Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1
Debunking Christianity takes more than just trying to poke a hole in it by raising an objection. That’s because there’s a backdrop of other relevant evidence that creates a strong presumption in favor of faith in Jesus Christ. Simply examining individual challenges isn’t enough; this broad sweep of evidence must be kept in mind as each individual objection is weighed.
What kind of evidence? My interviews with experts elicited these persuasive facts that point powerfully toward the existence of God and his unique Son, Jesus Christ:
- The big bang. William Lane Craig, coauthor of Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, showed that the universe and time itself had a beginning at some point in the finite past. Scientists refer to this as the big bang. Craig argued that whatever begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist; and therefore the universe has a cause — that is, a creator who is uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial. Even renowned atheist Kai Nielsen once said, “Suppose you suddenly hear a loud bang… and you ask me, ‘What made that bang?’ and I reply, ‘Nothing, it just happened.’ You would not accept that.” To which Craig said that if there is obviously a cause for a little bang, doesn’t it also make sense that there would be a cause for a big bang?
- The fine-tuned universe. In the past 35 years, scientists have been stunned to discover how life in the universe is astoundingly balanced on a razor’s edge. The big bang was actually a highly ordered event that required an enormous amount of information, and from the moment of inception, the universe was finely tuned to an incomprehensible precision for the existence of life like ourselves. An infinitesimal difference in the rate of the universe’s initial expansion, the strength of gravity or the weak force, or dozens of other constants and quantities would have created a life-prohibiting rather than a life-sustaining universe. All of this contributes to the conclusion that there’s an Intelligent Designer behind creation.
- The moral law. Without God, morality is simply the product of sociobiological evolution and basically a question of taste or personal preference. For instance, rape may become taboo in the course of human development because it’s not socially advantageous, but it’s also conceivable that rape could have evolved as something that’s beneficial for survival of the species. In other words, without God there is no absolute right or wrong that imposes itself on our conscience. But we know deep down that objective moral values do exist — some actions like rape and child torture, for example, are universal moral abominations — and therefore this means God exists.
- The origin of life. Darwinism can offer no credible theory for how life could have emerged naturally from nonliving chemicals. Earth’s early atmosphere would have blocked the development of the building blocks of life, and assembling even the most primitive living matter would be so outrageously difficult that it absolutely could not have been the product of unguided or random processes. On the contrary, the vast amount of specific information contained inside every living cell — encoded in the four-letter chemical alphabet of DNA — strongly confirms the existence of an Intelligent Designer who was behind the miraculous creation of life.
- The Bible’s credibility. Scholar Norman Geisler convincingly argued that there’s more evidence that the Bible is a reliable source than there is for any other book from the ancient world. Its essential trustworthiness has been corroborated repeatedly by archaeological discoveries, “and if we can trust the Bible when it’s telling us about straightforward earthly things that can be verified, then we can trust it in areas where we can’t directly verify it in an empirical way,” Geisler said. Further, the Bible’s divine origin has been established in two ways. First, in defiance of all mathematical odds, dozens of ancient prophecies about the Messiah — including the precise time frame in which he would appear—were miraculously fulfilled in only one person throughout history: Jesus of Nazareth. Second, biblical prophets performed miracles to confirm their divine authority. Jesus’ own miracles were even acknowledged by his enemies. By contrast, in the Qur’an when unbelievers challenged Muhammad to perform a miracle, he refused and merely told them to read a chapter in the Qur’an, even though he conceded, “God hath certainly power to send down a sign.”
- The resurrection of Jesus. Craig built a compelling case that Jesus Christ returned from the dead in the ultimate authentication of his claim to divinity. He presented four facts that are widely accepted by New Testament historians from a broad spectrum. First, after being crucified, Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb. This means its location was known to Jew, Christian, and Roman alike. Second, on the Sunday after the crucifixion, the tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers. Indeed, nobody claimed the tomb was anything but vacant. Third, on multiple occasions and under various circumstances, different individuals and groups experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead. This is not likely to be legendary because of the extremely early date of these accounts. Fourth, the original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their predisposition to the contrary. They were willing to go to their death proclaiming that Jesus was resurrected and thus proved he was the Son of God — and nobody knowingly is willing to die for a lie.
