He is risen…and man, do we need that.

Every year on this planet, I become more and more convinced of a certain fact.

In fact, let me back up for a bit. I have always loved a good debate on the topics of philosophy and religion, as long as all parties kept the respect level high and the arrogance level down (regardless of what worldview they were coming from). So when, in my first year at Chemeketa Community College, a whiteboard simply sat in the middle of the Student Life Center with the question: “Can we be good without God?” on it, there was no way I could not stop to read the responses to that question that were written on the whiteboard.

And perhaps you can guess what was written. The Christians and other assorted theists say no. The others say “How dare you! I don’t need God to give me a sense of morality…I have a sense of morality!” And so on and so forth. But one question, written on the “no” side, particularly caught my eye.

“Don’t you believe in the innate goodness of the human soul?”

That is the response that I remember. I remember it because I am sure that optimism like this is shared by more than just one person.

But every year on this planet, I become more and more convinced of a certain fact…no matter what worldview you are coming from, it is very, very hard to miss this fact. Humanity is so messed up.

As a self-proclaimed sociology nerd, as the son of a history buff who has picked up his own interest in history, you really can’t miss this one: Humanity is messed up.

As I examine history, I can’t help but notice how often evil people held power over a nation, and the nation supported them. The Canaanites sacrificing helpless children to fire in order to please their gods. The brutality of the Roman Empire as the Caesars kept finding new and grotesque ways of killing their victims. The corruption and immorality of the Catholic Church during the crusades and the renaissance. The British abused the people they were in power over. The way the Americans, the lovers of freedom and liberty, virtually annihilated the indigenous Native Americans to get the land they wanted. The way that the French people during the French Revolution danced around the guillotine with their children singing songs of joy whenever someone got beheaded for breathing a word of support to the monarchy. Nazi Germany could not have run on Hitler alone…he had to be supported. I don’t know how to examine history and come out thinking that humankind is pretty okay.

 

“But Carson, we are getting better and better! Humankind is more moral today than our primitive past.” You know, that is EXACTLY what enlightenment thinkers were saying. In fact, the belief that “education is making mankind better and better, without religion” was one of the cruxes of modernism. But we now live in what is called a postmodern society.

Why is it called post-modern? Because modernism is dead. Why is modernism dead? Because the claims made by thinkers in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s that we were getting better were slapped in the face by World War 1, World War 2, and nuclear weaponry, amongst countless other things. Modernists couldn’t make it through the 20th century without their position looking obviously insane.

When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with wars?

When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with slavery?

When has humanity ever NOT had a problem with economic fairness?

The evidence stands: Humanity is messed up.

As I examine present-day sociology, I can’t help but notice several things. For one, the number of “douchebag” men (I can’t think of any other way to put it, nor do I really feel the need to) is far higher than I ever expected. The number of men that go to such great efforts to impress the girl enough to win her heart, but then turn into manipulative, controlling jerks…these men are FAR more common than they should be.

I can’t help but notice teenagers getting more and more messed up by others. By parents who uproot their teenager’s life in pursuit of that parent’s ever-fleeting happiness. By each other.

I can’t help but notice the bullying problem in today’s schools. Bullies do not operate in a vacuum…bullying is built on the reinforcement of the surrounding society. According to Olweus’s research, a bullying scenario has several roles that are being played. The bully (A) has people that copy their behavior (B), and people that laugh at or cheer on their behavior (C).

Where did these dictators, these douchebags, these bullies, learn this type of behavior? Or was it in them all along?

No, every year I become more and more convinced of the fallenness of humanity. And it hurts.

And although I don’t have the time to cover it, I have become quite convinced of my own fallenness. I am not examining fallen humanity from a pedestal. Rather, I am right there with them.

 

So when Easter comes around, especially this year, the reminder comes exactly when I need it.

God is not the cause of all this stupidity, these wars, these abuses. God created all things perfect, but humans with free will. When man sinned, God’s immediate next move was to curse…but also to promise the solution. The seed of the woman.

