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Why Believe?

Get a glimpse of why Justin Brierley is still a Christian—the reasons might surprise you. By Justin Brierley
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I’ve spoken to hundreds of atheists… but I’m still a Christian. Want to know why?

Recently, I posted a video on Twitter of a Christian talking about faith and miracles. Within minutes, two replies came back: “Nutter. Serious therapy required” said one, and “For such an intelligent man he’s certainly got some crazy beliefs,” replied another. 

You don’t have to search far online to find sceptics ready to ridicule Christianity. The rise of ‘new atheist’ stars like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris in recent years, has emboldened an army of keyboard warriors to denounce the ‘irrationality’ of religion. So how do we respond when people claim we’re deluded for believing in God?

I’m a Christian and about ten years ago I decided to put my own faith in the firing line by starting a radio show and podcast called “Unbelievable?”. Every week, I bring Christians and non-believers together for dialogue. In that time I’ve heard just about every objection to faith from the leading critics of religion.

Choose Your Reality

The question that most often lands in my inbox (from both atheists and Christian listeners) is “How come you still have faith?”

I’ve realized that whether or not we think of ourselves as religious, we all have faith in something. Everybody inhabits a worldview — a set of beliefs through which they see the world. For most atheists, their worldview is naturalism — there is no God and all that exists is matter and energy driven by the blind forces of nature.

“I’ve realized that whether or not we think of ourselves as religious, we all have faith in something.”

But on the Christian worldview, humans are not random accidents in a purposeless universe. There is a God who intended us to be here, and even became personally involved with us through Jesus Christ.

So which version of reality is true? Atheism or Christianity? I believe God is a better explanation of reality than atheism, and here’s my reasoning:

God Explains Human Existence

Many of the atheists who spoke on my show believe that Christianity is at odds with reason and evidence. They believe you have to choose between science or God.

But the more I’ve understood the nature of the universe we inhabit, the more I’m persuaded that the evidence firmly points in the direction of God.

Human existence is incredibly improbable. Science has shown that approximately 30 of the fundamental forces that govern the universe are astonishingly “finely-tuned” to allow for the emergence of life.

Take gravity — it’s the force that holds planets and stars together. However, had the force been just a fraction weaker, nothing would have formed; a fraction stronger and everything would have collapsed back in on itself. The result is no life. Yet, against all the odds, here we are.

And then there’s the universe itself. Cosmology shows that energy, space, matter and even time itself came into existence billions of years ago in a “Big Bang.” For time, space and matter to come into existence, the cause itself must be immaterial, timeless, infinite…and incredibly powerful. There’s only one clear candidate for that job — God.

In short, without pushing a creator out of the equation, science has uncovered the cosmic fingerprints of God across our universe.

“Today, I’m more convinced than ever that we aren’t the random by-product of a disinterested universe that come from nowhere and is heading towards extinction. Instead, the evidence points towards a God who intended for us to be here.”

God Explains Human Value

In the 1970s Jaime Jaramillo, a wealthy businessman, was walking along the streets of Bogota, Colombia when he saw a young girl climbing down a manhole. He followed her and discovered about 90 children living in the filthy sewers, hiding from policemen who were killing children who lived on the streets above.

One officer said, “Killing these kids is like killing lice. We call them ‘the disposables’.” Jaime went on to rescue hundreds of young people and built a home where they receive an education in a loving, Christian community.

Most people react with horror at humans being treated as “disposables.” But why exactly do we believe human life should be valued? Why did Jaime do the right thing?

I find it very hard to answer that on an atheistic worldview. Why should humans have more claim for special regard than a louse? There’s nothing intrinsically special about us in a universe blindly obeying the laws of nature. Our beliefs in human rights, values and morality are ultimately an illusion.

Why then do we feel that view of humanity is so wrong? I believe it’s evidence that we have the value of our Maker imprinted on us — we are made in His image. That gives humans infinite worth. Anything else makes human worth a commodity, and makes some people disposable.

God Explains Human Purpose

Richard Dawkins has written, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

Cheery stuff!

But if atheism is true, then Dawkins is correct. All our human endeavors will one day be gone and forgotten. All that will eventually be left is a cold, sterile void with no memory of our brief existence.

Compared to Dawkins, I see a very different universe. The atheist scientist observes only the meaningless mechanics of physical processes, while I see real beauty, truth, love, good and evil.

I can’t prove that scientifically. But I can point to the universal experience of all humans who have a yearning for something beyond our physical existence — that something being ultimate purpose, value and meaning.

Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician, put it well: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Whatever Richard Dawkins may say, only a transcendent God can satisfy the deepest longings of our soul.

Overtime, I’ve heard many objections to Christianity while hosting “Unbelievable?” and there are plenty more questions to explore. But I’ve also found many answers. Today, I’m more convinced than ever that we aren’t the random by-product of a disinterested universe that come from nowhere and is heading towards extinction. Instead, the evidence points towards a God who intended for us to be here.

But here’s the best news of all: God invites us not only to know about Him, He says we can know Him in person, because He entered His cosmos to meet us.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Books:

Unbelievable? Why, after ten years of talking with atheists, I’m still a Christian by Justin Brierley

The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the dreadful consequences of bad arguments by Andy Bannister

But is it real? Answering 10 Common Objections to the Christian Faith by Amy Orr-Ewing

Websites:

Sean McDowell is helping a new generation share their faith with sceptics at www.seanmcdowell.org

Got deep questions about God? Check out www.theroad-uk.com

Leading Christian thinker William Lane Craig has produced hundreds of further resources at www.reasonablefaith.org to help you go deeper.

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