Monday, August 16, 2010

Debunking Christianity: The Psychological Pull of the Christian Story

John Loftus recently wrote a post about why he believes Christianity has a pull on the hearts and minds of people. He wrote:

There is just something about the Christian story that makes me want to believe it. I know of no other story like this one. In fact, when I watch music videos of the Christian story I feel its psychological pull on me, and I'm a former believer who has rejected that story and became an atheist. So how much more does the story have a great amount of psychological pull on the hearts of others, especially believers, whose faith is confirmed whenever they ponder it.

It is interesting that he thinks that the pull is because the story gives us hope and things we want to believe. Yes, the part about he further we wrote i think is a valid point.

We want to believe we can be forgiven for things we have done wrong. We want to believe there is divine help when in trouble. We want to believe there is life after death too. And we want to believe we are so important that God would take notice of us and redeem us. Yes, we are that important, such selfish bastards that we are. Yes, Yes, Yes. God, the creator of the universe cares for me, Lil 'Ole me, enough to become a baby and die for me, and enough to help me through life and welcome me into his presence.

If I understand the Lofus the problem he has with the "story" of Jesus is that he does not have enough evidence to convince him that it is true. If you press most atheists you find that their reasons for rejecting the story is just as emotional as Loftus accuses Christians of being in accepting it as true. I have a different theory for why the story is attractive. The Bible tells us what the issue is in Romans 1:18-32.

 18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Debunking Christianity: The Psychological Pull of the Christian Story


  1. I think John's point was that regardless how compelling something is, it has nothing to do with it's truth.

    I can't speak for John, but his approach seems to be to strike at various apologetic arguments.

    I read this post of his as a directed critique of the christian "god is written on our hearts" argument and I don't think you should read more into it than that.

    PS: I have no delusisions of "deconverting" you, so I wanted to let you know you really should follow "Eric's" comments on Loftus' blog if you'd like to grow as a christian intellectual.

  2. Ryan, I agree that something compelling does not equal truth. However there is no mutual exclusivity either when it comes to something compelling and truth. I agree and i thought i was clear that Loftus is indeed arguing that God has not written anything on our heart. I'm saying that it's compelling because God did write the truth on our hearts. You and Loftus just live out Paul's words in Romans 1.

    As for Eric's comments, I will look them up. Thank you. I'm glad you like his comments. all I can say is I'm glad about that! maybe he can get through to you because I don't want you to go to hell. I hope you listen to him.

  3. Yeah, but I can't imagine an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god would write the truth on our hearts with various intensities or not all for some people. Nor one that would write different laws for different times and cultures.

    I think the "pull" of christianity for today's westerner is that western civilization has been steeping in the story for 1650 years. Probably the same reasons Muslims like Islam.

    Not that the problem of evil was ever really an objection of mine.

    Also, I wouldn't say I "like" Eric's comments, but he's a very bright and well educated guy and arguing with him is a good sounding board to make sure one's position is intellectually honest.

    PS: There's no hell.

  4. Who said the truth is written at various levels of intensities? The Bible doesn't.

    The laws varying according to time and place are a different matter. Look at the practical laws concerning harvesting. I live in a city. Was that law written for me? The ceremonial laws were for ancient theocratic Israel meant to point to Christ, why do you think they should apply today given that Messiah has already come?

    If the pull of Christianity was only because people are raised in it, how do you explain those who become born-again who were not raised as Christians or in a Christian context?

    Of course you don't have the "problem of evil", your a relativist.

    I'm glad Eric has been talking to you. Listen to Him.

  5. I'd be curious to know where you find scriptural support for the idea that there are divisions in the law, such as ceremonial law, dietary law, etc..

    And even if you find some or stretch something else to accommodate yourself, you are still stuck with the very inconvenient line about jots and tittles. Surely even the parts about the harvest are included in every jot and tittle

    how do you explain those who become born-again who were not raised as Christians or in a Christian context?

    Missionaries? Also, probably the same way I'd explain Christians leaving the faith or becoming Muslim, Buddhist, etc...