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Is Belief in God “Just a Crutch”?

One of the leading charges that has advanced atheism in our time is that religion (belief in God) is wish-fulfillment. Because belief in some kind of God is so pervasive, present in every age and culture, it has to be explained. Either this unanimity points to something real (a God who exists, however imperfectly understood), or it can be explained as wish-fulfillment (a fantasy created by weak people who can’t face real fears and threats). The philosophical founders of modern atheism, Feuerbach, Freud, and Marx, all used a variation of this latter approach. Contemporary atheists such as Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, also use this psychological charge against believers. This lecture gives answers to this objection and in the end, turns the tables on this approach. It can, with real force and cogency, be argued that atheism is wish-fulfillment.

Study Questions:

  1. Why do atheists have to explain religion’s existence?
  2. Why is the charge of wish-fulfillment a logical fallacy? What
    does C.S. Lewis call this?
  3. Does the fact that we wish for something prove its non-existence?
  4. Are there some elements of Christianity that we might wish
    were not true?
  5. How is atheism wish-fulfillment?
  6. Do atheists admit that this is the case?
  7. How does atheism undermine the very use of reason necessary to make their case?


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