This essay was written in response to a challenge for our Wednesday night ladies Bible class at Bellevue Church of Christ. We are studying 1 Peter and I was teaching on chapter 3. Verse 15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (NIV-1984) I challenged the class to spend the week examining the reasons why they believe the Bible to be true and then write a short speech or essay in response to Peter’s challenge to be prepared to give an answer. I should probably note that my reasons are certainly not the only reasons for religious belief. There are many other problems with Darwinism and evidences for the existence of God that I don’t touch on here. This essay simply covers the evidence I personally find most convincing.
I. Problems with Darwinian Evolution
I do not find the evidence for a natural origin of life compelling. Darwinian evolutionary theory is full of gaping holes, the most notable being the complete lack of evidence for abiogenesis (life originating from non-life), the lack of evidence for macroevolution (species evolving into other species), and the existence of irreducibly complex systems (systems that could not emerge gradually by natural selection) within the human body —Darwin’s own criteria for the failure of his theory.
I have read some of Darwin’s writings and materials from the opposing point of view, but their evidence doesn’t add up. Slapping the label ‘the big bang’ on the beginning of the universe doesn’t explain what caused it or how anything could happen without a cause. If life emerged from some primordial soup, where did the ingredients for the soup come from?
Additionally the fossil record does not support macroevolution; it does support microevolution (change within species) but no one disputes this. Finches’ beaks can change, but those finches are still finches, not alligators. Peppered moths can change color to blend in with their environment but they don’t turn into owls. They are still moths.
Darwin himself said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely fall apart.” (i) Biochemist Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, provides an excellent case for the existence of such irreducibly complex systems. Behe describes an irreducibly complex system as being “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.” (ii) He explains, “An everyday example of irreducible complexity is a mousetrap, built of several pieces (platform, hammer, spring and so on). Such a system probably cannot be put together in a Darwinian manner, gradually improving its function. You can’t catch a mouse with just the platform and then catch a few more by adding the spring. All the pieces have to be in place before you catch any mice.” (iii) He gives multiple examples in his book including bacterial flagellum and blood clotting.
II. Evidence for the existence of God
On the other hand, I do find the evidence for the existence of God quite compelling, especially the moral argument for God’s existence. The moral argument states: 1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist. 2. Objective moral values do exist. 3. Therefore, God exists.
This seems logical. If all we are is a cosmological accident then there are no objective moral laws. Where would they come from? If there is no moral lawgiver, there can be no moral law. All morality would be subjective.
Let’s think for a moment about the difference between objective and subjective. I hate mushrooms. I hate the way they taste, I hate the way they smell, and I hate the way they squish in my mouth if one gets mixed in on my pizza. I say mushrooms are disgusting. You might like mushrooms. You might think they taste good and smell wonderful. You say mushrooms are delicious. Neither of us is wrong. The statement ‘mushrooms are disgusting’ is true when I say it because mushrooms are disgusting to me. The statement ‘mushrooms are delicious’ is true when you say it because mushrooms are delicious to you. So the truth of the statement is dependent on the person making the statement, it is a subjective truth.
However, Hitler’s ethnic cleansing when he ordered millions of Jews to be brutally murdered was wrong. Not mushroom wrong, objectively wrong. Even if Hitler had succeeded in winning the war and killing or brainwashing everyone in the world who disagreed with him so that all people thought what he did was wonderful, he’d still be wrong.
Remember, if evolution is true and humans are an accident of the universe then they can have no inherent value. Some would simply define morality or good as whatever causes humanity to flourish. However, given evolution, why would this be the case? If evolution were true why would human flourishing be any more important than mice flourishing or bacteria or cancer cells flourishing? If there is no external standard of right and wrong then my dislike of rape is no different than my dislike of mushrooms.
This way of thinking makes no sense in real life scenarios. Certain things are simply wrong. Rape is wrong. Torturing someone for fun is wrong. Though I can’t test it scientifically, it is self evident to me that human beings do have inherent value and that objective right and wrong does exist. Therefore, God’s existence makes more sense than His non-existence.
III. Biblical reliability
The more I study about the Bible the more I find it to be a reliable historical document. Once you study textual transmission you discover that the Bible has been meticulously preserved. The Bible has, by far, the most copies and the earliest manuscripts of any document of antiquity.
