Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why I'm Still a Christian

The skeptics are right about one thing.

I was raised in a Christian home. We went to church every week — frequently, twice on Sunday and again on Wednesday. My parents are Christians, as were their parents, so it's no surprise, the skeptics point out, that I became one. And they're right.

But it didn't have to stay that way.

Many people find themselves having to re-examine those decisions as they grow up — especially in college. I went off and got a degree in physics, so you would expect me to face that (though it wasn't my physics classes that created the problem, and, frankly, I found more unbelievers in the humanities than the sciences). But the day came when I had to decide whether I could still believe in stories about men rising from the dead and things like that.

Fortunately, I had already been prepared and not the way you think. By the time my crisis of faith occurred, I had four years of physics classes under my belt. Out of the almost one thousand hours of classroom instruction, three lectures really stood out.

The first one was when we learned that the behavior of the gravitational force could have been anything at all, but if it weren't exactly what it is, we would never have been able to understand it — it would have simply been too complex to figure out by observation. I still remember one particularly profane classmate saying aloud, "Gee, I feel like I need to go to church."

The second was when we were told how all the matter in the universe formed when the energy of the big bang converted into matter and antimatter — and how they should have formed in equal amounts, but for some reason they didn't, leaving just a bit more matter to make everything we see.

The third was a special guest lecture by a famous visitor, Professor Stephen Hawking. He described how precisely balanced the energy of the big bang had to be — saying that if the expansion of the universe had been either greater or smaller by less than one part in a trillion trillion there would be no universe right now.

At the time of my crisis of faith I had never heard of intelligent design. I had not heard of Dembski or Behe. But Chen, White, and Hawking had taught me much of what they would later write.

I knew everything had to have come from somewhere — something had to be eternal, and the universe (by various laws of physics) couldn't be it. And I knew, thanks to those three lectures, the universe was a finely crafted machine, designed just so, enabling life to exist.

So there was one verse in the Bible I knew I couldn't doubt: the first one. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." And if that was true, every other miracle was possible.

That's important because if miracles aren't possible, Jesus didn't rise from the dead. No matter how bizarre the explanations for the evidence may be, they are less bizarre than a resurrection. 

But if miracles are possible, Jesus actually rising from the dead is on the table. Evidence has to be considered and arguments evaluated, but it's not an automatic no. 

And once the evidence is considered and the arguments are evaluated, the best explanation is that Jesus did rise from the dead. It's story that no one would make up. Christianity is true.

Someone may have questions, concerns, even doubts, but "Jesus really rose from the dead" is a solid place to begin the journey.