ANSWERING THE ATHEISTS
A Reader's Digest version of why I am a Christian.
by Stan Guthrie
posted 11/13/2007 08:33AM
Remembering Bertrand Russell's famous essay, "Why I Am Not a Christian," here is a Reader's Digest version of why I am.
Creation: The universe, far from being a howling wasteland indifferent to our existence, appears to be finely tuned through its estimated 13.7 billion years of existence to support life on this planet. Tinker with any one of scores of fundamental physical laws or the initial conditions of the universe — such as gravity or the cosmological constant — and we would not be here. As physicist Paul Davies has admitted, "I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact."
[teci --- (1) In fairness, this might also lead people to think that we are just accidents --- the opposite of a purpose-driven Creator! But looking at the universe's size and using math and statistics: shouldn't there be more life (outside earth)? And if life was just a random occurrence, shouldn't there be more variation to life (on earth)? So now we lean again towards concluding that life is more special than accidental.
(2) There are common bio-physico-chemical traits in living things: vertebrates all have backbones for example. Evolution reasons that this is because they have the same ancestor. Creation reasons that this is because they have the same Creator. :)
(3) If the universe just accidentally popped up, how come there are even fundamental scientific laws and constants in the first place? Did they exist before the Big Bang? Scientists and others who do not bow to the absolute God must still bow down to these absolute laws, and therein lies the opportunity for dialog. :)
(4) Even if i could now explain how water turns to clouds and snow and back again...i can't create water, in any of its forms, from scratch. Even if we could see backwards to when the universe began, we do not have the ability to do it ourselves. Should scientists lose wonder as they comprehend how the world works, or should they have greater awe over what they did not create and could barely recreate?]
Beauty: Beethoven's Ninth, a snowflake, the sweet smell of a baby who has been sleeping, and a sunset beyond the dunes of Lake Michigan all point to a magnificent and loving Creator. And isn't it interesting that we have the capacity—unlike mere animals—to gape in awe, to be brought to tears, before them? Truly did David say, "What is man, that you are mindful of him?"
[teci --- To elaborate: we may give scores to beauty pageant contestants but we cannot quantify beauty in the same way that we can simply count the contestants onstage. Beauty is universal and transcendent: like goodness, truth, peace. If there is a God who is universal and transcendent with characteristics like these, then it all makes sense. But if the universe "just happened", then values lose their meaning: bad is as acceptable as good, and beauty is just in the eye of the beholder. But please show me one person who chooses to eat human waste over candy!]
New Testament reliability: Compared with the handful of existing copies of seminal ancient works such as Homer's Iliad, the New Testament's provenance is far better attested. There are thousands of NT manuscripts in existence, some made within mere decades of the events they report. Scholar F. F. Bruce said, " The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar."
The trilemma: C.S. Lewis, commenting on Christ's claim to divinity, said: "You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being [only] a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Jesus: Napoleon reportedly said, "I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity."
Mr. Guthrie went on to elaborate on the accuracy and reliability of Scripture, the Resurrection as concluded from Jesus' missing body and the courage of those who were willing to die to proclaim it, and entire institutions and societies that have progressed when motivated by love and obedience to God. Of course, there are the individual lives that have been undeniably changed and transformed for the better, and the proof in various ways of His existence and love every day. :)
There are different strokes for different folks, so my main reasons for believing and continuing to trust God (you can tell by what i excerpted and elaborated on!) may be quite different from someone else's. But, since i know that God as He revealed Himself in the Bible is TRUE, then it is just a matter of time before "every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord of All." (Philippians 2:10)