Saturday, 3 August 2013
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." Mark 10 v 25.
OK. I am going to attempt to write about something that has been burning in me for a while. When you read this, please note that these are my opinions and although I've used certain quotes from different points of reference, the bulk of this article is around my own understanding of this topic; God or Science.
Also I just want to say that I have complete and utter respect for those out there who admire science and all that it's been to us in the last 200 years or so. Men and women have made great discoveries and many of the cures for diseases we have now is from the result of countless hours of research. So I am not criticising anyone who has a science-only viewpoint, in fact I think it's healthy for us as Christians to embrace the other points of view before we make our own views heard.
As for me, I have been a Christian all of my life. I have never known the world any differently than that of a world where God created everything, man completely screwed up and tried to walk away from God, He then sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that we could be in a perfect relationship with Him, and we can spend the rest of our lives in complete freedom because Jesus rose from the dead and that means we are also alive in Him for eternity.
Now, reading back this last paragraph with an introspective view there are loads of things that I could pull out of this and question - like this:
a) If I've only been a Christian then I am bias to one point of view?
b) Is there a God and then why doesn't it say anything about God in my science book?
c) We screwed up from what? How did we know right from wrong?
d) Was there really a man called Jesus who lived a perfect life? If there is no God then He died for no cause.
e) How are we alive in Jesus?
I've probably missed out a load of questions that you may be thinking of but if I have, ask yourselves those questions because the results are quite staggering.
But going back to my point about being a Christian all of my life, does this mean I do actually have a one sided view of the world? Could I, and many many hundreds of millions of people who believe in creation, actually have got it wrong? Well here's my honest view; I have questioned my Christianity many times and even tried to do my own thing, but every time I do it leads me back to one thing. My life is better because I believe in Jesus.
You might be now choking on your coffee but before you stop reading I just want to let you into my life and how I tick when no-one is around. Because I truly believe that when I describe my life in a little detail it may give you some insight as to why I believe in God.
I would say that I am a good person. I would say that I don't do horrible things to people and that I am kind and generous. I guess it's mostly from my upbringing and what was installed in me as a child. I didn't live in a rough neighbourhood and my parents weren't divorced and we went to church. Sound idyllic doesn't it?
But I have also faced huge battles. We lost our home twice when I was a kid, we had just about enough money to share one Mars bar between five of us. My brother and sister were terribly bullied for their Christianity at school (I was teased but used to punch back so I was left alone). I lost my best friend to meningitis. I broke all my morals by sleeping with girls before I was married. I was swallowed up in debt. But in all of this, I knew that somehow I was protected and that this protection was not of my own making.
These days my life is full on. I have an amazing wife and two glorious kids. I work full time as a carpenter and we serve our local church so much that most of the time we're busy and don't have much time to ourselves. Some days I am very grumpy and other days I am extremely happy. But in all of this, when I wake up I have a moment either praying or reading my bible. When I do, I get this instant feeling of electricity in my body. It's very hard to explain but it's like getting a super high. Now I could be bringing this upon myself but I don't even ask for it. It just happens.
My head is usually filled with all kinds of thoughts but sometimes in the day I will hear my own voice say things in my head that I definitely would not say to myself. Things like: "You never fail me." Or; "You are amazing." But sometimes I will hear lengthy thoughts like: "There is a shift in this nation taking place where I am calling people to Myself and the hard ground is beginning to crack." I've come to understand that this is God speaking into my life. Yes, he loves to talk to His children. After all, He is a Father of many sons and daughters.
Now it's fine if you think I'm mad. I sometimes think that. But what I'm trying to explain is there is something very other than myself going on in me most, if not all of the time and it is the most wonderful feeling. My question to you at this stage is, have you ever felt like that?
Another thing that happens on a constant basis is something that upsets me because it causes something inside of me to go 'OUCH!' In every day conversations or on the radio or the TV, people left, right and centre are saying; 'Oh, Jesus Christ!' Or; 'Oh my God!' Whenever someone uses these names as a swear word it hurts - it really hurts. It's a bit like someone criticising your mother or shouting at your child. You feel violated. All the time I'm thinking; 'I know this Jesus you've turned into a swear word!'
