God: Who Cares? (Part 3) Reasons for the Non-religious

To wrap up the “God: Who Cares?” series of posts, here are some other rapid-fire reasons for looking into God, religion, and Christianity:

SOCIOLOGICAL/ANTHROPOLOGICAL:  There has never been any people group or culture discovered on earth that doesn’t have some form of religion and spirituality.  Most, if not all, of these cultures have a belief in a creator, an afterlife, a sense of their own sins being offensive to their creator, and a need for reconciliation.  Coincidence?

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PHILOSOPHICAL: The existence and nature of God has been one of the most discussed and debated subjects among philosophers for as long as anyone can remember.  Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes all gave a lot of thought to the mystery of God, and both theistic and atheistic philosophers today continue to debate it.  In fact, once considered by many to be an atheistic pursuit, the number of respected Christian philosophers in academia has grown considerably in recent years, with Alvin Plantiga and William Lane Craig among the more recognizable names.

HISTORICAL:  Jesus is easily the most influential and controversial person to ever live, and 2,000 years later he still is.  Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Gandhi are all amazing, inspiring men, but they’ve still got nothing on Jesus of Nazareth.  (In fact, Jesus definitely influenced two of these men and maybe all three.)

All legitimate historical scholars agree that Jesus of Nazareth lived.  So who was he?  After he was crucified, why did his disciples continue to follow his teachings, even to the point of death, unlike other followers of men who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah and were executed by the Romans?

LITERARY:  The Bible is the most widely read and influential book in the history of the world.  Not only that, but it spans thousands of years – written by many authors in different time periods – and has been collected into one cohesive story.  Any one of these books that compose the Bible can be studied for a lifetime (as some scholars in the academic world do).  Also, it includes various types of literature including historical narratives, poetry, prophecies, proverbs, and letters.  Being an English teacher, I have to ask: How can anyone not consider the Bible an important piece of world literature that should be studied?

UNIQUENESS:  As I argued in my last post, Christianity is unique from other religions because it teaches that God’s salvation and favor are not earned through our own efforts or work.  The story of Jesus of Nazareth is a story like no other, and Jesus did all the work for us on the cross.  All we have to do it believe in this gift and accept it.

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Further, despite efforts by skeptics, there are no myths similar to the story of Jesus from Egyptian, Roman, or other pagan cultures.  Their arguments amount to the equivalent of claiming that Forrest Gump and Jaws are the same movie because both have people on boats, someone running, and a guy with a beard.  (Plus, Christianity clearly originated from Judaism, as any legit historical scholar would attest to.)

 

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THE ULTIMATE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE:  During seminary class one weekend, my systematic theology professor said, “I have the greatest job in the world: I get to teach people about God.”  It’s hard – impossible many would say (myself included) – to think of a subject more worthy to study, explore, discuss, examine, analyze, share, or contemplate than God.  Likewise, if God exists, he’s the creator of all things; thus, there is no area of study that doesn’t involve him.  Moreover, you can’t ask for a bigger, more fascinating mystery to investigate than God.

LOGICAL:  To be an atheist and wrong has a considerably greater risk than being a Christian and wrong.  To illustrate: Say I am a Christian (which I am) and the atheist is right, then when I die I become worm food – and so does the atheist.  On the other hand, if I am a Christian and I’m right, then when I die I live in God’s presence for eternity.  The atheist does not.  God gives the atheist what he chose: separation from him, which is worse than worm food.

So, a Christian, right or wrong, has two possible outcomes: worm food or eternal life.  The atheist, right or wrong, also has two possible outcomes: worm food or eternal separation from God to a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  If you were on a game show and you had the choice between DOOR #1 with a 100% chance of not winning a trip anywhere good or DOOR #2 with a 50% chance of winning a trip to Maui, which door would you choose?

To be clear, I don’t think this is an appropriate argument for why someone should become a Christian.  Believing in Jesus Christ is not something you do as if you’re gambling.  You can’t be a C­­­hristian by playing the odds any more than a person can be forced or tricked into becoming a Christian.  My point is simply to say that looking into Christianity isn’t illogical when you consider what’s at risk.  Even if you are 95% sure Christianity is wrong, isn’t it worth looking in to even if there’s a 5% chance of it being right?

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