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What follows is an excerpt from The Story of Reality—How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between. In this part of the Story I answer the second of the two most important questions anyone could ever ask about the remarkable man from Nazareth: Why did He come? It is a question there is far too much confusion about, even for those who call the Story their own.
It’s not unusual for people to dismiss the Bible because it was “only written by men.” How do you respond when you hear this What evidence would you give that the Bible is not just a human invention, but rather a supernatural revelation?
Once I was sitting on an airplane next to a stockbroker. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a writer. When he asked what I wrote about, immediately I faced a problem. I wanted to tell him that I write about religion, specifically Christianity, but I didn’t want him to make a mistake many people make when they think about those two things.
In Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, four children, poking about in the back of an old wardrobe in the attic, stumble on another world filled with peculiar delights and strange enchantments. Did you ever tumble by accident into an ancient world? Something like that happened to me recently.
Lately I’ve been enjoying my nine-year-old Annabeth’s theological common sense. “Papa, why don’t atheists believe in God?” she asked. “Well, for a number of reasons,” I said. “Partly because they can’t see Him, so they don’t believe in Him.” “Can they see atoms?” she offered. “Good point. But I think they’d say that doesn’t count since they can still detect atoms with scientific instruments, something they can’t do with God. They won’t believe in anything they can’t measure scientifically.”
Read part 1 here Can There Be Good without God? In 1982, I lived in Thailand for seven months supervising a feeding program in a Cambodian refugee camp named Sakaeo. My charge: 18,250 Khmer refugees who had escaped the holocaust perpetrated on Kampuchea by the Khmer Rouge after the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975.
The billboards read: “No God? No Problem. Be Good for Goodness’ Sake,” and “Are You Good without God? Millions Are.” The point was clear: Morality in no way depends on belief in God. And why should it? Atheists can be good, too. New atheist Christopher Hitchens regularly challenged his religious opponents to suggest a single act of goodness they could perform that he, the atheist, could not accomplish with equal success.
The images are sadly familiar. Buildings ripped from their foundations. Corpses mingled with debris. Parents and friends grieving for lost loved ones. Flowers and candles and makeshift memorials. New Orleans, Newtown, New York, Littleton. In one sense tragedies like these will never be old news. And when new disasters inevitably arrive, the question on the lips of so many is an age old query: “Where was God?” One Wrong Answer
Judith Jarvis Thompson's Violinist Argument Isn't a Good Defense of Aboriton I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous “Violinist” argument. I was driving south on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles listening to a radio talk-show. It shook me up so much I almost had to pull over.
I never like the question, “Do you take the Bible literally?” It comes up with some frequency, and it deserves a response. But I think it’s an ambiguous—and, therefore, confusing—question, making it awkward to answer. Clearly, even those of us with a high view of Scripture don’t take everything literally. Jesus is the “door,” but He’s not made of wood. We are the “branches,” but we’re not sprouting leaves.