By Richard Carrier
The Evidence is Inadequate
(One) reason I am not a Christian is the sheer lack of evidence. Right from the start, Christians can offer no evidence for their most important claim, that faith in Jesus Christ procures eternal life. Christians can't point to a single proven case of this prediction coming true. They cannot show a single believer in Jesus actually enjoying eternal life, nor can they demonstrate the probability of such a fortunate outcome arising from any choice we make today. Even if they could prove God exists and created the universe, it still would not follow that belief in Jesus saves us. Even if they could prove Jesus performed miracles, claimed to speak for God, and rose from the dead, it still would not follow that belief in Jesus saves us.
Therefore, such a claim must itself be proven. Christians have yet to do that. We simply have no evidence that any believer ever has or ever will enjoy eternal life, or even that any unbeliever won't. And most Christians agree. As many a good Christian will tell you, only God knows who will receive his grace. So the Christian cannot claim to know whether it's true that "faith in Christ procures eternal life." They have to admit there is no guarantee a believer will be saved, or that an unbeliever won't. God will do whatever he wants. And no one really knows what that is. At best, they propose that faith in Christ will "up your chances," but they have no evidence of even that.
Now, this could change. It is theoretically possible to build a strong circumstantial case that God exists, that he has the means to grant us eternal life, that he never lies, and that he actually did promise to save us if we pledge allegiance to the right holy minion. But that's a lot of extraordinary claims to prove, requiring a lot of extraordinary evidence. Christians simply don't come close to proving them. Of course, Christianity could be reduced to a trivial tautology like "Christ is just an idea, whatever idea brings humankind closer to paradise," but that is certainly not what C.S. Lewis would have accepted, nor is it what most Christians mean today. When we stick with what Christianity usually means, there is simply not enough evidence to support believing it. This holds for the more generic elements of the theory (like the existence of God and the supernatural), as well as the very specific elements (like the divinity and resurrection of Jesus). We shall treat these in order, after digressing on some essential points regarding method.
This is just an excerpt from Carrier's excellent essay, "Why I am not a Christian ©2006." For the entire text, CLICK HERE.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)