At some level, we all like the idea of religion, but fear that it may simply be our own projection. Then it would join other human solipsistic behaviors like gambling, addiction, egotism, and other projections of our desires on the world as if they were real.
In many academic circles, it is considered foolish even the serious thought of intelligent design, let alone a dying and rising Son of God. But how realistic is such a blunt claim? Let us consider three areas of brief investigation.
Darwinian Evolution Hypothesis
It is a common thread still in circulation in contemporary elite circles: the sciences, the education systems, the Hollywood gangsters. They perpetuate the idea that Darwinian evolution is a valid claim as to why life on Earth has come to be. This has, of course, never been proven with raw empirical evidence; nonetheless, it is still a mere hypothesis treated as solid fact.
One simple point of inquiry is to ask how life first arose? Did it arise on land, or in the ocean? And how did that single life form live long enough to become complex? What of its mate? Did it somehow split from itself to form another life form, then grow sexual organs and engage in reproduction? All this also has to occur within the same vicinity and both must, at a given point, have crafted themselves into a male and a female while managing every detail required to produce further life forms, which includes all functioning sexual organs and so on. This escapes the question of how they would raise their offspring and how they managed enough sense to understand the proper function of raising it, including the food required to maintain life. If it began in the ocean, how could two life forms manage to remain so close that they were able to reproduce? Same inquiry applies to life formed on land, but it seems further complicated how any life arose on its own, by natural selection (or whatever fancy term is used), and for what reason did life need to even arise? Was there an objective goal in which to aim toward?
There are many clever-handed books fueled by mere philosophical masturbation and fancy words to turn absolute speculation into fact, which is then spoon fed to the gullible masses. If there is any potential threat to the Darwinian evolution hypothesis, then what is the contrary?
From the Christian perspective this subject gets interesting. This snippet hails from Creation Today in terms of challenging dogmatic evolutionist:
One of the most powerful pieces of evidence against evolution is the fossil record. If evolution occurred by slow, minute changes in living creatures, there would be thousands of times more transitional forms of these creatures in the fossil beds than complete forms. Since the billions of fossils that have been found are all complete forms, the obvious conclusion is: Evolution never occurred! Though evolutionists have stated that there are many transitional forms, this is simply not true. What evolutionists claim to be transitional forms all have fully functional parts. A true transitional form would have non-functioning parts or appendages, such as the nub of a leg or wing.
Where are the trillions of fossils of such true transitional forms? Critics often say that creationism is simply religion, whereas evolutionism is based on science. The Bible states in Genesis I that all creatures reproduce “after their kind” (no change to another kind, i.e., no transitional forms). So the complete absence of transitional forms in the fossil record supports creationism. Is this scientific evidence for creationism, or isn’t it?
These few inquiries alone should, for the self-proclaimed “rationalist” or dogmatic evolutionist, cause one to ponder long and hard. As a former atheist, it was easy to be persuaded by anything which stood in contrast to God’s existence. What else is there if not from and by God? If we were placed here by a highly intelligent being, it leaves the possibility open for God. Now, one could claim intelligent alien life planted us here for whatever reason be, but it only further pushes out the big questions of where life first began and who is responsible.
Yale professor David Gelernter, who once supported the Darwinian evolution hypothesis, has recently come to consider it without merit. The College Fix reports this:
David Gelernter, a famed Yale University professor, has publicly renounced his belief in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, calling it a “beautiful idea” that has been effectively disproven.
“My argument is with people who dismiss intelligent design without considering, it seems to me — it’s widely dismissed in my world of academia as some sort of theological put up job — it’s an absolutely serious scientific argument,” Gelernter said during his interview. “In fact it’s the first and most obvious and intuitive one that comes to mind. It’s got to be dealt with intellectually.”
