Is Christianity Harmful?

Dustin Huguet Articles 5 Comments

                I was recently engaged in a discussion with an atheist.  As we conversed, one thought kept crossing my mind, “Why are atheists so bent on convincing people there is no God?”  For me this has always been puzzling especially when I consider Pascal’s Wager.  For those who don’t know, Pascal’s Wager essentially suggests that it is safer to believe in God than it is not to.  What that means is that when it comes to atheism versus Christianity, if the atheist is correct, then both the Christian and the atheist have the same destiny – nothingness, no life after death.  However, if the Christian is correct, then their destinies are actually quite opposite – the atheist goes to hell; the Christian goes to heaven.  Not only that, but even if an atheist is adamant about their position, why would they attempt to change a Christian’s mind on what they believe?  At least a Christian has hope of eternity with Christ and belief that there is much more than just this life.  So I had to ask the atheist, “What is your motivation for convincing others of atheism?”  He claimed that religion actually does more harm to the world than good, and that he wished to rid the world of this apparent disease – a viewpoint not uncommon among atheists.  The question then remains, are atheists correct?  Would the world be a better place without the likes of Christianity?  Obviously my short answer is “No!” however, I will happily explain why.

First and foremost, suggesting that religion (specifically Christianity) is harmful, would be a misunderstanding of the teachings of Christianity.  Often times, I hear people referencing the crusades as an argument to affirm the horror that Christianity causes.  The problem with this argument is that it is an attack on an event, not on the teachings.  There is nothing in the Christian doctrine (that is Biblically based) that condones such an event.  Actions like this are not congruent with the character of Christ and therefore, we cannot suggest that Christianity as a whole operates in this way.  A true follower of Christ is one that imitates him and acts in accordance with his character.  This would be true for any situation.  If I claimed to be a police officer and continuously broke the law, people would know that I was not a police officer, but rather, a criminal – the same goes for Christians.  Simply claiming to be Christian means nothing.  Instead, it is the actions of a person that defines who they are.  So when Christianity teaches to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44), “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39), “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31), “consider others better than yourself” (Philippians 2:3), etc. how can we say that it causes more harm than good?  It would appear to me that the very heart of the Christian message is to love, even when it is most tempting to hate!

Secondly, I have a question for the atheist – what is good?  Does good exist in the atheist worldview?  If so, who decided it was good?  The most common answer I have received is that “good is what benefits the sustainability and the progression of human society”.  However, this answer produces another question… “So what?”  Sure, on paper this can seem like a pretty rational statement, but why should anyone care about what benefits society?  Especially when it requires sacrifice on their part?  Should people then be obligated to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of society and human life?  If there is no life after death, if there is no accountability, if there is no purpose to one’s life or even to the lives of all humans, why should anyone care to prolong this futile, finite existence?  What makes that better than living completely and utterly for one’s own benefit?  According to this worldview, there is no such thing as a greater good or objective good.  Good becomes completely relative to each and every person.  So it would then seem to me if we live by an atheist worldview this could actually produce a more harmful reality than Christianity.  If everyone were to believe that there was no eternal accountability or meaning for their actions, then it would potentially cause people to start living entirely for what benefits themselves; having no regard for others around them.  Whereas, in the Christian realm, there is teaching about sacrificial living and counting others greater than ourselves.  So that being said, would the world actually be better off without Christianity?

Ultimately when one says that Christianity is harmful to society, or to the human race, it is out of ignorance.  This belief comes out of failure to recognize all the good that Christianity has done for the world, while emphasizing the negative events that have occurred with the gross misrepresentation of what Christ stands for.  The reality is that Christianity is often on the forefront of engaging the hurting world.  Many organizations bearing the name of Christ are continuously giving sacrificially to a world that is desperate.  Would it really be “liberating” to rid the world of these organizations?  To the atheist, it shouldn’t matter, at best.  The attitude of the atheist should be one of indifference, because ultimately we live, we die, and that’s it – good and bad, are irrelevant.  Therefore, even if Christianity was harmful, it would not be justifiable from the seat of an atheist to condemn it.


By Dustin Huguet – Youth and Young adults pastor at Seaview Pentecostal Assembly in White Rock, BC

Comments 5

  1. I am a non-believer — “atheist” to you. I’m fine with that. Do you really want me to believe that you’re incapable of being good without threats against you? The Old Testament abides (and sometimes outright advocates) all manner of nasty behavior (incest, slavery, homophobia, xenophobia, chauvinism, misogyny, corporal punishment, infanticide etc) but threatens death by such barbaric methods as stoning for blasphemy. I’m sure YOU are not a barbarian though, which means you don’t follow everything according to the bible. So how are you making the distinctions between the passages you follow and the passages you don’t?

    You already have an innate sense of right and wrong, just like I do, and you apply it while you read the bible to make decisions. I’m sure you don’t lock your wife and/or daughter(s) out of the house during their menstruation cycle, right? (Leviticus 15:19) Right. Now why do you make that distinction? Because you know it’s wrong already. You don’t need anyone to tell you, either. You just know when you read it that you’re going to skip that rule.

