The Big Question 50: Is Religion Just a Crutch?

Mar 18, 2019 2732

Radio Version:

Is religion just a crutch?

Yeah, I’ve heard this idea; that religion some kind of a crutch for the weak and the ignorant. This idea kind of says that people who are fearful or uneducated rely on religion to avoid facing the harsh realities of life and to avoid taking responsibility for their own lives and decisions.

In the books by the new atheists, believers are contrasted with the supposedly stronger, intellectual atheists, who have no need for such comforting, but infantile nonsense such as belief in God.

It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But I believe that its total rubbish.

The reality is that the world is a harsh place, and people rely on all kinds of things for their comfort and self-esteem, including things like money, food, and so on. So as far as using a crutch to get by, John Humphrys says,“Don’t we all? Some use booze rather than the Bible.”

Alistair McGrath says,

“[I]f you have a broken leg, you need a crutch. If you’re ill you need medicine. That’s just the way things are. The Christian understanding of human nature is that we are damaged, wounded and disabled by sin. That’s just the way things are.”

Followers of Jesus believe that reliance on him is the solution to the problems of the human condition.

To think that atheists are somehow stronger than believers because they don’t need religion is to deny the reality of the darker side of life.

The first step to recovery from any disorder is to admit that there is a problem and they need help. There’s masses of evidence that confirms that religious belief has a positive effect on both mental and physical health.

Andrew Sims, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK, writes that this is supported by a – and I quote – “huge volume of research” and that its one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally.”

So, then, let’s assume that Christian aren’t all weak and dysfunctional. How then do we respond to the accusation that religion only exists because people desperately want it to be true: that it’s some kind of wish fulfilment?

Well, this illogical at several levels. No-one would say that doctors are only a kind of wish-fulfilment because we desperately want there to be someone to go to when we are ill. That’s exactly the same argument.

And of course, it cuts both ways, I could just as easily say that atheists are non-believers simply because they don’t want it to be true. So, atheism is just wish fulfilment. And maybe I’m actually right!

What’s very powerful about Christianity is that it’s not just a bunch of intellectual beliefs that you hold onto in the tough times. The arguments for God are backed up by a reality that can be personally experienced in your life. There are countless examples of people who discovered a life-transforming faith, although they were once bitterly opposed to Jesus.

And this takes what I’m talking about to a whole new level. You see, true religion can be a crutch, yes, but it should be much, much more than that. True religion – and I mean following Jesus – should actually give you wings.

The Big Question 50: Is Religion Just a Crutch?
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