I would like to offer you, in a nutshell, what I think is the simplest, most powerful way, strategically, to make your case as a Christian.
I would like to offer you, in a nutshell, what I think is the simplest, most powerful way, strategically, to make your case as a Christian. I have been using it a long time in a variety of ways, though it really came together for me quite by accident recently when my eldest daughter, then about eight years old, asked me an important question.
“Papa,” Annabeth asked, “How do we know God is true?” She was already a Christian, baptized at six, but was now trying to connect the dots, not regarding the “What?” but regarding the “Why?”
What do you say to a youngster who already believes in God, but is not sure why belief in God is defensible? That was my challenge. And nothing technical would do, not at her age.
I thought for a moment how I could say something meaningful in a simple way. Then a thought crystalized in my mind. “Annabeth,” I said, “the reason we believe God is true is that God is the best explanation for the way things are.” The minute I said it I realized I had summed up in a single sentence a major thrust of how for decades I have approached defending Christianity.
When I wrote Relativism almost 20 years ago, my goal was to show that objective morality was an undeniable feature of the world. That’s why people complain so readily about the problem of evil. There can only be a real problem of evil if real morality has been violated.
The atheist cannot easily deny the problem of evil, but he cannot make sense of it, either. What accounts for something as odd as a genuine moral obligation? Transcendent moral laws require a transcendent moral lawgiver, it seems. Make-me-up morality simply will not do. God is the best explanation for the way things are.
Lately Annabeth seems to have internalized the concept, at least a bit. She asks me, “Papa, how do atheists explain…” and then fills in the blank with something she has been wondering about that seems to make no sense in an atheistic worldview, but fits right in with Christianity.
Once Annabeth banged the flat of her hand down on the table and said, “If I bang my hand down, then I am the one who banged it. So who banged the Big Bang?” Again, God is the best explanation for the way things are.
Richard Dawkins opens his best-selling The Blind Watchmaker with the words, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” But given the problems with Darwinism (more on that in a moment), maybe living things “appear” to be designed for a purpose because they actually are designed for a purpose. God is the best explanation for the way things are.
The same approach works in other ways, too. There are all kinds of theories about what happened on that first Easter Sunday and soon following. It turns out, though, that all fall desperately short, but one. The resurrection is the best explanation for the empty tomb, or for the disciples’ experience of what they thought was the risen Christ, or for the meteoric rise of the early church.
Note the advantage to this strategy. There is no need to dismissively deny the possibility of other options. We can give fair consideration to the alternatives. We are not offering the only explanation, just the best one, all things considered.
The larger point we want to make is this: As a worldview, Christianity has superior explanatory power. Important details of the Christian picture of reality seem to fit the way the world actually is. It resonates with our deepest intuitions about reality. This “fit” is the classical definition of truth. Truth is when your beliefs “fit”— correspond to—the way the world actually is.
Christian theism can make sense of morality. It can explain the cause of the Big Bang. It can account for the “appearance” of design. Christianity also provides the reason why humans are both beautiful and broken (we’re made in the image of God, but we’re also fallen). And it also has the answer to human brokenness: the consolation of true forgiveness.
Next time your own convictions are challenged, remember this strategy: The Christian worldview is the best explanation for the way things are. It’s a sound and flexible approach to showing the inadequacies of the alternatives.
One of those alternatives, Darwinian evolution, continues to falter badly, as I mentioned. STR speaker Tim Barnett reveals why in his eye-opening talk, "Shattering the Icons of Evolution." In it, Tim gives you stunning, specific examples to show why evolution is a bad fit for the facts of biology. And why the evidence points instead to an intelligent designer.
I’d like to send you Tim’s message on DVD as our thanks for your gift this month. Will you give to equip Christian ambassadors who know what they believe and why? Your support now means more believers bringing Christ’s truth to the world with grace and intelligence to win hearts and minds.
Let me add that this month marks STR’s 23rd anniversary. Because of friends like you, STR has reached and equipped multiplied thousands since 1993. And we give God all the glory.
Be sure to ask for “Shattering the Icons of Evolution as you give. Thanks for your friendship and for partnering with STR again this month.
Yours because His,