One of the many dismissive and unsubstantiated claims made by atheists is that religion, or in the context of this statement, and when it was made during a conversation I was in – Christianity, is nothing more than an “archaic superstition.” Is it? Those who make this claim have yet to provide any evidence to support it. But let's examine this claim and see just how accurate it is.
Let's begin with an accurate definition of the phrase in order to have a baseline by which to examine whether or not Christianity actually is an archaic superstition. First, the term “archaic” simply means extremely old or extremely old-fashioned. Superstitions are defined as beliefs that have no grounds in logic and reason in the physical world. So our first question is, is Christianity archaic? And the answer is yes, in the sense that Christianity is old
In fact, Christianity is extremely old. Over 2,000 years old to be more precise. And in the context of a non-Christian society it is very old fashioned. I say “in the context of a non-Christian society” because this is a common argument used against Christian morals by those who possess a strong desire to revel in their own immorality while not liking their immorality exposed for what it is. But that's what Christianity does. It exposes sin for what it truly is. Degrading, destructive, physically and psychologically and spiritually damaging, and condemning.
So, in these contexts, Christianity is “archaic,” but, is Christianity a superstition? And this is the more important question because if it is a superstition, a belief that has no grounds in logic or reason, then it is easy to ignore it. If, however, it is a belief well grounded in logic and reason, a belief grounded with substantial evidence to support it, then those who chose to ignore it are taking risks that are inherent with ignoring any fact of reality.
In dealing with whether or not Christianity is a superstition, or belief not grounded in logic or reason, I would like to first pose that question to some of the most brilliant, most logical and most well reasoned minds in the history of mankind. Obviously I cannot travel back and forth in time to personally ask these individuals, but their well known and recorded views on Christianity certainly give their answer. The simple fact that they accepted the reality, the logical and reasonable reality of Christianity tells us that in their highly intelligent minds Christianity is not a superstition.
Among the many scholars and intellects who are (or were until their death) Christians are:
Francis Bacon (1561-1626): Considered among the fathers of empiricism and is credited with establishing the inductive method of experimental science via what is called the scientific method today.
Johannes Kepler (1571–1630): Gave us Kepler's laws of planetary motion, which was based on empirical data that he obtained from Tycho Brahe's astronomical observations.
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642): Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution. Galileo has been called the "father of modern observational astronomy", the "father of modern physics", and "the Father of Modern Science".
Blaise Pascal (1623–1662): Well known for Pascal's law (physics), Pascal's theorem (math), and Pascal's Wager (theology).
Isaac Newton (1643–1727): He is regarded as one of the greatest scientists and mathematicians in history. Though some biographers label him as a deist who is strongly influenced by Christianity, he differed from strict adherents of deism in that he invoked God as a special physical cause to keep the planets in orbits.
Gregor Mendel (1822–1884): The "father of modern genetics" for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants.
Louis Pasteur (1822–1895): Inventor of the pasteurization method, a French chemist and microbiologist. He also solved the mysteries of rabies, anthrax, chicken cholera, and silkworm diseases, and contributed to the development of the first vaccines.
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937): Guglielmo Marconi was known for his pioneering work on long distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi's law and a radio telegraph system. Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio, and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943): American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. He testified on many occasions that his faith in Jesus was the only mechanism by which he could effectively pursue and perform the art of science.
Max Planck (1858–1947): He won the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics and is considered the founder of Quantum mechanics.
Johannes Stark (1874-1957): German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1919 for his "discovery of the Doppler effect in canal rays and the splitting of spectral lines in electric fields."
Wernher von Braun (1912–1977): "one of the most important rocket developers and champions of space exploration during the period between the 1930s and the 1970s."
Werner Arber (born 1929): Werner Arber is a Swiss microbiologist and geneticist. Along with American researchers Hamilton Smith and Daniel Nathans, Werner Arber shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of restriction endonucleases.
Robert T. Bakker (born 1945): Paleontologist who was a figure in the "dinosaur Renaissance" and known for the theory some dinosaurs were Warm-blooded.
Frank J. Tipler (born 1947): Frank Tipler is a mathematical physicist and cosmologist, holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics at Tulane University.
Jennifer Wiseman: She is Chief of the Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In addition she is a co-discoverer of 114P/Wiseman-Skiff.
Freeman Dyson (born 1923): He has won the Lorentz Medal, the Max Planck Medal, and the Lewis Thomas Prize. He also ranked 25th in The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll. He has won the Templeton Prize and delivered one of the Gifford Lectures. He is famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics.
Mike Hulme (born 1960): Mike Hulme is a professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
If I am to be accused of believing in an “archaic superstition” I am certainly in good company!
I have to say that the situation which has brought about this subject, being told that Christianity and religion was “archaic superstition,” has an interesting twist to it. The term “archaic superstition” being used in reference to Christianity has been used before, and those familiar with history will likely recognize it. It was a term used often by Karl Marx and other Soviet leaders in their attempts to stamp out Christianity. They felt that “archaic superstitions” such as Christianity were detrimental to the communist ideology. I find this interesting because those who used it in this current situation include at least one individual who, by virtue of his chosen career as a member of the United States Armed Forces, claims to love liberty and freedom and the constitution, and yet here appears willing to follow in the footsteps of Marx and Stalin and Lenin and the Soviet's communist ideology by adhering to and agreeing with the socialist view of Christianity – to the point of using a phrase used often by them. What is the old saying, “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”