Saturday, May 15, 2021

Could God actually be Real?

Hubble Revisits the Veil Nebula
I was raised in a Catholic household, and growing up I considered the possibility of a God. But once into school, studying science and so on, I rejected the God hypothesis as a backward remnant of a bygone era. Perhaps your experience was similar to mine? Perhaps you also jettisoned the concept of God, as one which ought to be rejected along with the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy?

If so, I'm glad you are here. We are all communicated information in various forms, by our parents, in school, and by the culture and media of our world. What often emerges in our mindsets are prevailing narratives about what reality is and isn't. These narratives in my upbringing included ideas like post-modernism, the idea that nothing is objectively true, the idea of science's conquest over religion, the rejection of all religion as myth, and so on and so forth.

This was my worldview. This was the direction of my life, and I lived out the entailments of such ideologies through promiscuity, wayward living, addiction, and endless pondering. But in the pondering and in the emptiness I began a journey of exploration. I began to explore the concept of spirituality. I began to explore the idea of God.

Jump forward to today, and I look back and realize that the various cultural narratives I had believed, that science was burying God, that Jesus maybe never even existed, that Christianity was the same as the tooth fairy, had all been bills of goods I'd been sold very carefully, through catch-phrases and one-liners. And as I explored the real evidence, the narratives that had been hidden, I began to realize the truth. As you embark on a similar journey, I would encourage you: Ruthlessly seek out the truth. Allow no bias. And you may just find that the bill of goods sold to you, was indeed, not all that it claimed to be.

“The Bible encourages people to put their faith in God. Unfortunately, many people equate faith with a blind leap in the dark or wishful thinking. But the faith that the Bible requires is intelligent faith. It is neither blind nor irrational. Biblical faith is a committing trust with an object (God) who is worthy of our faith. No one is asked to sacrifice his intellect when he puts his faith in the God of the Bible.” –Don Stewart, The Ten Wonders of the Bible, 1990, p. 13.

“The Christian faith does not call for us to put our minds on the shelf, to fly in the face of common sense and history, or to make a leap of faith into the dark. The rational person, fully apprised of the evidence, can confidently believe.” –William Lane Craig

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” -Herbert Spencer

Christianity: The Facts

A: Does God exist? The existence of God is not 100% provable. But one does not necessarily need absolute evidence. In a court of law, evidence beyond a reasonable doubt is acceptable when considering a verdict. In the same way, when considering a first cause one may view all the evidence and make a reasonable conclusion that God does indeed exist. There are many compelling arguments, such as the cosmological argumentmoral argumentontological argument, and teleological argument lays out in clear terms: Anything that has a beginning has a cause. That's certainly true. Second, the universe began to exist. Given the evidence, the red shift observed by Hubble in the early 1900s, that seems quite likely. Since the universe needs a cause, that cause must be immaterial, beyond space and time, and infinitely powerful. In other words, God. Can one prove evolution 100%? Absolutely not. Naturalism is a presupposition, or a worldview based on an interpretation of the available evidence. So is Christianity. Though evolution and Christianity are not necessarily at odds. Dr. Francis Collins a noted scientist has done lectures and wrote a book called "
The Language of God" which lays out excellent arguments along those lines. In addition, Dr. Stephen Meyer has written several books on "Intelligent Design Theory" the view that an architect of the universe is supported by perceived design in cellular biology. Check out his books as well, most notably: "Signature in the Cell" and "Darwin's Doubt."

B: Did Jesus really exist historically? The evidence indicates that yes, Jesus Christ of Nazareth did exist. He was a real person in the history of the middle east. History is gleaned by manuscript evidence, historical account by witnesses cross referenced with official documents of governments and empires. The manuscript evidence for the historical existence of a man named Jesus Christ of Nazareth is better than for most historical persons.

But was Jesus Christ really God come to Earth? Now that is the point of real questioning. There have been several notable books on this topic, most notably "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. And if Jesus Christ was really who he claimed to be, did he really rise? The point of contention is: Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead? The evidence of the powerful witness of the apostles, the early church, and the willingness of all the early disciples save one being willing to die for their faith indicates that yes it is likely Jesus is risen from the grave. Watch the presentation below by Gary Habermas to learn more about this line of inquiry.

“Do you believe in the existence of Socrates? Alexander the Great? Julius Caesar? If historicity is established by written records in multiple copies that date originally from near contemporaneous sources, there is far more proof for Christ’s existence than for any of theirs.” –Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, p. 296.

“It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.” –Nelson Glueck

The Bible when compared with recorded history is 99.7% accurate. Archaeology and historical records support the events of the Bible as described in books of the Old and New Testament. This is an important beginning in establishing the credibility of the historical Jesus and the manuscripts of the Christian Bible.

C: The Philosophy and truth within Christianity can withstand the most powerful intellectual probing. I would recom
mend "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis which walks the reader step by step through the issues of the idea of belief in God. I would also highly recommend "Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterton a man who converted to Christianity after reading all the arguments for the atheist worldview and being thoroughly unimpressed, began to search out belief in a higher power, arriving eventually at the cross of Christ Jesus. If you're a highly analytical individual, William Lane Craig has done some excellent writing and speaking on the reason for God. Check out "Reasonable Faith" by William Lane Craig. Two more books I would recommend are "Beyond Opinion" and "I don't have enough faith to be an Atheist." Others of notable mention are Frank Turek, Norm Geisler, Hugh Ross, Lee Strobel and Tim Keller.

Expert Testimony
We the people of western civilization tend to prefer to get our information from the experts. We look to authoritative individuals and groups to help us understand life and existence. Many of the greatest minds of human history have been dedicated Christians. The following links lead to quotations from great thinkers surrounding the topic of Christianity, science, math, worldview, and many others.
  1. Expert Testimony: The Existence of God, the Problem of Evil
  2. Expert Testimony: The Anthropic Principle, Anthropology
  3. Expert Testimony: Intelligent Design, Archaeology 
  4. Expert Testimony: the Demise of Evolution, Complex in DNA

Websites for further Study of the Christian Worldview
  1. Cross Examined
  2. Reasonable Faith
  3. Evolution News
  4. Stand to Reason
  5. Answers in Genesis
  6. The Poached Egg
  7. The Veritas Forum
  8. Socrates in the City
  9. Always Be Ready