Roots of Unbelief #01 – Bias

I want to start a new series of Apologetics (a legal defense of the claims and truths of the Bible) that answers a different sort of questions. Instead of answering questions about the Bible and about Christianity, I want to actually address the “reason” for the questions. If there is no question in the first place then we won’t have to go about finding the answers. Now that might seem rather suspicious and lazy of me, but these days, I get tired of answering the same questions over and over. Questions like:

  • Why does God allow suffering?
  • How can God be three beings and one at the same time (doctrine of the Trinity)?
  • How do we know Jesus was real?
  •  

    The last one is a bit harder to answer (takes more time really) but I think that in an age where intelligence and knowledge is growing, so too does the technique of Apologetics. Everyone is getting smarter and smarter, and more witty, so even though the answers to the questions don’t change (the answers never change), the questions are always changing and the old answers no longer satisfy those who ask them.

     

    So what I think would be a fair direction to take is that Apologetics takes a more “offensive” stance, despite what it’s definition is (Apologetics by definition adopts a “defensive” stance). But the problem with Apologetics the way that it was, is that we as Theologians (those who study the Bible) are stuck in a position where people are always intellectually attacking us, and we’re forced to give an answer to defend the truth of the Bible. It’s like we’re always on the losing side; by default, a lot of people start any debate off by assuming that the Bible is false, and it is up to us to “prove” that it is true. For those people who ask for a “fair” discussion whereby both parties are on equal grounds, this is not equal grounds. Putting us on the defense already isn’t fair and so up to now, no debate between Christians and non-Christians have been “fair”.

     

    So then you ask the question: “Well what indeed is “fair” ground to discuss upon?” And sure enough, the opposite isn’t fair either, or is it? Suppose instead we adopt the opposite view, that the Bible is true, and it is up to the non-Christian to prove that it is false. This makes our lives much easier and puts the other party at a disadvantage; this also isn’t fair. But let’s consider where we’re at. Non-Christians ask us a question and we need to give an answer. But even if we give them an answer, will that then be the one answer that let’s them decide to be a Christian? Does answering the question even make them more inclined to be a Christian? Because if the answer to either question is “No” then answering their questions doesn’t help us make any progress in convincing them of what we believe to be the truth. So why should we waste time answering questions when the answers don’t even mean anything to non-Christians? Even we have things to do in our lives, and it would be better spent than by giving useless answers to useless questions.

     

    I believe the whole reason behind why we’re facing this “stalemate” in theological discussions and debates is that those who ask the questions are simply “biased” against Christianity; they simply choose not to believe and continue to choose not to believe even though we answer their questions. I hope I can challenge any non-Christians reading this with this question:

    “Will answering your question convince you that Christianity is more likely to be right than wrong?”

    Because I believe many non-Christians (Atheists, mostly) already start with the presumption that Christianity is false; and so if they continue with that presumption, then answering their question will not budge their view at all; what good is it to them, and to us? After all, they don’t need to be reassured that Christianity is a crazy thing to believe in, because they already believe that.

     

    I certainly believe the above to be the case because over my years at university I have talked to people who have never heard about Christianity, or who know nothing about Christianity; some of them don’t have a single view or opinion about Christianity. And so when they ask us what it is, and we tell them what the Bible teaches, they don’t go: “Oh, that sounds like hogwash, how can you prove to me that what you claim is true?” No, instead they go: “Tell me more.” I want to make it clear that at this point, they haven’t believed and decided that it is the truth; but at the least they are not treating Christianity as a lie, and this I believe is where the middle ground is that makes a theological discussion fair. If you don’t make an assumption about whether our claims are true or false, then hopefully everyone will see that the natural response to us telling them about the Bible is that they want to analyze more information about the Bible and about Christianity, before making a decision about whether to accept it as truth, or reject it as a lie.

     

    The above sentence seemed long, so I’ll try to paraphrase. Basically, I hope the pattern for discussion follows something like this:

    1. The conversation moves into discussion about Christianity and the Bible.
    2. We tell the non-Christian something that the Bible teaches, and about what Christianity is.
    3. The non-Christian gives a small opinion about what they’ve been told (like or dislike, agree or disagree), but does not immediately conclude whether Christianity is true or not.
    4. Repeat steps 1-3 many times – this may take up a long period of time.
    5. Finally, once the non-Christian has enough “facts” about what Christianity is about, they make a decision as to whether they agree with these views or not.

     

    But in order for this to work, we need to remove the bias that many non-Christians have. Sadly, there are many logical reasons for why people are biased against Christianity, and this is what makes our job hard. Some people have preconceived ideas about Christianity from the media, from history, and from other people that makes them think: “Oh, that’s all there is to Christianity.” And they immediately make the conclusion at this point that Christianity is false and unreasonable. And so this idea gives rise to a concept of there being “roots” behind “unbelief”. Hopefully, in future posts I will be able to address topics that answer the reason why people refuse to believe in Christianity. Don’t get the wrong idea; these posts aren’t meant to convince people to be Christian, but rather that they will be encouraged to pursue knowledge about Christianity and the Bible and then make an intellectual conclusion about it, rather than basing conclusions on silly preconceptions. I call them “silly” because preconceptions that don’t come from Christian sources are not intellectual (and this includes the media) for they probably do not know what Christianity is about and what the Bible teaches.

     

    You wouldn’t want a uni lecturer who doesn’t know anything about the subject to teach it to you, so why wouldn’t you expect the same for Christianity?

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