Tag Archives: nature vs. nurture

Christianity: U R Doin It Rong

Is Christianity a natural state of being? Most Christians I have ever known would answer with a hearty yes! I’ve heard it preached from the pulpit, discussed amongst Christians in Bible study groups or over pie and coffee. It’s also been the topic of many lively debates I’ve taken part in on internet discussion forums.

Christians often argue that humans are naturally inclined toward Christianity; that we have an innate desire to worship God. It’s what we were made for. It is the sole purpose of our existence. Just as naturally as our bodies need oxygen and thirst for water, so do our souls crave God.

Even when we don’t know it, we are drawn to and seek out God. The compassion you feel for others is really God. Your conscience is really God. The love you feel for your spouse and even your children is only possible because of God. Every decent thing about you, every good quality you possess, every good deed or act of kindness you perform is not even you, but God working through you.

I’ve heard it said from the pulpit that God has no grandchildren. That is, people are not Christians because they are born to Christian parents, they are Christians because they are born and God is their father. It is only later in life that people lose their “natural” way and begin following a different (false) god or no god at all.

The usual and most reasonable rebuttal to this is to point out that Christianity isn’t practiced all over the world. What about places where the majority of people are Muslim or Hindu, for example? What about cultures that embrace Buddhism or Islam? One need only glance casually at the many cultures of the world to see that Christianity clearly is not natural to all humans. Christianity is as cultural and learned as the language you speak or the food you eat, just like every other religion in the world.

The assertion that Christianity is natural to humans also calls into question the need for missionaries. According to the Bible, Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel. But why is this necessary if humans are natural-born Christians? And why do missionaries still travel the world to teach people this inborn trait?

As an atheist who was once a Christian, I am often told that I couldn’t possibly have been a “real” Christian. A true Christian would never abandon Christianity, after all. I’m often told that I just didn’t try hard enough, I didn’t pray enough or read the Bible enough. That’s why it stopped making sense; that’s why I stopped believing.

Bottom line: I was just doin’ it wrong.

But how can that be? If Christianity is inherent in humans, why does it require so much work to get right? If a newborn baby can latch onto its mother’s breast and drink her milk within minutes of being born, surely a grown person who has spent more than half her life rooting around in the bosom of Christianity could find some source of nourishment to keep her faith alive.

Perhaps Christianity doesn’t come as naturally as some claim.

I don’t have to work at being 5’4′. I don’t have to try to keep my eyes green. I don’t have to practice having brown hair. I don’t struggle to maintain my shoe size of 8 1/2. These are natural characteristics. There is no way I can get any of that wrong. And if Christianity were a natural characteristic, no-one would get that wrong either.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On