We Don’t Want To Believe

Fall 2015 talking about God on a campus in Puerto Rico with some great guys I met
We don’t want to believe in God. If you look at the stats worldwide and even in the United States you might come to another conclusion. “Most people actually do believe in God, Park”. So let me expand on what I’m saying, most people don’t want to believe in the God of the Bible. “Oh geez, here we go, Park, always talking about Jesus blah blah blah”. Ok well just hear me out. From my experience as a campus missionary, I’ve seen that most people are comfortable saying they believe in a higher power or a god, but it can’t be the God of the Bible. When I press them on why they can’t believe in the Christian God of the Bible many people give me these three common reasons:

1. “The Bible was written by men thousands of years ago, it’s not even what the
original authors said, and they didn’t know anything about the world back then.”

2. “It’s illogical, Christianity is silly and fallacious, it is just a bunch of fictitious fables, it just doesn’t make sense.”

3. “I’m a free thinker, I make up my mind about facts but the Bible wants me to have blind faith.”

I get these three arguments from students on campus all the time. Yeah, I get all sorts of other ones too but these seem to be the ones that pop up most often so I wanted to take some time to address them here.

1. “The Bible was written by men thousands of years ago, it’s not even what the
originals said, and they didn’t know anything about the world back then.”
People continually use the fact that the Bible was written by men as a death blow to the Christian Faith, as if we had no idea that men wrote the Bible. “Oh my word, golly gee dang it, you’re right, it was totally written by men, my whole world is collapsing, time to say hi diddly ho neighbor to agnosticism”. Just kidding. For starters, Christians are well aware that God used men to write the Bible. 2 Peter 1:21 says: “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” and 2 Timothy 3:16 says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” so we would agree that men wrote the Bible but we would disagree that men alone wrote the Bible. We believe what the Bible says about itself, that God inspired men to speak and write down exactly what He wanted them to write. If God is the God of the Bible who is said to be all powerful, all knowing, and sovereign over the universe, then that kind of God could absolutely control history and interact in time and space to guide and lead His chosen men to convey His words exactly as He wants them to. So this argument isn’t a blindsider that wrecks our faith but rather it leads us to praise God for His sovereign interaction with mankind and His kindness towards us that He would stoop down to give us His much needed guidance and correction via His word.
Another large part of this criticism is the “thousands of years” portion. Many people believe that the Bible can’t actually say what it was meant to say because it’s been passed down all these years and thus it must be like the game of telephone.
Telephone is the game you play as a kid where one person starts with a phrase and whispers it to the next person and so on until the last person in the chain tells everyone what they heard and “the rock is covered in moss” becomes “The cop has smothered the mouse”. These arguments can sound pretty convincing at first but with just a little examination we can see they don’t hold up.
It’s interesting that this argument is always posed against The Bible but never against Homer’s Illiad or Plato’s Republic or any of the ancient classics that we read in school that have way less credibility than the Bible. This argument misunderstands how we came to have our Bibles today. They aren’t translated and retranslated on and on ad nauseam, they are translated from the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts of which we have thousands. So to understand Scripture in terms of the telephone game we’d have to change the rules of the game completely. One person would have the message and they would stand in the middle of the circle. Everyone playing the game would come the the person in the middle and hear the message, it would be at regular volume so that all the rest could hear the message each time it’ stood. One by one they would all hear the same message from the source (the Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic Manuscripts). That’s how the Bible is translated, not from Greek to Latin to French to English to modern English but from Greek to Latin, from Greek to French, from Greek to old English, from Greek to modern English and so on.
These two blended arguments assume that truth can’t be conveyed through men, yet many of the college students that use them have heard these arguments through men and women who wrote their texts books or from their professors who are… Men and women… They’re paying lots of money to learn truth propositionally through their professors and their chosen texts books written by men. Their problem isn’t with propositional truth or the Doctrine of Scripture, it’s with the God of Scripture, they don’t want to believe in God. More on this later.

