The leading atheistic philosopher in the early twentieth century, Bertrand Russell, was once asked what he would say to God by way of explanation when asked why he didn’t believe in him. His reply was: ‘Not enough evidence; not enough evidence’,[i] which raises the really good question: What would enough evidence look like?
What if God answered this question by creating a universe of unimaginable wonder – a universe constructed according to the rules of very advanced mathematics? Would that cause our atheists to accept the probable existence of God? And what if the universe had many factors finely tuned to a degree of many, many trillionths of exactitude so as to allow life to develop on at least one planet? Could atheists reasonably dismiss that as coincidental? How many trillionths would an atheist need before he or she reviewed their position?
In Bertrand Russell’s case, he simply refused to look at the evidence. During a 1948 debate with the Jesuit philosopher, Father Frederick Copleston, he said: ‘I do think the notion of the world having an explanation is a mistake. I don’t see why one would expect it to have.’[ii] This comment from a leading academic is an extraordinary one. Russell’s answer to the existence of mind-boggling complexity, codes, and fine-tuning of the universe, was simply not to ask any questions about it. This, I submit, can in no way be construed as intellectual honesty.
Let’s muse for a moment: What if Bertrand Russell was persuaded that God existed? He might still claim that it was impossible to actually know that God.
But, what if God came to Earth 2,000 years ago to show us what God was like – and to die to pay the price for our sins which would otherwise disbar us from him? What if God did that? Would that be enough to persuade Bertrand to accept God’s love and lordship?
Quite honestly, it is difficult to know what else God could have done to invite an atheist to respond to his love with their own. What else could God have done that would also preserve the need for faith to be freely chosen rather than forced? God knew full well that a forced relationship is not an authentic one.
History has shown that being able to “do what you like,” and having “no meaning,” is a dreadful cocktail of convictions that, when combined, have resulted in the worst human abuses seen in history.
Is that what Bertrand Russell wants – a totally unambiguous revelation of God’s identity and glory, a self-revelation even clearer than that revealed by the universe, and clearer than that revealed by Jesus? Does Bertrand want God to force himself on humanity? Because if so, it is not going to happen. God won’t force anything. He invites faith with a language that is only heard by the humble – in the language of the cosmos, and through the person of Jesus.
Not everyone, however, is interested in looking for truth. Have you noticed that? I once heard someone say, ‘If life has no purpose, why work it out?’ It seems to be a sentiment that reflects the philosophy of many in society, which is odd, because it is an illogical argument. If you don’t at least try and work out what the meaning of life is, you will, rather unsurprisingly, come to the conclusion that life has no purpose. This doesn’t bother many people for it results in a highly desirable outcome—the freedom to do what they like. Unfortunately, it also carries with it an attendant outcome that is highly toxic to human wellbeing: they consign themselves to meaninglessness.
History has shown that being able to “do what you like,” and having “no meaning,” is a dreadful cocktail of convictions that, when combined, have resulted in the worst human abuses seen in history. It is also a mournful expression of hopelessness that can find little expression outside of suicide. I would want to spare you that, so please don’t stick your head in the sand and surround yourself with ignorance when it comes to God.
So, what evidence exists to suggest that the Christian God is true?
Christianity is reasonable because:
- It is scientifically rational. The universe is riddled with codes, mathematical order, and forces balanced to the trillionth of degree so as to allow life.
- It is morally unsurpassable when ‘authentic’, i.e. when it is based on the teaching and lifestyle of Christ.
- It is grounded in historical fact. Jesus came in history, as can be verified by non-Christian historians who wrote about him at the time.
- It has a reputation, like no other religion or philosophy, of being able to transform individuals, families, cities and nations for their good.
Frankly, it is not difficult to see rational or moral flaws in other religions. But you don’t see either in the authentic Christianity of Jesus Christ.
The many religions that exist represent humankind’s sincere attempt to reach God. Christianity, however, is unique in that it is the story of God reaching out to us. He came to us as Jesus to pay the price for our sins that would otherwise disbar us from sharing eternity with him.
So, don’t miss out on it!
[i] Quoted in Wesley C. Salmon’s “Religion and Science: A New Look at Hume’s Dialogues,” Philosophical Studies 33 (1978), 176.
[ii] Reported in: Howard P. Kainz, The Existence of God and the faith-instinct, (Cranbury, NJ: Rosemont Publishing, 2010), 21.
Dr Nick Hawkes is a scientist, pastor, apologist, writer and broadcaster. He also describes himself as an absent-minded, slightly obsessive man who is pathetically weak due to cancer and chemo, who has experienced, and needs to experience, the grace of God each day.
Nick has written a book Soar above the Storm in which he draws on his experience of cancer to encourage anyone walking through a storm in life to find rest and hope in God. It offers a 40-day retreat to be refreshed and strengthened and find deep peace in God. Order it at Koorong.
He blogs and records podcasts at nickhawkes.net
Nick told his life story to Eternity https://www.eternitynews.com.au/good-news/deadly-storms-heroin-addicts-cancer-and-my-faith/