As I was researching the evidence for God’s Crime Scene, I discovered an interesting trend. My research required me to examine the alternative naturalistic explanations for the origin and apparent “fine tuning” of the universe, so I read the latest books from atheist physicists, Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking and Victor Stenger (amongst many others). It was a fascinating learning experience for me. These authors offer differing naturalistic explanations for what we observe in the universe, but all three are united in their rejection of Christianity. I found it interesting, however, that Christianity became the specific focus of their comparisons. I couldn’t help but wonder if this wasn’t in some way a tacit admission affirming the reasonable case for God’s existence.
To illustrate this point, let me offer a quick mind experiment. Imagine we lived in a world without any historic theistic or deistic belief systems. No Christianity, no Islam, no Judaism, no Mormonism, no Bahá’í, no Budhism, etc. In fact, imagine this generation of humans was the first to ever even consider the existence of God or any extra-, supra-, or supernatural realities. Given access to the science we have today, would any of us be inclined toward a belief in God? Would the evidence of a universe with a beginning, or even the speculation about a precisely calibrated multiverse generating “first cause”, incline any of us toward some form of belief in the supernatural? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these atheist authors, committed as they are to naturalism, would remain atheists. But for the rest of us who are less dogmatically committed to naturalism, would we evaluate their conclusions and reject theistic or deistic explanations as readily? I don’t think so, and I think these atheist authors realize this as well. That’s why they pick on Christianity specifically.
I realize this is a somewhat extravagant and controversial claim. But, when Antony Flew, the famous atheist British philosopher and Oxford scholar, eventually changed his mind and became a deist, he did so based on the evidence of intelligent design. He died as a deist, convinced the evidence was clear. He found the case for God persuasive, but did not take the additional step to embrace a Christian view of God, saying, “While reason, mainly in the form of arguments to design, assures us that there is a God, there is no room either for any supernatural revelation of that God or for any transactions between that God and individual human beings.” His good friend, Christian apologist and historian, Gary Habermas, was unable to persuade him otherwise, but I can’t help but wonder where Flew might have ended up if he had become a deist at the age of 61, rather than the age of 81. Once an atheist determines the existence of God is reasonable, the move to Christianity requires an additional investigative step (I’ve written about this in Cold Case Christianity).
Those who make a case for some form of atheistic cosmology have a choice. They can examine the evidence and reason to the best inference between atheism and theism (or deism), or they can reason between atheism and Christianity. Krauss, Hawking and Stenger often choose the second approach, recognizing the additional layer of evidences demanded by Christianity. Many of their readers may, like Flew, be inclined toward a belief in God more readily if it wasn’t characterized by some sarcastic view of Christianity. When these authors choose to compare their naturalistic explanations to some cynical misrepresentation of Christianity rather than a more minimalistic characterization of theism or deism, they expose their concern related to the reasonable case for God’s existence.
I believe the evidence for God’s existence is strong, and if there were no historic theistic systems from which to choose, I would, like Flew, embrace some form of theism or deism. But we do have a history from which to draw, and if the history related to Jesus is reliable, we owe it to ourselves to examine the additional claims of Christianity.