Evidence for Christianity

by Irene McGough

Men and women everywhere search for the meaning of life. The quest was more common in past generations but today in our sophisticated world man has replaced that quest in many cases with a quest for success, money and accumulation of goods. Even still men and women want to understand what this world is all about. You live on average about 75 years in the west. You live and you die. Is that all there is to life? RATIONAL EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Authors Boa and Moody explain that there are essentially three possibilities as to the origin of the universe and the implications about God: 1:That the universe emerged from nothing .Little needs to be said about this notion. Nothing produces nothing. This premise is neither logical nor reasonable 2:That the universe is eternal There are three strong scientific reasons why the universe is not eternal: (a) the big bang theory, (b) the abundance of hydrogen, and (c) the irreversible decay of the universe. 1. The discovery by Edwin Hubble that the universe appears to be uniformly expanding in all directions leads to the conclusion that the universe had a beginning. 2. Hydrogen is continually being converted into helium through the process of nuclear fusion. This process is irreversible, so the abundance of hydrogen in the cosmos belies the notion of an eternal universe. 3. The second law of thermodynamics says that while the total amount of energy remains constant (the first law), the availability of usable energy in the universe is constantly declining (the second law). Apart from the intervention of a supernatural agent (God), the stars would have burned out and the universe would have run down like a clock with no one to wind it back up. The logical conclusion is that it cannot be true that an infinite amount of time has passed because the universe would have reached a cold and lifeless state of absolute equilibrium. 3:That the universe was created by an eternal being . By process of elimination, the existence of an omnipotent God is the most reasonable conclusion for origin. When we look around the world at all we can see around us and the intracacies of a designer creator. after all if I told you my watch or my computer just came together would you believe me? Even non-Christian Stephen Hawking, considered the best-known scientist since Albert Einstein, acknowledges "...the universe and the laws of physics seem to have been specifically designed for us EVIDENCE FOR THE EARTH BEING YOUNG The flood was a catastrophic event and therefore there would be extreme pressure so the fossils got buried. Java rock in Hawaii was dated by geological tests at 22 million years old, yet it is known to be only 200 years old One point of evidence for the Earth being young is this: 14 million tons of microscopic space dust enters our atmosphere each year (we know this by measuring the amount of nickel in our oceans). If the Earth is old enough for evolution to take place, it would be covered by a layer of dust 182 feet thick. There is no sign of this layer. At Lompoc , Califonria workers in the Dicalite Division of Grefco Corp found the fossil of a baleen whale. the fossil was not found to be millions of years old., it had been there for a

relatively short period of time. If the universe was billions of years old all comets should have died, for they have a short lifespan of 1,500 to 10,000 yrs old. The measurement of the earth's spin rate shows a slowing down at the rate of about 1 second per year. If the earth was billions of years old it would have been too fast for any kind of existence THE BIBLE The widest circulated book in the world is the Bible, it has been translated into many languages. By 1966 at least one book of the bible had been translated into 1,280 languages. Great care has been taken in the writing of the Books of the Bible and great care has been taken in the translation of the original Hebrew and Greek text. The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over a period of about 1,500 years by authors from many different walks of life. We have the input of Kings,soldiers, herdsmen,fishermen,legislators,statesmen,priests doctors, prophets and others such as the Apostle Paul who was a tent-maker. Despite all this and the various types of writings there is unity throughout God's word. one voice speaks throughout the Bible. 1. Knowledge of God is unique in that it is conditioned by moral and spiritual factors. A spiritually indifferent person can have a profound knowledge of physics, or literature, or history, or sociology, or even of theology. But a spiritually indifferent person cannot know God. According to the Bible, the knowledge of God is promised to those who honestly seek him. Jeremiah: “And you shall seek me and you shall find me, if you seek for me with all your heart.” Jesus: “Seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened, ask and it will be given you. For he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened, and to him who asks it shall be given.” 2. God doesn’t force himself upon us. He has given evidence of Himself which is sufficiently clear for those with an open mind and an open heart, but sufficiently vague so as to not to compel those who hearts are closed. The great French mathematical genius Blaise Pascal, who came to know God through Jesus Christ at the age of 31, put it this way: Willing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart, God so regulates the knowledge of himself that he has given indications of himself which are visible to those who seek him and not to those who do not seek him. There is enough light for those to see who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition The Claims of Jesus That is what Jesus claimed for himself... "I and the Father are one. No-one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

QUOTE 1. Does having a faith help individuals? Dr Monty Barker, in his Templeton Lectures challenged the sceptics on the question to look at the scientific evidence. He concluded that there are great benefits for individuals who have a real faith. He showed that regular worshippers live longer because of a reduction of heart attacks and strokes. He also found significant mental health benefits ref. i.

