The Compelling Evidence For The Existence of God
Premiering this Sunday May 3rd at 7PM Central on Facebook & Youtube
Join author and Executive Director of the Center for Executive Leadership Richard E. Simmons III for a special live stream discussing decades of research from his latest book “Reflections on the Existence of God.”
Well, good morning. Several months ago, I was asked to come speak up in Huntsville to a large banquet of businessmen. And, they asked me to speak on my new book, Reflections on the Existence of God. And, as you can imagine, they had to cancel or reschedule and I’m going to deliver in August. But the message was all prepared and I was so energized by it, and really excited about it, I thought I would share it with you this morning.
A number of years ago, a massive 55 volume series was published called The Great Books of the Western World. And, what it really was a series of essays, really discussing the import ideas that scholars and intellectuals have considered over the course of human history. And, some were surprised that the longest essay in this massive work was on God. And, when questioned about this, the coeditor, Mortimer Adler, who was a very distinguished professor of philosophy. And, he was asked about it, and at the time, he was an atheist. At the age of 82, he became a Christian. But that the time, his response, I thought was pretty interesting. He said,
“The reason it’s the longest essay,” it says, “because more consequences for life flow from that one issue than anything else in life.”
And, he was talking about your view of God. And, what Adler was saying is that the greatest influence on your world view, the way you see the world, is based on how you see God. Because your world view really informs you about everything; it informs you on how did we get here. Why am I here? How am I supposed to live? How do you find meaning in life? And, what is my ultimate destiny once this life is over?
Tim Keller puts it this way. I thought this was pretty good. He said,
“Though you may not realize it,” he says, “how we relate to God, either whether we believe in Him or whether we don’t believe in Him.” He says, “It’s the foundation of your thinking.” He says, “Because it determines the way you view the world.” He says, “Whether you believe God exists or not, this belief is the foundation in which all of your reasoning proceeds.”
So, this clearly is a huge issue.
Now, where I want to start, and where I want to kind of lay the groundwork is really one of the reasons, well, I wrote the book for many reasons. But I want to lay the groundwork for today’s message by sharing with you the spiritual journey of Dr. Francis Collins. I think most people would admit Collins is probably one of the most well-known, celebrated scientists of our time. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia and went on and got his Ph.D. at Yale. And, then I guess he just loved getting educated because he decided to get his MD, his medical degree, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From there, he went back and taught chemistry at Yale. And, then he took on probably the most significant thing of his life when he chaired the Human Genome Project, where he led an international collaboration of 2,000 scientists in sequencing the human genome. And, then after that, President Obama appointed him Director of The National Institute of Health.
So, this guy, he’s a big deal. And, in the years that he was in college and graduate school, and then in medical school, he described himself as an atheist. And, this is a really cool story. He tells it, in his residency at Chapel Hill, he had a patient. It was a really sweet little old lady. And, as he put it, she’d really run out of options; she was dying. And, yet she had this strong faith and she would talk to him, and was very calm and tranquil. He said, “One day she asked me out of the blue. She said Dr. Collins, you’ve been so kind to listen to me, particularly talk about my faith. She said you never told me about your faith. What do you believe?” And, Collins said, “I was just floored by the question. Nobody had ever asked me that question.” He said, “Particularly in such a sincere way.” And, he said, “I didn’t know how to answer her.” He said, “But it caused me to begin to think and wonder. Am I an atheist because I’ve looked at the evidence and come to that conclusion? Or, am I an atheist because that’s really just the way I want life to be and that’s what so many of my colleagues believe? And, then he said, “You know, I realized that when it comes to, as a scientist, I always insisted on collecting data and evidence, and then coming to conclusions.” He said, “But when it came to the issue of faith,” he said, “I had never looked at any evidence.” And, so he began kind of a search, and he began to read books. He read CS Lewis, even began to read the Bible. And, as you probably can guess, he eventually completely changed his mind and became a very devoted Christian, which he still is to this day.
But this is why I share this story, and this is why I think it’s so important. Collins today believes that most of the skeptics that he meets today are just like he was. That is, they claim to be atheists, but they’ve never looked at any evidence that’s available.
