I was thinking about an argument I heard Richard Dawkins make once. He basically indicated that the person he was talking to was a Christian, in large part, because they were born in America.
The more I think about this, more more insulting it is.
Is this really an argument an Atheist at Oxford wants to make?
Of all the possible major world views, Christianity is by far the most geographically, ethnically, and demographically diverse position that there ever has been in the history of the world.
Additionally, the United States of America, by virtue of our major founding principle of religious freedom, is one of the most diverse major countries in the world for differing thought.
By contrast, the odds of being “born an Atheist” is the MOST LIKELY where Dawkins lives.
I will freely admit someone born in the US is more likely to be a Christian than anything else, BUT the odds that someone at Oxford would be an Atheist are better there than anywhere else. It’s not about the odds we’d be what we are based on where we were born, but what are the odds we would be something if born somewhere else. I’ll choose Christianity on those odds… move outside of rich western countries, and your odds of being an Atheist are just about ZERO.
Geography does not seem to influence the odds of becoming a Christian, at least no where near the effect it has on Atheists. Of all the major world views, I would think his criticism would be strongest against an Oxford Atheist.
So why am I a Christian?
The simple answer is, Jesus saved me… but beyond that, logically, why would I choose to believe in Jesus?
- Clues for God: there is no “proof” for God that is ultimately going to leave no doubt, He is transcendent and though He is in this world, He is not contained within this natural universe. BUT, the degree of fine tuning which we can scientifically observe is STAGGERING and the sheer probability that life as it is could ever form without the direction of a vastly superior mind is (in all honesty) ridiculous. There is something, or better, someone behind this amazing universe. I recommend “The Language of God” by Francis Collins and the ministry of Hugh Ross called “Reasons to Believe“
- The Problem of Sin: as utilitarian as you might hope to be, at the end of the day, we all know there is right and wrong. More specifically, I think we all can agree on “evil” when we see it. There is “bad” in the world. This is a problem, because, we can all see it in ourselves, and it is not a good thing. This problem demands a solution.
- The Uniqueness of the Gospel: in searching for the solution to the problem, the best we can do is seek the truth. This basically comes down to “well, who’s right?” Unless someone claims to be the smartest person ever, or direct revelation from God, you are choosing a faith based on what is available. Of all the religions in the world, they all describe ways to get to God, only Jesus claimed to be the way to God. Religions offer things you can do, Jesus offers what he has done. I can’t live-up to any standard presented in any world religion. I can’t change the rules (destroy the law) so I have to rely on someone else to fulfill the law for me… see Matthew 5:17. I recommend books that boil down the Gospel to what it is, like “Simply Christian” by NT Wright and “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis.
- The Historicity of the Cross: Serious people don’t (hey, guess who… Dawkins again) suggest that Jesus didn’t actually live and thus didn’t really die on the cross. If anything in ancient history is a fact, the Cross is it. If that can be called into question, then it’s possible the whole world as we know it was really created 5 min. ago and we are all actually brains in jars in a giant warehouse somewhere being fed impulses from a chain of supercomputers.
- The Reality of the Resurrection: without getting into all the historical details, which are legion, I’ll point you to Mike Licona’s book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” as well as N.T. Wright’s “Surprised by Hope.” Almost all historians will admit that all the first Christians believed Jesus was raised from the dead. Bottom line, there were hundreds of itinerant Jewish Apocalyptic Rabbi’s around the time of Jesus. They all ended the same way, they died (usually killed). This is most obviously not true of Jesus. Unlike all of these other Messiah candidates, Jesus’ followers did not degrade into the ash bin of history, Jesus changed the world. And the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, were not written by the “heroes” but by the “losers.” History is written by the “winners” the rich, the powerful… EXCEPT when it comes to the first century relating to Christianity. Something unique happened, and the resurrection seems to be the most reasonable cause for the result of the church.
I eco Peter’s words. In whom else could I possibly believe? Jesus has the words of eternal life. I have believed in Him alone, and I am absolutely convinced He is the Holy One of God. (see: John 6:67-69). Either Jesus is Lord, or there is no Lord. That’s the way I see it, and I think that’s the way Paul saw it too (see: 1Cor 15:12-34). My choice comes down between Christianity and the Gospel, or Atheism and nothing… and the decision isn’t a close call.
If you want to think about this issue, let me also commend to you “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” by Tim Keller