Another new book by Chamberlain and Hall ref. ii gives a scholarly overview of the hundreds of scientific papers on the relationship between faith and well-being, both in the physical and psychology realms. They looked carefully at the significance of ‘observer bias’ but they still came to the same conclusions as Dr Barker, “Fully 80% of psychological research on religion and health conclude that a strong faith is advantageous.” “The scientific evidence convincingly demonstrates that the natural by-product of ‘religion realised’ is longer life, less illness, better physical and mental health, more marital stability, less divorce, less suicide and less abuse of alcohol and other substances.” They quote Professor Dale Matthews, Professor of Medicine at Georgetown who also argues strongly for the soundness of the ‘faith factor’ when he analysed hundreds of different researchers studies. The head of psychiatry at a Scottish university said, “If my patients could be assured of forgiveness, half of them could go home tomorrow.” The psychiatrist C. J. Jung wrote towards the end of his lifetime, “During the past thirty years, men from every civilised country in the world have come to me for consultation. Among all my mature patients there was not one whose problem did not spring from a lack of religious world outlook. I can assure you that each of them had become ill because they had not that which only a living religion can give to a man, and not one of them will recover fully unless he regains the religious view of life.” People do need to know the true explanation and answer to life in order to have a full, satisfying existence. It has been said that if there is a therapy that statistically gives a 5% advantage to patients, then this should be discussed with patients. On this basis having a clear faith, that people are really committed to, is clearly advantageous to them and on this basis should be mentioned. 2. Does having a faith help society? Western societies are now seeing the effects of ‘self-centred’ religion. Where there is no belief in a supreme God, to whom we must answer selfishness takes over. Family breakups and all the consequences of this increase. Litigation goes out of control as people seek their rights whilst neglecting their duties. Care of the elderly and chronically sick becomes a real problem as less and less families see these family members as their responsibility. AIDS becomes common in societies where sexual promiscuity is widespread. The increased use of drugs and alcohol suggest a widespread dissatisfaction in society. Few people have realised that the word ‘integrity’ has an opposite. It is ‘dis-integrity’ or ‘disintegration’. When individuals cease to be concerned about doing what is right before God, and behave with themselves as their ‘God’, then their personal life will tend to begin to disintegrate. Next their family and social life is affected and eventually the nations life is influenced. When a society looses a strong religious faith then the laws of that society have to become firmer and hasher. Consequently a loss of faith opens the door to totalitarian governments. Kindness for others is the fruit of a faith, selfishness is the result of a loss of faith. Part of a transcript by Bernard Palmer

“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days . . . . After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.” (Isaiah 53 v. 9-11) Here we see away back in Isaiah's time how he was given this prophecy of our Lord's death and ressurection.