Dallas Willard completely agrees with. Willard died a couple of years ago, but he was a philosopher. He taught philosophy at USC. In fact, he was head of the philosophy department at USC for several years. And, he came up with a term that I think is interesting. He says, so many of the people that he encounters that claim to not believe in God, he says, “they are guilty,” of what he calls, “irresponsible disbelief.” In other words, they all took their positions to disbelieve without a commitment to examine the evidence. And, so I wonder how many people are guilty today of irresponsible disbelief?
Probably six months ago I read an interesting, I think it was a blog that was written, about an essay that had been discovered about examining evidence. And, you know, if you think about it, when it comes to truth, you can’t invent truth. You can only discover it. And, you discover it by examining the available evidence. And, in this essay, which was called Ethics of Belief. It was written by a young philosopher by the name of William Clifford. It was written 150 years ago, and somebody just discovered it. And, it has kind of made the rounds now. And, Clifford believed, this is what he said. “We have a moral obligation to believe responsibly. And, the reason,” he says, “is because your beliefs influence your actions.” They’re the foundation of your life, what you believe.
And, reading the guy that wrote the blog, as he commented on this, he said, “Every single belief has the capacity to be truly consequential, particularly if the belief is in era, and involves the most significant issues of life.” And, so, what is the evidence? What is the evidence for the existence of God?
Well, that’s what this book that I wrote is about. And, I must say, I content the evidence for God is quite compelling. And, what you’re going to see this morning is how atheism is a massive contradiction. In fact, that’s what troubled CS Lewis so much as an atheist before he became a Christian. He said, “My life was one massive contradiction.” And, as we get through this, you’ll see what he meant by that.
Now, the book is divided into 10 sections; there are five or six essays in each section, a total of 57 essays. And, this morning, I’m just going to cover material from, really, about four or five of those essays. So, you’re going to see, there’s a lot of evidence that’s out there.
So, as I go through this, I’m going to contrast, I’m going to talk about some issues. And, I’m going to contrast the Christian view with the atheist view. And, what we need to ask ourselves, and I would ask you to ask yourself this morning, is which view truly fits the actual world that we live in? Or, as Tim Keller asks, “Which account, Christianity or Atheism, has the most explanatory power to make sense of what we see in the world, and what we experience in life?” I really believe that you’re going to find this very interesting, but also very revealing.
Now, let’s take something in your everyday life that we all experience. And, where I want to start is with the issue of love. What is love? Where did love come from? The problem is if you’re an atheist, and you’re an honest atheist with integrity, you don’t believe it exists.
There’s the famous psychologist BF Skinner, he taught at Harvard, the father of behaviorism. I studied him in college in psychology classes. He said this. He says, “You need to understand that love is an illusion.” One of his later colleagues at Harvard, Daniel Wagner said, and he agreed. He said, “Love is an illusion because all of our feelings, including love,” he says, “are the effects of unconscious, physical causes.”
And, then one of the great scientists in our world, Dr. Francis Crick, who discovered DNA, also an atheist. He believed that all the joys in life are no more than, “the behavior of the vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” He said, “Therefore, you are nothing more than a molecule machine, and the love that you think you’re experiencing is only a biological reaction.” I bet you didn’t know that.
You know, what these guys are saying is that we are nothing but a mass of chemicals. And, chemicals can’t love. And, that’s true; chemicals can’t love! Skinner describes us as a machine, that responds mechanically to stimuli. But you have to ask yourself, are we really machines? Is it that simple?
I’m reminded of a significant chess match several years ago. I’m not really that much into chess, but you may remember it. When the computer Deep Blue, which I think was an IBM computer, was in a chess match and beat the world champion, Garry Kasparov. And, this of course, caused a number of people to start comparing machines with humans, including we’re nothing but sophisticated machines. But I love what Yale professor of computer science David Gertner said about this. This was in Time Magazine. He said, “The idea that Deep Blue has a mind is absolutely absurd. How can an object that wants nothing, fears nothing, enjoys nothing, needs nothing, and cares about nothing have a mind? It can win at chess but not because it wants to. It isn’t happy when it wins, or sad when it loses. What are its plans if it beats Kasparov? Is it hoping to take Deep Pink out for a night on the town?” He continues and says, “The gap between human and machine is permanent and always will be. Machines will continue to make life easier, healthier, richer, and more puzzling, and humans will continue to care and love, ultimately about the same things they always have; about themselves, about one another, and for many of them, God.”
