The Real Reason Christians Believe

spirit_in_heartChristians may offer many different sorts of arguments for why they believe in Christianity but usually they are often just fart-logic (see definition here).   You see, the actual reason they know Christianity is true is because that of what that quite little voice in their heart tells them.

A leading Evangelical theologian, William Lane Craig, confirms exactly that:

“The fundamental way in which we know that our faith is true is through the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit.  That is to say, God himself, in personal relationship with us, bears witness to us that we are Children of God and we are rightly related to him and that Christianity is therefore true.”
— William Lane Craig

See the video of Craig at “Common Sense Atheism” where Luke explains this better than I do (as always).  Remember, all the reasons Christians give for WHY they believe are usually just fart-logic in that as soon as you shoot down whatever reason they give, they desert that explanation and run to yet another.  And even if you shoot down all these fart-logic arguments, they still believe.  That is because the real reason they believe has nothing to do with the reasons they state.  Their stated beliefs are mere post hoc justifications for usually very simple reasons.

All religions base their faith on the feeling they get inside, so Christianity is no different that all the rest.  Further, Craig used the phrase  “Personal Relationship” which is used extensively by evangelicals.   I have written already on how this phrase is totally manipulated and misused by Christians.

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Filed under Critical Thinking, Philosophy & Religion

11 responses to “The Real Reason Christians Believe

  1. steveliscum

    From a believer in Christ, you are quite right in saying it’s the feeling insides (Holy Spirit) that makes us believe. But don’t we all want to believe in something greater & better than ourselves. I’d like to think that there is something out there that is better, more righteous, & more lovely than myself. I like the article; it makes one think & challenges people to search why they believe what they really believe in.

  2. The problem is, theists, and I’m not limiting this just to Christians, don’t believe logically, but emotionally. They *WANT* it to be true, therefore they demand that it is true. It’s very close to a child’s imaginary friend, they have an emotional need for someone to talk to and think cares about them so they make someone up and all the logical arguments in the world won’t dissuade them from believing they’re real because it wasn’t logical arguments that caused the belief in the first place.

    For the rest of us though, who actually care if what we believe is factually correct, all we can do is look at these sad, overly-emotional individuals and shake our heads. These are people who value an emotional fantasyland rather than living in the real world, as it is, not as they wish it might be.

  3. This is reductionist Dawkins-esque BS. As is the comment by Cephus. Shockingly ahistorical and American-o-centric. I’m glad, however, you feel better about yourselves by saying it.

  4. @ Cephus,
    Most likely the emotional maturity of theists vs. atheists may be hard to measure but I wager to say there is a negligible difference and I, personally, am not sure which way it would go. I agree that theists seem to turn off rationality for several items, but once they have their presuppositions they can be brilliantly logical after that. You are, for instance, going to say that Thomas Aquinas was an emotion-babbling fool, I hope. Sure their are emotional Christians, but you seemed to have just shown us a very emotional Atheist.

    @ Simon
    “BS”, “reductionist”, “Dawkins-esque” — devastating name-calling. (smile) I think if you look at the demographics for religions in general, and Christianity in particular, you will find that most accept the religion of their up-bringing. Once they belong, they are taught why they chose — they then put that forward as “why” but the reason is simple — because it feels right and it feels right because it was how I was raised. That, is certainly most believers !
    Other join for spouse or to get morals for their kids.
    Some join for help in life — but note, they choose from the choices they were raised around.
    The rest amounts to , what? , 10%?
    To get your perspective, analyze Hinduism or Islam. Don’t analyze your own faith.

  5. Sabio, your last point makes more sense to me than the post. The post reduces religious belief to this little ‘personal relationship’, ‘fuzzy feeling’ thing, and that is nonsense where many are concerned. It is a *part* of *some* people’s reason for belief, that’s all. Not to be patronising (I don’t mean it like that), but I’m surprised you wrote it like that.

