Throughout history, Christianity has failed to be what many Christians have hoped it would be. It has failed because people have done foolish and dangerous things in the name of religion. Christianity has become, at times, dangerous, destructive, and stupid. It has been rooted in fables, superstitions, and nonsense. It was responsible for crusades and the holocaust.
Faith, because it cannot be justified or proven, can become anything a person wants it to be—for better or for worse. This is exactly the argument that Richard Dawkins makes in his book, The God Delusion:
What is really pernicious is the practice of teaching children that faith itself is a virtue. Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them—given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by—to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads and crusades.
What intelligent people agree on is that religion can become one of the most dangerous forces in the universe. This is because faith does not need justification or backing. Dawkins believes this makes faith a vice. I believe faith is still a virtue, and here’s why:
Religion can be dangerous because it cannot be justified. Atheism can be dangerous because behavior cannot be justified. Human behavior can be dangerous because we can convince ourselves to do things based on any number of justifications. “He hit me first!” “She didn’t love.” “I wasn’t feeling well.” “It was the only option I had.”
Atheism seems to suggest it has an answer to this predicament. Yet, Dawkins, who was sexually abused as a child, has no theological anthropology to deal with the effects of sin on a person’s life. This is why he said in one of his books regarding his childhood abuser: “I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage.” This statement is based on the assumptions we make about what it means to be human. If there is no soul, there is nothing to wound. If science is our ultimate, then time is relative and memories, irrelevant. Anyone can do anything based on any number of justifications.
Religion is dangerous for the same reason anything is dangerous. There is no absolute way to justify scientifically what we experience. In other words, religion is dangerous because living is dangerous.
To make religion less dangerous, scholars have tried to make it more logical. To make it less foolish, scholars have tried to make it less about believing. Some of this has been to the church’s benefit. The problem is that now we have fallen too far on the other side to the point of unbelief.
Scholars wonder how they can encourage revival and renewal within this system of unbelieving. The answer is simple: they cannot. If miracles do not exist, then the impossible is not possible.
What is needed then is a belief in miracles coupled with the miraculous story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that brings about forgiveness and healing. Do I have any evidence other than personal experience? No. Does this make me foolish and even dangerous to society? If I am unwilling to learn from history: then probably, yes. Can I, at anytime, choose to forsake my religion and become a less dangerous and less foolish person? Yes. And in fact, this is what I would recommend for many professing-theists today.
What the church needs, more than renewal, is an exit strategy for those who no longer believe in a personal God, but have no job experience outside the church.