Is Faith in Jesus Just a Crutch for Weak People?
Redeemer Care Group 12-03-2008
Did man invent religion in order to explain the mysteries of the physical universe which he could not yet understand and to bring comfort in the face of the many pointless tragedies of life? Is Christianity just a highly evolved crutch that has its roots in man’s primal fears? Does faith just make people feel better about their life situations?
These are some of the questions we will examine tonight in our Redeemer Care Group as we continue our study in RC Sproul’s book, Reason to Believe, Wednesday, December 3, 2008.
Has anyone ever been confronted by an unbeliever with these kinds of statements? Has anyone ever challenged your faith in Jesus by stating it was just a crutch? Or how about, “I don’t feel the need for religion?” Does what you feel subjectively alter what is reality? Many people believe that the realm of religion is totally subjective and absent any historically verifiable facts. Karl Marx, in his 1843 book, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, he wrote, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Is there in any way a sense that this statement could be right? Can religion be used by a powerful elite to keep the masses docile? Do people ever tend to use Jesus for their own ends in history or in the present?
One of the things that perplexes atheists is why religion is still around in the age of reason and science. So they seek ways to explain it away.
I. Religion Was Invented To Explain and Tame the Natural World
Sigmund Freud http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud believed that man, when confronted by the forces of nature, sought to explain them by personalizing them, attributing human qualities to them but in a super way so that gods were invented. To persuade the storm to abate you try to appease the god of the storm with sacrifices. Monotheism is just a more highly evolved religion and Christianity may be the most highly evolved form of monotheism.
II. Religion Was Invented By the Rich and Powerful to help Control the Masses
The infamous Karl Marx looks at history and religion in economic terms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx
He believed that the rich and powerful created religion to control the people. The ruling classes are a tiny minority yet they accumulate most of the wealth. How can the masses of people sit by and allow that to happen? They are infected with religion. Religion emphasizes obedience, a good work ethic, a servant’s heart, meekness, etc. What does the average worker get in this bargain? A promise of pie in the sky by and by. It lends spiritual dignity to the poor and downtrodden, making them feel better about their plight.
Certainly some religions have been used by powerful people in the past, or even today, to control people. And of course many people do come to religion out of some sense of emotional or physical need.
But just like there are some powerful reasons to make up religion, there are also powerful reasons to make up atheism and reject the God who is there and who is not silent. In the Catholic priest scandals of the 1990’s it came out that thousands of boys were molested by homosexual priests. As they grew up, many of these victims turned against God and the church and became atheists. In my own experience I have seen many people hurt and damaged by unchristian behavior in the churches that they have dropped out and have become practical atheists. Disillusionment is a frequent reason for becoming an atheist.
The atheist may have some serious guilt issues from real sins and crimes. It becomes psychologically helpful to tell yourself there is no God and no right or wrong, therefore you are really OK and whatever you did back then is justified. The atheist likely had a terrible relationship with his/her father and hate all male authority figures, including God. A person who is a hedonist, selfish and narcissistic may do away with God so as to indulge all his perversions, whims, sins and fancies.
III. If There Is No God Why Is There Religion?
The various theories of how religion came to be offer no proof or falsification of theism, says Sproul (p.64) He continues, “If indeed there is no God then their theories of the origin of religion are plausible. But first it must be established that in fact there is no God. That man has the ability to invent religion is obvious. That he in fact did invent religion is not so obvious.” There is a difference between showing man has the means and motive to invent religion, and showing evidence that he in fact did so. We can show that man invented some religions, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, but Christianity and Judaism are rooted in history. There is corroborative evidence.
Do you agree with Sproul’s statement on p.65 “It is both theoretically possible that there be a God with no one believing in Him and that there is no God while everyone believes He exists. The truth of reality is not determined by counting noses.” When I was a kid there was an evangelist in Oklahoma who came up with a bumper sticker, “God Said, I believe It, That Settles It!” In truth, however, it is settled whether I believe it or not!
Read Romans 1:18ff and you will see how man the atheist suppresses the truth about God. In our deepest memory we know there is a God, yet as hardened sinners, we hate Him and suppress that memory. We then manufacture gods in our own likeness and image; gods who will do what we desire.
IV. Why Are We Afraid of God?
What is about God that terrifies us? His holiness, sovereignty (current controversy in the SBC) omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotent, immutability. Look at Isaiah 6:1-5 for his holiness. Mark 4:36ff. Luke 5:8. Would man actually invent a God like is in the Bible?
Why were Adam and Eve ashamed of being naked after the sin? Jean Paul Sartre has written about God constantly looking at us, watching us.
These are my notes from RC Sproul’s book, Reason to Believe, that we are using in our care group. I have only quoted him directly a few times, but this is his outline. I have changed a few things here and there.