Pointing People to the evidence that God exists
Why we believe is just as important as what we believe, says Gary Gibbs, who was put on the spot on a recent trip to a coffee shop.
Sometimes things happen in our lives which seem merely coincidental, but on reflection maybe God had set something up in a mysterious and marvellous way.
Back in February, my wife Sally and I were in a busy coffee shop in Derby. I was enjoying an Americano with (hot) milk: Sally only drinks hot water which is good for the family budget! A couple of young men, say late twenties, came in and took the table right next to ours. What happened next was something you just could not make up…
One of them reached into his bag and pulled out a copy of a well-known book which defends atheism and pushed it across the table towards his friend: then he got out another book on atheism. Before I knew what I was doing, I was chuckling out loud and asking them “Is this a meeting of the Derby Atheist Society?”
These two guys were really pleasant and we engaged in conversation for around twenty minutes. They were very surprised to discover that I had read this book and actually used it in lecturing students at Regents Theological College! They wanted to know how I could believe in a God who I had never seen and for whom there is no ‘proof’. So now we were into it! Here’s what I said:
Proof is not the same thing as evidence. I can’t prove in a scientific way that there is a God, but I can point to historical evidence which might be helpful.
So, imagine that a human being seriously claims to be God in human form – what are your options? Jesus of Nazareth, a well-attested historical person made this claim. So, was he mentally unstable? An evil liar? Or God incarnate? As C.S.Lewis among other writers makes clear, he wasn’t merely a ‘good person’ otherwise he would not have said this about himself.
The resurrection of Jesus vindicates the truth of what he said. If Christ was raised to life by God the Father, then Christianity stands strong and tall. If Jesus was not raised, then in the words of the apostle Paul “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others.” (1Corinthians15:19).
A few days later I was driving to an appointment listening to a chat show on national radio. An atheist guest on the programme asserted that she didn’t believe in God because so many wars, conflicts and horrors had been committed in the name of religion. At this point I was shouting at the radio! For two reasons:
Research shows that the vast majority of wars and conflicts are initiated by governments, not faith groups. From memory, it’s about 6% are religiously inspired and nearly 4% is caused by Islamists.
The fact that bad, stupid people commit violent atrocities in the name of God tells us nothing about God’s existence or otherwise: it only tells us that there are bad, stupid people in the world.
There is no need for believers to feel intimidated when challenged about our Faith: it stands the test of scrutiny. There is a challenge, however, to love God with all of ourselves, including OUR MIND!
There are plenty of books which will help you and me to be able to defend what we hold dear; for example, look for titles by writers such as Timothy Keller, John Lennox, Alister McGrath, Amy Orr-Ewing, and there are many more!
It’s vital that we know why we believe as well as what we believe!