Is it Possible to “Reason” a Non-Believer into Faith?

The United States has historically been a nation of believers in God.  The Founding Fathers were predominantly Christian and intertwined belief in God and Christian principles into the very bedrock of our country.  Most people have believed in God and have generally been churchgoing in this country; however, over the last 50 years, this has eroded.  In Europe, it is the same. Christianity formed its foundation and has been one of the identifying cultural principles over the last 2000 years, but the erosion of faith has been even worse in nearly every European country than in America.  Only 15% of Europeans believe in God “for sure.”

This is an unfortunate development and is one of the leading causes of the problems we see today, in my opinion.  My newly released book, The Logic That God Exists, explores this issue and seeks to find ways to develop a fundamental belief in God through reason as a first step toward tackling this problem.  It seems to me that in our efforts to evangelize, we are trying to get people to pray, go to church, and develop their spiritual life at a moment in their lives when they are not even sure if there is a God!  The good news is that our faith is backed by reason to the point where, if properly understood, logic can get you a long way.

But this does beg the question, “Is it possible to reason a non-believer into faith?”  Many people, including many believers, would say “no” because they feel that this is more a matter of the heart than the brain. Faith is received from the Holy Spirit and strengthened through experiences of life that force us to turn to God in our time of need.

I agree that this is how people ultimately become believers and that God Himself must play the leading role through the power of the Holy Spirit.  But I also believe that everybody is different.  Looking at humanity, you will find a continuum from A to Z of non-believers to believers and everything in between at any given moment.  Many people, particularly men, need to feel a logical connection to anything they believe.  God has given us rationality, and I don’t think He necessarily expects us to have “blind” faith.  Indeed, faith has deteriorated in the Western world because the advancement of science has made most people suspicious of anything that is not backed up by rationality.  People have begun to see faith as something that is by nature blind and, therefore, illegitimate.

Of course, this is untrue, but it is a barrier to many people while the media exploits this relentlessly.  Anytime there is a news release about scientific discovery, especially with archaeology or paleontology, there is an implicit denigration of the Bible or against Christian tradition.  Anything confirming current evolutionary theory seems to run counter to the book of Genesis and is written in the context that life occurred spontaneously and randomly.  Now, the Catholic faith does not insist that we must believe the Garden of Eden story literally, but it does teach that God created us with a first man and first woman. 

Science and popular opinion alike most frequently assume that man evolved from animals and that everything in the cosmos just happened by itself.  This is the given.  Climate change claims assume that there is no God in charge.  Every new fossil discovered seems to predate the Bible by another 10,000 years.  We constantly see stories of aliens from other planets, underscoring the notion that life just happened by itself randomly.  I just heard the other day a NASA scientist say that they found water on Mars (or some other planet) and calculated that the “conditions for life” probably exist on millions of planets in our galaxy alone. This declaration reinforces this anti-Christian-Creator idea. 

It’s not surprising that if science continually undermines the biblical notion of a bottleneck through which mankind emerged, the faith of the average person might be weakened.  In a sense, evolutionary theory has replaced God in the media, academia, and Hollywood.

However, mathematics shows us that there could never have been a succession of random events that resulted in life as we know it today.

So, the core question of this article is, can you reason people into faith?  We can acknowledge that preaching frequently utilizes reason.  Saint Paul debated with convincing arguments, “reasoning and persuading them about the Kingdom of God”  (Acts 19:8).

I used to sell mattresses for a living, and I learned that a core concept of marketing (i.e., preaching) is to understand people’s objections and then address them and “bury” them.  This is done through reason.  I think it’s very often the same with evangelizing the unchurched.  Why don’t you believe?  Where do you get off the Jesus train?  Make them come to grips with what they actually believe and why.  Many haven’t really thought it through.

I learned through advertising that people are more likely to buy if they respect the source of the advertisement.  Some magazines or websites are trusted more by their readers and are more likely to respect an ad they see there versus if they saw the same ad somewhere else.  This is why it’s important to discuss these things with our children when they are young, so they don’t absorb the objections to faith prevalent in our society.  Similarly, friends of ours who are atheists, agnostics, or weak in their faith can be influenced by people they trust.

So, in my opinion, the answer is yes, to some degree!  The Holy Spirit ultimately leads people to God, but very often, through reason, we can plant the seed so the Holy Spirit can water it and bring it to life.

Author’s Note: The author’s new book, The Logic That God Exists, is available from Sophia Institute Press.

Photo by ThisisEngineering on Unsplash

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Robert Trussell is the Founder and retired CEO of Tempur-Pedic International Inc. and was vice chairman of the board from 2002 to 2022. In 2006, he retired as CEO of Tempur-Pedic to serve Christ full-time by using the media for evangelization. He is currently president of Clean Media, a digital advertising platform, catering to Catholic, Christian, and secular websites. He is chairman of Catholics Come Home, a Catholic evangelization nonprofit, and Virtue Media, a Catholic, pro-life media apostolate, and former chairman of 1380 Real Life Catholic Radio in Lexington, KY. His new book, The Logic That God Exists, is available from Sophia Institute Press.

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