“I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23 v. 5-6) This passage was referring to Jesus who was a descendant of David. NON CHRISTIAN WRITERS Cornelius Tacitus Tacitus wrote his ‘Annals’ about 115 AD. He describes how the early Christians had become such an embarrassment in Rome that the emperor Nero made them the scapegoats for the great fire of Rome that devastated the city in 64 AD - just over thirty years after the death of Jesus. There was a rumour going about that Nero himself had started the fire. “To dispel the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and treated with the most extreme punishments, some people, popularly known as Christians, whose disgraceful activities were notorious. The originator of that name, Christus, had been executed when Tiberius was Emperor by order of the procurator, Pontius Pilatus. But the deadly cult, though checked for a time, was now breaking out again not only in Judaea, the birthplace of this evil, but even throughout Rome, where all the nasty and disgusting ideas from all over the world pour in and find a ready following.” (Tacitus, Annals XV.44) Tacitus was obviously no friend of the Christians, but his evidence is therefore even more reliable. He confirms that Jesus lived in Judea, and was executed by order of the governor, Pontius Pilate. He was governor between AD 26-36. Pliny the Younger Pliny was sent to govern Bithynia, a small state in northern Turkey, in about AD 112. He wrote letters on many subjects to the emperor Trajan. One of these concerned the problem he faced with the Christians in the area. He complained that, because of the new religion, people were deserting the pagan temples; that the sacred festivals were being discontinued for lack of popular support, and that the lucrative trade in animals for temple sacrifices was dwindling badly! He therefore had the custom of arresting any Christians he could find and, if they persisted in their allegiance to Jesus after being warned of the consequences, he had them executed. Pliny discovered that true Christians would rather die than pray to the pagan gods, or ‘curse Christ’, or make an offering to the emperor’s statue. He described the habits of these early Christians. “They were in the habit of meeting before dawn on a fixed day, when they would recite in turn, a hymn to Christ as to a god, and would bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal act but rather that they would not commit any theft, robbery or adultery, nor betray any trust nor refuse to restore a deposit on demand. This done, they would disperse, and then they would meet again later to eat together (but the food was quite ordinary and harmless).” Pliny added that this ‘perverse religious cult’ was affecting ‘large numbers of all classes’. Obviously, something very strong indeed was convincing these people to risk death by continuing their allegiance to Jesus. Josephus Josephus was a commander of the Jewish forces in the north of Judea when the Jews revolted against Rome in 66 AD. He wrote two important histories. The ‘Antiquities’ gave a history of the Jews up to AD 66, and the ‘The Jewish War’ gives a detailed account of the rebellion between AD 66-73. He was able to do this as, realising the eventual outcome, he had changed sides and became advisor on Jewish affairs to the Roman generals! He talks about many historical figures, including Pontius Pilate, John the Baptist, Herod, Caiaphas the High Priest, and James the brother of Jesus who became an early martyr when leading the church in Jerusalem. He wrote: “At that time, there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. Many among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples.

Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die, but those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders; and the tribe of Christians, so named after him, have not disappeared to this day.” Antiquities XVIII 64) Elsewhere, Josephus acknowledged that Jesus was ‘a doer of marvellous works’; in other words, a miracle worker

The CROSS AND THE RESSURECTION “One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true.” (John 19 v. 34) There is some dispute as to whether Jesus really died but the medical evidence shows that he suffered a pleural effusion and that there was a tear in His heart, which led to a rapid filling of the pericardial space with blood. This itself would rapidly stop the heart due to what doctors call ‘cardiac tamponade. Three days after his execution Jesus appeared to the disciples and convinced them of his resurrection. That same afternoon he walked with two disciples to the village of Emmaus which is seven miles from Jerusalem and then joined his disciples back in Jerusalem that evening. He would have had to walk 14 miles. The pain would make this totally impossible, without a miracle, because a Roman nail had just been driven through his feet! It was another forty days until his ascension. Forty days and the disciples and many others were all convinced of his bodily resurrection. From all the information that we have, from several sources, there can be no doubt that Jesus did die on that cross and miraculously rose. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Jesus later appeared to over 500 at the same time and when he wrote many of these were still alive. (1 Cor 15:6) SUBJECTIVE EVIDENCE There is another type of evidence that is also very important. All people have a sense of right and wrong . “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) WHY IS THAT PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE? God did not want us to be puppets, we have been given freedom to choose to accept or reject the truth of the Gospel. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. ( Act 16:31) The Amplifiied Bible clarifies and thy house, the individuals in the household also have to believe. The message of the Gospel is for all. Joh 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. Joh 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: Joh 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Joh 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. Joh 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The evidence is there we just have to believe, if you haven't already done so trust Jesus as your Saviour today for He died for your sins and mine. I am so glad I have Jesus in my life. What will you do with Jesus today accept Him or reject Him Bibliography: Evidence based Christianity by Bernard Palmer Is Christianity evidence based? by Alex Bunn Is Christianity based on blind faith Gospelcom.net

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