What Happens Next?
This one really made me think. Do you see yourself as this: (date) – (date) and that’s all? Is your entire existence summed up in a beginning, a middle and an end so best you make the most of the middle? This past summer our family has celebrated the joy of birth with the arrival of two babies within the space of a week, one to my sister and the other to my brother. Sadly, death too has been large in my heart as the season brought the untimely passing of my aunt as she lost her fight with Motor Neuron Disease as well as the death of a mother close to my age in our village followed by that of a dear friend’s father. In each case the struggle was with illness and in some ways there is relief when that has passed; yet that in no way minimises the agony they endured or what their loved ones still endure through grief.
You know when you visit an old graveyard and most of the stones are broken and weathered, many have lost the most critical information which represents the entire life of an individual. What if that is all that one’s existence amounts to – a smoothed or broken stone? And if you were to run your hand across the cold surface, you may find the traces of the dates which represented your life, but perhaps not. I would agree that the dash in between your dates in highly significant but if that’s all there is to us, isn’t that a dreadfully bleak picture?
Richard Dawkins (renowned atheist and evolutionary biologist) and John Lennox (Christian apologist and Professor of mathematics) engage one another in a very interesting debate entitled Has science buried God? I watched this debate and it disturbed me, not only because I wanted them to agree and I suppose I tend to avoid arguments, but chiefly because I am a Christian and I have all these questions I’d like to ask my atheist friends:
The universe made us but who or what made the universe?
If any notion of human value or morality is manmade and therefore illusion, why persist in upholding your morals, surely by logical progression they’d be relatively meaningless?
How can one espouse morality and discard Christianity with any sense of credibility?
What do you pin your hope in life on if this is all there is? There is no more bleak and unattractive view of life and the universe than only this.
I think it all boils down to two big points: meaning and truth. What gives you meaning and what is the truth? When it comes to meaning, in my mind’s eye, I see my life symbols, ie the (date) – (date) existing within something much greater and beautiful than myself and what I can make of life through effort. I see a brightly coloured garden – maybe it’s called Eden – and it’s tended by a loving personal Hand, the Logos, the One who breathed life into me, who will sustain me within the garden eternally. My existence is intentional and I am of great worth because I am loved by Him, the author of life who IS love. That’s why the gospel’s called Good News! However, if that is not one’s view then all I see is one’s (date) – (date) existing in a dark grey nothingness. It feels cold there, where love is not.
I do grieve for Richard Dawkins, how sad he looks and sounds; naturally because, as by his own words, “too bad” if there is nothing more to hope for than this world which is filled with injustice, suffering, pain, intolerable cruelty and hatefulness. What has he, to give meaning to his life, as he tries to make sense of the broken world that we live in? It seemed to me that John Lennox who laughed and joked, exhibited a much more attractive worldview, even by his very demeanour!.
So who is telling the truth? Both men in this debate come back to this point that it is a question of truth. Or, I ask, looking at it from the opposite side, who would like to put up their hand and admit at the end of their lives that they have spent their whole lives believing a lie?
What about the evidence that there was a man named Jesus who called himself God, who died and then was resurrected?
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
I’m not sure how anybody could say that if, it wasn’t the truth, without being crazy or deluded. So obviously if you don’t believe it to be truth, you’d have to agree it’s a delusion to call one’s self the only way to God and the only truth. In which case you couldn’t call him a good moral teacher, just a crazy crackpot and all his disciples and followers too. Which would make me one of those. Am I a crackpot? Well, maybe you think so but at least my faith is based on evidence that is historically proven. ( For a timeless classic, read the Bible and also maybe author and once an agnostic but now converted Christian apologist Josh McDowell‘s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”.)
My ultimate question to my atheist friends is WHY? Why would you refuse to believe? Is it because of what the believing asks of you? Is it the name of Jesus that is always the sticking point? And YES, the dash is extremely important, that’s the part of your life when you get to decide what happens next!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9
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