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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jesus Said: "Do Not Believe Me"


Most within Christendom see Jesus as One Who expects people to accept Him “by faith.” What they mean by “faith” is that people ought to accept Jesus as the Son of God without any proof, evidence, or rational justification—simply because He claimed to be divine. Most, in fact, see faith and proof as opposites. They think one must have faith in those areas where proof is unavailable. To them, “faith” is blindly accepting what you cannot prove, and deciding to believe what you cannot know.
Tragically, this widespread malady has fomented unbelief, skepticism, and atheism. After all, God created the human mind “in His image” (Genesis 1:26). Hence, the human mind was designed to function rationally. When humans conduct themselves illogically, they are going against their natural inclination. In the face of such irrationality, the atheist rightly dismisses “Christianity” as a false system of thinking. Ironically, the atheist is equally irrational in his blind commitment to atheism and evolution—both of which contradict the evidence. [see www.apologeticspress.org]
True, undenominational, New Testament Christianity, on the other hand, is the one and only consistent, rational perspective. According to the New Testament, God never expects nor requires anyone to accept His Word without adequate proof. God empowered His spokesmen on Earth to verify their verbal pronouncements by performing accompanying supernatural acts (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4). The book of John spotlights this feature repeatedly. When Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews, approached Jesus one night, he stated: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2, emp. added). Nicodemus was a rational man! He saw evidence that pointed to the obvious conclusion that Jesus was of divine origin, and was honest enough to admit it.
Responding to critical Jews, Jesus defended His divine identity by directing their attention to the works (i.e., “supernatural actions”) He performed: “[T]he very works that I do bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36). He made the same point to His apostles on another occasion:
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves (John 14:10-11, emp. added).
Later, Jesus noted that when people refused to believe in Him as the Son of God, they were without excuse, since the evidence of His divine identity had been amply demonstrated: “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father” (John 15:24, emp. added). So their lack of faith could not be attributed to their inability to know the truth regarding the person of Jesus (cf. John 8:32).
If it is the case that God does not expect a person to believe in Him unless adequate evidence has been made available to warrant that conclusion, then we ought to expect to see Jesus urging people not to believe Him unless He provided proof for His claims. Do we find Jesus doing so while He was on Earth? Absolutely! This fact is particularly evident in Jesus’ response to the tirade launched against Him by hard-hearted Jews who refused to face the reality of His divinity. He reiterated: “The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me” (John 10:25). His subsequent explicit declaration of His deity incited angry preparations to stone Him. He boldly challenged them: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added).
Since Jesus came to the planet to urge people to render obedient submission to Him (John 3:16; 8:24), it is difficult to envision Him telling people not to believe Him. But that is precisely what He did! He has provided the world with adequate evidence for people to distinguish truth from falsehood. We can know that God exists, that Jesus is His Son, and that the Bible is the Word of God. If the evidence did not exist to prove these matters, God would not expect anyone to believe; nor would He condemn anyone for failing to believe—since He is fair and just (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11; Peter 3:9). But the evidence does exist! We can know! All accountable human beings are under obligation to investigate and find the truth (John 8:32; 6:45; 7:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). All who desire to know the truth can find it (Matthew 5:6; 7:7-8). All who fail to do so are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20)!



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Science: Instituted by God


Some contend that science is at odds with religion. They suggest that the scientific method requires empirical testing, but God’s existence cannot be empirically verified. Science supposedly proves the Big Bang, evolutionary theory, a very old Universe, and dinosaurs that never co-existed with humans, while the Bible mistakenly contends that the Universe was created in six literal, 24-hour days only a few thousand years ago, with humans and dinosaurs being created together on day six. Supposedly, science is based on verifiable evidence, whereas religion is based on “blind faith” and ambiguous “tinglies” attributed to the Holy Spirit. For such reasons, it is claimed that science and Scripture cannot be harmonized—that they are diametrically opposed to each another.
In reality, however, true science agrees perfectly with Scripture. Though God’s existence cannot be empirically verified, it can be easily verified through deductive reasoning from the scientific evidence available to us—in the same way forensic scientists use science to investigate events that they did not personally witness. While atheists have successfully created the mirage that science supports their theories, abundant scientific evidence exists which disproves the Big Bang Theory, evolutionary theory, an old Universe, and proves that dinosaurs and humans co-existed (see www.apologeticspress.org for more information on these matters). And yet, no scientific evidence exists that contradicts the true creation model. Rather, the evidence always supports it. The concept of “blind faith,” though championed by many who call themselves Christians, is at odds with Scripture, which defines faith as choosing to believe in something, based on the evidence that has been presented for it, and responding accordingly (see Miller, 2003). Atheistic scientists are simply wrong in their sweeping accusation that science and religion are at odds.
Though some theistic beliefs contradict science, when handled accurately (2 Timothy 2:15), Scripture and science compliment each other perfectly. For instance, science has shown us that matter is not eternal, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and could not have spontaneously generated—popping into existence from nothing—according to the First Law of Thermodynamics. This fact indicates that matter must have been placed here by an Entity outside the physical Universe (see Miller, 2007). This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with atheism and much of today’s pseudo-science. But this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in its very first verse that God—a Being not subject to the laws of nature (i.e., a supernatural Being)—created the heavens and the Earth. Science supports Scripture.
Science has shown us that in nature, life comes only from life and that of its kind, according to the Law of Biogenesis. Again, this fact indicates that a Being outside of nature must exist Who initiated life (see Miller, 2012). This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with atheism and much of today’s pseudoscientific world which must contend, without scientific support, that life popped into existence from non-life. Rather, this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in Genesis 1:11,24 and 2:7 that God created life.
Science—the Law of Biogenesis and the Laws of Genetics—has shown us that living beings produce other living beings of their own kind (see Thompson, 2002). There may be small changes along the way (e.g., beak size, color, size, etc.), but the offspring of a bird is still a bird. The offspring of a fish is still a fish. Therefore, since there is no common ancestor for all living beings from which all species evolved, there must be a supernatural Being Who initially created various kinds of life on Earth. This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with the teachings of atheism and much of today’s pseudo-scientific world, which argues against the evidence, that various kinds of living beings can give rise to completely different kinds of living beings. But this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in Genesis 1:21 and 1:24-25 that God directed living beings to reproduce after their kind.
True science is in harmony with true religion. Why would science lie? It does not have a mind of its own. It has no bias or agenda. It can certainly be misrepresented or its findings misinterpreted, but science is not the enemy of true religion. In fact, according to the Bible, God, Himself, instituted the field of science. When God created human beings on day six and told them to “have dominion” over the Earth and “subdue” it (Genesis 1:28), He was commanding mankind to do something that would require extensive scientific investigation and experimentation. If God founded science, why would science be at odds with religion? When God, through His servant Paul, said in Romans 1:20 that His existence and some of His attributes could be learned from His creation, He was putting His stamp of approval on the scientific study of creation. When He said in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “[t]est all things; hold fast what is good,” He was essentially summarizing the scientific method. Bottom line: God founded science. When legitimate scientific findings are interpreted properly and fairly, science supports the Bible and Christianity. It certainly is not at odds with the Bible.

REFERENCES

Miller, Dave (2003), “Blind Faith,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/444.
Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Reason & Revelation, 27[4]:25-31, April (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3293.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Thompson, Bert (2002), The Scientific Case for Creation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press)