2. “It’s illogical, Christianity is silly and fallacious, it is just a bunch of fictitious fables, it just doesn’t make sense.”
I’m confronted with statements like this on a regular basis. The claim is that Christianity just isn’t logical, it’s a collection of fables and any reasonable person would be able to see that back when the Bible was written people told stories to explain natural phenomena that they didn’t understand. But today we live in the age of reason where claims must be logical and Christianity is found wanting. This argument seems to have some big teeth to it, it looks like we’ll have to go down the line of Christian doctrine and one by one expound on and defend their claims to show how reasonable they really are. This could take a while. Or we could look at the preconditions of intelligibility. What? Well we could just look at the justification of using the laws of logic in the first place. What must be true for this universe to be intelligible at all? How are we even justified in using the laws of logic in the first place?
Logic is immaterial and universal. The law of non-contradiction, that P is not -P, P can’t both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect. The Law of the excluded middle, either P or -P, between being and nonbeing there is no middle state. The law of Identity, P is P, a thing is what it is. These truths are necessary for the theoretical physicist using mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects in order to explain natural phenomena as well as the mail man who looks both ways before he crosses the street. The mail man knows that when he crosses the street he will be occupying a place in space and time, he is using the laws of logic when he looks both ways because he knows that if he tries to occupy the same place in space and time as a car that’s traveling 30-40 MPH to get to the same place in space and time, he will lose. The laws of logic are necessary and universal.
Even as you read this blog post you’re using logic to make sense of what I’m saying, your assuming that I’m saying what I mean and not the opposite of what I mean. The point is that Christianity can make sense of the use of the laws of logic and other systems of belief can’t. According to the Scriptures man is made in the image of God. We are the pinnacle of His creation. We are His arbiters here on earth to carry out His will, to know Him and love Him as we take care of His earth and His animals. Being made in the image of God doesn’t mean that He has arms and legs and hair like we do. Rather it means we have been given communicable attributes in order to represent him. We are capable of rational thought, of love, of anger, of forgiveness, of mercy, of creativity and so on. Logic is an aspect of God’s thought, He made this universe and since it’s been made by a rational and intelligent God, we can use our reasoning abilities to study this intelligible universe as we seek to think His thoughts after Him. We can be justified in our use of immaterial universal logical laws because we believe in a God who is immaterial and universal (God is transcendent, separate from His creation, yet immanent and able to interact in His creation). If you don’t believe in the God of the Bible how do you justify your use of the laws of logic? Usually I will hear that the laws or logic are just human constructs but if that’s the case then did the earth both exist and not exist in the same way at the same time before human’s where around to invent the laws of logic?
Hopefully I haven’t lost too many of you, the point is that Christianity gives us a justification for even beginning the conversation of logic and reason and truth. When someone brings up a charge that the Bible is irrational I want to know how they can be justified in using the laws of logic at all. It would seem they have to borrow from my understanding of logic in order to attack the rest of my beliefs. Again their problem is not with the logical consistency of the Bible but rather their problem is with the God of Logic who has revealed Himself in The Bible.

3. “I’m a free thinker, I make up my mind about facts but the Bible wants me to have blind faith.”
This one all depends on what they mean by free thinker. Usually what free thinker implies is that they are not “religious”. This argument operates on the assumption that Christians stop at the word of God and don’t continue to ask questions and that you have to believe the Bible against your rational thoughts. This would ignore the fact that most modern universities were started by Christians who sought to learn more and more about God’s universe. The truth is that in order to know anything you must first believe something. In order to do science you must believe that science is a worthy endeavor, you must believe that the world in intelligible, you have to assume induction, that nature is uniform and able to be studied, that the future will be like the past and on we could go. You have to believe your text books know what they’re talking about and that your professors are being truthful and not actively trying to deceive you. You have to believe that truth is attainable and it’s beneficial to obtain more of it.
There is a lot of, dare I say, faith involved in knowing and understanding. The Christian doesn’t simply stop with the Bible, rather the Christian starts with the Bible. We say with Anselm of Canterbury and St. Augustine that we believe in order that we may understand. We agree with C.S. Lewis when he says “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else”. Everyone starts with faith in something. the Christian agrees with the Bible that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. So we have faith seeking understanding. We start with the Bible and believe that since God created the universe and created us with the ability to reason, we can in fact use the laws of logic to study the intelligible universe. We can do science because we believe the uniformity in nature is due to God’s intelligence and creativity. We believe that the future will be like the past because God is holding all things together and has promised that the seasons and days will continue till Christ Jesus comes back. When you start with the Bible you can see the universe makes sense, I’d argue that If you don’t start with the Bible you don’t have justification for the faith it takes to start your own system. Why do you believe the future will be like the past? Every step you take in the world is really a step of blind faith if you don’t believe God is holding all things together. Why do you believe in science? Why is this universe orderly and intelligible if it came from chaos and random chance acting on matter.
These questions come down to basic heart commitments. We have two fundamentally different starting points. It’s not that one of us is just way more rational and intelligent than the other, the difference lies in our basic presuppositions. The Christian’s belief system says I must start with God, He knows all, He can help me understand His creation and His creation will have His finger prints all over it. The non-Christian says I will start with my own autonomous thought and if God is real He will have to prove himself to me. The Bible even says that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18). I get that the Christian message sounds crazy to you, part of it’s message is that you will think that way. Why? Because it is inherently crazy? No, because it stands in direct opposition to the idea that we can find ultimate truth apart from the God of truth.
The problem is that we as humans don’t want to believe in God. We want to be ok without Him. We want to be our own functional gods and we think we’ll figure it out ourselves. We don’t want to honor God or give thanks to Him, we want to do what we want and we don’t want to be held accountable to a higher authority. We don’t have just one intellectual problem that keeps us from faith, our whole system of thought and life excludes him from the start. If we start our system by rejecting God as our ultimate reference, would we ever come to a point where we acknowledge Him as Lord? We need a new heart that loves God and wants to submit to him. We need a new mind that operates in submission to Him. And that only comes by realizing we can’t do this on our own, that we’ve offended God by even trying to live without Him, we need to turn from our self-refuting systems of autonomy and put our trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.
When you look through Christian lenses you see not only does the world make sense but you have a reason to hope, you have a reason to believe in purpose and destiny, you have justification for believing in scientific laws, and you can have peace with the Great God of the Universe who made you and loves you. I pray that you will consider this and come to know the God of Truth who has promised to lead us into all the truth.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)


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