And, so I ask you to think this morning, is love a reality in your life? Do you really love your wife? Do you truly love your kids? You see, Christianity supports the highest aspirations of love. It recognizes love to be real because the God of the Bible is a source of that love, and we are made in His image.
Now, I got a great story I’m going to tell you about this that really kind of reveals the truth of what I’m talking about. And, it’s about a man. He was a journalist and author. He may still be alive. And, his name was AN Wilson. And, many thought Wilson was going to become the next CS Lewis. He was brilliant, he was articulate, and he was a great writer. And, he was a committed Christian. And, then something happened. He recanted his faith. He claimed to be an atheist. And, two men that he knew pretty well there at Oxford. I don’t know if Hitchens was there. But he was very good friends with Christopher Hitchens, who died recently, maybe a couple of years ago, and Richard Dawkins. And, they were thrilled. They were all kind of, they kind of came together and were thrilled that his newfound faith in atheism. And, he mocked Christianity for many years. But then something very strange happened to Wilson. He stunned all of his followers, all of his new followers. He returned to the Christian faith. But the reason that he returned is so interesting; it’s very pertinent to what I’m talking about this morning. He gave an interview with a publication called The New Statesman. And, he explained his reasons for coming back to Christianity. And, he said, “What I realize,” he said that, “atheists are missing out on some very basic experiences of life.” He recognized that the Christian perception of life was so much deeper, wiser, and more rounded than the faith that he had in atheism. And, he concluded that those people insist that we are simply anthropoid apes cannot account for the basic experiences of life, he says, “particularly love.” He also observed how the Christian faith transforms people’s individual lives and it convinced Wilson that the Christian faith is simply true.”
So, he returned to faith in Christ.
Now, I want to look at a second life experience, or human experience, that we can all relate to. Several years ago, and I was trying to remember where I was going. I think my family was down at the beach. I mean, this was like 15 years ago, but I can remember this so vividly. And, I’m driving down there to meet them. And, it was late in the afternoon, and the sun was setting. And, it was one of those sunsets that you probably, that you rarely see that’s just so magnificent. And, I’m driving down, I think it was on a back road. I think I had gotten off of the interstate. And, it was just so beautiful and so moving that I was listening to the radio, and right at that time one of my favorite songs in college came on the radio. Stairway to Heaven. Some of you older guys may remember this, by Led Zeppelin. And, for about five minutes, while the song was playing and I was watching the sunset, I had this euphoric feeling. I mean, I was moved in a very powerful way. And, as I look back, it was because of the beauty, the visual beauty of the sunset, and the audio beauty from the song. But just like love, you got to ask the question, what is beauty? What is real beauty? And, why are we so moved by it?
CS Lewis said, “It’s the clue to the meaning of the universe.” He says, “It’s a sign that points you to something very significant.” Because we were made to love, and we were made to appreciate beauty. But the question is what are we to make of beauty if there is no God? What do we make of beauty if we are nothing but chemicals and molecules?
Probably the most well-known, outspoken atheist in our world today is Richard Dawkins. He wrote a best-selling book called The God Delusion. And, in the book, he’s very blunt about it. He says this, “Beauty is just a chemical reaction in the brain. It does not truly exist. It’s not real.” Now, what do you say to that? Particularly when you think about all that we experience in this life. You see, atheists believe that life is nothing more than living in a one-dimensional world, a sheer biological existence. And, guys, if you reduce the world to nothing but chemicals and matter, I truly believe you risk, you take the risk of losing your sense of wonder and the appreciation of beauty. And, you drain all of the joy out of life.
