Dear Believer, Your Christian Beliefs are Simply a Crutch

Why do religious believers believe? This question is asked by Plumbline Pictures in their video – Dear Believer: Why Do You Believe? (ORIGINAL) – YouTube.[1]

In this blog series, I’ve been assessing their arguments against religion. I’ve responded to the following ideas:

  1. You’re only a religious devotee / believer because you were born into it.
  2. All devotees of their religion think their beliefs are the only correct ones. What are the odd that you, dear believer, are correct and everyone else is wrong?
  3. Religious believers are atheists too when it comes to other religions. They just believe in one more god than the atheist does.

Here’s another objection from them:

Objection 4 – Religion is a crutch to make people feel better

“I wonder if religions aren’t just ancient constructs … attempt[ing] to explain unexplained phenomenon. Though irrational in content, they are not irrational in their emergence. But we no longer live in the dark; science is ablaze in our world, we no longer live in the cave. We no longer require comforting stories that make us feel safe, comforted or valued. Isn’t it time our faith matches our discoveries? Our ideas, our new perspective? Greater awe in reality rather than fantasy?”[2]

1 – But’s Isn’t Atheism Also a Crutch?

I’ve always wondered why people claim that belief in God, and Christianity in particular, is some sort of emotional “crutch”? After all, crutches come in all shapes and sizes. If we define atheism as disbelief in a God (or lack of belief in a God), then can’t this also act as a crutch? If there’s no God, then I don’t have anyone who I am ultimately accountable to. I can live life as I please, and I won’t be answerable to anyone in an ultimate sense. This props up my own self reliance and belief that – my life is ultimately down to me and my choices alone.

Greg Reeves puts his finger on the main crutch of atheism when he says that if there is no God then when I die, no one is going to hold me accountable for my immoral actions.[3] I can live as I please and indulge whatever desires I happen to have. Yes – there are consequences in the here and now – but no God exists to answer to. So – who cares!

Yet perhaps, as C S Lewis said in Mere Christianity, we have a cause to feel uneasy in atheism. If objective standards of morality exist in the world, then that means there is a moral law. And there are very good reasons to understand this moral law as objective. So – there must be a moral law Giver. Don’t you think the one who sets objective moral laws that apply across every human society – might have something to say about those who break those laws? The atheist has reason to feel uneasy as he leans on the crutch atheism to justify his lifestyle.

2 – Christianity is Rarely Easy

People who decide to authentically live out their Christian beliefs rarely escape some sort of painful collision with their society. The evidence for this is overwhelming, and here’s a taste of it.

In the 3rd century AD, Perpetua became one of the first female Christian martyrs in Carthage, North Africa. Christianity was viewed with suspicion at the time as it denied the emperor’s divine character. Consequently, Christians were thrown into the arena to be torn apart by animals, or killed by the sword. Imagine a young mother who was unwilling to deny her Jesus, and so faced execution as her family begged her to recant. That’s the Perpetua story. Christianity was not easy for her.[4]

In 2019, the then British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered a report on religious persecution around the world. This report found that Christian persecution in various areas around the world are at near genocide levels.

Christianity in Iraq is close to extinction. In the previous few years, Christians have been brutally killed in Iraq by Islamic State militants. The oldest Christian church in the world is in Iraq, and it is almost gone.[5] Christianity is not easy for Iraqis.

I have friends in Malawi and Mozambique in Africa today whose lives are under threat from Nigerian Islamic militants. They are not sure from day to day whether they will be safe. Its becoming less and less easy to be a Christian in some African countries.

Mao Zedong’s Chinese government are working to eradicate religious belief in China. The officially atheist nation only permits religious believers to attend nationally instituted churches which do not maintain Christian beliefs. Ironically, their attempts at stamping out Christianity has led to its growth. Estimates are that over 100 million Chinese Christians are active in the underground Chinese Christian church, and it is growing. Yet the Christians are also being persecuted. Church leaders are being taken from their families, interrogated, and jailed.[6] Christianity is not easy for the Chinese.

Clearly, Christianity is not easy for a lot of people.

3 – Christianity Removes A Person’s Autonomy

Perhaps the atheist misses this important point, but the life of the Christian is about following Christ and his will for your life. It is not about following your own autonomy. After around fifty years as a Christian, I have rarely found this to be an easy process.

I had a plan in my early twenties for what I wanted to do with my life. I was never going to give up my Christian beliefs, but I was going to invest and focus in my career. I remember where I was when I suddenly realised that I could not follow that plan, because Jesus had another plan for my life that I had to follow. And – I realised that following his plan was my only option.

I have not fully understood his plan, and so I have stumbled my way through things during my life. But I’ve always sought to follow what Jesus has been leading me to do. This has rarely been easy.