There is a clear Scriptural basis as to why the earth is infected with worldwide horror and agony, but that aside, is belief in God that far-out? Or has a fluster of anti-God propaganda disfigured the minds of millions who, at another given century, clearly saw that nature has law, intentional design and order? And that perhaps natural laws within the universe, along with nature itself, require a law-giver?
This alone proves nothing. The most hardened of hearts will deny even raw spiritual experience, as I have done, if it gets in the way of what your moral preference is. But let us assume God (a far superior intelligent being) does exist. Does this even remotely lead toward the Christian doctrine? No, it does not. So what would be the best place to start, if one were to cause Christianity harm?
It’d be the man Himself, Jesus Christ. Did He exist, or is He Jewish fable?
Is Christ A Real Historic Figure?
Aside from the embarrassingly rich material combined within the New Testament documentation, those hostile toward Christian doctrine, or those who refuse to acknowledge its authenticity as raw eyewitness testimony, there are secular sources which they may consider.
At one point in his letter, Pliny relates some of the information he has learned about these Christians:
They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.
This passage provides us with a number of interesting insights into the beliefs and practices of early Christians. First, we see that Christians regularly met on a certain fixed day for worship. Second, their worship was directed to Christ, demonstrating that they firmly believed in His divinity. Furthermore, one scholar interprets Pliny’s statement that hymns were sung to Christ, “as to a god”, as a reference to the rather distinctive fact that, “unlike other gods who were worshiped, Christ was a person who had lived on earth.” If this interpretation is correct, Pliny understood that Christians were worshiping an actual historical person as God! Of course, this agrees perfectly with the New Testament doctrine that Jesus was both God and man.
Is this sufficient evidence for the historicity of Jesus Christ? No, it is not. But to the contrary, it begins to put into place an image of a people, who seemed to have sprouted with immense growth over the course of a relatively short period, who clearly believed that a man rose from the dead. Let us consider another source hostile toward Christ.
We also have the Jewish Talmud, which describes from a hostile perspective the presence of Jesus Christ:
The Babylonian Talmud is a commentary on Jewish laws composed between A.D. 500-600 (Neusner/Green, 69) Therein is a text about Jesus’ death. The Tractate Sanhedrin (43a) contains this passage:
Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the herald had cried, “He is being led out for stoning, because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy. Whosoever has anything to say in his defense, let him come and declare it.” As nothing was brought forward in his defense, he was hanged on Passover Eve.
An analysis of this paragraph is extremely rewarding. First, one must observe that the document is written from the Jewish viewpoint; thus, as expected, is hostile to Jesus, and is defensive of Jewish jurisprudence. This makes it all the more valuable as a document for the support of Christianity.
It is evident that the religious zealots of the time were keen on ridding their society of this apparent troublemaker. Born of a carpenter and of no high social status, how could He perform such miracles? Well, as offensive as it may be to true disciples of Christ, the claim is Jesus was in league with Satan. In modern Western society hearing such a claim may amount to mere chuckles or a few gags. This was in an era where religious devotion was no laughing manner and held a sincere respect and loyalty. Claiming one of their tribe members was in league with a vile entity was a heavy charge.
Christ was accused of practicing sorcery, which, in effect, was a charge that he was in league with the devil. The term “sorcery” represents a perversion of truth regarding Jesus; nonetheless, in a subtle way, it concedes that he was doing extraordinary things (his miracles) that were inexplicable from a strictly natural vantage point.
As support for the Lord mounted, the Hebrew leaders were frantic.
Their ploy, therefore, was this: they would attribute his amazing deeds to the devil. After the Savior had healed a man who was both blind and mute as a consequence of being demon possessed, the Pharisees charged: “This man does not cast out demons except by [the power of] Beelzebub” (Matthew 12:24). This is what the Talmud characterized as “sorcery.” Sorcery indeed! Christ exploded the argument by demonstrating that if their theory was true, Satan would be divided against himself!
