Christian faith, more importantly, God. Is often hated because of some misunderstandings Satan has done so well has branded the faith with. But what is really behind them? What does the Bible really say?
1. God is a genocidal maniac.
The God revealed in the Bible is not reducible to the attributes of love or mercy. God is a righteous, holy, and just God. He must punish evil. If God didn't have reasons for doing so beyond our comprehension, he would not be worthy of worship, let alone believe. We would never praise a judge who chooses to let convicted thieves, murders, and rapists return home without justice. Even if a judge did this in the name of love, we would never be satisfied with the practical realities of having these people living unpunished in our neighborhoods or teaching our children at school. A God who never gives justice is a God who should be rejected. A God who is both loving and just is a God that is not only worthy of but also demands our worship and obedience.
2. Jesus never existed as a real person.
While the news media often reports the proposition that belief in Jesus’ historical existence is untenable, most scholars today disagree. Jesus’ existence is one of the best-attested facts available to us. Hostile witnesses attest to his life in Palestine. His life recorded in the Gospels is the best explanation available to us about who he was and what he did. This fact is even held by hostile sources outside the Christian sources.
3. Science has disproven Christianity.
Historically, Christianity has often led the way in scientific advancement. Many leading scientists today believe in a cosmology that is much more open to intelligent design and creation than most pundits assume. Science has not found evidence precluding the belief in God, miracles, or the resurrection of Jesus. Such fields are outside the competence of science and its methodology.
4. The Bible is based on myths.
History is integral to the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul, who wrote more than half of the New Testament, grounds faith in eyewitness testimony and verifiable events (1 Cor. 15). If these things are myths and fables, Christianity is not useful or good. The tone and tenor of the Scriptures are categorically different from that of Greek myths or Aesop’s Fables.
What we believe is based on reality and grounded in history. The Bible is open to investigation and scrutiny.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1–3)
5. All Religions teach the same thing.
Many people today attempt to dismantle the claims of religion before they even hear them by asserting (not arguing) that all religions teach the same thing. In truth, each religion makes very different claims and assumptions about reality. There may be superficial agreement about the Golden Rule, but the gospel of the triune God categorically separates the faith of Christianity from all religions.
6. Jesus never died on a cross.
According to multiple sources, Jesus was condemned to die for specific reasons. He attempted to lead Israel away from God through miraculous deeds. His enemies attributed his works to the devil as acts of sorcery. Jesus’ death was a well-known fact throughout the ancient world. Historians and politicians of the century spoke of the events that happened in Jerusalem.
7. There are no such things as miracles.
To assume miracles cannot happen because they do not do so normally is not itself an argument. Rather, most people take their personal experience as the normative basis for judging past events. This subjective view of what is possible does not allow for normal historical events to transpire, let alone miraculous ones. If we look at historical evidence, the question remains an open possibility.
8. Evil precludes a good God.
Only the God of Scripture allows evil to be a problem in the first place. If evil exists, it presumes an original goodness and liberty that makes such a choice evil. The problem of evil is actually an argument for Christianity. Evil, as a choice that has real consequences, cannot be accounted for without God.
Many people wrongly assume that if God is good there should no be evil in the world. And yet, this assumes that as finite creatures we could know God’s purposes. If such a God exists, there are likely reasons he allows evil that we cannot fully comprehend.
9. Christianity is irrational and unreasonable.
Faith is often wrongly perceived as a leap in the dark, irrational, and imaginary. Yet, historically, Christianity has seen three aspects of faith: knowledge, assent, and trust.
Faith is based on actual historical events that are rational explanations of reality. Faith assents to the reliability of the speaking God. These explanations may not be seen by the naked eye, but that does not mean they are irrational. Rather, the revelation of Scripture reveals a rational, and more importantly, a good God who is saving sinners.
10. There is no evidence for the resurrection.
Many people wrongly assume there is no real evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Yet, this is incorrect. The women who found an empty tomb attested to the resurrection of Christ. Hundreds of witnesses around Jerusalem saw the resurrected Lord and could be questioned. Hostile authorities among the Jews and Romans attested to his empty tomb and miracles. According to many scholars, the Gospel accounts remain the best explanation of the empty tomb, the transformation of the apostles, and the existence of the early church.
11. Science and faith are incompatible.
Science cannot exist without the assumptions of a stable creation, with meaning, purpose, or the laws of nature to govern it. Without the assumptions brought about by Christianity, modern science would have no footing whatsoever. If nature were inherently self-serving and motivated merely by survival rather than to the giving of life, the stability of natural laws would be unknowable. Nature itself would be a moving deception. We would not have the ability to even perceive such a reality if it existed.
“Science is based on the assumption that the universe is thoroughly rational and logical at all levels,” writes Paul Davies. “Atheists claim that the laws [of nature] exist reasonlessly and that the universe is ultimately absurd. As a scientist, I find this hard to accept. There must be an unchanging rational ground in which the logical, orderly nature of the universe is rooted” (Russell Stannard, God for the 21st Century [Templeton Foundation Press, 2000], 12). Many scientists today see this rationality—which many people want to discount as superstition. The evidence points to something of an infinite creator and to a belief in him.
Faith in what must be (i.e., God) for the world to exist as it does is actually rational. Science has not found evidence precluding the belief in God, miracles, or the resurrection of Jesus. Such fields are outside the competency of science and its methodology. Faith is not incompatible with the evidence. Everyone has to believe in a hypothesis concerning where the compelling evidence leads them. Such basic beliefs are the building blocks of understanding the laws of nature. The laws of nature, therefore, pose a problem for both atheists and materialists but not for theists.
To learn more about the Christian faith, check out Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story by Michael Horton.