We have roughly 15.000 handwritten manuscripts, some fragments and some entire books. Of books from antiquity the next highest number of manuscripts is the Iliad of which we have about 600. We only have 7 copies of Plato’s writings. Most accepted ancient manuscripts have only about a dozen surviving copies.
We also have the earliest manuscripts of antiquity with undisputed fragments going back to within 150 years of the originals (there are disputed fragments dated around 25 years from the originals. Compared to other ancient documents, the average age of surviving documents is about a thousand years removed from their original writings. Aside from biblical texts, the Iliad has the oldest surviving documents and those were copied about 500 years after the original was written.
You may have heard about errors in the manuscripts. However, it might surprise you to discover that the variants are statistically insignificant. The vast majority of these copy errors are spelling or punctuation errors. In fact there is not a single variant that affects any doctrine of the church that cannot be clarified by other passages.
Historical facts in the Bible turn out to be quite credible. For example, facts about Jesus are noted not just in the Bible but in non-Christian historical texts as well. In fact Jesus is mentioned in at least 10 different non-biblical sources within 150 years of his death. By way of comparison, that is more surviving sources than we have for Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor of that time.
Many people have set out to disprove the Bible and Christianity only to be converted in the process. Author C.S. Lewis and the reporter Lee Strobel come to mind but one of the most interesting to my mind is Sir William Ramsay. He was a famous archaeologist who set out to prove the book of Acts was historically inaccurate and the Bible was false. After 30 years of digging and studying he concluded that Luke should be placed along-side the greatest historians. It makes sense to me that if the Biblical writers were so meticulous with their facts it lends credibility to their story.
Many people who reject the Bible do so because of the supernatural elements, claiming that miracles are impossible, therefore the Bible must be false. However, it makes sense to me that if there is a God who created the universe and all the natural rules within, it should not be impossible for that Creator to suspend those rules if He has reason to do so.
IV. Evidence for the resurrection
Another reason I believe the Bible to be true is the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. His crucifixion (and later His empty tomb) is one of the best attested to facts of ancient history. Virtually every expert on the time period agrees on three basic facts: 1. Jesus was crucified 2. His tomb was found empty 3. His disciples at least believed they saw Him alive after His death.
So if Jesus’ tomb was empty, where did the body go? Contemporaries of His disciples claimed they stole the body, but if this were true, why were they willing to go to horrific deaths claiming Jesus was resurrected? They had no motive. They did not achieve the money and fame of modern day televangelists. They received beatings, ridicule, and brutal martyr’s deaths. Why would they go to their deaths, and send their loved ones to their deaths, for something they knew was a lie? This is why virtually no scholar today, including non-Christian scholars, believes that Jesus’ disciples stole his body. It just doesn’t make any sense when you consider how they lived and died.
By far the most prevailing theory to explain Jesus’ disciples’ belief in the resurrection is that they all hallucinated His appearances. I don’t think this theory fits the evidence. For one thing, many of Jesus appearances were to groups. By definition a hallucination is something only one person can see. This theory also doesn’t even address what happened to Jesus’ body.
Further it does not adequately explain why those who previously didn’t believe in Jesus’ divinity such as Saul (a persecutor of the church turned apostle) or James (Jesus’ skeptic brother) would have a hallucination and suddenly be willing to give their lives for their belief in the risen Jesus.
Jesus predicted both His death and His resurrection. Upon studying the evidence I came to the conclusion that God did raise Him from the dead. While I accept that for you or me resurrection from the dead would be impossible, I see no such restriction if God is involved. After all, you or I could not create a universe either. But if there is a God who can create life from non-life, and I have already given my reasons why I believe there is such a being, then why would it be any trouble for Him to put life back into a non-living body?
V. The power of the Gospel to change lives
Finally, I have seen that following the Bible and seeking to build a relationship with God has the power to change lives. I have experienced it personally and I have seen this power in the lives of others. I do not base my belief on experience alone but the reasons I have given provide me the confidence to trust my experience. I believe that God created the universe, reveals Himself and His plan in the Bible, and sent his Son to offer salvation to those who would choose to accept it.
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek
On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision by William Lane Craig
The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask: (With Answers) by Mark Mittelberg
The Case For A Creator by Lee Strobel
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
i Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (New York: Penguin, 1958), 171.
ii Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 39.
iii Michael Behe, Darwin Under the Microscope, The New York Times, October 29, 1996, Tuesday Final Section A; Page 25; Column 2; Editorial Desk