I want to talk to you about a subject that is near and dear to my heart. It is also at the heart Christian belief.
Though it is delivered in the form of an article, you can think of it as my personal testimony.
Why am I a Christian? Given that I think of myself as a reasonably scientific and rational person, how can I possibly believe that a historical, flesh-and-blood human being named Jesus actually was God with us (Matthew 1:23)? How can any logical, rational, and scientific person believe such an illogical, unscientific, and preposterous thing?
The answer lies in a higher logic: the logic of love. In a previous article, I said that “God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World.” Believing that God became Jesus, who is God with us, flows logically from the simple statement, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).
But before we flesh that out, let’s look at things from the perspective of the skeptics.
The unscientific idea of God
From a skeptical perspective the first question is, “How could any rational, scientific person believe in God?”
There is not a shred of scientific evidence for the existence of God. You can’t see God with your eyes or hear God with your ears. You can’t smell, taste, or touch God. Based on the physical senses, there is no good reason to believe that there is any such thing as God.
Science deals with things that can be perceived with the physical senses, either directly or through various extensions such as microscopes and telescopes. And since God is generally posited as a non-material being, this means that God is beyond the scope of science.
Therefore materialists of all stripes deny that there is a God.
The rallying cry of atheists and skeptics everywhere is, “Where is the evidence of God?” Without evidence, they say—scientific evidence, evidence that can be perceived with the physical senses—it is baseless and irrational to believe in God.
The crazy idea of Jesus
Many skeptics and atheists have a general disdain for people who believe in God. They think of religious people as ignorant and unsophisticated, or at least as blind and stupid when it comes to their religious beliefs.
However, they often have a special disdain for Christians.
Because not only do Christians believe that there is some imaginary God in the sky, they actually believe all those fables in the Bible about a virgin birth, and some old guy named Jesus being God.
Obviously that is the craziest and most irrational idea ever. It goes against every principle of biology and genetics. If the idea of God has no evidence to support it, the idea that Jesus was God, born of a virgin courtesy of the Holy Spirit, is just plain loopy.
Clearly, anyone who believes in such silly, unscientific fairy tales must have a few screws loose.
The literature is full of satire and attack against the crazy, unscientific, childish, and naïve notion that Jesus is God. There’s no need for me to detail the many scandalous (to Christians) suggestions about how Mary really got pregnant, and so on. I’m sure you’ve run into them yourself by now. The more hard core of the skeptics and atheists are not shy when it comes to expressing their scorn and derision for the central belief of Christianity.
Evidence for God?
This is not the time or place to mount a full-scale defense of the existence of God. For one thing, since you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you already believe in God, and there’s no need for me to convince you.
However, here’s the short version:
There is plenty of evidence for the existence of God. It’s just that none of it is scientific evidence. Though the evidence for God may come to us by way of our physical senses, the evidence itself is not physical. Since God is non-material, we should expect that the evidence for God would come through non-material channels.
And that is exactly what we find.
Throughout history, in every culture and region around the world, God has reached out to the minds of many people, who have, in turn, provided both oral and written testimony to the existence and reality of God and spirit. That testimony is then passed down through the generations.
The world is awash in testimony to the existence of God. It comes in the many sacred texts of humanity, each of which records the ways in which God has touched humans on earth from within. Surrounding those sacred texts is a vast literature of spiritual experience and interpretation, as well as religious instruction and practical guides to spiritual living. In the West, the very first substantial book to be printed with movable type was the Bible. And if the entire body of religious literature, including books, sermons, and articles, were put together, it would be a healthy percentage of the total literary output of humankind.
If anything, when it comes to knowledge and information about God and spirit we have an embarrassment of riches. How do we sort it all out?
For anyone who wishes to believe in God, and is willing to accept sources of information other than the physical senses, there is a massive amount of evidence for the existence of God distributed throughout all the peoples and cultures of the world. True, none of it is scientific evidence. But all of it is human evidence.
It would be more realistic to say that the issue is not whether there’s evidence. It’s what sort of evidence we are willing to accept.
- If we are willing to accept only the evidence of the physical senses, we will most likely reject the idea of God and become atheists.
- But if we are willing to accept evidence that comes from within, from the realm of human experience in the mind and heart, we will find plenty of reason to believe in God and spirit.
What about Jesus?
All of that may be well and good.
But even if there is such a vast amount of human literature and experience pointing to the existence of God, how could we possibly believe that God actually became human in the person of Jesus Christ? After all, many religions believe in God, but only one religion, Christianity, believes that Jesus Christ is the unique human expression of God.
How can we make that leap from a Creator God above all things to Jesus Christ, a human being, as God living among us? Even if we do believe in God, isn’t believing in Jesus as God still illogical and irrational? Can we really believe that stuff about a virgin birth? After all, there have been stories of virgin births in other religions and cultures as well. And even Christians don’t accept those virgin births as anything more than myths.
