Atheists and, perhaps, most agnostics believe that religion in general is based upon superstition and cannot be supported by credible evidence. They tend to think that people who are religious are ignorant, especially with regard to scientific evidence that supposedly indicates natural forces created the universe, including all forms of life. As a result, their perception of religion, including Christianity, is that it necessitates blind faith (i.e., faith that is not based upon credible evidence).
Josh McDowell, a well-known Christian apologist, states on page 3 of his book entitled Evidence That Demands A Verdict,
A rather common accusation sharply aimed at the Christian often goes like this: “You Christians make me sick! All you have is a ‘blind faith.’” This would surely indicate that the accuser seems to think that to become a Christian, one has to commit “intellectual suicide.”
This article will attempt to determine if it is necessary for a person to have blind faith to be a Christian.
Reasons to Believe that Christianity Does Not Require Blind Faith
The Bible indicates that Christians are not expected to have blind faith. First Peter 3:15 says, “[S]anctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” [Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]
On page 112 of Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door, a book that was co-authored by Bob Hostetler and Josh McDowell, McDowell shares his following testimony:
As a young man . . . I thought the Christian faith was a blind faith. I set out to examine it, intending to refute Christianity. However, the more I examined historical, biblical Christianity, the more I realized that it is an intelligent faith, a reasonable faith.
Jesus does not call upon us to commit intellectual suicide in trusting Him as Savior and Lord. He does not expect us to exercise our Christian faith in an intellectual vacuum. The Christian’s faith must be a faith based on the evidence.
Then, on page 113 of the same book, McDowell and Hostetler state,
[N]either the resurrection of Christ nor His deity can be proven with 100 percent certainty. But that doesn’t mean that the Christian faith is a blind faith. The evidence for the Christian faith is adequate.
Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, philosopher, and scientist, said that there is enough evidence for the Christian faith to convince anyone who is not set against it.
Subsequently, on page 117 of their book, McDowell and Hostetler add,
The problem is that many people think that if you can’t prove something scientifically, it’s untrue or unbelievable.
But that’s a myth.
The scientific method is not the only way to prove something. If it were, you would not be able to prove that Abraham Lincoln had ever been president of the United States, because you can’t repeat that event. It exists only in the past.
There are many impressive testimonies by people who have examined the evidence regarding Jesus Christ and, as a result, made a decision to trust in Him. One such testimony is by Josh McDowell, who says on page 10 of his previously-mentioned book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict,
For me, Christianity was not a “leap into the dark,” but rather “a step into the light.” I took the evidence that I could gather and put it on the scales. The scales tipped the way of Christ being the Son of God and resurrected from the dead.
I did not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. What I did was investigate the evidence and weigh the pros and cons. The results showed that Christ must be who He claimed to be, and I had to make a decision, which I did. The immediate reaction of many is, “You found what you wanted to find.” That is not the case. I confirmed through investigation what I wanted to refute. I set out to disprove Christianity. I had biases and prejudices not for Christ but contrary to Him.
And, on pages 109-110 of their aforementioned book, McDowell and Hostetler state,
Many of the greatest minds in history have belonged to Christians.
Christian conversion does not compromise a person’s intellect. It completes it.
In his autobiography, C.S. Lewis tells how he avoided and violently resisted the gospel as a young man because he considered Christianity an unintellectual system. His resistance broke, however, and he was “surprised by joy.” He found that conversion ignited his imaginative and creative powers.
Lew Wallace set out to refute Christianity with his powerful intellect and creativity. But the power of the gospel made a believer out of the author of the classic, Ben-Hur.
British trial lawyer Frank Morison intended to write a book disproving the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He conducted intensive research, gathered historical evidence, and worked devotedly at his task. Finally, his intellect and work brought him to the unavoidable conclusion that Jesus had risen from the dead! He became a Christian.
On page 150 of Answers to Tough Questions, another book co-authored by Josh McDowell, he and Don Stewart ask, “If it is mere “blind faith” that the Christian exercises, why are so many learned men and women still becoming believers by way of the exercise of their intellects?” Subsequently, they state on the same page,
The choice to become a Christian should be made after proper reflection. It should be considered and evaluated before a commitment is made. A person needs to understand what he is doing before he becomes a Christian. Those who encourage conversion through Jesus Christ, based upon an emotional appeal or through some process of manipulation, are not being biblical.
Faith cannot be proven with perfect and complete answers to every question that a person may have. But, rarely, if ever, is such a level of proof required in any other area of life. Ultimately, as Strobel states on page 255 of The Case for Christ, “Faith is about a choice, a step of the will, a decision to want to know God personally. It’s saying, ‘I believe – please help my unbelief!’ ”
To some degree, everyone needs to have faith to believe what they believe. Even an atheist has faith. Since he cannot prove that God does not exist, the atheist needs to have faith that his belief that God does not exist is correct.
