MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: answering tough questions about God.
Paul Copan teaches philosophy and ethics from a Christian perspective. He often hears hard questions from both Christians and non-Christians about God’s response to human atrocities.
NICK EICHER, HOST: In this week’s Listening In, host Warren Smith talks to Copan about why some people who are raised in the faith fall away from it—while those raised in non-Christian homes come to faith. Let’s listen now to an excerpt of their conversation.
WARREN SMITH, HOST: Let’s start with that first group. The folks that were maybe raised in the faith, but at some point fall away. What are some of the reasons they fall away?
PAUL COPAN, GUEST: One of the reasons that they fall away is sometimes just a matter of having intellectual doubts, wondering about questions that they have. And what adds to the problem is that they often find in their own churches that there is no one who is first taking their question seriously, or if they do listen to them and try to tackle their questions, the answers are not very satisfying. Other times, it could be a certain cultural mood that contributes to this. It’s been said that we live in a secular age, which one philosopher, Charles Taylor, has defined it as basically being an era in which belief in God is contestable, that there are many options, not just one. And so we live in an environment in which the burden of proof is now on the person who claims to be a believer and atheism or skepticism is the default position. So if you want to make a case for your viewpoint, the person in question is going to be the believer.
And so the atheist in a sense or the skeptic thinks he can sit back and just let the Christian make his case. I just recently talked to a pastor who was struggling with the problem of evil, and he was thinking about stepping away from the ministry because he felt like he didn’t have the resources to address a deep evil that his community had to deal with. And so the problem of evil is often one of those factors.
We can also add the issue of hypocrisy, that people who are within the church see their leaders, see those or even their parents who were supposed to be examples of living consistent Christian lives and they see hypocrisy that is there, that that becomes a real stumbling block for them. So that hypocrisy issue also is something that looms large in this conversation. So those are the few things that I think are worth considering.