And, I have a great example of this; it’s in the book. It’s in the life of Charles Darwin. You all know Charles Darwin, are familiar with him. What a lot of people don’t know, he grew up in the church, and really had somewhat of a theistic world view for the first, say, 30 years of his life. But then as he got enmeshed in science and his research and work, he rejected God and became an atheist. And, in his autobiography, listen to what he says as it relates to beauty and the loss of it. He says,
“Up to the age of 30 or beyond, poetry of many kinds gave me great pleasure. And, even as a schoolboy, I took intense delight in Shakespeare.” He said, “Formerly, artwork gave me considerable joy and music very great delight. But now for many years, I cannot endure to read a line of poetry. I’ve tried to read Shakespeare and found it intolerably dull. In fact, it nauseates me.” He says, “I’ve almost lost any taste for artwork or music.” He said, “I retained some taste for fine scenery, but it doesn’t cause me the great, exquisite delight that it once did.” He says, “My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of a large collection of facts.” He says, “The loss of these tastes has been a loss of happiness for me. And, it may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
So, this is the question all atheists need to ask. How do we account for all the joy and the beauty that we experience in life? How do we account for being moved by the beauty of a sunset or a starlit night?
You see, the argument for beauty works like the argument for human love if you think about it. You see, atheism doesn’t appear to have a plausible explanation for the human appreciation for beauty, and therefore just has to conclude it’s an illusion. However, I’m convinced it’s very difficult, I don’t care what you believe, to accept this conclusion when we continually encounter beauty that moves us in such a powerful way. And, so if you really think about it, it’s easy to claim to be an atheist. But it’s truly hard to live as if it were true.
Now, this third life experience is kind of mindboggling. You’re going to, I’ll just dive into it. Imagine, since now we’ve kind of opened up and can get out. But imagine you’re walking through a park. And, you’ll notice a lot of things, rocks, and dirt, and grass, and trees, and plants. And, maybe there will be a pond with water. There will be a lot of physical matter out there. And, I would encourage you to ask yourself this question. How did this type of matter gradually over time evolve into beings that are conscious, that can think and reason, and are aware of themselves? I mean, seriously? Could dirt, and rocks, and water produce beings that can think and reason? Please hear this. The issue of human consciousness is a real problem for the atheistic world view.
I go back to Richard Dawkins that I just mentioned. He says, “I can’t explain human consciousness. I can’t explain it.” And, one of his good friends Steven Pinker, who teaches psychology at Harvard and wrote a book titled, How the Mind Works. Pinker, when asked to explain how human consciousness came about in a godless universe, you know what he said?
“Beats the heck out of me! I have no idea.”
Now, this is kind of, almost getting to the point of being absurd, but this is caused a number of scientists who embraced the atheistic world view as they look reality in the eye, they have to admit the obvious. For instance, Cambridge psychologist Nicholas Humphry says this. This is hard to believe. He says,
“Our starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level, consciousness has to be an illusion.” An illusion. He says, “The reason is obvious. If nothing in the physical world can have the features that consciousness seems to have, then consciousness cannot exist as a thing in the physical world.”
I have got to read that again! “Consciousness cannot exist as a thing in the physical world.” Do you hear what he’s saying? Since there is no God, all of life is physical and material. Your thinking, therefore, is a chemical reaction in your brain. And, consciousness is, therefore, an illusion in your life.
Francis Crick, who I’ve already quoted, a very brilliant scientist. He tries to explain it this way. He says,
“Your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of identity and free will are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” He concludes by saying, “You are nothing but a pack of neurons.”
Did you know that? You are nothing but a pack of neurons. I mean, you’ve got to admit, these are extreme beliefs! But you know, they’re consistent with the atheistic world view.
Nancy Pearcey, who is a great Christian scholar and thinker, therefore asked this very logical question.
“Why would anyone come up with a theory that is so contrary to your normal, everyday life experience?”
And, then she said somewhat humorously,
“And, why should we trust the thinking of scientists who tell us there is no such thing as thinking?”
Do you see the irrationality of this? But that’s the natural consequence of the atheistic world view.
Listen to this man who sees the problem of all of this. This guy is an atheist and rejecting the reality of human consciousness, he talks about, and he kind of really looks reality in the eye. His name is Colin McGinn; he’s a British philosopher. He’s taught at Oxford and many other prestigious universities. He’s written over 20 books. His specialty is the philosophy of the mind, and he claims to be a religious skeptic. But then he says this. This is one of the most reasonable things I’ve seen in this. He says,
“We do not know how consciousness might have arisen by material process from antecedently existing material things.” And, then listen to this. This is significant. He says, “One is tempted, however, reluctantly, to turn to divine assistance.”