In addition, the 13 scholars and experts I interviewed for my book, The Case for Christ, established that the biographies of Jesus in the New Testament stand up to intellectual scrutiny, that they were reliably passed down to us through history, that there’s corroborating evidence for Jesus outside the Bible, that Jesus wasn’t psychologically imbalanced when he claimed he was God, and that he fulfilled all the attributes of deity.
Accounting for the Evidence
As Peter Kreeft conceded in our interview, the suffering in this world does constitute some evidence against the existence of God — but in the end it’s buried by an avalanche of other evidence that He does exist, that He does love us, and that He can even redeem our suffering and draw good from it. This mountain of evidence can give us confidence that even though we may not fully understand why there’s suffering or why hell exists, we can trust that God is just, that He is acting appropriately, and that someday we’ll have a deeper explanation.
When I was an atheist, I realized I would need to do more than merely raise random objections in order to cripple Christianity; I would have to come up with a nontheistic scenario that would better accommodate all of the facts that I’ve just listed. But atheism cannot credibly account for the big bang, the fine-tuning of the universe, the emergence of life, the existence of moral laws, the supernatural confirmation of the Bible, and the resurrection. The only hypothesis that explains them all is that there’s a divine creator whose unique Son is Jesus of Nazareth.
I had examined each obstacle on its own merits, interviewing experts who were able to provide satisfying explanations and analysis. Then I evaluated each of the objections in the context of the convincing evidence that Christianity is true and that therefore God is ultimately trustworthy and loves us deeply.
My conclusion is that Christianity emerged unscathed. After spending a year investigating “The Big Eight” objections detailed in my book The Case for Faith, I remained utterly convinced that the most rational and logical step people can take is to invest their faith in Jesus of Nazareth.
A Will to Believe
If I wanted to, I could continue to try to explain away the words of the experts I had interviewed, no matter how outlandish or nit-picky my arguments would eventually become. And believe me, my mind is quite capable of manufacturing all kinds of elaborate rebuttals, excuses, and counterarguments — even in the face of obvious truth.
Ultimately, though, faith isn’t about having perfect and complete answers to every single objection to Christianity. After all, we don’t demand that level of conclusive proof in any other area of life. The point is that we certainly do have sufficient evidence about God on which to act. And in the end, that’s the issue.
Faith is about a choice, a step of the will, a decision to want to know God personally.
It’s saying, “I believe. Please help me with my unbelief!” As Dallas Willard said, “It’s the person who wants to know God that God reveals Himself to.” Or as Lynn Anderson had told me, “When you scratch below the surface, there’s either a will to believe or there’s a will not to believe. That’s the core of it.”
I was thankful that I didn’t have to throw out my intellect to become a Christian. The positive evidence for Jesus being the unique Son of God and the convincing answers to “The Big Eight” objections cleared the way for me to take that step. But I did have to overcome my pride. I did have to drive a stake through the egoism and arrogance that threatened to hold me back. I did have to conquer the self-interest and self-adulation that were keeping my heart shut tight from God.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Do Miracles Happen?: An Interview with Lee Strobel]
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To apply Dallas Willard’s words to myself, the biggest issue was, “What did I want?” Did I want to know God personally—to experience release from guilt, to live the way I was designed to live, to pursue his purposes for my life, to tap into his power for daily living, to commune with him in this life and for eternity in the next? If so, there was plenty of evidence on which to base a rational decision to say yes to him.
It was up to me — just as it’s up to you.
Adapted from The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity by Lee Strobel.
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What do you make of Strobel’s conclusions? And how does it help you to know that the will to believe is really always what’s at the heart of the matter? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!