A couple of weeks ago, I had a short skirmish with an atheist on Twitter concerning my post: Ten Reasons Christianity is Far Superior to Other Religions. You can’t really debate on Twitter since you are limited to 140 characters. This leads to short attacks, without any reasoning, proof, or clarification.
The first observation is that Critical Thinker, isn’t. He states that Christianity has no proof, and comes from the imagination of the writers of the New Testament. This leads to Atheistic Assumption Number 1. Atheists always assume that they have the intellectual upper hand when it comes to Christianity because THEY don’t believe the claims made by Christians. Christianity has multitudes of great intellectual thinkers, men like John Calvin, Augustine, Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and Cornelius Van Til, just to name a few. The religion’s simplicity does not mean that it is only for the simple-minded.
I did ask Critical Thinker if he had actually read the Bible, and he said someone read it to him once. I’m sure his reader read the words without a trace of cynicism and was completely objective in his presentation. As they read, they just happened upon some supposed flaws with the claims of Christianity, and did what any thinking person would do, dismissed it outright. No further inquiries necessary, we’re done thinking about this.
Atheistic Assumption Number 2 is the reality that since the claims of Christianity are based in history, not science, then they must be rejected. This is what fueled Critical Thinker’s first statement, and most statements made by atheists. Science is the holy grail for their belief system, or at least, that is what they claim. But in reality, history, experience, and knowledge rooted in history are what makes up what we know. Only a small portion of what we know is actually based upon scientific theory. I think it is for this reason that God chose to send Christ into history in order to redeem His people. So much of what we learn, is learned from experience, not textbooks, or science.
This is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions: God sent His Son to step into history on behalf of His children. Mankind needed a redeemer, and God didn’t raise up a fallen man, like Moses, David, Peter, or even a fallen woman like Mary, to redeem mankind. The Second Person of the Trinity stepped into history on our behalf, sharing in the human experience. This is an historical fact.
This is why Critical Thinker’s first assumption is false: Christianity is not without historical fact. As Christians have always maintained, Christianity is rooted in history and there are historical facts supporting our claims.
Historical facts are just as valid as scientific facts, and in reality, historical facts inform us about what we know far more than scientific facts do. Just the fact that our mothers love us, that our spouses love us, that we know who we can trust and not trust, is all based upon historical facts. We don’t sit back and conduct a scientific test to see if the reality we experience is true or make believe. Our lives are filled with historical facts. Yes, those facts pretty much concern just us and our circle of friends and family, but they are still reliable facts and help us grow in what we know.
However, as I was listening to Alistair Begg’s Truth for Life yesterday, he made an interesting point. He said the problem with the use of history for knowledge is that in the upper halls of academia, those who are charged to teach history are now teaching that we cannot know anything from history because those reporting the history to us were biased and had presuppositions.
This is true. Those in history were biased and had their own presuppositions. If you take that line of thinking to a deeper level, then it means we cannot know anything at all, because of our own biases and presuppositions. We must admit that we do have presuppositions when it comes to the things we know, and biases towards those things we believe.
Here is the dig, truth is not unattainable simply because this is true. In fact, I do believe that whatever we know is subject to our presuppositions and biases, but as Christians, our biases and presuppositions are under the affects of an outside influence. That outside influence is the word of God and the Holy Spirit working in our lives so we may know what is true, and what is false. With the Spirit’s influence, we know that the words found in Scripture are true, that Jesus really was, and is, raised from the dead, that He is really coming for us again, and that we are part of God’s ultimate plan of redemption. The atheist, non-believer, cultist, etc., does not have these two outside influences in their lives, therefore they are bound to their own presuppositions and biases, which are rooted in their fallen nature, and more poignantly, rooted in history.
The attempt to say that we cannot know history because of some humanistic reasoning is really just an clever way to shut down the debate before it begins. In one sense, it’s worse than “had God indeed said,” it has become, “even if He has said, you can’t know it because it is rooted in history.”
Yet, history is knowable, especially biblical history. We cannot convince the close-minded atheists to this reality because we don’t have it in our power to do so. For Critical Thinker, or any of the millions of others who are just like him, to come to the knowledge of truth, we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit moving in his life, along with the word of God, for him to be converted and to actually see the light. This is the only way for him to have a truly open mind, otherwise, he is bound by his sinful presuppositions and will never repent.