    Your comment above, however, is fair. Much contemporary philosophy has recognised this social conditioning stuff for ages, as has recent Christian thought (e.g. presuppositional apologetic school). The reasons people give (or make up) for what they believe often *follow* decisions they have already made pre-rationally. That goes for theists and atheists, and everything in between.

    Thank you for your response to Cephus. I couldn’t have put it better myself. That’s the Sabio I’m used to (seriously). I apologise for the name-calling. I was irritated at the post and Cephus’ emotional claims to irresistible rationality.

  6. Simon,
    So here is what I mean.
    A believer (make it any faith you wish) may give reasons A,B,C,D,E … for their faith, but since , as you agree, the main reason for their choosing their faith is the “social conditioning stuff”(SCS). And the believer is usually not in touch with their SCS except that if they go against it, they get an unpleasant feeling that they have a hard time describing. And when they follow the SCS, they get that nice warm fuzzy feeling.
    So, said believer argues her post-hoc acquired “A”, but it is countered, she feels that uncomfortable feeling and runs to “B” and on we go. For said believer does not know why they really believe and their own reasons betray them.
    Craig just called SCS “God’s Holy Spirit” in my book.
    Remember, I don’t believe in spooks so I have to come up with some explanation for his feelings.
    Granted, most Christians are committed to apologetics and are not worried about arguments. And many feel that discipleship and mission are much more important than arguing theology. I get that and admire much of that.

  7. Sabio, I’m trying to think of this as you suggested, re. someone of another faith. I have a couple points.
    -1. I think Christianity in its early mode was much more about social disembedding than it is now in the USA. It required a more radical decision, embodied in more radical acts, than it does for people who are ‘brought up Christian’ today. It was maybe closer to a subversion of the SCS (which, as this suggests, I don’t see as fully determinative). I think that gets more at the heart of what the gospel is, as a subversive influence in society (that is, subversive to forces of evil, often embedded in social structures, and even family structures), and that will look different generation to generation. Those brought up Christian need to find a way to, I guess, detach themselves (?) from their SCS as far as might be possible and appreciate this subversive element… (see point 3 too)

    -2. …By detached, I do not mean, as might be implied, that I’m after some kind of super-rational objectivity, from which individuals can make “truly” rational judgements about the world based on “science” or something. Such detachment is mythic. Rather (and this is where I speak as a Christian), it is through reason (yes), but also emotion and intuition that I think the truth of the gospel becomes evident to people. This is not reducible to the kind of pure subjectivity your man Craig suggested above (his point has some truth, but is way way way short of the whole story, and horribly naive), but nor is it pure objectivity. I’m speaking of a fusion of faith and reason, I guess – trying to get the two to work together.

    -3. You should note also that in Europe, it is as much the case that the default SCS position is now atheist / materialist, as it is Christian or otherwise religious. There were e.g. two Christians in my school year group of 200 students, and a higher number of dogmatic atheists; interestingly, most of these didn’t really know why they were inclined towards materialist views of the world, they just assumed it was ‘how things were’ under the usual mantra that atheists were clever and scientific and theists stupid and superstitious (you know, like Cephus above), which they had picked up from their parents. When me or someone else challenged them on this, they did the same ‘A,B,C,D,E’ thing you mention above. These ‘cultural atheists’, as much as ‘cultural Christians’, need to think more deeply about their beliefs and try and develop a greater self-understanding. I think this is a little of what it means to work out one’s faith with fear and trembling [Phil. 2:12] (…whatever that faith is, and including in this instance atheist faith).

  8. While it is true that our belief in Christ is more than ascribing to intellectual facts, it isn’t in absence of intellectual facts. What I mean is while there is an experience with Christ that is a reality in our lives, we hold to the logic of Christ, not as a defense, but as a reality.

    For it is very important to us not to believe in something because we want to, or it makes us feel better to believe it, or because we grew up being taught to be believe it, or any other reason than because it is true and real and we have experienced it’s reality.

    Now of course you will encounter Christians who are ill equipped to articulate the intellectual rigors of their belief. One of the great things about Christianity is that it is just as relevant for the greatest scholar as for the common janitor. One doesn’t need to have a degree in philosophy to know the Lord.

