That’s the claim of many atheists. Now, if atheists were completely honest, they would need to qualify their comments and say that their claim is correct for only the Western Hemisphere and Western Europe. On the other hand, seeking complete honesty from a jacked up atheist may be asking too much. You see, in East Asia the pattern is directly opposite to what we observe at home. In developing East Asia, the higher one's education and the higher one's income the more likely they are to become Christians. But, let's spot the atheist a couple points. In fact, to make this post relevant, I'm going to say the atheists are absolutely correct.
That being the case, the question is, Why? Why are the majority of we Christians (at least in Europe and the Western Hemisphere poorer than most and less educated than most? Is it because we’re Christians that we become poor and don’t get an education, or do we become Christians because we’re already poor and uneducated? I remember talking to my mother-in-law about Christianity once and she turned up her nose and said with contempt, “But they’re usually so poor and unattractive.”
In an exchange with, I think Alistair McGrath, Richard Dawkins voiced his dismay and confusion over the fact that disaster and tragedy actually increases the faith of Christians. While that is perfectly understandable to we who know on an intimate level the love of Creator God, to atheists this makes no sense whatsoever.
Actually, that’s one of the drawbacks of we who blog. Atheist or Christian, none of us are poor and few of us lack an education. While I only have a Graduate degree, from a financial perspective we are firmly in the upper middle class. I suspect that many if not most of those who blog would say the same. It’s easy for us to say, “Look at me! I’m happy and it’s my atheist world-view / Jesus that made me this way. In reality, there would be something terribly wrong if we who have so very much WEREN’T satisfied or if we didn't profess contentment with life. Being poor however is something altogether different. Poverty is where the rubber meets the road. Poverty is where one’s philosophy has a chance to prove itself. Old age or chronic illness would be other areas but for now, poverty is what I’m writing about.
So, again, why would those in dire straights be more likely to accept the reality of Jesus? After all, atheists relentlessly preach that hardship and suffering are proof positive that God doesn’t exist. If that’s the case, you’d think that most poor people would reject the concept of God. So I wonder, if you interviewed street people, Christians and atheists, would you still find roughly an equal percentage who claimed satisfaction and hope as we’re able to do with wealthy atheists and Christians? Does the difference in numbers suggest that being poor as well as being an atheist just doesn’t cut it? Or is there another reason why the majority of poor and uneducated flock to Jesus?
Jesus made a couple interesting statements in this regard. In the first statement, Jesus was talking to an educated and I presume well to do Pharisee. Jesus was explaining to him that he shouldn’t be surprised that prostitutes and others on the fringes of society were streaming into the kingdom of God. The reason? Because those who are looked down on and avoided by the majority are under no illusions that anything in this life holds the key to happiness. We who are Christians, poor or wealthy have been granted the insight and wisdom to see that looks, relationships, power, education or money are nothing but fluff that comes and goes with the blink of an eye. They are nothing upon which to base our confidence, worth or security.
In regard to the “Why”, Jesus’ second comment is more telling than the first. Jesus said, “I didn’t come to save those who believe they are righteous. I came to save those who know they are lost.” It’s so much easier to see the hopelessness of our philosophy when our hands aren’t full of treats and goodies that this life provides. That’s just a fact of life.