By Steve DuPlessie | April 17, 2018
But here’s the thing: it takes as much “faith” for the doubters to believe what they believe as it does for those of us who believe the truths of the bible. Let’s take the questions around creation for example. Skeptics like to mock believers because we say that God created the heavens, and the earth, and all the life we see around us…
They’ve got piles of questions about the age of the universe, and the evidence of fossils and dinosaurs. They’ve got questions about how so many different races came from just two individuals and the apparent expanding universe. Lots of questions that are challenging for non-technical, non-scientists to begin to answer.
Yet at the same time, the alternative to a planned, deliberate, designed, point-in-time creation is the coincidence of chance over many years that increases in complexity in spite of Newton’s 2nd Law of Thermodynamics that tells us all things spin down from order to disorder. And of course, there’s the question of what caused the Big Bang, the moment when absolutely nothing … suddenly erupted violently into … all matter … which became everything we see today. Believing that takes a leap of faith too.
So if their worldview requires a leap of faith too, there’s always the possibility that an honest and sincere skeptic will be challenged to reexamine what they believe. For example one med school student, completing his residency training, was a convinced atheist. He saw his years of education in scientific reason as the logical answer to everything. Until he encountered patients facing devastating disease with strength, and death with calm, unexplainable confidence.
Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., helped to discover the genetic misspellings that cause cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease, and a rare form of premature aging called progeria. A pioneer gene hunter, he led the Human Genome Project from 1993 until 2008. For his revolutionary contributions to genetic research, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, and the National Medal of Science in 2009. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and currently serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Collins tells the story of his journey from outright unbelief as a med student to solid faith in Jesus in his book, The Language of God: A scientist presents evidence for belief.
There’s the story of a hard-nosed, award-winning newspaper reporter, a long time skeptic and critic of all things religious, who was confused and intrigued by his wife’s sudden change after her religious conversion. An investigative reporter at heart, he began a project to figure out what happened to her, interviewing scholars, authors, former believers, and scientists. In a two-year crusade to disprove his wife’s new faith, Lee Strobel gradually began to see that all of his deepest questions had very reasonable answers.
His book The Case For Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, tells how Strobel became convinced after hearing good, solid answers to his long list of tough questions. He went on to write The Case for Faith, The Case for the Creator, and recently The Case for Miracles, each a deep investigation into good questions and reasonable answers.
There’s Holly Ordway, die-hard academic, liberal arts professor, convinced atheist. Her book, Not God’s Type: An atheist academic lays down her arms, tells how she came to saving faith in Jesus through long conversations with patient friends who listened to her questions and looked for the answers together with her.
Of course, there’s the Irish professor and author, convinced atheist, angry at even the thought of God, but engaged in deep discussions with his Oxford friend and fellow author, JRR Tolkien. CS Lewis later wrote in Surprised by Joy, that he came to faith, “… like a prodigal, kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.” He later wrote Mere Christianity, a carefully reasoned explanation of biblical faith that has brought thousands of sincere seekers to saving faith in Jesus, and helped countless doubters find answers and inner peace.
Speaking of resources, there are more resources now than ever before for getting answers to tough questions of faith. My favorite is the Veritas Forum on YouTube that gives short interviews with people engaged in the front line of ministry with 20- and 30-somethings like Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias, and Os Guinness.
There’s a great VF video of MIT professors Alan Lightman, Troy Van Voorhis, Alex Byrne, and Daniel Hastings discussing “Life, the Universe, and MIT” in a conversation moderated by Rosalind Picard who’s the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab.
Other VF videos include talks by John Lennox, the Irish apologist, Oxford University mathematician, and philosopher of science (somewhat of a slacker with only two MA degrees and three PhDs); plus Dr. Owen Gingerich, professor of astronomy and the history of science at Harvard University; and Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, American astronomer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Each is a respected professional in their field; all top-shelf intellectuals who find reasonable answers to the questions, doubts and objections that are posed to their faith in Jesus.
The point is, you don’t have to leave your brain at the door to believe in Jesus. In fact, Jesus said – quoting the Greatest Commandment – that we should “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.” All of your mind. You don’t have to suspend reality, ignore difficult questions, hide from challenging conversations, or apologize to anyone for believing in Jesus. No apologies.
Just the opposite. Believing in Jesus – while still a leap of faith – is a reason-filled leap of faith that is deeply satisfying because it answers the big questions of life like, Where we came from and Why we’re here and What’s happening after this life. It’s satisfying because it answers all the current cultural questions like Is there a universal standard for morality, Why do individual people matter, and Why do the wicked prosper?
But for right now, I want to encourage you with these simple truths. First, far from disappearing, believers in Jesus are growing and flourishing even as our culture becomes more secular and divided. Second, it is not just OK, but it’s actually good to identify and embrace your doubts and questions – only when you confront them can you find the reasonable answers you need. Third, recognize that it does require a leap of faith – for you and for the skeptic – to believe. And finally, the path to getting answers and overcoming objections is illuminated for us by many, many great minds who’ve gone before us and bravely asked reasonable questions, and found reasonable answers.