Is Christianity really harmful?

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With the rise of the new atheism, Christianity is under intellectual attack. One recurring theme on the part of critics is that Christianity is actually harmful to individuals and to the world. It is, they say, a religion that leads to oppression, warfare, opposition to science, and anti-intellectualism.

Are these charges true? Hardly. A look at the facts of history demonstrates Christianity's positive influence on individuals and the world. From its beginnings Christianity stressed God's love as its ethical foundation. Early Christians also understood the importance and moral implications of the biblical teaching that human beings are made in God's image. If, after all, we are made in God's image, then every human life is of inestimable worth. That's one reason early Christians rescued babies that were left to die and why the church would later found orphanages and hospitals.

Given Christianity's ethical foundation based on God's love, as well as Christ's call to "do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12, NIV), the results of truly following Christianity are positive, not harmful, having resulted in many tangible blessings throughout the world as Christians risk their safety in order to help others.

Moreover, Christianity is a thinking religion, calling followers to use their minds in the pursuit of truth (see, for instance, Matthew 22:37-39). When the Apostle Paul was accused of being "insane" for his beliefs, he did not respond by offering blind faith. Instead he remarked, "What I am saying is true and reasonable" (Acts 26:25, NIV). Early Christians often appealed to evidence for their faith, as well as engaging in reasoned discussion (see, for example, Acts 1:3; 17:2, 17:17; 18:19).

If true Christianity were removed from the world, the loss would be incalculable. The truth is, Christianity has left its positive marks on a number of areas of life including social justice, music, art, literature, philosophy, science, charity, democracy, and more. That's why Sonlight created What Good is Christianity? This upper-level high school curriculum graciously addresses many of the criticisms of contemporary skeptics, while underscoring the numerous beneficial contributions Christians and Christianity have made to the world.

What do you think? Do the critics have some valid points? Is there a particular charge against Christianity that has caused you concern? If so, post your comment here.

 

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