Why am I a Christian? (Part 1)

I recently published a blog post, Why are you a Christian?, where I outlined a couple of conversations I had with young believers. I closed the post with a comment that if I were asked the question, "Why are you a Christian?" I would respond, "Because Christianity is true." This (naturally) leads to the question, "Well, why do you believe Christianity is true?" I am writing a series of posts that outline my answers to this question.

Philosopher Dr. Alvin Plantiga argues that believe in God is a "properly basic belief." A basic belief is belief is something one can hold with proper warrant without requiring any argument.  Similar to the statement, "I think, therefore I am", one is under no obligation to prove his or her own existence (if you didn't exist, you couldn't think any thoughts to begin with!)  While I accept that belief in God is properly basic, I recognize that many non-believers, agnostics, or atheists do not accept this. Some have said Plantiga's argument is question begging (assuming what you are trying to prove). While a critique of that position is way beyond what I want to do here, what I will say is I think in many cases it's good to provide reasons for my believe in God. There are several classic "proofs" for the existence of God that I think are compelling.

A side note: Some will argue that there must be "incontrovertible" or "irrefutable" proof for God's existence. They insist on a standard that approaches "beyond all doubt." I think this is an unreasonable position. In U.S. courts of law for criminal trials, the standard for determining innocence or guilt is "beyond a reasonable doubt."  This reasonableness standard is adequate for almost all decisions we make in life; thus, I think it is reasonable to apply a this standard by which to judge the truth claims of Christianity.

I want to offer, at a high level, some of the reasons I believe that Christianity is true. It's not possible to provide an exhaustive treatment of each of these points, but I will endeavor to provide sufficient detail. And, these are sort of my "top five", but this list is by no means the only reasons I hold that Christianity is objectively true.*

  1. God is the best explanation for the Universe
  2. God is the best explanation for objective morality
  3. The New Testament documents are historically reliable
  4. Jesus of Nazareth was who He says He was
  5. The Christian worldview sufficiently explains the world as we know it

*By "objectively true" what I mean is Christianity is true is the sense that it is not my personal opinion and someone else may not hold that same opinion; rather, I mean that Christianity is true for all people, in all places, and at all times, regardless if they accept that is true.

God is the best explanation for the Universe

The prevailing scientific theory about the beginning of the universe is that it came into existence, from nothing, some 13.8 billion years ago in a cataclysmic event known as the “Big Bang.” This idea is supported by a vast amount of scientific evidence, and I see no reason that Christians should be fearful or hesitant to accept this theory. As apologist Greg Koukl often quips, “A big bang requires a big banger.”  This is expressed in as the the (Kalam) Cosmological Argument:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
  2. The universe began to exist
  3. Therefore the universe had a cause

The form of this argument is logically valid, and both premise 1 and 2 seem perfectly rational and acceptable. Therefore, the conclusion (3) naturally follows.  

The idea that things that begin to exist have a cause is, to me, a perfectly rational idea. To suggest otherwise is, well, irrational. The universe was either created from nothing by someone or it was created from nothing by no one. I simply cannot accept the latter option. (This is worse than “magic”, because with magic at least you have a magician; a universe from nothing by nothing doesn’t even have a causal factor).  The scientific evidence shows the universe began to exist, and there is ample scientific, philosophical, and mathematical evidence that the universe cannot be eternal in the past. Thus the universe had a beginning. Since the beginning of the universe was also the beginning of all time, space, and matter, it follows that the cause of the universe is timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. This cause also has to be personal (impersonal forces have no causal power), immensely powerful, and incredibly intelligent. This cause is sounds a lot like a theistic God to me.  Last point:  Some will ask, "Well, if everything has a cause, what caused God?"  This mis-states the first premise. Everything that begins to exists has a cause.  God is eternal, and He did not "begin"; thus, God needs no cause.  He is the uncaused, first cause (or Aristotle's "unmoved mover.")

Part 2:  God is the best explanation for objective morality, coming soon!