What-if-christianity-was-a-lie

What if Christianity was a lie?

Written By Leslie Koh

After spending a number of years in the media, Leslie finally decided to move from working with bad news to good news. He believes in the power of words (especially when they’re funny). He works as an editor in Our Daily Bread Ministries.

Many years back, a friend told me casually, “God lives by faith.”

At the time, I thought, Now, that makes sense. How clever!

Indeed, it did have a ring of truth to it. And it seemed logical: If I chose to stop believing in God one day, then He would, in a way, stop existing in my life. As far as I was concerned, He would disappear suddenly. Life would go on as usual, albeit without this belief. In fact, I might even ask: What difference would it make? (Hang on, just hear me out here!)

Although I’ve been a Christian for a long time—and brought up as one—I must admit that I have occasionally toyed with the questions: What if Christianity was a lie? What if everything I believed in turned out to be untrue? What if there was really no God or Jesus, and I had been believing in nothing all this time? What would it mean for me? What would I do?

That’s when I started to think about how I would “disprove” my faith. I must stress that I’m not conducting a rigorous, theological internal debate nor trying to figure out whether Christianity is true or not—that’s way too big a question for me! Rather, I’m trying to see whether I could ever convince myself to give up my faith.

In essence, I’m asking myself: How would I know whether I’ve been taken for a ride? What would it take for me to stop believing in Jesus?

First, I would have to prove that Jesus was lying.

Why? Because Jesus had said plainly that he is the only way to God—the truth, the way, and the life—and that anyone who believes in him would have eternal life (John 14:6, 3:16). He didn’t claim to be a great teacher or religious leader, but claimed to be the Son of God, and made it clear that anyone who did not believe in him would perish.

If what Jesus said is true, then I’d be really foolish not to believe it. It would be like ignoring someone who told me not to jump off a building because of this thing called gravity. If I were to decide not to believe in Jesus, then I would need to prove that he was lying, or completely misled. No wonder writer C. S. Lewis famously said that Jesus had to be a liar, a madman, or the Son of God.

That might seem quite easy—we’ll just assume Jesus was bluffing—except for the fact that many of Jesus’ claims and actions were corroborated by numerous witnesses in first-century Palestine, including unbelievers, Jewish leaders, Roman rulers, and some who opposed him. Not only that, his words and actions were so consistent with someone who knew exactly what he was talking about, that his enemies took him seriously—enough to sentence him to death.

In other words, I would need to find an explanation for all the signs and miracles Jesus was reported to have done, and also question the assessment of the witnesses who saw the miracles—including Jesus’ resurrection from death. And I would have to ask why so many people were so convinced by what Jesus said and did that they have been willing to die for their faith. Were they so seriously mistaken? Or was Jesus so convincing that even his enemies took him seriously?

Second, I would have to prove that the Bible is untrue.

Of course, I could try to answer these questions by dismissing the Bible altogether. Then I could dismiss the whole of Christianity, which is based on what the Bible says about Jesus.

However, a lot of what is written in the Bible has been shown to be historically accurate (though some critics would disagree with this). The descriptions of various kings, prominent people, and major events, for example, have been corroborated by non-Christian sources. Of course, I could argue that only some parts of the Bible are reliable or accurate.

I would also need to address the issue of the Bible’s consistent message about Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation, it contains prophecies about Jesus’ arrival and reports of what actually happened thousands of years later, right down the smallest detail like which town he would be born in. Surprisingly, all the prophecies were fulfilled.

Now, that could be easily dismissed as fiction if the Bible was written by one storyteller seeking to convince or confuse readers. But since it is in fact written by some 40 people over a span of more than 1,500 years, it begs the questions: How can all the writers be so united and consistent in their message and descriptions of God? Why aren’t there stark contradictions, as I would expect from many people trying to tell a big lie?

If indeed Christianity were to be a lie, then how did all these writers, made up of people from prophets and kings to fishermen, and spanning hundreds of generations, somehow conspire to produce a consistent story?

Third, I would have to dismiss all my experiences.

Admittedly, I haven’t personally seen a dramatic miracle nor seen visions of Jesus. But I have experienced his presence in my life many times. I have seen specific examples of his provision and blessing in my family and career, which, if Christianity were false, I would have to somehow explain away. I could dismiss some amazing incidents as coincidences, but in some cases, the timing was too good to be mere coincidence.

