Question: Isn’t Christianity Just A Psychological Crutch For The Weak?
In answering this question, we need to be clear on what we mean by a psychological crutch. The word “psychological” means existing in the mind. So, if Christianity is indeed a psychological crutch, then it only exists in the minds of those who don’t have enough strength to cope with life on their own.
We could rephrase the question as Does Christianity have any objective basis, or is it an invention of the weak-minded?
There are only two options for this question:
- Christianity does not have an objective basis for its claims.
- Christianity does have an objective basis for its claims.
The Three Myths of Subjectivity
There are three false assumptions which are often raised, to show that Christianity does not have an objective basis for its claims.
- Preconditioning does not determine truth.
- Belief and emotions do not determine truth.
- Experience does not determine truth.
All three of these statements are exactly right. The problem comes when people assume that Christians believe in Christ, as a result of preconditioning, belief and emotions, or experience.
1. Christians believe in Christ because they have been preconditioned to believe in Christ.
There are two false assumptions here. One is that all Christians were raised in a Christian environment. Perhaps in the distant past, this might have been closer to the truth, but the vast majority of Christians come from cultures or families where Christianity has played no part. In fact, the Western world, traditionally the “Christian” nations, now has the lowest rate of conversion to Christianity.
The second false assumption is that if someone is preconditioned to believe something, then that belief is not valid. It should be fairly clear that this also is not true. Probably everyone has been preconditioned to believe that fire is very very hot. Fire is indeed hot, and so this preconditioning is valid. But many people have also been preconditioned to believe that Santa Claus exists. As they grow older, most realize that Santa Claus is really their parents.
Preconditioning does not make a position valid or invalid. It merely shows the effects of family or culture on a person. Preconditioning does not mean that Christianity is true. Christianity is only true if it rests on some objective basis.
2. Christians believe in Christ because of their own beliefs and emotions.
This assumption is false because a person’s belief in something does not make it true, just as a person’s lack of belief in something does not make that false.
As an example, if someone throws a ball in the air, it comes back down every single time. Does it return because the person believes it will come down? No! It comes down because of gravity. The law of gravity is the objective basis on which the person believes that the ball will return.
Simply believing that Christianity is true does not make it true. Christianity is only true if it rests on some objective basis.
3. Christians believe in Christ because of their experiences.
Again, this is a false assumption. Experience can lead a person to some conclusion, but without objective data, that conclusion remains subjective. The person’s experience can verify truth, but it can never prove it.
A woman who has been blind from birth has never seen a sunset. But her experience does not mean that sunsets do not exist. It simply means that her experience has never verified the truth of sunsets. If a person experiences Christianity, his experience does not make Christianity true. Christianity is only true if it rests on some objective basis.
So, What’s the Objective Basis for Christianity?
The one, crucial historical basis for Christianity is that Jesus Christ came back to life after being dead for three days and nights. Christians refer to this as the resurrection. One writer showed the importance of the resurrection:
If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it – if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ – sheer fabrications if there’s no resurrection.
Clearly, Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Christ. In a previous question, we looked at the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, and concluded that it is one of the most historically verifiable events of history. So, we can say that beyond a reasonable doubt, Christianity rests on the objective basis of the resurrection, and is true.
Christianity is not a subjective, psychological crutch, but rather, a belief system based on solid, objective data. In the same way, people are not weak if they base their beliefs on strong, objective data. Christians believe Christianity is the truth because it is the truth, not because they believe it is the truth.