“I Believe In God Because I Want Hope”April 22, 2010
I have heard many agnostics and atheists claim that the only reason that theists (or in my case a Christian) only believes in a “higher power” (God) is because this somehow gives them hope amidst despair. I’m emphasizing the part where they say this is the “only” reason one believes in God. In other words, people believe in God because it helps them have meaning in their life or helps them face their fears of death. Supposedly, the atheist is so autonomous and courageous because they choose to live life and face death apart from the idea of “god” to comfort them. They should get gold stars pinned on their shoulders for such astounding bravery. Sarcasm aside, even people on this very blog have argued that point with me. It’s something that is said quite often.
I remember when I was doing a mission trip in Taiwan. This was back in 2001 and I was there with a group for 1 month sharing the gospel with youth. We put on 3 summer camps for elementary school kids, each a week long, and shared the redeeming truths of Jesus Christ with them. I remember having a conversation with one Taiwanese girl named Jenny (English name). She was actually in her early 20’s and was there to help us with the camp even though she wasn’t a Christian. She was agnostic, like most Chinese and Taiwanese. She told me this very same thing. She said believing in God is for weak people. It’s for people who need a crutch in life. It’s for people who need to believe that this isn’t all there is.
I have recently been thinking about this and have realized how silly this statement is. Scripture even recognizes the silliness of this. 1 Cor 15:16-19 says “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
Think about it. If people are really only believing in Christ because they want to feel better about themselves then this is the dumbest reason imaginable to believe in something! Arbitrarily believing in something shouldn’t produce firm hope within someone. Otherwise, if they’re wrong their hope is like a person entering into an alligator pit thinking it’s their home.
People should only have hope in Christ because they really believe in Him, NOT because this belief helps them cope with life and death better. Just wanting a reason to cope with life and death better isn’t a reason to cope with life and death better! Granted, it just happens to be the case that really believing in Christ carries with it the eternal hope to our eternal problem (sin, death, and God’s just wrath) and offers the hope to our hearts eternal longing (knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ Himself). But that’s besides the point right now.
If one only decided to believe in Christ because they wanted to fool themselves about life, the afterlife, and manufacture some sort of hope for it all, then their hope is ultimately placed in nothing other than a wish they’ve invented. But no self-respecting believer is a believer because they want an invention bad enough! No. It’s simply because we really believe in Jesus Christ. Why we really believe in Jesus Christ is another matter. Read my other threads for that.
But the Christian’s hope ISN’T a byproduct of their ability to want a fantasy bad enough. If that’s the only bases for our hope then there would really be no hope! Our hope is there because we really believe in Jesus Christ! My point is that simple. Therefore, agnostics and atheists who accuse Christians for only believing in Christ in order to feel better about themselves must realize that this is inconsistent with why one should possess sound hope. The correction to all agnostics and atheists is that real Christians possess hope because they really believe in Christ, NOT because they merely want to have something to believe in (like the Poison song).