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top objections, common objections, major objections, psychology of apologetics, behavioral study


There have been numerous books written on the top objections to Christianity—sometimes stated as “common,” “major,” “frequent,” “every day,” “cultural,” “tough,” “difficult” objections. However, there is a dearth of behavioral studies in the literature that show how and given population ranks objections to Christianity. As such, the apologist has had to rely on expert opinions from the books that have been authored. These expert opinions are based on familiarity with the literature in the field and contact with laity from university, church, and other speaking engagements. The purpose of this study is to document trends in how people report the relative strength of objections to Christian theism.[1] We analyze whether these trends correlate with popular works of Christian apologists—our baseline for expert opinion. Further, we determine whether there are any statistically significant relationships between reported demographics, rankings, and attitudes.

Summary of Results and Analysis. Subjective declarations of respondents of the questionnaire showed that most participants were either 18-24 (marginally more than 55-64 and 65-74), male (marginally more than female), had some college (marginally more than bachelor’s, master’s degrees), lived in a suburban community, or lived in the South. In comparing the expert opinion baseline with the aggregate survey ranking results, we see similar rankings between the objection that “God is unloving/immoral” and that the “Bible is not inerrant” (ranked by both as 1st and 2nd, respectively) at the higher end of the spectrum. We found that those identified as agnostic seem to have the closest potential correlation to expert opinion (baseline). The mean of their rankings produced four objections that closely approximated the baseline, one objection that was about one rank removed from the baseline, and three objections that were about two ranks from the baseline. For demographics and rankings, we found statistically significant relationships between religious identification and the objection “God does not exist” with those who identified as atheists, giving it an average ranking of 3.74 (on a scale of 1-13; 1 = highest, 13 = lowest). For demographics and attitudes, we found statistically significant relationships between religious identification and age, religious discussion importance, and attitude toward Christian theism. (See “Analysis” section.)

[1] The study was done under the School of Divinity Department at Liberty University in compliance with Liberty University’s Internal Review Board (Research Ethics Office). IRB-FY21-22-12. Policy: Post-2018 Rule. Submitted 07-06-2021. Last approved 09-07-2021, no expiration date applicable.



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