Challenge: You Just Needed a Father Figure

Posted: July 5, 2011 by Amy Hall in God is Real, Weekly Challenge

There are a lot of people out there who think you’re just deceiving yourself about Christianity in order to feel better about your life. Have you heard this objection before?

Christianity is basically wish fulfillment. People wanted a strong father figure, so they invented one. They wanted to feel safe and protected and think that everything would be all right in the end. It’s all psychological.

There are a few things this person might not have thought of before. What points would you like to bring up with him? How would you respond? Let us know, then come back on Thursday to hear how you did.

  1. bobby says:

    even is that were the case, that christianty is a comfort blanket for people who want there to be a heaven that in no way disproves christianity – i mean i could say to the atheist “The only reason your and atheist is because you mad at god or you think he’s evil and you dont want him to exist or your just pissed off at reilgion” i dont care how it makes people feel i care about if the propostion of “Atheism” or Christianity” is true or false

  2. Sam Harper says:

    I’d ask them, “Why do you think people invented God because they wanted a father figure?” The problem with this objection to theism is that it’s totally contrived and unprovable. It can be dismissed out of hand. The person who makes this kind of argument is going to have an impossible time demonstrating that everybody who believes in God does so because they want a father figure. And they’re going to have an even harder time (if it’s even possible to be harder than ‘impossible’) demonstrating that God was invented by somebody who just had a desire for a father figure. How are they even going to be able to figure out who invented God? And if they COULD figure out who invented God, how are they going to assess their psychological state of mind to discover their motives?

    But even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that people DID invent God because they wanted a father figure, or that people presently believe in God out of a wish for a father figure, what on earth has that got to do with whether or not God exists? Granted, it doesn’t follow that because we wish something to be true, that it’s therefore true, but nobody as far as I know ever argues that God exists because they want him to exist. But, on the other hand, just because you want something to exist, it doesn’t follow that it does NOT exist either. Our wishes have very little if anything to do with whether or not God exists.

    If it turns out that there are good reasons to think God exists, then this objection suffer from irrelevance. I may wish God exists, and still have good reasons to think he does. After all, there are lots of things I hope for that nobody would doubt just because I hope for them. I wish it would cool down, and I’m pretty sure that in September or October, it WILL cool down. I have good reason to think so.

    This objection is the sort of thing C.S. Lewis was talking about when he said you first have to show THAT somebody is wrong before you go on to explain WHY he is wrong. Explaining WHY somebody is wrong as if it amounted to an argument showing THAT he is wrong is the fallacy of bulverism.

    It’s tempting to point out that a lot of famous atheists have had negative relationships with their fathers and then attempt to turn this objection on its head by giving a psychological explanation for atheism, but I don’t really like that approach because it assumes there’s some validity to this kind of reasoning. I’d rather just point out the flaws in that kind of thinking directly.

  3. Albert says:

    1) I could think of so many ways to make me feel better about myself than to choose to believe in Jesus and follow him. The idea that Jesus says we will be persecuted for his sake doesn’t sound like it would make me feel good at all.

    2) I don’t want Christianity to be true because it means some of my friends will not be going to Heaven. How is this give me a feeling that everything will be alright in the end?

    3) Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This has nothing to do with wanting a father figure. It has to do with his claim true or not.

    4) We have proof that Jesus existed as a person. And of all the writings we have of him we have a picture of someone that loved us enough to come and warn us of our impending doom. But along with that he gave us a way to be forgiven for every sin we have and will commit. This has nothing to do with a father figure. I never remember my dad teaching me to be a good person by him dying on a cross. Where is the fatherly lesson in that?

    5) How many kids like to be disciplined? I can’t think of any. Jesus’ words would be extreme discipline for a person that is wanting a father figure. Why do you think the people that don’t accept him now, don’t follow him? It’s because of the amount of discipline that is required.

    If it was wish fulfillment, I would wish that everyone would be in Heaven with me because that is just me.
    But God can’t have it that way. So some of the “good” people, that I would let in, will not be there when they die. That doesn’t sound like something I would wish. But the fact is, it’s not my Heaven and I don’t have a say in who gets in and who doesn’t.

    To follow Christ is to acknowledge that he was who he claimed to be. And if he was who the claimed to be, then we must accept him. To not accept him would be to say, we don’t care where we go, I will not bow my knee to him, regardless of what he did for me. I’m in charge.

  4. The argument is a genetic fallacy. First, you’d actually need to prove it’s true instead of making assertions without basis, but that would be difficult to do as Sam said. But even if it is true, the origin of a person’s belief says nothing of its veracity. All it does is say something interesting about the person.