Why should we accept that in the case of Jesus, it really happened?
Spectacular real virgin births!
Strange but true: virgin births occur in nature quite regularly. As detailed in a recent BBC article, “Spectacular real virgin births,” it is now well-established, both scientifically and from common experience, that the females of many species of animals have the ability to reproduce asexually, without the benefit of a male.
Granted, this capability seems to be limited to non-mammals such as reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds. However, in 2004 scientists successfully produced genetically engineered mice that could produce baby mice by parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. And not only that, their babies could have babies, too.
So perhaps a human virgin birth isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility even from a scientific point of view.
But it still strains credulity. Humans are a lot more complex than mice. And how could such a far-fetched idea be central to one of the major religions of humanity? Isn’t that still pretty illogical?
The logic of love
The answer lies in a higher form of logic: the logic of love.
If, as the Bible says, God is love, and if, as Christians believe, God is all-powerful, and if, as the famous verse from the Gospel of John says, “God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16), doesn’t that throw a whole new light on the subject?
The Bible says, “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). If there is something God wants to do out of infinite, tender love for humanity, won’t God find—or make—a way to do it?
What would you do?
Let’s put it in terms of a human example. Put yourself in this situation:
You are the parent of a twelve-year-old boy. Naturally, you love him, and you want the best for him.
Unfortunately, he’s recently attached himself to the neighborhood bully. That kid is a couple years older than your son, so your son looks up to him. The older boy walks around the neighborhood with a swagger. Everyone is afraid of him and keeps out of his way. To your son’s pre-adolescent mind, he looks like the coolest kid around.
You’ve warned your son about him. “He’s no good,” you’ve told him. “He’ll just get you into trouble,” you’ve said. “And if you ever cross him, he’ll turn on you, too.”
But your son won’t listen. And he is starting to get in trouble. It’s breaking your heart.
One day you hear some shouting in your back yard. You look out the window and see your son flat on his back with the bully kid on top of him, punching out his lights. You see your son’s head jerking back and forth with each punch, and blood all over his face.
What do you do next?
Do you let the bully beat your son senseless to teach him a lesson?
Do you yell out the window and tell the bully to stop?
Do you call 911 and wait for the police to arrive?
I’ll tell you what you’ll do.
You’ll race out to the back yard, drag that kid off your son by the nape of his neck, and if he’s lucky and you’re not totally steamed, he’ll get away with dire threats of what you’ll do to him if he ever so much as touches a hair of your son’s head again.
Then you’ll take your son inside, clean him up, and tend to his wounds. And you might even tell him you love him.
That’s what any good parent would do.
God, our loving parent
According to the Bible, God is the ultimate parent. God created us. God loves us deeply. God wants the best for us eternally.
So wouldn’t God be at least as good a parent as we are?
Two thousand years ago, when God looked out of the window into the ol’ back yard here on earth, what did God see?
God saw a world in the grip of the ultimate bully. The Bible calls that bully “the Devil.” What that really means is the full force of human evil, which we also call “hell.”
What God saw was a world in the grip of evil. Violence covered the earth. Nations and empires arose and oppressed the people. Human life was cheap and expendable. People were dying like flies. Life was short and brutish—and it was getting worse, not better. Kings oppressed men, men oppressed women, men and women oppressed children.
In short, the world of human society was lying flat on its back, getting its lights punched out by the vast bully of the combined force of human selfishness, greed, and grasping for wealth and power.
God had warned us about this many times. God had sent priests and prophets to teach us, to preach to us about how foolish and dangerous a course we were on.
But we wouldn’t listen.
And now we were flat on our back, pinned down under the weight of all that evil and oppression, having our life, both physical and spiritual, squeezed and pounded out of us.
If you were God, what would you do?
Why God became Jesus
That’s why God became Jesus.
It wasn’t because God was angry at us or desired to punish us for our sins. No, it was because God so loved us that God could not bear to stand by and watch from heaven as we were bloodied and broken in body and spirit.
God had to come to us. God had to come personally to face evil, the Devil, and hell straight on. God had to pull that bully off of us—God’s beloved child—and send hell packing with its tail between its legs. And then God had to carry us home, clean us up, tend to our wounds, and bring us back to life and health, both physically and spiritually.
So yes, from the perspective of skeptical materialism, the idea that God became Jesus is the most unscientific, irrational, and illogical idea ever.
But God is not bound by our human, materialistic logic.
God follows a higher logic.
God’s logic is the logic of love.
That’s why I believe and know in my heart that God became Jesus. The logic of love says that a God who loves us as an infinitely loving parent could do nothing else.
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