This is an atheist.
“We must reluctantly turn to divine assistance,” because he says, “it would take a supernatural magician to extract consciousness from matter.”
Now, there’s intellectual integrity.
Then, of course, how does the Christian world view account for human consciousness? Well, it’s pretty simple. We’re the only creatures on earth designed in the image of God. We’re endowed with so many of His characteristics, including being conscious, with the ability to think and reason.
Now, I have worked on this book, on and off, for 25 years or so. And, I always seem to come across or come away with a frequent observation, and that is, and this is what CS Lewis experienced. The contradictory nature of atheism. Please hear this, and I said this earlier. It’s easy to claim to be an atheist. But it’s hard to live as if it were true. And, the contradiction is generally a tension between logic and how life works.
And, so many atheists like AM Wilson recognize the contradictory nature of their atheistic world view and being honest people, conclude that it’s just not livable. And, even Richard Dawkins, this is amazing! Even Richard Dawkins has acknowledged the inconsistency in his atheistic world view and how he lives. He says, “I can’t really live out this godless world view. He says, “otherwise life would be intolerable.” But I might add that it only seems logical that if your world view does not work out in the real world, there must be something wrong with it, particularly that can’t explain everyday life.
And, Nancy Pearcey says,
“A good way to evaluate a world view is to submit it to a very practical test. Does it fit what we experience in life?”
You see, Christianity, and the Christian world view clearly makes sense out of what we see and experience. It clearly has the most explanatory power to make sense of what we see out in the world. Where atheism presents a view of life that is not in harmony with reality. And, hopefully, you see how Christianity, it is logical, it is non-contradictory, and it is more fully true to the facts of human existence. And, the reason for this is quite simply this; it’s true. It is the truth of life.
Now, I’ve got about 10 more minutes. 10 or 12 more minutes because I don’t want to keep you too long. I get real excited about this, and I get real fired up about it as you can tell. But I want to close with what I call theism’s two strongest arguments. And, the first one is an essay from the book. And, both Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins both agree that the fine-tuning of the universe, which I’m going to talk about, is theism’s strongest argument. It poses the greatest threat to atheism.
And, a guy named Paul Davies, and just hang in here with me. I’m going to explain all the fine-tuning in just a second. Paul Davies is a very highly regarded English physicist. And, he’s a skeptic. He wrote a popular book titled The Cosmic Blueprint. And, in it, Davies says, he makes some incredible statements about how the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned, and it must be for any conceivable life form to exist. But listen, he concludes the book by confessing that the evidence is so overwhelming that there must be someone behind it all to be able to explain the fine-tuning universe we live in.
I’m going to give you a quick definition of fine-tuning, and then I’m going to take a minute just to maybe explain a few thoughts on it. Fine-tuning is the condition that allows life to exist in the universe, and it can occur only when certain universal constants lie within a very narrow range of values. If any of several constants were only slightly different, the universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment of life.
This is fascinating. Today’s astrophysics seem to agree that there are close to 122 variables that would need to be lined up with perfect precision in order for our universe to exist, in order for our world to exist, in order for us to be here. Now, one example that you’re probably familiar with is the sun. I was just reading about this yesterday. The earth is in what is called a Goldilocks zone as we revolve around the sun. We’re not too close where we would burn up. We’re not too far away, we’re just the right place. But any real shift would have major consequences to our, but for thousands of years, our world has been in this Goldilocks zone. And, that’s just one of the variables. There’s 122 of them! And, that’s why so many people are staggered by this. In fact, a guy that I’ve been familiar with for a number of years.
A guy by the name of Fred Hoyle, he’s a highly regarded physicist, and he’s an atheist. But as you can imagine, he was quite shaken up when he was first kind of presented with and read about the evidence of this very delicately fine-tuned universe. And, do you know what he concluded? He said there has to be some kind of intelligence behind this. And, then he added these words that, these have become famous. And, he says this,
“A common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that some super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, and chemistry, and biology. And, that there are no blind forces we’re speaking about in nature.”
