That was the question asked to me yesterday by a dear friend as we drove to lunch. And it’s a good one.
As I’ve written recently, I’m disheartened by the number of friends of mine who are no longer theists. The latest is Ryan Bell, who is starting a Year Without God (I blame AJ Jacobs for all the “Year Of…” madness; I think that meme has pretty much run its course). Ryan is a former pastor, and now a former instructor at Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University. (In a post about being let go from those positions, he says that Christian institutions of higher learning are afraid of faculty asking tough questions. I have not found that to be the case at Fuller, though I do have my concerns about other schools. Fuller has continued to employ me in spite of the objections raised by several high profile alumni.) Is Ryan really living as an atheist for the year? Some atheists don’t think so.
But back to the question my friend asked me. As someone beset with doubts, she wondered what it is that keeps me Christian. I have several answers to the question — many of which relate specifically to Jesus of Nazareth — but here’s the one reason that’s most significant to me these days:
The vast, vast majority of my fellow human beings are theists. Globally, well over 95% of the human race professes belief in God. As others have noted recently, atheism is a position of privilege. Atheism is almost exclusively the purview of educated, white elites. The old saying goes that there are no atheists in foxholes, but it should be updated to say that their are no atheists in the slums of Bangladesh, in the townships of South Africa, in the trash heaps of India.
At this point, I simply cannot abide severing myself from the rest of the world’s population, from 7 billion of my fellow human beings. I have enough respect for the collective wisdom of humanity to stand in solidarity with them in proclaiming that there is, indeed, a God.