Friday, 2 March 2007

Am I an Atheist?

There are several web sites that give you the opportunity of taking a quiz to find out if you are an atheist. They have questions along the lines of, "Do you believe in Christ?", "Do you believe in Krishna?", "Do you believe in Allah?", etc. Of course, if you are a religious person, you will probably answer "Yes" to one ore more of these, and "No" to several others. "Ah ha!", the site says when you've finished, "You're 83% [or whatever] an atheist!"

A similar argument was made to me recently during a discussion about the Bible over at ID in the UK: "An atheist only disbelieves in the sacred books of one more (out of many) religions than you do. How is his disbelief more unreasonable than yours?"

The falsity of this approach can be demonstrated with a simple story.

Suppose you had a terrible illness. 10 doctors come to you—each with a medicine that they claim will heal you. You investigate thoroughly and come to realise that 9 of them are charlatans. In fact, you discover that—far from doing you good—their medicine would kill you.

The other one is clearly a man of integrity; he is able to show you evidence that he has several medical degrees; he is able to point to a lifetime studying the disease you have and helping people with it; and he can produce many testimonies from people who have taken his medicine—all of whom claim that it has done them good. In fact, you interview a few of these and find that they back the doctor up. They are enthusiastic about his cure. So you take the medicine and immediately start to feel its beneficial effects.

Now suppose someone comes to you with a questionnaire. "Do you think medicine 1 is effective?", "Do you think medicine 2 is effective?", etc. Of course, you will answer "No" to 9 of these. "Ah ha!", they proclaim, "You are 90% against medicine". No, all you are saying is that you are 100% against false medicine.

In the same way, when I answer one of these quizzes, I am not saying I'm 90% against religion, I'm saying I'm 100% against false man-made religions that don't stand up to careful scrutiny and are, in the end, worthless.

But here is Jesus Christ. He is someone even his enemies could find no fault with. He has demonstrated—by his life, by his words, by the miracles he did and, especially, by his resurrection—that he is the Son of God. His teaching is helpful and loving. More than that, there are many people who can testify that faith in him has transformed their lives. He is able to take the worst sinners and make them fit for heaven.

So don't be taken in by these false arguments. Weigh up the considerable claims of Christ for yourself. By all means throw out the hogwash associated with man-made religions, but don't reject Christ in the same breath.