Recently I have been reading several books that seek to “deconstruct” Christianity. I am reading these books in order to understand first hand why some people are so anti-god. I have noticed a number of similarities in these books. They are all written by people who had a connection with some type of highly formal church during their childhood but dropped out of church in their early adult life. They dropped out because that highly structured and often overly ritualistic church experience did not meet their spiritual needs. They falsely believe that their church experience is the norm for all churches and therefore conclude that no church can meet the spiritual needs of modern people. There are hundreds of millions of Christians around the world from a variety of religious backgrounds that would testify to the wrongness of that idea.
Another similarity is that they tend to find extreme examples of religious abuse and then try to make the case that the extreme is actually the norm. For example, most of them will refer to violence that has happened somewhere in the world due to religious extremism. They then wrongly conclude that all religious people are prone to violence. This could not be farther from the truth. This simply ignores the reality that the vast majority of the followers of all religions are non-violent. While there will always be some crazy person somewhere who uses religion, or money, or politics, or education, or legal technicalities to force their will on others, it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the quest for power.
Another similarity is that they omit any discussion of the weaknesses of non-religious people. As mentioned above, they will discuss in great detail the violence of a handful of religious extremists but fail to mention the violence of atheist governments such as China, Cuba or the former Soviet Union. These nations did terrible things to their own people in the name of atheism. And they were not led by a handful of extremists; they were led by large numbers of officials that enacted policies for the entire nation. Yet, somehow this fact escapes the notice of those who want to portray only religious people in a negative light.
But perhaps the saddest similarity I found in these books is their false assumption that their ideas are “logical” while religious ideas are “illogical.” The train of thought these anti-religious people create usually goes something like this:
1. There is evil in the world.
2. If God is real I feel that He would stop evil.
3. Since God has not stopped evil I feel that He either must not exist or if He does exist I feel He is not worthy to be followed.
4. Since I feel this way, everyone else should feel this way too.
5. If you don’t feel this way, you must be ignorant.
There are obvious variations on that flow of logic, but the basic ideas are the essentially the same. Anti-religious people say this is a logical conclusion based on reasoning and facts. But if you look at the flow of ideas carefully, it is not based on logic, but on feelings. They feel a certain way about God. They feel a certain way about people who believe in God. They think their feelings are “right” and everyone else’s feelings are “wrong.” But the whole argument is based on feelings. Feelings are not the same thing as logic, no matter who has them. In a pluralistic society, anti-religious people have the right to feel however they want to. But they do not have the right for force their feelings on other people under the guise of a thinly masked “logical” argument.
As I read through these books I have a great sense of sadness in my spirit for anti-religious people. Their books are filled with anger, frustration, misunderstanding and sometimes even depressing conclusions that would lead a person to despondency and despair. I am thankful that I have found a faith that satisfies me. I pray that those who have embarked on this journey toward emptiness will have a change of heart and discover the joy that faith brings to life.