Charles Colson, who became a Christian after being involved in the Watergate scandal, says on pages 31-32 of his book entitled How Now Shall We Live?,
Christian faith is not an irrational leap. . . . [T]he claims of the Bible are rational propositions well supported by reason and evidence.” In other words, the trust that Christians place in Jesus Christ can stand up under the scrutiny of the mind as well as the heart, because Christianity is based upon facts, as well as on faith.
Clark H. Pinnock, on page 67 of his book entitled Set Forth Your Case, says, “A religious claim without any way to test it out is as meaningless as a nuclear test-ban treaty without adequate checks.” Pinnock goes on to state, “The beauty of the gospel in the avalanche of competing religious claims is precisely the possibility we have of checking it out historically and factually.” Then, Pinnock asserts, “The intent of Christian apologetics and evidences is not to coerce people to accept the Christian faith, but to make it possible for them to do so intelligently.”
Then, on page 73 of the same book, Pinnock says, “Faith is a resting of the heart in the sufficiency of the evidences. . . . Faith is not believing what you know to be absurd. It is trusting what on excellent testimony appears to be true.” Nevertheless, at least some Christians seem to rule out the necessity of reason and evidence in supporting their religious beliefs.
Thus, although the faith of some Christians may seem to be blind, this does not mean that blind faith is necessary for a person to become a Christian. And, even if many Christians are not able to provide credible evidence to support the basic beliefs of their religion, this does not mean that they were not previously taught valid reasons to believe basic Christian doctrines. Christians, like most people, may not remember much of the information that they were taught, and, as a result, many of them are not able to provide credible evidence to support even some of their basic Christian beliefs. However, there are many other Christians who can provide credible evidence as to why they believe as they do.
Additional Reasons to Have Confidence in Christian Beliefs
The information that follows pertains to articles that we have written which are relevant to our discussion of whether or not Christianity requires blind faith. A brief synopsis of each article provides plausible reasons why a person can have confidence that the Bible, God the Father, and Jesus Christ are all worthy of trust. The articles rely heavily on the knowledge and understanding of Bible scholars who have investigated the credibility of what the Bible says. To access the complete articles, click on their titles.
Belief in the Credibility of the Bible
- “Is the Bible Reliable?” Among the reasons to believe that the Bible is reliable are the following; the integrity of those who wrote it, its internal consistency, its fulfilled prophecies, the proximity of New Testament writings to the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry, validation by ancient biblical manuscripts, validation by other ancient writings, and archaeological evidence.
Belief in God
- “Evidence that God Exists” People who assert that there is no God base their belief on their assumption that there must be scientific evidence that God exists. They are unwilling to accept the possibility that God can be proven logically or that He can be proven by many miraculous experiences witnessed and/or personally experienced by multitudes of people throughout the centuries, a number of which are recorded in the Bible. Nevertheless, there is sufficient non-scientific evidence to believe that God exists.
Belief in Jesus Christ
- “Was Jesus Christ More than a Prophet?” Among the reasons for believing that Jesus Christ was more than a prophet are the following: He made claims of deity about Himself, He was sinless, He performed miracles, He was resurrected from death, and He was regarded as deity by early Christians.
Faith in General
- “Should Faith Be Based on Evidence?” Although faith for a Christian goes beyond reason and evidence, it does not exclude either reason or evidence. A Christian can rely not only on his (or her) own experience in their relationship with Jesus Christ, but also on reason and evidence.
Irwin H. Linton, on page 16 of his book entitled A Lawyer Examines the Bible, says that the evidence for Christianity “rests on definite, historical facts and events” and because of the extensive evidence that supports them, should “be regarded as proved under the strictest rules of evidence used in the highest American and English courts.”
And, Robert Morey declares on page 38 of his book entitled Introduction to Defending the Faith, “[T]here is more than enough evidence on every hand from every department of human experience and knowledge to demonstrate that Christianity is true.”
Pinnock, on page 9 of his previously-cited book, declares that Christianity “pleases both heart and head. It is a rational and intelligent faith.” Then, on page 85, he says, “An intelligent non-Christian owes it to himself to conduct an investigation into the roots of the Christian message, if only to be sure his unbelief is not itself an unfounded prejudice.”
While faith for Christians extends beyond reason and evidence, it does not exclude either reason or evidence. Christians can rely not only on their own experience in their relationship with Jesus Christ, but also on reason and evidence. Nevertheless, Christians may have unanswered questions or even unresolved doubts about certain aspects of Christianity. In such circumstances, rather than becoming disillusioned or discouraged about their faith, Christians should earnestly pray for God’s help in finding satisfactory answers.
In Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9, Jesus promised, “[S]eek, and you will find.” Answers may not come immediately, but that does not mean that valid answers do not exist. Although God rewards perseverance in such matters, people who are seeking truth may not have all of their questions answered or all of their doubts resolved. Therefore, faith is ultimately necessary to some extent. Hebrews 11:6 asserts, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
In light of the foregoing considerations, we believe there is adequate credible evidence to support basic Christian beliefs. Therefore, although Christianity necessitates faith, it does not require blind faith. Those who diligently seek to determine for themselves if such evidence is credible have valid reason to trust the basic Christian doctrines.