I have had to balance my working life with service in the church. This has involved many challenging roles, like taking groups of people to visit Malawi and Mozambique in Africa for periods of time and teaching there. These are not comfortable trips.

I have funded multiple theological degrees myself to better prepare myself for Christian ministry. This has cost in excess of 100 thousand pounds – and its not finished yet.

I have built and maintained relationships with people in the church over the years inspite of the difficulties that I have experienced with them. I have known various church leaders who have been quite controlling in their dealings with me. Inevitably, not everything I have followed them into has been a roaring success. The reality, is that I have only done this because I am following Jesus and want to build Jesus’ church. And I know that difficult people and challenging relationships are used by God to build my character. And people who are difficult to work with are sometimes those who are able to achieve great things. Has this been easy for me? Not at all!

4 – Whatever Christianity Is, the Reasons for Theism Must Be Considered

Finally, its actually irrelevant whether or not Christianity is viewed as a crutch or not!

If there are good reasons for becoming a Christian, as the countless persecuted Christians in the world today would attest to, then we must respond to those reasons. Maybe Christianity is a crutch to some, maybe it leads to painful hammer blows to others. It doesn’t change the fact that – the reasons for Christian belief are what must be considered.

Christian belief is rooted in historical events, not fictional claims. As I said in the previous blog in this series, the arguments for theism are incredibly robust. Christianity makes sense of the world, but it does so much more.

5 – Conclusion

C S Lewis once said –

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

I don’t think Christianity is a crutch. It is a challenging life, but it has incredibly helpful and positive aspects to it. Being a Christian is like having a light that illuminates our path forward in a dark and dangerous world.


[1] Dear Believer: Why Do You Believe? (ORIGINAL), Plumbline Pictures, posted 3rd May 2014, accessed 21st December, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl_TrvIIcBY.

[2] Ibid., 07:58.

[3] Greg Reeves, A response to “Dear Believer, Why Do You Believe?” part 2 of 2, accessed 3rd January, 2022, https://twobooksapproach.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-response-to-dear-believer-why-do-you.html.

[4] Saint Perpetua, Encyclopedia.com, accessed 3rd January, 2022, https://www.encyclopedia.com/children/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/perpetua-saint.

[5] Iraq’s Christians close to Extinction, BBC News, published 23rd May, 2019, accessed 3rd January, 2022, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-48333923.

[6] In China, they’re Closing Churches, Jailing Pastors – and Even Rewriting Scripture, The Guardian, published 13th January, 2019, accessed 3rd January, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/13/china-christians-religious-persecution-translation-bible.

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Respond

I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

10 thoughts on “Dear Believer, Your Christian Beliefs are Simply a Crutch”

  1. Your arguments are all topsy-turvy; atheists have no accountability? We’re accountable to ourselves, to our loved ones, and to act responsibly in a social construct where the rules have been agreed upon by a common sense of purpose. Granted, these “rules” (laws? if you will) change over time and have many times since the trend towards building civilizations began however there’s a reason why humankind thought to live in such social groups and various formal & informal codes of conduct were known and acknowledged.

    Religion is the crutch, my friend. You can always tell yourself “god has a plan for me” when you haven’t the slightest idea of what any supernatural being is thinking or has in store for anyone. You’re just making this stuff up out of whole cloth to relieve yourself of any accountability or blame. What happens in your life happens because of the decisions you make or don’t make, the people you associate with or don’t, and the lessons you learn or don’t. Besides if you truly do believe in an omniscient god you have no freewill and everything you do has already been planned and known by god before you even thought of it. Where’s the accountability in that?

    1. Upside down? Really…?

      First – you are saying you have no ultimate accountability. Well – I agree with that claim in my blog. That’s my point.

      Second – you can always tell yourself – “I have a plan for my life and it’s all up to me.” Right? So – that relieves you of any ultimate accountability. How comforting! You seem to apply your comfort to me in your reply…sounds like you assume Christians make Christianity up. That’s odd – because that’s the opposite of what my particular blog says. Perhaps you are reading your atheism into what I am saying. That’s a problem – because I’m a theist.

      Third – no free will? That’s simply not the case and a misunderstanding of Christianity and the teaching of the Bible…which urges us to make positive life giving choices. How can we do that if we don’t have free will? Perhaps the real issue is – you don’t understand how God’s sovereignty and human responsibility can coexist. Well, that’s on you, friend. That’s not my issue. Please don’t read your misunderstanding into my blog. Humans are assumed to have free will from the beginning of Genesis – and therefore also accountability to God. How does that work? You’ve got some work to do…

  2. Not made up? The entirety of your religion is made up by people (men) for people (everyone. Every single line of scripture was written by and for people. Try critically reading it sometime, it contains all the same mistakes one would expect 4 different people, that didn’t witness any of it first hand – or even second hand for that matter – to describe an event. This is doubly so when the event is mythological.

