A recent survey by the PEW Research Center cited by The Blaze and recently discussed on CNN showed that in 2007, 83% of people under 30 never doubted God’s existence. Now in 2012, that number has been reduced to 68%. What do I conclude from this? The first is that the church is failing. The second is that atheism is now in even more danger than it was before.
To some of you, that seems contradictory. If the church is failing, wouldn’t it mean that atheism is in a pretty good position? No. Most of us with apologetics education did not get it from the church. Some did of course, but many of us did not find such programs in the local body of believers. Many had to do their own reading, studying, and finding information.
The reality is, the way the church is failing isn’t the way most readers probably think.. The problem is not that we’re failing to produce believers. Oh, we’re still good at doing that. The problem is we’re failing to produce doubters.
Am I saying I want doubters?
Absolutely! No doubt about it! I would love the number of people who have doubted God’s existence to go all the way to 100%! Why is that? Because a sort of easy-believism has killed the church. We do not need to take an anti-intellectual position that just says we will have “faith” and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. We need to be presenting to the people in churches the arguments that they will be getting in the real world.
Pastors need to be struggling with the problem of evil. They need to let their congregations know that there are some people in the world who will tell them Jesus never even existed. They need to know that there are other faiths out there, and people often have reasons for believing in those faiths. They need to let their congregations know that doubt is not the enemy. Ignorance is. Doubt is an admission that you are not sure of something, and should be a cause to seek out the truth instead of a feeling.
I want people to struggle with God’s existence because those are the kinds of people that will come to groups like Ratio Christi and be looking for answers. I want them to come and really want those answers, and then they will find those answers. When they find those answers and go out and evangelize, those are the people who will make a difference. Those are the people who will not just produce believers, but who will also produce disciples. These will be people who are engaged with the culture and ready to face it on its own terms.
The more that happens, the more atheism will be in danger from people who are informed. In an age where many Christians are anti-intellectuals who don’t study at all, and run on simply emotion, then the atheist has no reason to fear. He can easily present himself as the champion of reason. When the atheist looks around instead and sees Christians regularly giving reasons for why they believe Jesus is who He said He was and why there is a God, then it will be more and more difficult. No longer will shallow writings of the new atheists be enough. They will have to wrestle with the arguments. No longer will atheists be able to write statements saying it could be argued that Jesus never existed. The Christians will be ready for them.
In fact, these are great times to be living in. This is a great age for apologetics and one where we can really let our light shine. Let’s not run from doubt. Let’s answer it - not with an emotional response, but with the truth. Now that truth of course could produce emotions depending on our personalities, but our hope does not lie in our emotions. It lies in the person of Jesus Christ who claimed to be the truth. The more we seek truth, the more we will come to find Him.