Thoughts on the Deniers of Christianity

7 Feb

It is hard to visit sites that feature religious commentary without running into comments from the deniers of the faith – those who would claim that science has overcome religion, and that religionists are a dying relic, ignorant believers in ridiculous myths.

It seems to me, though, that their argument fails on fairly basic grounds.

I daresay that at one time or another, all of that which is now called science was unproven (in the rigorous sense).  Mankind’s understanding of the world was based upon experience, repeatability, and theory.  Men made use of scientific principles over many millennia before they were proven in a rigorous manner – we based our use upon evidence accumulated over time.  Would our complainants argue that gravity could not be relied upon just because we could not see it or mathematically prove its existence?  Without accepting observational evidence that all planets in our solar system revolve around the sun, would we ever have developed rigorous mathematical models that prove exactly how the planets and other heavenly bodies move through space?  Recently, scientists reportedly found proof that the Higgs-Boson particle actually exists – before this it was only a “theoretical” particle.  And how about the Big Bang Theory itself – how would one ever prove that the entire universe sprang from an unimaginably huge explosion of a very small densely packed object that contained all the matter that is currently contained in that virtually limitless universe?

A person could go on and on about things that were believed/known before the scientists were able to absolutely prove them, from fields of medicine, mechanics, physics, etc.  The noted atheist and crusader against Christianity, Richard Dawkins, even admitted that “something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe.”  Thomas Aquinas would say that this something “we call God”.

And yet, when it comes to postulating the existence of God, the deniers among us are quick to say that we must be fools for believing some crazy theology that has not been proven by science to be true.  But there are many mysteries in this world that have not, as yet, been solved by the scientists – wormholes, extra-terrestrial life, evolution of life at the deepest parts of the ocean, how weather patterns evolve, etc.  That does not mean that these things cannot, or do not, exist.

It seems to me that what deniers of Christianity do not understand is that Christians do not base their faith in God on vapor – on nothing but dreams, unwarranted hope, and fear of death.  Our faith, according to that most famous of Biblical passages, is based on “substance” and “evidence”.

Now, I know that modern translations most often swap out the word “evidence” for something softer in tone, but harder to acquire.  But I really like the word “evidence”.  Why?  Because, I believe the faith of Christians is, in fact, based upon convincing evidence.  The evidence bound up in the New Testament teachings, actions, personal witnesses, promises, spiritual gifts, and personal commitments, even unto death.  The evidence bound up in the experiences and lives of so many Christians through the growth years – a time of great spiritual blessings and horrible persecutions.

Then there is the evidence and testimony of some of the greatest minds to have walked the earth – Augustine, Aquinas, thousands of brilliant unnamed soldiers of Christ, up to our own time with people like John Bunyan, C.S. Lewis, and many others.  And I believe that a Christian does not have to believe unthinkingly, but can call upon the promises of scripture to acquire those proofs that are meaningful to him/her.  John Bunyan, perhaps best known for his “Pilgrim’s Progress” allegory, was at one time torn apart by his uncertainty about Christianity.  “Everyone doth think his own religion rightest, both Jews and Moors and pagans; and how if all our Faith and Christ and Scriptures should be but a ‘think so’, too?”  But as William Barclay tells it, “when the light broke, he [Bunyan] ran out crying, ‘Now I know!  I know!’”

John Bunyan had received his evidence.  For some, it is the evidence of repeated or extraordinary coincidence, a pushing and pulling, often against our will.  For others, it is the deep burning in the depths of our heart and soul as the Holy Spirit welcomes us aboard.  Many are granted various types of spiritual inspiration or convincing answers to prayer.  Still others, those with perhaps easier hearts to reach, see the evidence in the gaze of a baby, the wonder of beauty in nature, or a thousand other things.  I, myself, was “kicking against the pricks” for years before I was led into a greater light.

The point is, belief in Christianity is based upon real evidence, mostly unseen, but nevertheless convincing – not provable to non-believers (without the intervention of the Holy Spirit), but powerful enough for building a solid Faith within those whose hearts and minds who are open to the accumulation of “soft” evidence.  To say we should not accept non-scientific evidence is simply to deny that man has forever relied upon non-proven evidence to extend his knowledge and actions to the next higher level.

But what sort of omnipotent, but loving, God would maintain the veil between Himself and mankind?  Consider for a moment what would happen if suddenly mankind did find, or receive, absolute proof of the existence of God.  Would there not be chaos?  Would not the purposes of God be immediately thwarted?  Does He not have purpose for us being here, purpose that depends upon mankind’s struggle between Godliness and evil?  If He were to make Himself known to all of mankind (as He will one day – but too late then), the entire world order would collapse, as every decent man and woman would leave all behind and only seek Him, and every lost soul would redouble their evil intentions, knowing that there is no hope.

No – irrefutable proof will come, but it will only come as the final stroke of midnight is sounding and, in all likelihood, will be the last and greatest of all the absolute proofs presented to mankind.

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4 Responses to “Thoughts on the Deniers of Christianity”

  1. Joseph Edward Wages February 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    A great thought provoking piece. I can only add this thought. Which premise is more ridiculous:

    (1) that all the wonderfully complex world we are a part of was created by a divine personage whose purpose we can, by his will, come to know,

    (2) or that the same wonderfully complex world sprang of its own accord from an absolute nothingness that we can never come to know?

    • illero February 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Thank you for your response and support.

      Francis Collins, in his book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, which I read a couple of years ago, puts forth several arguments supporting the existence of God. The one I liked the best goes something like this:

      When we consider the complexity of the creation, along with all of the mathematical precision and precise and universal constants (to multiple decimal places) that must operate together to get what we got, there are basically only three possibilities.

      1. There was one Big Bang that resulted in the current world and universe. The chances of this happening are infinitesimally small.
      2. There were an infinite number of Big Bangs, and one of them accidentally got it just right for the development of our world. This is a possibility that is almost impossible to even conceive of.
      3. There was one Big Bang that was guided by a higher intelligence (shall we call it God?) – an intelligence that already knew what all the precise forces and physical constants needed to be in order to create precisely the kind of universe He wanted for His purposes to be fulfilled.

      Collins concludes that #3 is, in fact, the most rational of the choices.
      Whether you believe in the Big Bang or not, the simplicity and relevance of this explanation sort of took my breath away.

      • William Lawson February 8, 2013 at 3:52 am #

        With respect to the Big Bang Theory, and for the sake of argument, perhaps contrast it with The Smell Of Light (among the many alternatives). Which is to say, the ‘proof’ of a theory generally relies more on its ‘marketability’ (and/or acceptability) rather than any measure of its ‘relative’ objectivity. 😉

      • illero February 8, 2013 at 8:39 am #

        Thanks for visiting and commenting, William. And “The Smell of Light” was enlightening.

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