    And the matter of free will is settled: of course you have no freewill! It is empirically impossible for you to have freewill if you have an omniscient god that already knows everything you’re going to do, say, even think! There’s no argument here, don’t give me your nonsense about how you know more about a “god” works or his “sovereignty”. Just is just baloney your feed yourself to keep your beliefs. There’s no “misunderstanding” here, you are the one that misunderstands. Try reading some philosophy on the matter, it does not exist. This is one of the primary reason why religion – and Christianity in particular – doesn’t work and never will.

    1. Do you understand the de ray / de dicto distinction in philosophy? It doesn’t sound like it. More work required, I think. Exploring this would be more productive than ranting bare assertions (not formed arguments) at blogs you disagree with. Critical thinking? I’m not hearing it from you sir.

    2. RaPar, Your comment is interesting in that everything in it is so easily proven false.

      For example, as a matter of fact, the Bible is a compendium on the nature of God and man. In that it is infallible. As a matter of faith, the Bible is the story of God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Any atheist who attacks an article of faith of someone’s religion is a bigot. Additionally, since atheism is itself, 100% faith-based, attacking someone else’s faith because it is faith, is self contradictory.

      Another example is your erroneous statement that because God is all-knowing, human beings have no free will:

      “It is empirically impossible for you to have freewill if you have an omniscient god that already knows everything you’re going to do, say, even think!”

      As a teacher, I work with young people. Sometimes I know what they going to say or do because I have seen other young people do the same thing a million times, in the past. Does my foreknowledge take away my students’ free will? Of course not. My foreknowledge has nothing to do with my students’ free will. Consequently, God’s foreknowledge of what we do has nothing whatsoever to do with our free will.

      I will leave it at that. Your comment is an irrational mess. At your request I will dismantle it completely.

  3. I certainly get that. It doesn’t sound as though you possess those skills, my friend. Pray tell how can there be free will if EVERYTHING you do is ALREADY known to your god? There is NOTHING you can do that he/she doesn’t ALREADY know you’re going to do? Do you really want to debate this? Really? Is your god omniscient or not? Don’t give me your nonsensical pseudo-philosophical theological nonsense, just answer the question. The entire history of Christianity has been twisted, turned, inverted, and perverted by people a lot smarter than you and it STILL does not stand up to scrutiny.

    Please explain to me how it is possible to have free will AND an omniscient god. I’ll wait…..

  4. So – can I assume you DIDN’T explore the de ray / de dicto distinction then?

    Friend – philosophers and theologians have done lots of thinking on this subject for centuries. But you don’t seem to have read any of it. If you did so – perhaps we could talk about it? 🙄

  5. Crutches are needed by people who are injured and broken. To that extent, Christianity is my crutch – I am a sinful and broken person who is in need of a lot of help – I need a crutch. I cannot stand alone under the weight of my sin.
    There is a Canadian Christian hard rock band named Thousand Foot Krutch – I don’t listen to much of their music, but I like the idea behind the name of the band – I don’t just need a crutch, I need a very big crutch!

  6. First the “atheists are evil“ argument – if there’s no God, I can live life as I please, and do whatever I want, to whoever I want, whenever I want and I won’t be answerable to anyone in an ultimate sense. This is not a description of an atheist. It is a description of a psychopath. Atheists in modern society are just as constrained as theists.

    Second “the Giver of morals” argument -if objective standards of morality exist, then there is a moral law and so there must be a moral law Giver. This is a typical fallacious theistic argument. A better argument is moral values arose because of simple evolutionary processes. All ancient societies were the result of a general recognition that cooperation was better for the greater good than dog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest. Common objective moral laws simply attempted to define what was acceptable, what was not acceptable, and to define the penalty for transgressing.

    Third the persecution argument –Persecution of Christians is common as is persecution of anybody daring to be different, be it religious differences, political differences or sexual differences. Its part of our innate herd mentality going back to the days when being part of a herd improved ones chances of survival. Anyone daring to be different was automatically perceived as a potential threat. Hence we have persecution of theists by other [different] theists, and we have persecution of anything perceived as a threat to an entity, by said entity.

    Fourth, the “isn’t atheism also a crutch?” argument –you define atheism as “disbelief in a God” (or lack of belief in a God). Atheism is simply the rejection of atheistic claims that there is a god [their god of course] until such time the theist provides acceptable proof to justify said claim. Given this better definition, what is there to use as a crutch?

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