Who Really Holds the Crutch? Christianity or Atheism?
by Rob Lundberg
It was the 19th century atheist Ludwig Feurbach (1804-1872) who stated that “Religion is a dream of the human mind…in these days, illusion is sacred, truth profane.” (Religion and Humanistic Atheism, xxxix).
And of course who can forget the famous quote of Karl Marx (1818-1883) in response to his criticism of G. W. F. Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right”, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of the soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
I introduce this posting with these quotes because one of the most popular objections coming from atheism is the charge that Christianity (vis-a-vis belief in a supernatural being called “God”) is a psychological crutch. OK, so how do we respond to this objection? Is belief in God simply what these critics claim it to be? Let me give you six principles that I believe will answer this objection and even show that it is not a healthy Christian faith that is holding the crutch as much as it is the delusion of atheism.
I. Religion, for Some Believers, Can Indeed Be a Crutch.
What is the purpose of a crutch? An ordinary crutch is a device that allows us to stand or walk when one of our legs is broken. If our legs can’t hold us, we don’t hesitate to use a crutch. The only question that would suffice on the usefulness of the crutch would be will it do the job? That is, does it fit? Is it strong enough to hold us?
The fact that some may use religion as a crutch of course does not determine whether God actually exists or does not exist, or whether a particular religion – such as Christianity – is in fact true. Those questions still need to be argued on their own merits (as I will support in point III).
Furthermore, I want you to know that nonbelievers also use existential “crutches” on a regular basis. These can take the form of drugs or alcohol, or fantasy worlds (materialism, soap operas, virtual worlds, games, reality TV, etc.), or any number of things. So it is not just believers who may use crutches. We can all have props or crutches that we lean on – some more heavily than others. If it is not God or religion, it can be numerous other things, such as materialism, hedonism, or narcissism, etc.
The real question to ask is, can your crutch really hold you? Christians believe that many people depend on things which are not at all trustworthy, and that Jesus came to kick these false props and crutches away…
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