    I would assume there are atheists who can intellectually articulate the philosophical grounds for their atheism and there are others that just simply are atheists and cannot fair well in a philosophical discussion about it.

    I do not understand why atheists look down on the experiential aspects of Christianity. It is not merely euphoric, but tangible and real. Just like really knowing your husband or wife loves you without having a litany of intellectual evidence to prove the point. Feeling God can also be as real as feeling a kiss or a hug from a lover. One can feel God’s presence in a tangible way that is not rooted deep in the person but something more akin to feeling a a soft jolt of electricity flow through your body. It’s still subjective, but oh so real.

    Then their are the experiential miracles, which are not subjective but objective. One sees a leg grow out, or receives restoration of sight. A man born deaf hears again. These are objective evidences of the truth of Jesus, but are still experiential.

    Next you have the intellectual which is the realm most apologist stay in to explain the logic of Christianity. This is not separate from the experiential, but atheists usually take us more seriously when we keep the discussion in this realm. The disagreement remains, but its usually a comfortable area of discussion to keep it in the intellectual realm.

    But the intellectual grounds are a part of the whole and a part that is consistent with the whole and is important. It all meshes together to make a whole that is very resolute in faith in God for the intellectual logic merges with the experiential and both point to Him who is Christ.

  9. Renee


    Let me challenge you a little bit. First off most of the atheists I have been in contact with (ok, only two) have never looked down upon Christians. They are very respectable and kind when approaching people of faith of any kind. So I would discount the sentence that you wrote about atheists looking down upon Christians. Second, and the next thread you go into is that God is a feeling. Defining God as a feeling is not a good definition of God, because many faiths including Satanists have feelings and objects of movement and miracles. If you base your faith upon miracles and feelings than I would discount that statement as well. So if I use your dialog and am a Satantist than I as well could state the exact same things you are stating. My experiences and logic point to thing I worship.

    So here is the challenge, please forgive me if I am diverging (it’s a new profession I am trying to obtain-smile). If you really get to know an atheist just like you get to know your friends I think you would be surprised to see what you find. But, I understand yoking is a hard concept to understand as well and blogging is a great way to stay unequally yoked. Good luck.

  10. Renee,
    First off most of the atheists I have been in contact with (ok, only two) have never looked down upon Christians

    Read the comment by Cephus above. Also read anything by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris (collectively, with others, the ‘New Atheists’). They are scathing of any kind of religious belief. While I don’t think there is any ‘rule’ here, there is a certain stream of rationalist, scientist atheism which is utterly dismissive of religious belief as infantile, childish nonsense; the domain of the ignorant, uneducated and superstitious. Sabio doesn’t fit into that stream, and I’m sure you’re right that many other atheists do not either, but there are many who do. I have met many of both sorts.

  11. @ Renee,

    Hi. Actually if you reread my post, I said I don’t know why atheists look down on the experiential aspects of Christianity. I said nothing of looking down on Christians.

    Also I was not saying God is a feeling. But God can be felt. I can feel the Presence of God. You are correct that other faiths experience emotive feelings as well as tangibly experiencing something with the one or more of the 5 senses. I don’t deny these experiences happen.

    As a Christian I believe a real supernatural world exists and people are experiencing that world even if they are not Christians.

    Lastly, I have been getting to know atheists for a couple years now and I do seek to know them not as philosophical adversaries, but as friends. Some atheists are extremely opposed to anyone who believes in the supernatural, but many Christians are opposed to anyone who doesn’t believe in God. I think Christians bear the higher burden to love and befriend those who don’t think like us than an atheists does. So I don’t blame any atheists for their feelings about Christians or theists. It doesn’t really bother me.

    I just want the same thing they do, and that is to get past our selves to the truth claims and see what measures up against the real world as being true. And if at the end of the day, week, or month we don’t agree, I think we can agree that we enjoyed having a rigorous conversation that stretched our thinking.

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