Jewish writers who perhaps attempted to dismiss Christ and erase Him from history have, in effect, only granted further indication that the eyewitness accounts and testimony, along with the vast secular intel on this one man, are indeed authentic and not based upon man-made fables.
Let us consider that Christ did in fact exist. Where does this leave us? There are only few options to consider: He was a lunatic, a misrepresented rabbi, or He was who He claimed to be.
What about a testimony? One alone proves nothing. But what about a vast array of testimonies? At which point does one, at the very least, consider the potential for Truth in these human experiences?
Worldwide Testimonies of Radical Change
How many tales have you heard of someone having this radical change occur in their life? And what is the element which gave rise to such change? Jesus Christ. As an atheist, it is far easier to abolish such tales in the mind as mere fantasy, or refer to such psychological essays which explain away the worldwide phenomenon. How are people, who are in no position of self-empowerment, able to change in such radical ways?
Let us refer to a former gangster, Nicky Cruz. He was a blood-lit New York gang leader of the Mau-Maus. An individual hell-bent on hate and destruction. People like this are a lost cause without radical intervening. And the late pastor, David Wilkerson, whom prophesied many of the conundrums which have now fallen upon America, was that tool utilized to reach him.
Cruz revealed a dark reality of which many in the Western world are still very unaware:
Nicky Cruz knows a thing or two about the devil and he’s here to set the record straight. The son of a satanic priest and priestess, Cruz grew up in Puerto Rico witnessing frightening supernatural events at his home and later experienced spiritual attacks after he left the New York City gang life to be a Christian. What he wants to let people know in his latest book, The Devil Has No Mother (Worthy Publishing, July 2013), is that the devil exists and he’s worse than people think he is.
“My father was a satanic priest. I was born into a curse. I tasted hell,” said Cruz, best known as the former leader of the notorious NYC gang The Mau-Maus, and who was evangelized by the late American Christian evangelist David Wilkerson, to The Christian Post. Wilkerson wrote the bestseller The Cross and the Switchblade, founded the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge, and was the founding pastor of Time Square Church in New York.
To the spiritually ignorant, claims of dancing devils and oppressive demonic forces echoes sheer fable, a fairytale constructed to aid our understanding of our surroundings and the things which cause us harm and induce fear. The articles goes on to state:
“Satan must be unmasked,” Cruz writes in the book. “He is not a harmless caricature or a myth left over from humanity’s primitive past. He’s not a symbol of human wrongdoing. He’s not the personification of some generalized force. He’s a real being – and the most awful one we could imagine. A hopeless case.”
The former merciless warlord said he felt compelled to write the book because American Christians and the U.S. Church are increasingly “ignorant” and “apathetic” toward the threat posed by the devil and are just drifting along with the culture.
2 Corinthians 4:3-5 demonstrates plainly why billions of people cannot see the sometimes most obvious of things. And it sometimes takes a raw, radical spiritual encounter with Christ to finally wake up to the reality at hand. Most never wake up until they hit the grave.
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Muslims have also been reported, across the years and throughout the Middle East, to have experienced dreams or visions of the man Jesus Christ:
There was family on a boat with other migrants traveling from Turkey to Athens. On the way they lost their 7-year-old daughter into the water. Everyone in the crowded boat was looking for her but couldn’t find her. Suddenly, she appeared on the other side of the boat, saying over and over, “A man who walked on the water took me and brought me to the other side of the boat.”
There most certainly are perhaps cases of liars and frauds, for whatever reason be, but when one has a real spiritual experience with Christ, it becomes more difficult to merely bypass such stories as fable or delusions. In fact, assuming delusion only makes it easier to perhaps rest in your own ignorance or bias, as was my own case.
These stories of radical change and dreams, or visions, can only be one of two things: a fact pointing toward the Creator, or a falsehood given in a variety of ways from either fiction-tellers, delusions of the mentally ill, or hallucinations of some kind. But if the former holds any validity, then why are so many (especially in the West) now so inclined against belief?