I am reminded that when humanity fell, God put in motion the fix: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, but that’s not the whole story. Jesus Christ, crucified and then RESURRECTED. And He is still coming to take every tear away.

When I see an abuse that I can change, I can do what I can. But if I can’t fix it, I know that Jesus is coming. I know that because He RESURRECTED, and He said He’s coming back.

Everything else is small potatoes compared to this.

The Art of Apologetics: Does God give proof? (Part 2 – God’s existence)

When God wants you to believe something…does He give proof?

The answer is yes, God gives as much proof as He wants to give. Which is not “as much proof as you want,” but is also NOWHERE near “zero proof, because He wants you to just have faith!”

(Side-tangent: Remember, EVERYONE has faith. They just put it in different things and different places. Faith and trust are synonyms. Some trust God to take care of them, some trust America to take care of them. Some trust their mommy or spouse. Some trust themselves. Some trust that TV is telling them the truth. Some trust that certain books are telling the truth, while other books are lying. The list goes on.)

So here are three important things that Christians hold to be true. These are things that are central to Christianity, but are a) commonly questioned and challenged, and b) every Christian has doubted these at some point in their life.

A)     God exists.

B)     Jesus is the Son of God. In fact, Jesus is God in human form. Jesus is 100% man and 100% God.

C)     The Bible is the Word of God.

(By the way, each one kinda leads to the next)

And on these three things, we ask: Does God just expect us to believe these things? Or does He give proof?

A)     God exists – “Just believe it” or is proof given?

The short answer – yes, proof is given

Rom 1:18-21 (NASB)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

The long answer…what used to be “proof” has now had more doubt cast upon it.

Before we even get into this, I have to cover two things that all of us do, although we often don’t think about it. One is data interpretation and the other is faith.

Data interpretation

First, remember that ALL of our finite, human minds interpret data/evidence based on what we already believe. Everybody does this. Here’s a simple example to illustrate:

Data: The human immune system automatically protects us from many diseases, while gathering data to protect us from the next occurrence of that illness (antibodies).

One who believes in evolution: This is evidence of survival of the fittest. Over time, humans developed this skill…whoever didn’t develop this skill died off, so that nowadays we all have that kind of immune system. This data is evidence towards proving my point.

One who believes in creation: This is evidence of God’s intelligent design. The human immune system is clearly not an accident, but wisely designed for a purpose. This data is evidence towards proving my point.

This is why I am in a rare camp…I am actually a six-day creationist (I actually believe that the earth was created in six literal 24 hour periods). Many view this position as insane because there is “so much evidence” of the Earth requiring much more time to develop.

For example, take a look at this:

Data: The sun is big, shiny, and hot. Times a trillion.

Atheist interpretation: Wow, that’s big. That must’ve taken a long time to happen. (note the assumption: It “happened.” Passive)

Six-day creationist interpretation: Wow. That there is incredible. God must be really friggin’ powerful to create something like that in such a short amount of time. (Assumes God’s existence)

Most common belief: God could have created the sun however He wanted to. He’s plenty powerful enough to do it. He probably chose to do it over a billion years.

At this point, whether you agree, disagree, think I am way oversimplifying it or whatever, I need to cover the second element.

Faith

As covered: Faith means trust. I do not know anything about astronomy…so how could I say “You’re wrong!” if I don’t even know what they believe in the first place? However, we must ALL be careful of how much belief we put into anything, including scientific findings.

Why? Because everybody has faith, whether good or bad.

No researcher has time to study EVERYTHING. Therefore, SOME of what he does must be built on the backs of others. To PROVE every theory that came before him would mean that he would have no time to DISCOVER something new. Therefore, the researcher MUST choose to trust theories that he hasn’t himself proven. This isn’t bad…there’s just no way around it.

In other words, the researcher MUST have faith in researchers that came before him. Which ones he has faith in, well, that’s up to him.

Science gets it wrong sometimes. Science also gets it right sometimes. But this is a big long way of saying: If you tell me that research “proves” or even research “indicates” that God doesn’t exist, well, I have to ask…is it the research or is it your interpretation of that research?

