Nothing shapes my, or anyone else’s life more than what they believe about four important questions. Origin, Morality, Meaning, and Destiny. And I also believe that no matter what one says with their lips, their actions speak volumes more. If you truly believe that you are an animal, that morality is a social convention invented by highly evolved animals, that there is no meaning in this universe for the human race, or for existence itself, and that the destiny of all people is non-existence, then your actions will be colored through and through. To quote Paul Harvey, you will use people and love things, instead of vice versa. You will not care about such matters as honesty, integrity, purity, or holiness.
However, if you believe that man was created by God, that morality is a reflection of His will for the conduct of people, that our meaning has its only context in Him, and our destiny is one we choose, freely, between Him and everything not Him, then those beliefs should determine how you act.
Granted, I do allow the exceptions. We are not strictly rational creatures. Sometimes, we know what is true, and yet our actions are colored by how we feel. We know a certain girl is trouble, who will bring us more pain than pleasure, and be a constant thorn in our side, until we are around her. Then, all we feel is the emotion.
Or there is simply moral weakness. Sin is pleasurable. No one denies that. Sin must have pleasure, in order to snare us. But pleasure was God’s invention. But, because God is orderly, He has set rules which instruct us on when and how certain pleasures are permissible. Just as medicine generally has a beneficial effect, not all medicines are good, and many are sometimes bad.
Now, of course, one must agree with theism in order to even agree with the above. But atheism isn’t a choice we have, if we intend to remain logical and honest.
If there is no God, then where did everything come from? Yes, that is an age old question, and seemingly, there is a problem. If the universe came from God, then where did God come from. Who created the Creator?
If we, however, actually look at the logic of the question, we can see where that child’s riddle falls apart. We all know the relationship between cause and effect. Every effect must have a cause before it. This is one of the basic rules of the universe. But, just because it is one of the rules by which we live and exist, does it follow that God must follow those rules? Is that not like asking if God is subject to gravity, or digestion, or any other natural law or order.
Or another example. You watch a football game. This game has players, a field, and entire environment, and it is, for all intents and purposes, a system. Now, you are outside of this system. Do you have to follow its rules? If you get up, walk to your refrigerator, grab a can of soda, and sit down, are you now in violation of any of the rules of football? Of course not.
The same way with God. He created the universe apart from Himself. He is not part of the system, but outside of it. He, however, created physical rules by which all things inside the system are subject. He does not have to have a cause, because the very notion of cause and effect, the rule of it, is limited to within our system.
Now, however, if an atheist says, that the earth has always existed, they do not have a logical escape from that question. They must show how a system which is based on cause and effect had no cause, but all effect. They move the problem they face of a self existent God to a self existent universe. The problem however is that a self existent God is above the universe, while a self existent universe must be subject to its own laws.
Lets branch off a bit. Perhaps you believe in a god, just not the God of Judeo-Christian faith, or perhaps you believe in God, but you cant swallow that Jesus is the only way to salvation or that Jesus was God. I, however, do, and am willing to try to prove it. So here we go.
Jesus Christ existed. That much is certain. His life has been proven, and we find non-biblical references to him in a few places. Not even serious atheists question the existence of Christ.
Second, Jesus Christ claimed to be God. All throughout the Bible (and the Talmud) Jesus claimed to be God. That’s why they killed him. For blasphemy.
Third, Jesus rose from the dead. This one is a bit harder to swallow for most people. Many people just don’t believe that ANY miracles are possible. Some don’t believe that this miracle happened. So lets look at it.
If you don’t believe any miracles are possible, then that is a separate issue. If you believe God exists, you must believe in miracles, because if God is omnipotent, then he can work around the rules of nature.
If you believe that this miracle didn’t happen, then you are on much less secure ground.
First of all, we know that the body was not in the tomb. If Jesus body was still in the tomb, the High Priest and Jesus’ other enemies would have said so. Instead they claimed that the disciples stole the body. Now that statement is a bit hard to swallow. We are to believe that a few Palestinian peasants and fishermen overcame a group of highly trained Roman soldiers?
But if they DID take Jesus body, that means that they lied about Christ rising from the dead. This again makes no sense. They didn’t gain anything by lying. What they DID get was imprisoned, killed, harassed and persecuted. And not once did any one of them recant, or say it was all a lie.
Something happened to make 12 frightened and terrified fishermen and peasants into fearless preachers who faced their own deaths with peace.
Now, some of you believe that the Bible is unreliable, that it has been changed, and errors have crept in. If that is the case, where is the original version? You can only say something is changed if you know the state of the original. So where is it? And what did it say?
In fact, you cant answer that, because most people who claim this only do so because things in the text bother them, so the say it HAD to have been changed. But did it? Is it possible that when the writers say they saw Jesus raised from the dead, that they meant it? Is it possible that they in fact DID say it?
Its not only possible, but probable.
We have more textual evidence for the accuracy of the Bible than we do for the works of Plato.
The Bible, by far, has the most archeological support and textual backing than any other ancient book.
In conclusion, I would like to say this: I am not an apologist, or a theologian. I have no formal training or schooling in either area. As such, I refer you to the following books, because people much wiser and smarter than me argue the subject much more powerfully.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel
Resurrection by Hank Hanegraaf
Between Heaven and Hell by Peter Kreeft