It has always interested me that Jesus used the mustard seed as an example of how much faith we have to have to get things done. The mustard seed is so small that if you held one in your hand you would be hard pressed to see it. We live in a world and a time when faith is hard. Christianity is no longer the dominant faith of our culture. Just in pure demographics, less than 50 percent of the American population identifies themselves as Christian. With immigration and the secularism of our population, that number is not going to be reversed. Many people who classify themselves a Christian, do so for social reasons, not because they really believe. Recent studies show that 74 percent of all Americans do not go to Church (any kind of church). The media has swung to a position that is not just agnostic, but is openly anti-Christian so that our population is saturated with negatives about faith and the role of it in life. On top of that is a fact that denominational Christianity has given the opponents of God plenty to shoot at. From the irresponsible statements of "Christian leaders" to the immorality made public in everything from the pedophile problems of the Catholic Church to sexual misconduct and infidelity of leaders in fundamentalist churches there is much to say negatively about Christianity at the start of the twenty-first century. How do we sustain our faith in such a climate of adversity and hostility? How do we build faith in our children and help them withstand the battering that they will be exposed to as peers, and society as a whole pressure them to reject their Christian heritage?
What we would like to do in this discussion, is to share some suggestions with you about how those of us who believe in God can approach the issues of faith in today's world. It is important to realize that Jesus used the mustard seed as an example of what it takes to "move mountains." The mountain of unbelief can be moved, and we do not have to be great or do great things to accomplish that. The problem is that even the mustard seed cannot do anything if it is not planted and watered. There is a huge need in today's world for those who believe to get out into the market place and do something about the problem rather than pretending it does not exist or wringing our hands about it.
WE MUST ACTIVELY SHOW PEOPLE THE EVIDENCE FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE
One of the things that amazes me as I answer the questions and hate mail from our website is the incredible ignorance of not only the Bible, but of what the evidence is for the existence of God. Atheists are fond of saying "there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of God." They then proceed to attempt to vilify Christianity by pointing to things that have been done by people who claim to be Christians. With the growing number of atheist websites, the increasing participation of the media in these claims, and the fact that organized religion has made no significant response to the claims and even frequently supports it, our population has embraced the idea that these notions are true.
There is scientific evidence from virtually every discipline known to science to support the existence of God. Genesis 1:1 gives us a series of choices that need to be focused on to support faith in God. The account tells us there was a beginning, that it was caused, and that it was caused by God. The first two statements are scientifically addressable. We can show there was a beginning from science, and that the notion that time, space, and energy are eternal is not true. In previous issues of this journal and in our free courses we offer the evidence for these statements. These choices do not require the Bible or any assumptions about God, so the assertion that we are just "spouting scripture" is not true. Whether the cause was God or not is a more complex issue because it is rooted in understanding what God's nature is. Quantum mechanics, the work of Einstein, and modern work in physics have given us wonderful tools to explain these concepts to people who have not been exposed to them. The Bible also becomes a necessary tool as we consider whether the description of God the Bible gives us fits the evidence that we see in these other disciplines. The concept of a being outside of time and space with the capacity to design intelligently all that we see around us escapes most people--their concept of God is simply too small. This is true of atheists and believers alike.
If we can get people to have a mustard seed of belief that materialism and naturalism may not hold all of the answers to the mysteries of creation, the mountain of disbelief can be moved.
WE MUST EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT THE REAL WORLD
The level of ignorance of the Bible in the world is absolutely incredible. One of my favorite stories about lectureships involves being asked to speak to a group of graduate students and professors at New York State University. I was scared to death because I am just a high school teacher with a couple of master's degrees, and here I would be speaking to people with advanced degrees in science. The subject of the forum was creationism and American education, and I had brought a box of Bibles with me in case people wanted to look at the actual statements in the Bible. We passed out Bibles to most of the people there and made some references to things in Genesis which everyone seemed to know the location of. A question came up that I thought Jesus answered well in the Sermon on the Mount, so I asked them to turn to that sermon. It was obvious that no one knew what I was talking about, so I referred them to Matthew 5. There were a number of people in the room who did not know where Matthew was. Later references to Job and Isaiah produced equal frustration for many of the people there.
This is typical of most Americans. Even among fundamentalists there is an incredible lack of understanding about what the books of the Bible are about, who wrote them and why. When you talk about apocalyptic literature and its implications for understandings of the biblical account of man, most people are lost. The reason for the involvement of many Christian groups and the conflict in the Middle East is because of this lack of understanding.
The relationship between science and the Bible also suffers from this situation. Most creationists have their scientific understandings rooted in what their denomination teaches. The current mess with the Intelligent Design issue is primarily rooted in this lack of understanding. You cannot understand the problems with various strains of flu if your approach to it is that this is God's punishment for disobedience. We have had people who explained the 2005 hurricanes or the floods on the Mississippi as God's retribution for casinos. Using these kinds of explanations, and saying it is wrong to investigate what the physical processes are that lead to these disasters is a major error. The Bible separates the physical from the spiritual. Jesus' concept of "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" is not just a vague cliché. It is a fundamental distinction of the separation of the physical and the spiritual. Science is a way of understanding God's actions in the past, but science does not tell us how to live or how to go to heaven. The Bible is accurate in what it says scientifically, but the Bible uses all kinds of literature to convey its message, and to not understand what kind of literature is being used is to fail to take the Bible literally. Education in the Bible is sorely lacking among all groups whether Christian or atheist, and progress will not be made toward resolving the conflicts until people are better educated in the Bible. There is an old quote attributed to Galileo that says, "Science is about how the heavens go, and the Bible is about how to go to heaven." We all need to understand the implications of that statement.
This is a huge mountain to move; but if you and I do not start chipping away at this mountain of ignorance, it will never be removed. That is the purpose of this journal and of the Does God Exist? ministry.
WE MUST EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT CHRISTIANITY HAS BROUGHT TO THE EARTH
Atheists love to point to things that have been done in the history of Christianity that have been detrimental to mankind. There are lots of things that can be pointed to--the Crusades, the Ku Klux Klan, abortion clinic bombings, the wars of the past between Catholics and Protestants, and any number of cases of immorality among leading Christian figures. There are two major errors in this attack. The first is that these horrible things were done in contradiction to what Jesus Christ taught, not in conformity to it. There are famous atheists that have done some horrible things, from atheist leaders like Lenin and Mao Tse Tung to individual immoral atheists like Gacy--the Chicago murderer and abuser of young boys. Obviously not all atheists endorse what these folks did, and in the case of the Bible, all of these things are condemned by scripture.
The second point is that the teachings of Jesus Christ have universally brought wonderful things to the Earth when they have been followed. There is a wonderful book by Alvin Schmidt titled Under the Influence that should be required reading in this area of study. (This book was reviewed in our March/April 2003 issue). What Schmidt does is to document and explain how Christianity has impacted people from its inception to the present day. The positive role of Christianity in everything from women's rights to environmental issues is undeniable to the open minded reader. Another book that is interesting in this subject area is a book by O. E. Harmon titled The Story of Liberal Missouri which gives an account of a town in which no churches were allowed in the town, and the rule was based on atheist principles.
The dishonest denigration of Christianity by the media must be met by factual rebuttal, and we must educate our children as to what Christianity actually brings to those who will follow it. I have often said that after living the atheist lifestyle for twenty years, and then having lived as a Christian for over 20 years, I would want to live as a Christian even if there were no God and Jesus had never lived. The joy, love, peace, and positive nature of Christianity is a wonderful thing, and knowing that there is strong support for the integrity of the biblical message just makes it all the more reasonable to live as a Christian.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, SepOct06.