What is this? If God does not exist, then why do people use His name without realising it? No other name is ever used to swear by. The thing is is that Jesus himself said that His followers would suffer because of His Name, so I guess it is actually part of being a follower of Christ, you have to ride so much abuse and negativity. Even my work colleagues take it in turns to berate me because of my faith. Does it make me want to give it up? No, because once you know God, everything becomes clear and somehow you put up with suffering for Jesus. He really suffered for me.
So that's just a little taster of what it is like as a Christian. It is a very hard road to walk. I quoted Jesus at the start of this blog because I believe that He wasn't just talking about rich people in terms of money. I believe that we all display a natural resistance to God because we were born into a world that has forgotten Him. It is all about us and if someone asks us to give up everything and lay down ourselves to follow someone we've never seen, the natural reaction is to jump up and down and say NEVER! I have had so many people use the same phrase: "It's not for me, thank you."
So what about science? Firstly Albert Einstein said this: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science in blind." This statement is brilliant. For me he is saying you cannot have one without the other. The two go hand in hand. If you believe in science and science only without questioning whether God is real then you have no argument. If you live in a world where it is all about God and you never think that science solves anything, you are also being ignorant to many amazing people.
Science is one of those subjects I have actually not put too much effort into as I believe in this whole creation story and that God made everything. It has caused issues with my friends because they think I am blinkered to the world in which they live. One friend said: "You believe in a God who does nice things to people and gives you a nice life, but I believe in science and logic." Fair enough, I thought, that's a pretty sound statement. But when I think about science my brain goes into the whole 'evolution is wrong' mode and that scuppers every other thought.
In reality I have a lot to learn about science and I am willing to learn. I just think with the story of creation and the idea of this amazing world coming into being as the result of a big bang with no intent or purpose to begin with, is more puzzling than the idea of someone far greater than us making it and then wanting a relationship with the people He'd made.
As far as I understand it, science is all about hard evidence. People say to me; 'where is the evidence of God because if you don't have it I'm not likely to believe what you have to say, anyway.' The thing is, how did scientists of the eighteenth century come up with hard evidence that the world came from a big bang? Hadn't the world been around a lot longer than them? Plus we believe in a load of other things that don't require evidence. What evidence is out there for other gods that are worshipped by other religions? Do people question them? No, because it would be ludicrous to question a Muslim or Hindu. So why is the existence of my God and Saviour questioned over and over?
People say, how do you know Jesus was real. Where is the evidence? There is nothing but a bunch of old literature written about Him in a book that was compiled over thousands of years by a load of men. Admittedly some were eye witness accounts but HOW DO WE KNOW as we weren't there? Was Noah real and did he have an ark? Very true, indeed. But I could say, what about Henry VIII? Have you ever seen him? How do you know that all of those stories are true? Was data collecting in the 16th century better than in Roman times where every death was recorded? Also, what about Father Christmas, why do we tell our kids about a completely fictional character without feeling guilty that one day our kids will find out he isn't real?
I have other burning questions like: Who was there testing gases before the world exploded into being? Where did these seemingly amazing gasses come from if there was nothing before hand? How did they collide in a galaxy that didn't exist? In my Bible it says 'In the beginning God...' so at least someone was there to light the fuse! If He did light it, doesn't that mean He did create everything anyway? Isn't atheism a faith? It must be because it's more confusing to think that nothing became something, rather than something creating nothing into something. Anyway, I digress.
So I'm now going to quote from Professor A Cressy Morrison, former President of the New York Academy of Sciences. This guy says that the more we look into science the greater the chances are that we'll find God. Speaking of creation and the chances of a big bang he says this:
"Suppose you put ten pennies, marked from one to ten, into your pocket and give them a good shuffle. Now try to take them out in sequence from one to ten, putting back the coin each time and shaking them all again. Mathematically we know that your chance of first drawing number one is one in ten; of drawing one and two in succession, one in 100; of drawing one, two and three in succession, one in 1000, and so on; your chance of drawing them all, from number one to number ten in succession, would reach the unbelievable figure of one in ten billion.
