This morning’s topic of conversation in the barber’s is whether the universe is expanding or contracting. Seriously. I’m out my depth, so is the barber, but it’s clear that the likes of Brian Cox have put the stars on the agenda.
Being out of my depth means there’s lots of places we can’t go. I have friends who are masters of arguments about the logic of first causes and the Big Bang, but I don’t trust myself to go there, and even if I did I don’t think the shop would go with me.
There’s a real gap between that conversation and the more normal ones about what’s bad in the news, though, because those tend to circle around right and wrong, and questions of meaning. And the hard sciences don’t go there. But Christ our truthful prophet does. Christ the ultimate Prophet, the Word Made Flesh, is the guarantee of the sense of the gospel
When Paul in Romans 1 diagnosed the centre of the human plights as exchanging truth for a lie, and preferring that lie to the truth, he meant that the fall means people are trapped in irrationality, and even the pieces of truth they have don’t cohere. Is it possible to be good without God? Of course. Is it possible to explain why we should be good, kind, and caring when in a Darwinian system only the fittest deserve to survive?
That is a very precise dilemma. Why should a hard core Darwinian care about the barrier reef, lemurs or the snow leopard? If they can’t compete, let’em die. That’s how nature is.
Altruism is the Achilles heel of Atheism.
The answer to Romans 1 comes in Romans 12 – in Christ, we move from idolatrous foolishness to ‘reasonable’ worship. ‘Reasonable’ is tricky to translate; logikos,means rational, sensible, cutting with the intellectual grain of the universe. In other words, we can link the explanation of birth of the stars, with the birth of a baby.
The gospel makes sense, and makes sense of everything else.
I reckon that means that there are several aspects to truth which Christ brings in his role as prophet. It means we can expect the gospel to cohere with the universe as it is: astronomy, archaeology, the works. Even in its fallen condition, it cannot help declaring the glories of its creator. At the moment, the atheists are claiming the hard sciences as their own; we must claim them back, and honour our scientists.
It also means we can expect those different elements of truth to cohere. If you’ve read Dawkins you’ll have spotted that he is hopeless on history. he doesn’t know how historians make judgments, or what counts as evidence and how to use it.
We can have the confidence to Answer. But we can also Ask.
If you push any non-gospel world view, it will collapse. No-one is able to carry through on its logic without becoming pathologically murderous or insane with despair. So, gently probe your non-Christian friend, watch for their irrational step, and ask what stops them following that through.
I really like the books by Lee Strobel and William Lane Craig. In addition:
Next time: Apologetics and Christ our Priest