I would have to discount all the times God has comforted me in my darkest, saddest moments. You might dismiss them as random, warm, fuzzy feelings that came from nowhere. But given that I’m a fairly logical person—not to mention skeptical—that would be hard to accept, even for me. Have I been so greatly deceived or self-deluded? Have I somehow managed to be so logical in all aspects of my life except my faith?

These personal experiences form part of my relationship with Jesus that I would have to ignore, if I were to convince myself that Christianity is untrue. Some people have likened the Christian faith to believing in a friend that others have not seen, and it is true for me. I have heard Jesus’ voice, spoken to Him (and heard His reply), and enjoyed His company and comfort. Would I be able to now pretend that this relationship was a complete figment of my imagination?

I would also have to figure out how people I know could have changed so much (for the better) after becoming Christians. There’s the violent gangster who became a caring pastor, the nasty auntie who became a caring person, and the abrasive friend who became much, much nicer after he turned to Christ. Sure, people can change on their own or turn over a new leaf, but it’s hard to see why they bothered to in the first place, if Jesus was not who he said he was.

…But Christ is just too real.

Some would call Christianity a religion and describe it as a crutch for the weak. Others compare it to a personal belief or way of life that can benefit one’s outlook on life but has no foundation in reality. God, they would say, lives by faith.

But having questioned my own faith, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Christian faith—for me at least—is based on both biblical and personal conviction. I believe what I read in the Bible, rely on what I assess to be truthful, logical, and factual, and at the same time, remember what I have experienced personally. In other words, I believe with both my mind and my heart.

What that means for me is that God does not depend on my belief. He exists whether I choose to follow Him or not. Going back to the example of gravity, I “believe” in gravity because I have seen its effects. And even if I decided to declare that it was a lie one day, it does not change the fact that it exists and it affects me; I would still fall off a building. In the same way, I have seen enough evidence of Jesus’ existence to be convinced that He does not live simply because I believe Him or follow Him.

What if Christianity were to be a lie? Does God live by faith? You could make a case for it, but I don’t think I’ll ever believe it. Jesus is too real for me.

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” —C. S. Lewis

17 comments
  1. Tommy
    Tommy says:

    On your second point, look up the first council of nicea. The christian bible was originally not consistent with one another. The bible you read is derived from the ones that people choose to accept.

    Reply
    • Leslie
      Leslie says:

      Hey there – It’s true that it took human hands to write the different parts of the Bible, and human minds to select and collate it into what the Bible is today. No doubt there will be inconsistencies in some of the accounts and details, and controversy over whether some books should have been included or excluded. However, I believe that God was behind the (very) human writers and men who made up the First Council of Nicea, and had divinely guided the writing and selection. While some of the details do differ (even between the Gospels!), they remain united on the main message—that Jesus is the Son of God and that He was sent to save man.

      I guess it would be like hearing about a significant incident from several friends—their accounts may vary on the details depending on their perspective, but the key points would generally agree.

      Of course, you could still say I have a bias in accepting the Bible as truth—and you’d be right. Ultimately, it is a deliberate choice that is inextricably linked to my personal experiences and faith.

    • Leslie
      Leslie says:

      That’s a question that I didn’t ask, as it wasn’t my intent at this point. I was merely questioning my own faith as a Christian without comparing it to other faiths, and trying to poke at what I personally believe in. And I was doing this based on my own (limited) knowledge of my own faith, which is why I didn’t go into the intricacies of Christian theology. For the same reason, I wouldn’t be able to do the same for other faiths, without a deeper knowledge that would be required.

