evidence, and atheists
quite deliberately that
the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still
is the principle enemy of the moral progress in the world." 1
Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or
existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity,
and humanity." 2
According to the Bible, what is our relationship to God?
The Bible describes
God's relationship with humanity to be like a parent-child relationship
in many ways. A newborn infant knows little of the parents who gave it life.
Such an infant may be wholly unaware that those same parents also provide
for its every need.
The only way the
infant may come to know its parents is for the parents to make themselves
known to the infant. The infant is totally unable to bridge what may
appear to it to be an infinite gap between itself and the parent, even if
the parents are just around the corner. Or the parents might be right there,
only the infant does not yet know how to recognize them. Perhaps likewise,
the only way finite created man may recognize an infinite Creator God is
for God to make himself known to man.
3.2 Has God made himself known to us?
Humanity does not possess
all knowledge. While this makes it impossible for strong atheism to proclaim,
"God does not exist", it doesn't prove God does exist. Positive evidence
which would could be that which he has left behind in reaching down into
the cradle of earth to make himself known to us.
God has made himself
known to humanity through history, creation, and his appearance on earth
in the person of Jesus Christ. The cumulative written record of this
is called the Bible. God has given us the Bible in order that we may know
him as he desires to be known.
is unique among worldviews in this way: Christianity is a relationship with
God in which God seeks after incapable and ignorant man. Other systems of
thought usually portray man as seeking after God; the helpless infant struggling
for the impossible. Most don't reflect the demand that the greater must
search out the lesser. Only the Bible speaks so respectfully of a creator
God who is truly the spiritual parent of his children.
Regardless of whether
or not human beings desire to have the same closeness to God that he desires
to have with us, we are undeniably sinful. It was mankind's willful choice
to disobey God to which the Bible attributes our initial separation from
him; choices we continue to make every day. Our separation is also the source
of our inability to perfectly sense and follow the leading of his Holy Spirit.
That is why it is important to note that Scripture says God provides his
Spirit for us - to help compensate for our spiritual deafness and
3.3 How clear do we need the evidence?
the Bible's believability and the existence of God is not absent, it is
abundant. Of course, several reasonable challenges at this point include
why do we have to read the Bible and study history for proof of these
the Bible explains the only true salvation, why doesn't God do something
to make that obvious to us?
if these things are so important and so real, why don't we see crystal
clear evidence for them?"
The answer to these
questions begins with asking this in response: What is your definition
all knowledge, nothing can be proven beyond all doubt. That is the basis
for stating that it is impossible to prove anything with 100% clarity or
certainty. For example, if we demanded to have notarized confirmations of
the absence of every possible contaminant our food could ever contain, and
vowed not to eat until then, we would starve to death. No one can provide
this level of assurance. Therefore, every time we bite into something without
having subjected it to a hundred congressional investigations, we are accepting
as truth merely the reasonable certainty that it is safe.
We act on what we
and I are not choosing to die of starvation because we lack total knowledge
of all food contaminants. We might read a product label, or inspect our
food, but we continue to eat based on faith - a faith based on the available
pieces of data which indicates the food in our hand is reasonably safe.
Although the acceptance
or denial of Christianity and the Bible is a commitment of potentially eternal
consequences, this decision must also be made based on what we know.
Physicist John A. Bloom reveals that
scientists have found
long ago that they can learn more about the universe by studying the evidence
which is available than by abandoning a topic until the data are perfect
and the conclusions drawn from them are philosophically irrefutable."
We will never know everything.
What we do know is that the Bible informs us God has given us sufficient
evidence to know he exists, and to be held morally accountable to him as
Lord. Taking that to be the case, let's now consider the matter of sufficiency.
God truly left sufficient evidence to believe in him?
3.4 How much evidence is enough?
God has given us evidence of himself and salvation, and I don't see it,
then hasn't God failed? Hasn't he failed to give us enough evidence?"
that no matter how clear the evidence or how much of it is provided, some
people will claim it's not enough. That goes for religion, politics, and
everything else. More evidence by itself will never convince every single
mind because we are more often subjective rather than objective. We tend
to filter our beliefs through our own personal preferences to incur lifestyles
of maximum pleasure.
Chuck Swindoll describes
this problem as one of allowing our lifestyle to shape our theology, instead
of allowing theology to shape our lifestyle. As a result of this misdirection,
consciously or not, most people remain the god of their own life, indifferent
to the potential existence of any divine authority over them. Superficially,
we might claim that we have not seen enough evidence for God, but really,
how much is enough?
