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Taken from David Robertson's outstanding book 'The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths'. In the last chapter David sums up why he believes. It's so good I asked him if we could use it here. If you like this, buy your own copy of the book!
Why do I believe that Christianity is true? I can only list the following – all of which have been mentioned and discussed in the ten letters.
1. The Creation. By that I mean the heavens and the earth, from the smallest atom to the vastest galaxy. It all shouts to me of the glory of God. As I write I am sitting in my parents’ home in the Scottish Highlands overlooking the Dornoch Firth. The night is still and clear and in a moment I will go and clear my head and gaze up at the stars.
‘ The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun’ (Psalm 19:1-4)
I include science in this category. I think it is very foolish for Christians or others to seek to prove or disprove God on the basis of a current scientific theory or on empirical evidence alone. But science within its own constraints as the observation of what God has made is a marvellous and often faith affirming thing.
2. The Human mind and spirit. Why are we conscious? What are special? And life. Where does it come from? How can we get life from non-life?
3. The Moral Law. How do we know what good and evil are? Why do we have a sense of all that at all? And what is evil? Unlike Dawkins I cannot believe in the innate goodness of human beings. I see too much evil and no explanation fits what I observe as neatly and realistically as the teaching of the Bible. More than that I find that the Bible also brings us the answer to evil – and I have never yet come across any philosophy which does so.
4. Beauty. We have already looked at this in letter two. Why is it that human beings have an awareness of beauty? If could just be a chemical reaction but to me it makes a whole lot more sense to believe that God has made everything beautiful in its time. We see the beauty of the Creator in the Creation. Without God is beauty anything more than a meaningless myth? With God beauty is more than a hint of eternity.
5. Religion. Yes there is so much in religion that is wrong and in many ways I hate religion. Generally I think it is a human imitation that more often than not blocks the way to God rather than opens it. And yet it is an imitation of something that is real. As Augustine said, ‘Our hearts were made for you. O God, and they are restless until they find their rest in you’
6. Experience.I believe because I have tasted that God is good. Of course we can be deluded in our experience (that is why we need to reflect). And we can be wrong in our knowledge. But is would a strange kind of person who did not take into account their experiences as part of the whole package. Not long after I became a Christian I was visiting a ‘hippy’ home where amidst all the music and drugs paraphernalia there was a poster stuck on the wall. His words have remained with me ever since: ‘All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen’. Sure – answered prayer, that sense of God’s presence and that joy in worship may all have been illusory. But then again it may all have been real.
7. History. Again as I have continued to read and study history it has broadened my horizons and enables me to see in the words of the old cliché that it is ‘His Story’. The history of mankind makes a whole lot more sense when it is set in the context of the history of God.
8. The Church.I mentioned earlier that there are things in the Church that more than anything else have caused me to doubt. When you see Christians behaving in a way which would shame Satanists, when you see preachers being pompous, hypocritical, money and glory grabbers, then it is enough to put you off Christianity for life. But I have also seen the other side. I have seen the most beautiful people (some of whom have been quite frankly ugly before their conversion) behave in the most wonderful, inexplicable ways. Inexplicable that is except for the grace and love of God. The Church at its best is glorious, beautiful and one of the best reasons to believe.
9. The Bible. Again I mentioned problems that I have had and occasionally still have. But I can truthfully say this – that every year I read the Bible through at least once, that every day I try to read it and every week I study it in order to proclaim it. It has been a source of challenge, comfort, truth and renewal. I have no doubt that God speaks to me through it (and I don’t mean the kind of loopy ignoring of context or more esoteric interpretations). In fact, I am so assured of this, experiencing it continually, that I have very little time for Christians who are always looking for ‘extra words’ – as though the Bible were not enough. For me the thrill is still there.
10. Jesus. I guess that any one of the above nine reasons would not be enough on their own – although I think their cumulative effect is overwhelming. But this is the icing on the cake. Actually no… this is the cake. Jesus is the reason I believe and will continue to believe. ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word’ (Hebrews 1:1-3). All things were created by Christ, and for Christ. In him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). It is in Christ that ‘are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3). We hear about Jesus. We believe him. We receive him as Lord. We continue to live in him, ‘rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness’ (Colossians 2:7). We are warned: ‘See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ’ (Colossians 2:8). Would I really want to trade Jesus Christ for the Selfish Gene? No thanks. ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.’ Why would I swap the fullness of Jesus Christ for the emptiness of a universe and life without God?
And why should you? The wonderful thing about Jesus Christ is that you cannot inherit him, he cannot be bought and you cannot earn him. He simply comes as a free gift to all who receive him. I leave you with some words from another man who had his life changed by Jesus and I pray that you too will see, believe and be changed.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it … The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:1-5 and 9-13).
If you want to know more, just ask. Pray to God, seek his face and his forgiveness and he will never turn you away.
This book has been part of a conversation. One that is ongoing. It’s not just about talk; it’s about truth, life, meaning, beauty, justice and eternal love. And You. Join in.