wrongness of said belief, only God-revealed morality. The same principle applies to Hume, Voltaire, Descartes, Locke (before assenting to Christ), Paine, etc.

      Lastly, do you sense no contradiction in your asserted belief, “ethical egoism”? That’s an oxymoron!

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