The freedom we have
to be able to choose between belief and rejection in God categorically rules
out the possibility of ever coming across that undeniable miracle for which
many people claim to be waiting. For example, if
a Bible were discovered on Mars or Jesus dropped in as a guest on Oprah,
wouldn't those still leave room for doubt (special effects, fraud, etc.)?
"Too obvious," some might say, "too unbelievable."
By contrast, what if
very subtle events and circumstances seemed to align in an answer to a prayer
or restoring someone's faith (as in the movie "Signs")? Let me
guess -- not obvious enough?
For some people, no
amount of evidence will ever be enough because a big key to belief is motive.
Three popular motives as to why people resist the
gospel are the same motives that move the stock market: hope, want,
and fear. People simply by nature . . .
1) hope things
will go their way without having to make any substantial investigation
of facts and claims, or...
2) want to
believe that their lifestyle and worldview, whatever they may be, are
fine with God exactly as they are, or...
3) fear some
misconception about God and the Bible, or fear they're incapable of enjoying
or living any kind of life other than what they have right now.
But of all motives people
have for protecting their disbelief in God, pride is number one and the
most difficult to overcome. Sometimes pride is exhibited boldly, as in a
stubborn refusal to believe one could possibly be accountable to any being
other than themselves. Other times, a person's pride is more subtle, like
they need more evidence than is available, or demanding a personal miraculous
experience before they'll believe.
These same motives were
true in Jesus' day. Many people quit following Jesus after having seen him
perform one or more miracles. Other people decided to quit after hearing
some of his hard teachings. But in contrast, Peter's response to those same
teachings speaks for everyone who concedes to the truth of Christ: "Lord,
to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life," (John 6:68
The point is that you
don't have to blindly hope in Christ. You don't have to because there are
facts by which you can be assured of who he is. You don't even have to want
the lifestyle, you just have to believe the truth. God will enable you to
live and want a follower's lifestyle in time; probably in less time than
No one should let fear
or dislike of a Christ-centered life be an emotional roadblock that hinders
an objective consideration for the truth of God and the Bible. Nor should
one allow pride or arrogance to so close their mind that they refuse to
see or obey the same God who is revealing himself right before them. Obedience
will come and it will not be the result of anything harsh or invasive like
brainwashing or indoctrination. It will instead be the gentle response you'll
freely offer as you learn of and realize the awesomeness and love of God.
The written evidence
given to us to learn of this love is comprised of the Old and New Testaments
(Christ came in fulfillment of the Old Testament or old covenant, and his
ministry established the new covenant, which is documented in the New Testament).
These together are God's total written revelation to humanity. This is more
than sufficient proof to believe in him. Even concerning the evidence of
the Old Testament alone, Jesus himself prophetically recounted: "If they
do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though
one rise from the dead." (Luke 16:31 NASB).
3.5 If there is a God, why are there atheists?
This question is interesting
to consider and is actually the title of a book by R.C. Sproul. The ancient
argument being restated here suggests that God is either:
A.) not omnipotent
because he cannot make everyone believe, or
B.) not loving
because he will not let everyone believe and thus allow some people to
become condemned to hell.
The questioner (Epicurus
in this case) presupposes God's motives to be either impotent or evil, while
ignoring the possibility that God might have greater intentions in mind.
God is self-sufficient and is in no way dependent upon our belief in him.
God reveals himself to us not for his own benefit, but for ours.
God's sometimes low
profile brings attention to our own true character. This is like the parent
who knows the real child comes out when no one is around to keep a restraining
eye on them. We may say, "Yes, Dad" when
he's standing right there, but what do we say
when he leaves the room? When we forgot he's listening?
me put it this way: How do people drive on the highway when there's a
police car behind them compared to how they drive when there's no cop around?
Unlike the earthly authority
figure, God doesn't need to leave the room or park behind a billboard to
know our hearts (Job 34:22-23). Thus life might be witnessing far more to
us than to him. By being allowed to act freely, perhaps we mature into seeing
ourselves as God already does. If
this is the case, when Christ eventually returns to judge all the world's
inhabitants, living and dead, his case will be open and shut.
We are right now
being allowed to testify through our own lives our innermost selves and
Another reason God may
not react to each sin instantly just as we commit them is because that would
not make us good. Neither would it allow us to complete this testimony called
life. It would only scare us into acting good and, in God's own words, "Was
I not silent even for a long time so you do not fear Me?" (Isaiah 57:11b
In this light, perhaps
God's intent is not to force belief upon every last man that he exists,
but to allow us to respond freely according to our individual desires to
the grace and love that he has shown us.
NEXT: Christians: biased,
bigoted, intolerant, and judgmental?
terms: Let's start by speaking the same language.
What is the Bible all about?