Christianity is a crutch…you may need it someday

by Stephen T. Davis

In a recent USA Today OpEd, Harvard epidemiologist, Tyler VanderWeele, presented the growing body of evidence that religious participation is – quite literally – good for you.  Multiple studies have shown that regular church attendance is beneficial for one’s mental and physical health.  In the colorful language of the article, religion is a “miracle drug.” 

And yet the proportion of university students who do not identify with a particular religious tradition is at an all-time high.  According to the leading survey of the beliefs and practices of students in the US, 5.9% of college students now identify as atheists.  A further 8.3% are agnostics, and 15.4% check “none” as the best descriptor of their current religious preference.  So what keeps nearly 30% of the students away from belief in God?

Motivated unbelief

Some students are either theoretical atheists or practical ones (living as if God doesn’t exist), because they were raised that way by non-believing parents.  All things being equal, most of us retain our parents’ beliefs.  Others have known religious believers who were cruel, dishonest or hypocritical.  Many are bothered by evils historically committed by Christians – for example, instances of anti-Semitism, the oppression of women, or justification of slavery – and are understandably less aware of the ways in which the Christian movement has formed our belief in human equality and care for the oppressed. 

In academic communities, one frequently encounters the assertion that intellectual difficulties constitute the main problem.  Challenges include the perceived paucity of evidence for God, the lack of a bullet-proof solution to the problem of evil, and the existence of multiple, equally plausible religions.  There is no doubt that such factors are significant.

But Christianity teaches that our deepest motivation for rejecting God is pride. We do not want to admit that we need the guidance, protection, or forgiveness of God.  We prefer to live independent lives…


Christianity is a crutch…you may need it someday – The Veritas Forum