Factors of disbelief are not always intellectual. Back in 2016, Psychology Today described non-intellectual influences on the rejection of belief:
It often is assumed that belief in God, or lack thereof, is based upon intellectual reasoning. For instance, some atheists argue that God is unlikely to exist because of Occam’s razor, a logical principle basically stating that, all things being equal, the view most likely to be true is the one with the least assumptions. Only in the past couple of years have psychological scientists turned their attention to non-intellectual factors that may influence unbelief.
For example, in research published last week by the American Psychological Association, two studies were conducted on relational and emotional factors that may influence those holding atheistic or agnostic views. In both studies, for instance, research participants rated, on a scale from 0 to 10, the extent to which they were influenced by “experiences of disappointment, anger, hurt, alienation, mistrust, or other negative feelings focused on God; seeing God as cruel, uncaring, or punishing.”
In the first of two studies, 171 American adults were asked about their reasons for nonbelief, as well as emotions they felt toward a god or gods that they hypothetically imagined, and various indicators of negative emotionality. Results showed that 54% of those who self-reported that they were atheists or agnostics indicated some relational and emotional reasons for nonbelief. In the second study, 72% of 429 American adults who expressed some level of atheism or agnosticism endorsed similar reasons. In both studies, the extent to which research participants revealed relational and emotional reasons for nonbelief was associated with various indicators of negative emotionality, such as trait anger, psychological entitlement, and fearful / preoccupied attachment styles.
This new research is consistent with the results of earlier research showing that 44% of atheists self-reported that at least some of their doubts, or at least some of their decision not to believe in God, were due to emotional reasons. These individuals, whom the researchers called “emotionally engaged atheists,” were more characterized by negative emotionality, as well as stronger negative reactions to stressful events, compared with non-emotionally engaged atheists.
I can attest to this as observed in others up close and personal. Everything from having a homosexual friend to a rough upbringing, it isn’t as intellectual as many atheist claim. The image upheld gleaming of some intellectual superiority is, perhaps more than folks recognize, a façade hiding the hurt within, or due to personal moral objection.
This is a brief thread of thoughts worth a second gander, in my opinion. If Darwinian evolution is not backed by observable empirical evidence, then how did we arrive at this landscape of such diverse complex life forms? If Jesus was a real historic figure, backed by Christian and secular sources, who was the man and what was His mission? If there is a worldwide phenomenon of changes which occur in the lives of those who claim to have come to know Christ, or have had dreams or visions of Him, what is the explanation? Is it all psychological, or is it more?
Some consider the possibility that all this is a means toward understanding our world or obtaining meaning in life. Perhaps it helps one cope with death or emotionally engage the rotten world in which we dwell. For me, at the end of the day, it is about truth. If truth exist, then it is absolute. It would seem to be unchanging and perfect in its nature.
Faith is a wonderful things which today, in twenty-first century America, has suffered such opposition and propaganda that now many cannot even process the idea alone of an all-powerful being who gave rise to all life on Earth. And the all-too-often claim that it’s too good to be true has a flip side: what if it’s too good to be true that we get to die and escape all our foul actions, deeds and desires?
The online world has opened the portals of mass-consuming intel, which is very often passed along as absolute fact, as truth. At this time, in the twenty-first century, it seems you can come across an opinion stated as fact in almost any circle about any topic. Technology has played a positive role in society, sure. But the great cost is a lack in the sincere value of truth-seeking, which has instead been stomped out by those driven with philosophical agendas, moral objection or disgust, and so on. From the dogmatic consumption of whatever latest and greatest “scientific” discovery or statement is chucked out to the masses, from every wind coming about with a new wave of doctrine on morality, to the ever-increasing information pumping itself in endless streams of data without substance or foundation, where is any truth in anything anymore? And am I really so positive (or arrogant?) that I dare state I’ve found it? Yes.
But I’ve been wrong before.