Skeptics often ask, “Is there anything that could possibly cause you to give up your belief in Jesus Christ?”
It’s a good question and a complicated one.
The good part is this: As Popper explained, knowledge should be falsifiable in principle. If you hold a belief that can’t be falsified under any imaginable circumstances, your belief might be disconnected from reality. If it wasn’t true, how would you know it wasn’t true? If you can’t answer that question, then maybe you don’t really know that it is true.
Should Christianity Be Falsifiable?
The complicated part is this. Falsifiability isn’t a magic key that opens the door to all knowledge. The axioms of logic are true but they’re not falsifiable, because the process of falsification depends on their being true. You can’t falsify logic without using logic. Mathematical facts like 2+2=4 aren’t falsifiable in principle either, because they’re just true.
Similarly if Christianity is true, then falsifiability isn’t predicted as part of its truth claims. If God is real, then God is real universally and comprehensively, and his creation will reflect his reality to that same degree. So his reality could hardly rest on being able to find some condition that would render him unreal. That isn’t slippery thinking; it’s essential to Christianity’s conception of God.
If it’s true that God is God and Jesus Christ is his Son, born of a virgin, crucified and resurrected, then it’s comprehensively true. God is the God of all reality. He created and has his imprint on everything. That includes all possible evidences, and even all the material a person could draw from to imagine God’s non-existence. Skeptics imagine they can imagine a world without God, but they are deceived; they’re using the materials God gave them to imagine he doesn’t exist. If Christianity is true, it’s unfalsifiable in principle.
So falsifiability is complicated, when judging whether Christianity is true. But I have an answer to the question, “what would it take for me to give up my belief?” anyway.
The Bones of Jesus?
It isn’t the answer I hear from a lot of other Christians: “I would give up my faith if someone showed me the bones of Jesus Christ, proving he never rose from the dead.” People who say that are probably sincere enough, but in actual practice it’s no better than a dodge. We all know that if someone showed us “the bones of Jesus Christ,” it would be easy to believe they were someone else’s bone’s instead.
No, for me the answer is this: I would give up my Christian belief if someone showed me a better explanation for reality. Christianity provides a better foundation than any other worldview for explaining at least 50 facts that need explaining.
The Comprehensive Foundation/Explanation For:
The human condition
- Our moral sense
- Our person-ness: that we are distinct individuals with real personality amidst others like us in that sense
- The persistence of identity and self-ness in human beings
- Our sense that we were meant to be better than we are
- Our millennia of failure to improve ourselves
- Our empirically obvious need for help if we are going to get better
- Our awareness of a spiritual dimension to reality
- Our persistent sense that there is more to life than what we can see here
The world around us
- The real existence of goodness
- The real existence of beauty
- The real lack of goodness and beauty, i.e., the existence of evil
- The rationality of existence (for example, nature’s amenable to rational, scientific investigation)
- Unity within diversity
Complexity with purpose
- The universe’s fitness for complex life
- Earth’s fitness for complex life
- The origin of the first life
- The development of the species
- Earth’s unique fitness in space and time for scientific discovery
- The Bible’s existence as a unified library with a common theme spanning many, many generations
- The long existence of the Jewish people
- The early philosophical excellence of Judaic monotheism
- The uniqueness of the Genesis creation account with respect to all other creation accounts
- Archaeological discoveries confirming biblical data
- The perfect self-sacrificial goodness of Jesus Christ presented without flaw in four distinct narratives, unlike any other character in history or literature
- The set of broadly accepted historical facts surrounding the narrative of Jesus’ resurrection
- The quick onset (within 3 to 5 years maximum) of Christian teachings regarding Jesus’ resurrection
- The historical accuracy of writers such as Luke
- The conversion of Saul of Tarsus
- The wisdom of New Testament ethical teaching, in the Gospels and in Paul especially
- The countercultural value early Christians gave to women and children
- The successful rise of the Christian church despite strong opposition
- Christianity’s unique contribution to world’s understanding of compassion, human worth, and freedom
- Christianity’s resilience over time: despite millennia of intellectual and social attack, it stands strong and remains (on some measures if not all) the world’s fastest growing religion
Sociological and medical information
- The 99 factors/dimensions in which Christian teens showed healthier outcomes than non-believers (Christian Smith study)
- The much-lower divorce rate among Christians who attend church and pray together regularly
- The much-lower crime rate among Christians
- The multitude of other ways in which religious person exhibit better physical and mental health than nonbelievers
- The prevalence of credible, testable reports of miracles around the world
- The existence of credible, testable reports of the soul departing the body and returning again in near-death experiences
- The complete turnaround in my attitude toward life when I accepted Christ
- My sudden, massive increase in interest in the Bible at the same time
- The sense of freedom I’ve experienced in knowing there’s forgiveness for my sins
- My turn away from self-centered goals to other-centered goals
- The love I experience from God in prayer
- The love I experience from other Christians — a love that’s been tested in a wide variety of cross-cultural situations, including places where I’ve been interacting with people whose countries have been enemies of mine
- The miraculous prayer answers I’ve experienced
I could add more, but I think you get the picture!
If There Were a Better Explanation, I Would Give Up My Belief
I’m not saying that Christianity is the sole explanation for any of the above, but that it contributes strongly and positively to explaining all of them. I’m also not saying that none of these is explainable on any other worldview, but only Christianity covers them all. Every other worldview I’ve encountered fails on several of them, if not most of them.
If someone offered me a better explanation for all these things, I’d consider that a good reason to reject Christianity. I doubt that’s possible. I don’t think God intended it to be possible.
Image Credit(s): CC00 Public Domain.