Let’s talk about Darwin

Charles Darwin certainly did change the playing field, but in a different way. In history, there have been certain cultures or prominent figures who were atheists. However, they were always persecuted as heretics (sometimes by Christians, and I do NOT believe that Christians were right in doing so). How Darwin changed the playing field was that before Darwin, atheism was viewed as insane. Atheists simply tried to put forth Steady State theory: This is how things have always been. There was no beginning.

This argument was so easy to trump back then…all you would need to do to counter the argument was look around at the complexity and creativity of life, of humans, of the animals, and ask why they were so complex. The best the atheist could often say was “I don’t know.” In short, the argument for God was far more convincing than the “it happened by accident” card.

What Darwin did was bring forth a theory that Atheists could bank on for how life came to be. Darwin’s book, “The Origin of Species,” provided Atheists with an answer to “well, if there’s no God, how did WE get here?” The theory of evolution as an explanation to the origins of life answered that question.

At this point in history, Atheistic and Humanistic worldviews were already making serious headway. The Catholic Church had demonstrated a history of using political power and influence (human means) to further their agenda, and they tried to use that power to overcome the reason of their opponents, as opposed to using reason to overcome reason (not that reason is what builds the kingdom of God…however, God is more “reasonable” than any human brain). Thus, society was starting to rebel and cast off these “religious shackles.”

Modernism (a nice blend of atheism, humanism, and theological liberalism) was on the rise, and it was conquering and taking over academic institutions. Christians, who had talked a lot about faith, didn’t sound too smart when they sat there and said “you have your mounds of research, but I have my faith.” (1 Corinthians, the first two chapters, have a lot to say about the “wisdom” of this world and the “foolishness” of Christ. It’s pretty cool)

So many of them backed away from debate. Some worked to water down Christianity in order to help it survive (Creation is actually a metaphor, and Jesus’s resurrection is a metaphor, and on and on). So, atheism looked like it was taking over. Truth is, it DID take over…it just took over schools. As for the world? Not so much.

Nowadays, atheists still hold a lot of power in the academic world…you will find many atheists at the heads of science departments at universities. However…atheism is not prominent in the rest of the world (Europe is probably it’s best stronghold). The largest atheist organization has 2200 members. Somewhere between 2.4% and 3.7% of the world’s population is atheist. In the US, 0.7% describe themselves as atheist, and 0.9% describe themselves as agnostic. That’s all.

However, since atheism became quite prominent in the academic world, the idea of evolution as a means of the origins of species has been repeated by a lot of people, over a long course of years. And anything, whether a truth or a lie, that is repeated often enough, long enough, loud enough, and by enough people, eventually becomes accepted as truth (just look at how advertising works!).

So back to the question…does God give proof?

Yes. Sometimes it is hard to see, because we hear the opposite taught and repeated so much. But look…

Romans 1:18-21 (NASB)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

An artist cannot put himself into a painting…however, you can see the artist’s style and personality through the painting. You would think that God couldn’t put himself into His painting, but He did (Jesus). We’ll get to that next post.

Back to this, however. I believe that if you tune out all the other things you’ve heard, creation makes God really obvious. On the other side of things, I believe that even if you tune out everything you’ve heard about God, evolution is not as “obvious.”

As I have mentioned before…I do not view it as my job to “convince” anybody or to change anybody’s mind. Whether I think something is “right” or “wrong” has very little effect on the universe. However, I do view it as my job to explain WHY I believe what I believe to the fullest.

I cannot tell you with 100% certainty that evolution is wrong. I cannot tell you with 100% certainty that God exists. I think that I have experienced Him…but maybe I am under some weird mind illusion?

Regardless, what I CAN tell you is this. When I have analyzed creationism, and when I  have analyzed evolution as an explanation for the origins of life, I personally find the evolution of a non-living thing into a living thing to be unconvincing.

After examining both cases, I think an intelligent designer has the more convincing case.

Coming next:
God’s touch found in creation

Is Jesus really the Son of God? Did God give proof of that?