When noted philosopher and atheist Bertrand Russell was asked how he would respond if he found himself standing before God asking him, ‘Why didn’t you believe in me?’, Russell replied, “I would say, ‘Not enough evidence, God!’”
In 1927 he delivered a speech entitled “Why I am Not a Christian”. There he also sought to show that the evidence was lacking, and that Christianity is to be rejected. While Russell was a brilliant mathematician and philosopher, his understanding of Christianity was very poor indeed.
Atheist Richard Dawkins’ understanding of religion in general and Christianity in particular is equally shallow and misinformed. He too argues that the evidence is just not in for faith in God. The Christian of course will argue that there is plenty of evidence for those who are seriously seeking.
Indeed, the Bible itself makes such claims, and dismisses atheists as fools. Twice this line is found in the Old Testament: “The fool has said in his heart there is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). The biblical writers assume that the evidence is there for those who have not already closed their minds to it.
Paul in Romans 1 and 2 argues that we are all without excuse as to God’s existence. The created universe without and the moral universe within are both clear indicators of the God who is. This general knowledge about God is enough to condemn us, but not enough to save us.
That is why the Bible was given to us and Jesus lived among us, to provide that special knowledge of who God is and what he expects of us. Between the general revelation of God and this special revelation of God, we have all we need to know about God.
Indeed, that is the unique message of Christianity. God has come among us, living a human life, showing us what God is all about. We are living on a visited planet. God has visited us, and so we are now without excuse. That is why Jesus could make such grandiose claims about himself.
Consider just a few passages from the Gospel of John. They make it clear that Jesus regarded himself as the supreme revelation of the Father, and to know Jesus is to know God:
John 5:22-24 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
John 6:29 – Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 8:19 – Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
John 12:26 – Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
John 12:44-45 – Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.
John 12:49-50 – For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.
John 14:1 – Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
John 14:9 – Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
John 15:23 – He who hates me hates my Father as well.
Christmas is the story of God visiting this planet, revealing himself, and providing us with all we need to know him, follow him, and have relationship with him. Thus while many people anxiously await a clue or sign of life from another planet, they can stop their search.
Life from outside this earth does exist, and it has already arrived and communicated to us. Those searching for alien life forms from elsewhere need look no longer. Our visited planet has forever changed as a result of this heavenly visitor.
The God of the entire universe has manifested himself in human form, showing us what his character and attributes are like. We have not been left in the dark, but now have all the evidence we need. Thus we are without excuse when we claim there is no evidence. The evidence is there, but we have simply rejected it.
And people were no more gullible or superstitious back then as they are today. Many doubted that Jesus was God incarnate, despite his many miracles and supernatural acts. Even his own disciples were often sceptical, although they had been with him for three years and seen all his signs and wonders.
Thomas was the classic agnostic, who still would not believe Jesus, even during his resurrection appearances. He had to demand physical proof. And that he got, when Jesus offered him his nail-pierced hands and wounded side. Doubting Thomas could then only respond, “My Lord and my God”.
Jesus extends the same nail-scarred hands to us today. We have the same evidence that those in first-century Palestine had. Some of them back then believed, and some did not. It is the same today. Some will follow the evidence where it leads, while others will close their minds to even the possibility of God’s existence.
God of course is a gentleman who will never impose himself upon us. He has given us all free will to either believe in him or reject him. That decision is entirely of our own making. No one else can make it for us, and no one can be coerced into believing.
Contrary to the claims of Russell, there is evidence aplenty. The question is, are we diligent seekers or casual inquirers? God always promises to reward the former, while he ignores the latter. As Yahweh said through Moses, “If you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 4:29).
Or as Jesus promised, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8).