"By the same reasoning, so many exacting conditions are necessary for life on the earth that they could not possibly exist in proper relationship by chance. The earth rotates on its axis 1000 miles an hour at the equator; if it turned at 100 miles an hour, our days and nights would be ten times as long as now, and the hot sun would likely burn up our vegetation each long day while in the long night any surviving sprout might well freeze.
Again the sun, source of our life, has a surface temperature of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and our earth is just far enough away so that this "eternal life" warms us just enough and not too much ! If the sun gave off only one half its present radiation, we would freeze, and if it gave as much more, we would roast.
The slant of the earth, tilted at an angle of 23 degrees, gives us our seasons; if the earth had not been so tilted, vapors from the ocean would move north and south, piling up for us continents of ice. If our moon were, say, only 50,000 miles away instead of its actual distance, our tides might be so enormous that twice a day all continents would be submerged; even the mountains could soon be eroded away. If the crust of the earth had only been ten feet thicker, there would be no oxygen, without which animal life must die. Had the ocean been a few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been absorbed and no vegetable life could exist.
It is apparent from these and a host of other examples that there is not one chance in billions that life on our planet is an accident."
He then went on to make this point when saying that man conceiving that the idea of God is proof in itself that He exists: "The conception of God rises from a divine faculty of man, unshared with the rest of our world - the faculty we call imagination. By its power, man and man alone can find the evidence of things unseen. The vista that power opens up is unbounded; indeed, as man's perfected imagination becomes a spiritual reality, he may discern in all the evidence of design and purpose the great truth that heaven is wherever and whatever; that God is everywhere and in everything that nowhere so close as in our hearts."
Please hear me once again. Questions about my faith and discussions about science and religion are healthy ones to have and I have had many debates in the past of these two defining issues. My own views on this subject are there because of situations that have happened which I cannot explain and therefore am left looking at God for answers. I am no scientist but I am fully aware that God is real. Not because I've seen Him but because He makes me feel complete. I am not searching for answers any more because God has given me His reassurance. I never feel like I am missing something else as He is all I need. I have prayed for money when I've had none and bunches of cash have fallen through the letter box. I have had my back healed after 16 years of pain. The doctors cannot explain how I am pain free and how my disc is now normal.
The biggest evidence that God is real in my life has been recently when I discovered some writing by my daughter. My daughter has a significant learning disability which means she has a very low IQ and virtually no understanding of the world around her. She knows people and can talk with limited ease. She can walk and run and bake the most amazing cakes but stick her in a room of people talking and she will retain no information and she attends a special school as she cannot learn in mainstream setting. We once asked her to keep a diary but she couldn't say how she felt. She could say statements like: 'I ate breakfast,' but could not relate the day to her life. She has no conceptual thinking. She cannot think hypothetically so even with our best description of God there would be no way she would be able to cope with the concept of another being loving her from so very far away.
In her book it says this: "God had sent me a picture of seagulls flying past me and they were singing to me with joy. They were singing 'Bless The Lord' and holding onto me. When they flew past I felt emotional with joy. And God gave me a spirit of Luke 1 verse 28 where it says 'Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.'"
You will notice that Daisy has described in detail what she saw. She cannot do this with speech. This knowledge and wisdom must have come from another source. Also, Daisy spends most of her free hours worshipping God. This isn't anything to do with logic but to do with a 15 year-old girl created by God adoring her heavenly Father. I want to be more like her. This is all the hard evidence I need.
So going back to the scripture at the start of this article. Are you willing to give up all your understanding and knowledge on what you do know and to put your trust into something and someone you don't know? It's a big ask from Jesus. It's a massive one. But I can testify right here that it's the best thing I've ever done and will ever do. I gave Jesus my life and He gave me the world!
"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein.