I would consider this your official disclaimer. What follows may seem harsh, but in light of observations I’ve made I feel some toes need to be stepped on. I’m not deliberately seeking to be inflammatory or offensive, but I see a need for a warning message that must be delivered.
If you’re a good driver, you’re constantly scanning your surroundings as you drive. You watch for cars backing out of driveways, drivers who may be about to do something foolish on the road, or other dangers which may be lurking around the corner. You’re alert to the possibility of danger, and maintaining a good level of awareness of your surroundings. This will allow you to react properly when the situation calls for action.
But now picture the proverbial ostrich with it’s head buried in the sand. Is this a good level of awareness? No doubt, common sense tells us that this animal is not protected in any way by burying its head in the sand. It is placed in a position of twice as much danger because all awareness has gone out the front door. In like manner, think of the road yet again. If you cease paying attention to your surroundings while driving, does this protect you from getting into a car wreck?
Obviously not, but the real question is “how do these analogies relate to Christians ignoring evidence?” A branch of Theology exists within Christianity known as “Apologetics”, which is all about a defense of the faith and showing the reasonableness of Christian beliefs. I speak from experience when I say that a thorough study of this branch would bring an overwhelming mountain of evidence in support of Christian faith to the table. There is just one problem. If Christians ignore it, it might as well not exist.
To Ignore this branch of theology is to deliberately create a situation in which the evidences that it produces are unknown. If this is the case, the results of a lack of evidence automatically follow. What are those results? While surfing through the WordPress reader at one point, I stumbled across a blog post by an individual stating that he had come to the “heart wrenching” conclusion that there was no evidence in support of Christianity. I imagine this “discovery” lead the individual into atheism, and ultimately apostasy. But the real issue comes down to a question —- how much of this is their personal choice and how much of it is the fault of the Church?
If Christians stuff their heads in the sand, ignoring evidence in support of Christian beliefs, than they’ll find themselves unprepared to help those struggling with doubt. Perhaps it seems a small matter, but such a failure may have its cost in the loss of souls. Think of whoever wrote that blog post. Do you honestly think that they remained a Christian? The odds are more in favor of them taking a bite out what a friend of mine calls “secular humanism.” But how could you expect anything less of them? If they were unable to find evidence that supports Christian beliefs, and the Church failed to provide it through lack of study, how could they be expected to make any other choice?
Yes, they would’ve made their choice. But the choice they made was certainly influenced by a seeming lack of evidence, which could’ve been prevented if people would take their heads out of the sand. If there had been just one person with enough knowledge of Apologetics, this individual’s Apostasy could’ve been prevented and they might’ve been convinced of the reasonableness of Christian belief. Instead things turned out the way they did.
In a post from “Bethinking” titled “Six Enemies Of Apologetic Engagement”, the top three listed are Ignorance, Indifference, and Irrationalism. It’s hard to imagine that somebody who just doesn’t know that the information exists could be held accountable. But I can say with a certainty that indifference is a choice — one that often implies some one doesn’t care. Can you see how wrong that actually is? Imagine for a moment that some one somewhere in the Church apostatizes, totally losing faith in God’s existence to become an atheist, and that it could’ve been prevented if some one was familiar enough with Apologetics. But it was not prevented, because the entire church corporately did not care enough to look, even when they had the opportunity. That’s actually rather infuriating if you think about it.
As I’ve undertaken a study of Apologetics, I’ve come across the shocking realization that many websites have to write a defense of Apologetics itself. This is because well-meaning but confused Christians within the Church start to oppose it. The reasons cited vary from what is essentially irrationalism to the notion that it must be ineffective, since you cannot win people by argument. Although answers for such ridiculous assertions exist, I cannot help but express a sigh of frustration because this fits the picture of the ostrich with its head stuffed in the sand.
While somebody assumed that the whole point of Apologetics was to win people to the truth who ultimately do not want to listen, another may become discouraged and lose faith because of a single encounter with an atheist. Its easy to dismiss this as a weak faith on the part of the person. But if we step out of the bubble of irrationalism for five seconds, we might discover that in all reality no thinking person can hold on to beliefs when confronted with what seems like evidence to the contrary. Thinking rational people do not do this. It is only those who willfully bury their heads in the sand against all evidence who exhibit this kind of behavior. Is faith really a requirement for the Christian to leave his or her brain at the door and enter into a total state of foolishness and irrationality or is it reasonable?
1 Peter 3:15 commands us to give a reason to those who ask us of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear. I think reality is more on the side of the reasonable faith, rather than the popular irrationalism. Yet some Christians have buried their heads in the sand, and their opposition to Apologetics is a demonstration of this fact. Then they act surprised when their children walk away from Christ at a later age. If you think that the Biblical definition of faith excludes any empirical evidence in support of Christianity or that we shouldn’t bother to look at that evidence because we’re not going to convince anyone than you are sticking your head in the sand.
You’ll then find, much to your horror, that you’re about to crash into the proverbial car because you weren’t paying attention. How could this be so? Your neglect to research such an important subject, even your resistance toward others choosing to do so, will drive others from the truth. If you don’t already, you should understand that this could mean the difference between some one continuing to follow Christ and a decision to walk away from him forever on the basis of unbelief.