If someone asked you how you know Christianity is true, how would you answer them? Would you appeal to your transformed life, the witness of miracles, or apologetic arguments?
C.S. Lewis once provided his own explanation. In the closing line of a paper to Oxford’s Socratic Club, he wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Lewis believed Christianity provides a framework for understanding many commonsense ideas that people in our society affirm.
I agree. If you listen carefully to what people claim are the powerful truths they live by, you’ll recognize that Christianity is the only worldview that can justify all of them. Consider the following claims about reality and how not every belief system can account for them.
The universe began to exist: Prior to modern science, people believed the universe was eternal. That idea has been rejected by Big Bang cosmology, the second law of thermodynamics, and the red shift. Today, it is believed that the universe began at a finite time in the past. This fact is also accounted for by the Christian worldview. The very first verse of the Bible says that “God created the heavens and earth,” a view that is consistent with and explains the way reality is—a universe with a beginning.
Morals are real: People have an intuitive sense of right and wrong. Although most people would claim that morals are relative to each person, there are some that seem to apply to all people at all times: rape is wrong, assaulting an elderly woman is wrong, and torturing little babies for fun is wrong. What ideological system can explain the existence of objective rules (universally true for everyone)? Christianity teaches that God exists and he provides an objective standard of morality.
Human beings are valuable: Most people believe (or at least act like) human beings are valuable over and above animals. We mourn the death of our child more than that of our cat. What worldview makes sense of what many people intuitively believe? Christianity makes sense of that reality. It teaches that human beings are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) and, therefore, have value.
All humans are equal: Western society is vigorously opposed to racism. Every person is equally valuable no matter their color, ethnicity, or country of origin. What accounts for equal value? There’s no characteristic that every person shares equally. Some people are taller, some are smarter, and some have more melanin in their skin. Every characteristic comes in degrees, negating the possibility of their grounding human equality. The Christian worldview teaches that every human being is made in the image of God, a characteristic that is not a degreed property. You either have it or you don’t. That explains why Martin Luther King, Jr. could justify his case for the civil rights of African Americans—he was a Baptist pastor and believed in the image of God.
Animals are valuable: Despite some overzealous animal rights groups like PETA, many people consider caring for animals to be a noble cause. There’s no need to torture or kill animals unnecessarily. Again, the Christian worldview provides justification to care for animals. Though animals are not made in the image of God, they are still created by God. After making the sea and land creatures, he declared them “good” (Gen. 1:20–25).
Caring for the environment is a worthy cause: Many people are concerned about climate change, deforestation, and the dumping of toxins in our rivers, lakes, and seas. But why should we be concerned? The Christian worldview has an answer. God made the earth, and we are commanded to be good stewards of his creation.
People feel guilty: Though I haven’t met every person who is reading this, there is something that I know is true of you. There are moments in your life when you feel guilty. You know you’ve broken a behavioral standard. In other words, you feel guilty because you are guilty. That’s why being forgiven by someone you’ve wronged is burden-lifting. These feelings are anticipated and accounted for by Christianity. Every person has broken God’s moral laws, and our conscience reminds us of that. Feeling guilty, though, is not where God wants you to remain. He’s offered a pardon so you can be forgiven and feel free of guilt’s burden.
Of course, the message of guilt and forgiveness is at the core of Jesus’ message. What we’ve also seen is that many commonsense beliefs that people share about humanity, animals, and creation are also accounted for by Christianity.
People with other worldviews might explain a few of these beliefs. A naturalist, for example, might posit a beginning to the universe, but he could hardly account for human value, human equality, objective morality, or even why we should care for the environment. A pantheist might be able to account for caring for creation or animals, but not a finite universe or human equality. Also, other worldviews like postmodernism, the New Age, nihilism, and existentialism fail to explain some of these claims about reality. Only Christianity accounts for these basic and common ideas. That is one reason why we can know Christianity is true—it explains reality.