It just can't be, they say, that someone actually rejects Christianity itself.
The latest salvo of this nature comes from Christian apologist and author Dr. Alex McFarland, whose new book, 10 Answers for Skeptics, purports to have statistics showing that most skeptics were driven away from their faith by bad experiences. In an interview with the Christian Post, McFarland said,
"Through nearly a year of research and numerous personal interviews, my goal was to really get 'inside the mind of the skeptic.' The most common type of skeptics I meet are wounded skeptics. They have been hurt by church, religion, or by another Christian."The problem with Dr. McFarland's statement is that like so much of Christian apologetics, it uses flawed logic. McFarland makes the reader think that bad experiences caused the skepticism. More importantly, McFarland seems to think that if you can cure the hurt and heal the damage, the ex-Christian skeptics will all come flooding back to their former faith.
McFarland is implying that skeptics are really Christians in their hearts, and it's only the hurt and their pride that have separated them from God.
This is completely wrong.
These ex-Christian skeptics have had their eyes opened. The hurt they suffered gave them a wonderful opportunity to objectively question Christian dogma and mythology. At the same time, it allowed them to consider other philosophies and religions ... and even atheism. They looked at all the injustice, pain, starvation and disease around the world, and realized that the loving Christian God couldn't possibly be real. They looked afresh at the inconsistencies in the Bible, the immorality of a God who commits genocide, infanticide and many other crimes. The old adage, "God works in mysterious ways" suddenly seemed cheap and shallow. And they looked at their own lives and realized that bad stuff happens to good people all the time for no apparent reason. What sort of almighty, loving God would allow that?
McFarland is right that hurt by a fellow Christian or the church drives people away from Christianity. The key point he's missing is that once free of Christianity's bonds, people are drawn toward skepticism and atheism by the forces of reason, facts and morality. And once a person's eyes are opened to the wonders of reason and science, there's no going back.
The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) rely on ignorance. They've even developed a pair of synergistic, powerful memes that are a defense against inquisitiveness and thought. I call them the Ignorance is Bliss and Anti-Rationalism memes. The Ignorance is Bliss meme tells believers that everything you need to know is in the Bible, the meek shall inherit the Earth, and that anything (like science) that contradicts the Bible is Satan's work. The Anti-Rationalism meme tells believers that faith is always more powerful than reason. This is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church: no matter what science and reason tell you, faith that you feel in your heart is more important.
I've met many skeptics in my life, particularly since the publication of The Religion Virus, and I can tell you that McFarland is simply wrong. Yes, it's true that many skeptics are former Christians. And many are "wounded" as McFarland says. But I've never met one who was being held back from Christianity by their "wounds." To the last one, they saw the hurtful experience as an opportunity.
They weren't driven from their faith. They were pulled by the truth of reason and science into skepticism and atheism.
And that is what McFarland should really be worried about. He should be looking at the mythology itself. He needs to see why it's so easy to leave Christianity behind once the chains of blind faith are broken.