Which leads to a really, I think, important question. How do atheist scientists deal with this very thorny issue, this delicately fine-tuned universe? And, this is amazing. This is amazing, how they deal with it.
I’m going to share from three different scientists.
How does Richard Dawkins account for it? These are his words. He says,
“Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that if some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved to a very, very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they came here and seated into our world, perhaps this planet. Now, that’s a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And, I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence that if you look at the details of biochemistry and molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.”
Do you hear that? There’s a designer out there. And, he’s some super intellect alien in some far off place.
Astrophysicist John Ruben says,
“Serious consideration should be given to the hypothesis that our universe is an artificial construct manufactured deliberately by intelligent beings in another universe.
And, then many of you will remember Carl Sagan, that famous TV series Cosmos. He was a renowned astronomer in cosmology. He believes that one day, of course he’s deceased now. But he believed truly, with all of his heart, that one day these extraterrestrials are going to come to our planet and explain to us how life worked, how we got here, and how the universe is so finely tuned.
But what I find interesting is that these scientists don’t seem to have a problem believing in some form of intelligent design and designer. They just refuse to believe in God as the divine intelligent designer. And, I sometimes wonder if the problem of modern skeptics is that at their heart of hearts, they really don’t want there to be a God, regardless of the evidence.
There’s a very famous quote from a philosophy professor at NYU. His name is Thomas Nagel and I’ve read this in many different books because it’s an incredible admission about his views. And, this is a very well thought of professor. And, this is what he says about his atheistic beliefs. He said,
“Bottom line, I want atheism to be true. And, I’m made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God, and naturally hope there is no God. I don’t want there to be a God. I don’t want the universe to be that way.”
I mean, think about what he said. I want atheism to be true. I don’t want there to be a God. I don’t want the universe to be that way so that’s what I’m going to believe.
“When it comes to the fine-tuning of the universe,” he said, “we’re seeing more and more scientists attribute it to some type of alien culture because that’ all that they can come up with.” He says, “These types of explanations are cropping up in scholarly literature as an effort to avoid having to admit the existence of God.” He says, “It is a testimony to the strength of the fine-tuning argument.”
Now, as I wrap this up, I really believe that the most powerful argument for the existence of God, in my opinion, because I spent so many years studying it.
And, I remember my son asked me years ago, “Dad, why do we believe in God?” And, I said, “Well, there are a lot of reasons son, but the main reason is because of Jesus.”
You know, it’s great if you think back to have all of this evidence that some god exists out there, but how much value is it if we don’t know who He is? You see, that’s what Christianity is all about. It’s a faith that’s based on revelation, that God comes into the world and reveals Himself to us. As it says in the Book of John,
“He became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory.”
So, the big question is, is Jesus God? I have a whole section on this in the book, and I don’t have much time. So, let me just say this, and I’ll be very brief. I lay out four vital points to make the argument that Jesus is the Son of God. The first is His incredible impact on human history. One of the most celebrated historians of all time, HG Wells says that “Jesus has had the,” and he doesn’t believe in Him! He doesn’t believe in God. But Wells says,
“He’s had the greatest impact on human history.” In fact, he puts it this way, “He is the most dominant figure in all of human history.”
I mean, just think about it in these terms. The time in our world revolves around His birth; BC and AD.
The second evidence is, of course, is the resurrection. And, I’m telling you, to try to debunk the resurrection is incredibly difficult because so many people have tried it. I remember giving a talk titled, Jesus, Divine, or Mythological. And, as I was doing the research, I really began to notice how many men recognized that Christianity will rise and fall on the resurrection, and they believe, “If I can debunk it if I can prove that it’s not true, then I basically can, that would lead to the demise of Christianity.” I think they arrogantly thought they could do it. And, as I was doing my research, I realized how many men had done this, attempted to overturn the belief in the resurrection. And, yet what I found how many changed their mind once they looked at the evidence. And, the list has grown! JD Anderson, Gilbert West, Lee Strobel, William Ramsay, Josh McDowell, Frank Morrison. And, Dallas Willard makes an interesting point. He says,
“Do you know why they changed their minds in their quest to debunk Jesus and His claims of resurrection?” He says, “Because for the first time, they were forced to examine the evidence and think carefully about it.”