    Even without going through multiple examples, I don’t believe, even for a second, that you believe, even for a second, that all atheists are incapable of choosing good deeds over evil ones. To believe that would put you in a perpetual state of fearing your fellow man and I doubt you live that way.

  2. I just want to say first, thank you for your comment. I appreciate not only that you took the time to read my article, but also went as far as to throw a few challenges my way, which I hope I address to your satisfaction.

    To start I want you to know that my article was in no way intended to suggest that atheists are incapable of good. I agree, the world would be a far more scary place should atheists be only capable of evil. Instead, my position was designed to argue that Christianity was not harmful to the world. In my argument I do talk about how calling something “good” or “bad” without God is merely subjective. In other words, good and bad is defined by an individual or group of individuals that may or may not be different from another individual or group of individual’s definition of it. Therefore to suggest that anything is good or bad (without God) is a matter of opinion. Again, this does not suggest that without belief in God, one is incapable of good.

    In your comment you imply that one acts in compliance with God strictly out of fear of what he may do to them. I believe this is only the case with those who claim to believe, but are completely unfamiliar with the character of God and have somehow developed this “fire insurance” mentality where belief and obedience are done in hopes that a “spot is saved” in heaven for them. I admit, the Old Testament poses some rather tough questions when seen at a glance. However, with in-depth study and research of the scriptures, we can see that God’s character is completely congruent with the character of Jesus Christ.

    You suggest that my sense of right and wrong acts as a mediator with what I choose to believe/accept from the Bible. However, I would like to say here and now that I have absolutely no problem with anything the Bible says whether it be Old or New Testament and I do believe all of it to be God inspired. With that being said, I will say that in the New Testament we are given words that suggest observance of the law (i.e. the torah, the pentetuech, the first 5 books of the OT) is not satisfactory enough for salvation from our sin (for example: book of Galatians). Rather it is the blood of Christ that acts as a perfect sacrifice to cover our sin forever.

    So what does that mean? Well what I’m saying is, the whole point of the law in the OT was to be a temporary method to (as much as humanly possible) remain pure before God – the key word being “temporary”. Today, mere observance of the law is not what we are instructed to do, but rather we are commanded to do as Christ did. In fact, the very word “Christian” means “Christ follower” or “follower of Christ”. So if you want a clear-cut concept of Christianity, read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). To say that Christians pick and choose what they want to believe and what they don’t want to believe, is fundamentally incorrect. Although I cannot speak for everyone who calls themselves Christians, I will say that when it comes to the Bible, a true Christian believes all.

    Again I will admit, the OT presents challenges when simply read at a surface level. But any novice scholar can tell you that in order to interpret the true real meaning from anything, you have to dig deeper. I do not suggest that the OT has no relevant meaning, but rather, one must understand the culture, the context, and the character of God in order to draw applicable meaning out of it.

    Finally, I just want to remind you that nothing I have said is to stand as an attack on the belief of others, but rather to serve as a defense of my own faith. I believe that Christianity inspires action that does a lot of tangible good in this world, and to suggest it is harmful to today’s society, I believe, is completely false.

    Again thank you for your comment and if you have any more questions/challenges for me, I would be happy to do my best to address them.

  3. And the Chaplan blessed the crew of the Enola Gay, blessed the mission in the name of God. Being an Atheist I really can’t endorse the deaths of 140,000 innocent souls, who died in approximately 0.003 seconds, the time it takes to detonate a nuclear bomb. My point is, the Christian God historically seems to get tangled up in all sorts of horrendous atrocities comitted against human souls who stand in the way of the “name of God”. How come? Why does it continue? (George W. Bush, Iraq). I think Atehists would approach world politics (war?) with intellect and reason not a moral high ground to slaughter the innocents… Christianity owes history an astonishing and profound apology, if one even exists.

    1. Hi John

      You’re not being very fair by inferring God is responsible for atrocities committed in his name. You don’t blame Henry Ford when a mustang cuts you off in traffic just like I suspect you don’t blame “athiesm” for the slaughter of millions by Hitler or Stalin. As an intellectual and reasonable person, I’m sure you can make the distinction between a statement of belief and the actions of those who believe it. On the athiest view, there is no “moral high ground” — these type of atrocities are performed by people who are merely the biological products of their environment and could not have evolved any other way — so there is no “right” or “wrong” or “purpose” — only the determined outcome of the natural order of thing. We feel anger on these subjects because God has imbued a moral framework in the core of our being that testifies to these evils, and similarly, the “feeling” we have that life saving actions of a hero are “good” and “right.”

      I’m in no way excusing the pain and damage caused by those waving a “god” banner – just drawing the obvious distinction between their actions and stated belief. The truth is that God of the bible cares very deeply about what goes on in this world and has made it clear what “true religion” is:

      “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – James 1:27

      “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31

      “‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 22:16

      (see for hundreds more references)

      Thanks for your post – hope I made some sense here.


  4. What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, section 2

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