Are Atheists Smarter than Christians?

By Robin Schumacher

| All Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | footnotes

The Christian Position

The Christian answer as to why very smart people disagree on the subject of belief in God takes two different forms.

It should first be understood that Freud's sword cuts both ways. Could it not be true that the atheist/agnostic has wishes and desires of their own? Perhaps a wish that no Deity exists who will call them to account one day for their actions? Such a desire can be very motivating and could drive a person to hold an atheistic/agnostic position.

For example, Charles Darwin said: "I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine." [10]

The next Christian response notes that Scripture has much to say about the mind, why some turn away from the idea of God, and why others believe. First, contrary to what many atheists believe, the Bible commands its reader to think and use reasoning powers. God says to Isaiah: "Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD" (Isaiah 1:18). Paul told his apprentice Timothy, "Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything" (2 Timothy 2:7). Paul also told the church in Corinth: "Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature" (1 Corinthians 14:20).

So any argument that says Christianity promotes some sort of fideistic approach to thinking and belief about God is simply out of touch with the Bible's teachings. If that's true, then why don't all highly intellectual people believe in God? Scripture says that everyone is born into this world with a spiritually dead mind (Ephesians 2:1) that is driven by desires, which are in rebellion against God. Where God is concerned, the natural mind is polluted by sin (Romans 1:28), blinded toward God (1 Corinthians 2:14), thinks in futile ways (Ephesians 4:17), is ignorant about God (Ephesians 4:18), is openly hostile towards God (Romans 8:7), and is completely unable to come to God on its own or understand His truth in a saving way (1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 3:14).

If all are born with this condition, how does someone then believe and become a Christian? The answer is twofold. The primary cause of a person's salvation is God and the secondary cause is the exposure to God's truth.

The Bible teaches that no one understands or comes to God on their own (Romans 3:11; John 6:44), so because of that, God is the One who initiates a person's salvation; He is the One who comes to seek and save the lost. God is the one who first grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25-26), regenerates the lost person (John 3:8), and it is "by His doing you are in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:30). Without question, the Bible says that God is the primary cause of a person being enlightened about spiritual truth and being able to accept it.

But that does not mean that a person does not acquiesce to the teaching of the Gospel and rational, evidential, logical, and reasonable arguments that are presented to them. These things always existed and were true, but they were not acceptable to the person prior to the Spirit's work. They are the secondary causes of a person's salvation and are absolutely necessary in the Work of God, as C. S. Lewis observed: "Nearly everyone I know who has embraced Christianity in adult life has been influenced by what seemed to him to be at least a probable argument for theism." [11]

A perfect example of both causes in action is found in Acts where Paul preaches to a group of women, with the writer of Acts noting: "A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14). Lydia needed to hear Paul's message (the secondary cause) to believe, but she also needed God (the primary cause) to open her heart to accept the things she was hearing from Paul.

Continue Reading: 1 | 2 | 3 | footnotes

Image Credit: Chris Wieland; "Reason Rally"; Creative Commons

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Published 9-17-12