And, though we don’t have time; it’s in the book. The evidence for the resurrection is hard to dispute.
Third, how Jesus fulfills the Messianic prophesies of the Old Testament. Do you know that in the Old Testament, there are 44 very clear Messianic prophesies? In other words, these are prophecies about the Jewish messiah that is to come. And, Jesus fulfills all 44 of them.
Blaise Pascal says this was the major reason he became a Christian. Pascal was a mathematician. He says,
“The mathematical possibility for that to happen is, it’s impossible. And, yet Jesus fulfilled all 44 of them.”
And, finally, and this is kind of where I’m going to leave this. I’m going to spend just a couple of minutes on this and then we’ll be done. Jesus, finally, this is number four. Jesus had such an incredible impact on history, but He did it not by earthly power, but through a simple, modest, humble, and short life. Think about that.
I want to leave you with this powerful story, and then a quote and we’ll be done. But as we think about the humility of Christ, and how He never traveled far from His home, in the most desolate part of the Roman Empire.
I want to share with you this story of the French philosopher and anthropologist Renee Girard, who was a very accomplished man. He ended his career as a distinguished professor at Stanford. At a certain point in his studies and research, Gerard began to notice that a cavalcade of liberation movements, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, women’s rights, minority rights, human rights. They all had gathered speed in the 19th and 20th centuries. He says,
“The trend mystified Gerard because he found nothing comparable in all his readings in ancient literature. And, through his further research, he traced this phenomenon back to the historical figure of Jesus.” He said, “It struck Gerard that Jesus’ story cuts against the grain of every heroic story from its time. Indeed, Jesus shows poverty in disgrace. He spent his infancy as a refugee. He lived in a minority race, under a harsh regime. He died as a prisoner. From the very beginning, Jesus took the side of the underdog, the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the marginalized. His crucifixion,” Gerard concluded, “introduced a new plot to history. The victim becomes a hero by being a victim. Gerard recognized that 2,000 years later, the reverberations from Christ’s life had not stopped. And, yet ironically at the center of the Christian faith hangs a suffering Christ on the cross, dying in shame for all the world to see. And, to the shock and consternation of all of his friends, and secular colleagues, Gerard announced that he had become a Christian because of the unexplainable humble life of Jesus.”
I leave you with this quote. This comes from Napoleon just before he died. And, he was reflecting on this great desire that he had to rule the world. That was his goal, that was his desire. These are his words.
“I die before my time, and my body should be given back to the earth and devoured by worms. What an abysmal gulf between my deep miseries and the eternal kingdom of Christ. I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, and of Alexander the Great, and of Caesar, should have vanished into thin air. And, yet a Judean peasant, Jesus, should be able to stretch His hands across the centuries and control the destiny of men and nations.”
How do you explain that? Well, simply, because He was the Son of God.
Now, hopefully, this message this morning has benefitted you. If you found it interesting, you may want to get a copy of this newest book that I’ve written, Reflections on the Existence of God. Because I’ve really, you may find this interesting. I barely, really scratched the surface on all of the evidence that’s there. There’s so much more. And, if you want to know where to get a copy, obviously you can buy it on Amazon, even though in the times that we’re in, it’s difficult to get it to you on a timely basis. You can go to; we’ve got several websites. We’ve got The Center’s website, and you can buy it there. Thecenterbham.org. You can go to my website, which is richardesimmons3.com. And, then we have a landing page, and you can go to it. It’s ExistenceofGodBook.com. There are all kinds of ways you can get it, so if you’re interested in that, we’d love to have you read it.
Thank you for being with me this morning. I’m going to close with a simple prayer, and we’ll be done.
Father, we are truly thankful that not only You exist, but that You have revealed Yourself in such a clear way as we seek to think logically about this issue. But most significantly, we thank You that You have revealed Yourself in the person of Christ. We thank you for Him, His life, and just the difference He makes in a person’s life. And, we pray all of that in His name. Amen.
Thank you very much.