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November 15, 2007

A Christian responds to atheism

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/a_christian_responds_to_atheism/

Stan Guthrie at Christianity Today offers this “Reader’s Digest version” of why he’s a Christian:

Let’s face it: Atheism is in. Not since Nietzsche have disbelievers enjoyed such a ready public reception to their godless message—and such near-miraculous royalties. But even that hasn’t put them in a good mood. Snaps Christopher Hitchens, who wrote God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (although not, presumably, the pronouncements of atheists), “Many of the teachings of Christianity are, as well as being incredible and mythical, immoral.” A feuding Richard Dawkins suggests that believers “just shut up.” Apparently, they didn’t get the tolerance memo.

Other authors—including Douglas Wilson and Francis Collins—have quite capably refuted the new atheist shtick. But remembering Bertrand Russell’s famous essay, “Why I Am Not a Christian,” here is a Reader’s Digest version of why I am.

Creation: The universe, far from being a howling wasteland indifferent to our existence, appears to be finely tuned through its estimated 13.7 billion years of existence to support life on this planet. ...

Beauty: Beethoven’s Ninth, a snowflake, the sweet smell of a baby who has been sleeping, and a sunset beyond the dunes of Lake Michigan all point to a magnificent and loving Creator. And isn’t it interesting that we have the capacity—unlike mere animals—to gape in awe, to be brought to tears, before them? Truly did David say, “What is man, that you are mindful of him?”

New Testament reliability: Compared with the handful of existing copies of seminal ancient works such as Homer’s Iliad, the New Testament’s provenance is far better attested. There are thousands of NT manuscripts in existence, some made within mere decades of the events they report. Scholar F. F. Bruce said, “The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar.”

Scripture: Unlike other religious texts, the Bible gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly of its heroes: Abraham, Jacob, David, and Peter among them. Further, Scripture’s message rings true. ...

Jesus: Christ’s life and teachings are unparalleled in world history, as any Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim—or atheist—worth his salt will admit. Napoleon reportedly said, “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. ...

The trilemma: C.S. Lewis, commenting on Christ’s claim to divinity, said: “You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Resurrection: ...

Progress: ...

Testimonies: ...

My experience: Finally, as a forgiven sinner, I testify to an imperfect yet growing sense of God’s peace, presence, and provision since receiving Christ more than a quarter-century ago. Despite occasional setbacks, my faith has deepened and strengthened, whatever life brings.

And that includes the angry rantings of atheists.

OK, so even the Reader’s Digest version was a little long for The God Blog. But his full explanations are worth a read.

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