The following are posts by a young man, Nathan Apodaca, who I have had the privilege of discipling over the last few years. He has a passion for making a case for Christianity wherever he can. In this series he will talk about sharing on a college campus.
The first encounter I experienced towards the beginning of my first semester in college. As I was waiting for my first class that morning, I overheard two men talking nearby. As I listened, I realized they were talking about religion. Now, if you have never been on a college campus, particularly a state college, religion is a common subject of talk; primarily focused on attacking religious beliefs. In particular, these two men were talking about violent acts done in the name of religion. In their minds this was a good reason to reject all religious beliefs. I initially decided not to interrupt but moments later I changed my mind. During our conversation, these gentlemen brought up a couple of points I would like to discuss.
1. “Religion causes violence. Just look at the Crusades or 9/11!”
While many evil things have been done in the name of a particular religion, the two questions that need to be asked are 1) “Is this belief true?” and 2) “Is the fact of religious violence a good reason to reject this belief system?”
This may not sound very tolerant, but think about this for a moment. What if you turned on the news tomorrow and you saw a report saying that an evil act was done by someone claiming that all religions are equal? Or that everyone should be tolerant? It sounds silly, but you can see my point. If an evil act is done in the name of a particular belief, then is that a good reason to reject that belief? The answer is obviously no.
Does religion cause violence? Well, to find out, we need to look at the texts that are used to support the religion’s beliefs. For Christians it is the Bible, and for Muslims, the Qur'an. Are there verses that order followers of that worldview to commit evil acts? Are those verses being used in the proper context? Is encouraging followers to commit violence the author’s original intent?
I am not going to go through both belief systems and examine those texts. My primary point is, if the writing (whether the Bible or the Qur’an) doesn’t support violence, then just because a few adherents do evil, that is not a reason for rejecting it as true. (Good book: Paul Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster? It biblically demonstrates that Christianity does not teach violence.)
2. “I’m just going to trust in science.”
This is a very popular objection. They imply by this statement, science and religion are at odds. My first response to a statement like this would be to ask, “What do you mean by that?” Most likely, the person means that nothing is true unless determined by science. This means that all propositions based on philosophy, religion, or ethics cannot be true unless they can be proved scientifically. Sounds reasonable, right? But there’s a problem; is the statement “Nothing is true unless it was proved by science” provable by science? After all, how do you use science to find out if science is useful in the first place? And if you can’t prove science using scientific methods, then how can you trust it? It seems obvious science cannot give us all the answers to the questions we face. Many need philosophy or religion or ethics for a better understanding. For instance, questions like, why are we here? Why is murder wrong? How do we know anything at all?
In conclusion, while these two statements may sound great, they are obviously flawed. In my next series of posts, I will answer the question is Christianity true? This was a popular question I’ve dealt with over the last school year.