  2. Ed
    Ed says:

    There are several questions we would need to address:
    1) How old is planet earth based on research against how old the earth is based on the bible (6000 years)
    2) Christianity laws – to follow or not to follow? Should those who commit adultery be stoned (old testament)? Should women cover their heads in the church (new testament)? Can we wear mixed fabrics?
    3) The versions of God. In the old testament God was vengeful and in some instances cruel. When the pharaoh agreed to release the God’s people, God casually mentioned that he would changed his heart (tamper with free will) just to show his power. He proceeded to kill all the firstborn of Egypt. Loving. In the new testament God becomes so much more malevolent. But then again Jesus cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit.
    4) The bible is not consistent even on the last words of Jesus before his death:
    Matthew 27:46-50
    About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) … And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

    Luke 23:46
    Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

    John 19:30
    When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

    Reply
    • Leslie
      Leslie says:

      These questions make for good debate and study, and I’m sure you could spend a lot of time debating them and still not come to a satisfying conclusion. And they’ll lead to even more interesting questions. At the risk of raising more hackles, can I very briefly say:
      1) Age of earth: Huge debate on this! Even the 6,000-year age is debatable, depending on interpretations of the Bible. It’s probably something theologians, scientists, biblical scholars will never quite settle.
      2) Laws: Always controversial though interesting. We need to look closely at where and when these laws were made, why, by whom, and whom they were meant to apply to. Not all are “Christian” laws in that sense. Some were cultural, some moral, some spiritual, and some specific to that era and area. Jesus himself spoke of the spirit of the law vs the letter.
      3) I believe God is the same and is consistent in His holiness, discipline, love and mercy. Again, we need to look a bit more closely at specific incidents to see why God acted the way He did. Having heard and read some stuff on it, I’ve personally found it a lot less contradictory than it looks.
      4) You’re right, there will invariably be differences in details (probably compounded by translation issues). That’s because while the Gospels were divinely-inspired, they were by written by human hands, based on human memories. As someone who has spent some years in the media, I think that makes them more authentic. I’d get a little suspicious if several people gave me accounts that were identical!
      Can I encourage you to explore these questions? I think it’s great to raise questions, and what will make it more worthwhile is not to stop there, but to dig deeper and see what the Bible (and others) say.

    • Ed
      Ed says:

      Thanks for actually allowing this comment to be posted. I once did believe in Christianity, but the more I read, the more I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The thought that this was all a lie came about when I found it harder and harder to reconcile what the bible said and what I understood about society. Some Christians love to quote the book of Leviticus when it comes to homosexuality, but it the very same chapter, mixing fabrics was considered a sin.

      A little more reading and you will find that modern science actually disproves a lot of the passages mentioned in the bible. There can be debate on the number of years earth has been around, but the bible has a very clear genealogy all they way up to Adam and Eve. It’s hard to believe that the number of years is true when some Christians mention things like dinosaurs were created by Satan to mess with them.

      On the justification of the laws you would find it even more confusing. When a line in Leviticus can be used to condemn homosexuals who are 1/10th of the population where else all the other laws are ignored. Even the way God punishes people can come into question. When Abraham lied about his wife, God punished the pharaoh and get this, rewarded Abraham. Is this just? And the tampering of the free will of the pharaoh part that I previously mentioned, is God the malevolent God of all or the malevolent God of the Israelites?

      Like you have mentioned the differences in details were because of memory issues despite being divinely inspired. The question people would immediately ask is that how on earth can a divinely inspired book be not accurate? Unless… it was not divinely inspired.

    • Leslie Koh
      Leslie Koh says:

      Hi Ed,
      Thank you for the thoughts, I appreciate the honesty! I don’t blame you at all for being frustrated by what some believers say. Many of us are guilty of quoting parts of the Bible in the wrong context—or misunderstanding them altogether—and presenting what we think is the truth in a condemning and unloving manner.
      Yes, there are certain parts that are fundamental to the faith and will come across as unbending or uncompromising, but I do think they can be shared and explained in a better way. Of course some explanations may never satisfy, but I do believe that God is consistent (though man isn’t).

      That’s why, when I questioned my own faith, I came to the conclusion that it has to be based on both logic and personal experience, at least for me. There will always be some issues I don’t quite understand or haven’t figured out, but overall, the facts, their interpretations and personal experience do paint a picture of God that I find consistent. I think it’s great to ask these questions that you have, and I believe the challenge would be to dig a little deeper and separate what people say the Bible says, and what the Bible actually says. Do keep searching!

  3. Karel
    Karel says:

    I just wanted to say how lovely it is to see a message board/comment section where people express their views and thoughts on religion in a friendly, yet honest way. I wish this were more common on the internet and elsewhere. Sorry for not adding to the discussion with this comment.

    Reply
  4. Mandy
    Mandy says:

    As we speak there re 100s of people in mental asylums claiming to to have some sort of connection to god. God is a lie. Just think of it this way. 2×2=4 not 3.999999999999 and not 4.ooooooooo1. How come we can accept this as a fact but we can not accept if there was a god and created the whole of universe and everything in it in 7 days but human beings like you and I have been around 150-160000 years and dinosaurs were around millions of years before any humans. Our planet is 4.5 billoun years old.So if the claim (7 days) is a lie, god is a lie. When god is a lie, David, Abraham, noses, Jesus, heaven, hell, Noah So on and so forth are all lies. Well, they didn’t know any better, these claims can only be true to an inferior being who can not look for answers out side the box. Just think of concept of Heaven, it all falls a part, we are all beautiful, healthy, with people we love, even those whom we loved but they hated us. we are all dancing and signing in state of hallucination. How is that thriving for life.What kind of existence is this? Human with all the humanity taken out. If in heaven we never feel sad, we must accept that in the same token we can not feel happy, WE CAN NOT FEEL = WE DON’T EXIST=NO AFTER LIFE= NO GOD. You have one life , you owe it to yourself to be happy and in order to be happy, do not do to others what you don’t wish the others to do to you. As simple as that. Pay your taxes because some one else paid for you and your family, now its your turn. One is even e better human being if one does good things without expecting reward and does it for humanity sake.

    Reply
  5. Joseph
    Joseph says:

    Here are some indications of a recent creation date of which, I hope you would study more on this and get your own answer:

    1. Population statistics
    – If the first man appeared 1 million years ago, the world population at present would be 10×27000 ZEROS; no more than 10×100 zeros can be crammed into the known universe
    2. The amount of Helium-4 in the atmosphere
    -This suggests that our atmosphere is less than 15,000 years old
    3. The absense of meteorite dust
    -Each year, 15 million tons of nickel meteorite dust settle to earth. If the earth is 5 billion years old, then there should be a 200 feet layer all over the planet. However, no such layer can be found
    4. The decay of the earths magnetic field
    -It has been shown that this field has a half-life of 1400 years. This means, it weakened 50% each 14 centuries. It means that the magnetic field was twice as strong 1400 years ago, four times as strong 2800 years ago. Only 7,000 years ago it must’ve been thirty-two times as strong; it is very doubtful that it could have been stronger than this
    5. The imbalance of Carbon-14 and Carbon-12
    -It would take a period of 30,000 years to attain equilibrium between these two
    6. Carbon dating is never accurate
    – Go Google it yourself

    Reply
    • Arani
      Arani says:

      1) How did you get that figure? Calculations please. Do note that though birth rates were indeed probably higher than now, mortality rates were very high too. Add susceptibility to disease, etc, and the growth rate isn’t as simple as you make it out to be.

      2) How does it suggest this? Explain please.

      3) Even when the dust settles, wind will blow it all over the place. Once it settles in the oceans, it will subduct beneath the crust and into the mantle where it is destroyed and you won’t find it on the surface. It is, after all, DUST.

      4) The strength of the Earth’s magnetic field changes with time. It doesn’t change the same way throughout the Earth’s history. Even if it is decaying at a half-life of 1400 years based on current measurements doesn’t mean it was doing even a short while ago. After all, we’ve only been measuring the magnetic field for the last hundred years or so and you can’t generalize so easily based on such data.

      5) Uhh Carbon-14 decays into Nitrogen-14 but carbon-12 doesn’t decay into anything, and carbon-14 is a lot less than carbon-12 and since they don’t decay into each other there is no way they can be in equilibrium?? No logic in your statement.

      6) We don’t use Carbon dating for long timescales over more than a few thousand years. Please go google as to the radioactive dating methods people use for long geological timescales for millions and hundreds of millions of years. A simple google search should enlighten you.

      Please don’t use faulty science to mislead people. The world is more complicated than what you are implying.

    • Lucien
      Lucien says:

      Joseph, let me tell you a story.
      My grandfather was a heavy smoker, he used to smoke day and night. Eventually we lost him to cancer, since then, I promised myself I would never smoke to avoid the risk of cancer.
      I now regret that decision as I got it from reading your post.

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