Why Christianity Makes Sense
In my last post, I made the claim that Christianity makes better sense of the world than any competing idea. In this article, I would like to show you my justification for this statement.
Allow me to begin by establishing some common ground with you about things we probably both believe.
Not every assumption I am about to make is going to be true, but I think these statements fairly represent most people who would visit a website like this.
First, I bet you believe that humans have rights and inherent dignity. You believe that people should be shown love and compassion. I bet that when you see injustice, it outrages you. You likely have strong opinions about the definition of marriage and what constitutes permissible sexual expression between loving people. You have carefully thought about the rights of mother and child in pregnancy, as well as under what circumstances a mother’s rights justify ending that pregnancy. And regardless of where you land on these issues, you would likely be offended if someone chalked your belief up to mere opinion. You probably think that your views are objectively correct.
Let me keep going. I bet you are bothered by the Holocaust and the wholesale slaughter of ethnic groups. I bet you are horrified by murder and rape. You look up to heroes because of their virtuous behavior. You detest villains for their evil and selfishness. And although you might champion a person’s individual freedom to decide how to best live his or her life, you nevertheless believe that some ways of living are better than others. For example, you wouldn’t condone a life of robbery even though you might agree with the goal of financial security.
Let’s go further still. Do you think that humans can find or create meaning for their lives? I bet you do! You probably believe that it is good to live for a cause greater than the self. Good causes are necessary because you can identify several ways that the world has “gone wrong” and is in need of fixing.
Now, let me ask you a question about these beliefs: “Why do you believe them?”
What makes you think that humans have any kind of objective value and dignity? I agree with you, but do you recognize how strange these beliefs are to some? Many cultures follow a rigid hierarchy where people are distinctly not equal. Are they wrong? Many societies, including ours, were comfortable with slavery. What justifies our intense condemnation of them?
For that matter, why are some ways of living “good” and others “bad?” Again, I agree with you, but why would you say that murder and rape are wrong? We don’t accuse animals of evil when they eat other animals. We are even nonchalant about rape in the animal kingdom. Why are these actions considered evil just because a human does them?
Perhaps you find it ridiculous that I would ask these questions. You may find subjects such as love, dignity, good and evil, and life-purpose to be self-evident truths. Even so, are your most treasured values grounded or are they merely subjective opinions?
Some suggest that morality is a human creation designed to make life flourish. Therefore, morality is useful. They point out that the “moral” life is often the happiest life. However, while this is often true (it certainly isn’t always, as seen in the self-sacrificial suffering that moral living requires), does it follow that what is useful is always good? I think not. A useful way to increase the number of organs available for transplant would be to harvest them from anyone deemed unfit to contribute to society: the impoverished, the critically-disabled, and the homeless. You would probably object to a country that did such a practice. However, again, what makes it wrong?
Ultimately, the tool we use to answer these important questions is our core beliefs about the nature of reality. This is called a worldview. Our worldview answers the most fundamental questions of human life. Where did we come from? Why are we here? What should we do? What is wrong with the world? What can be done to fix the world? What happens to us after we die?
You and I have a lot in common. We share many of the same values even if we disagree on how some of those values are applied to life. We’re both desiring to be good, upright people. We each must answer the same questions about reality.
Christianity Makes the Best Sense of Reality
This brings me to my main thesis. I suggest that Christianity makes better sense of reality than any other worldview. That is not to say that there are not true and beautiful things about other worldviews. I don’t claim Christianity to have undisputed ownership of every truth, only that it more true than other systems. Let me demonstrate some of the ways that Christianity makes best sense of reality.
Christianity Best Explains Where We Came From
Christianity best explains where we came from. The Christian worldview teaches that our universe is the creation of an eternal, intelligent, all-powerful, and loving God. We live in a world of awe-inspiring grandeur filled with unbelievable creatures. These creatures possess complex biological systems that make them suited to thrive in their environments.
We enjoy countless pleasures that are difficult to explain, yet intuitively understood. Some of these include humor, beauty, love, music, and art. None are necessary for life, but they make life pleasant.
It is a miracle that we exist at all. Today, our best scientific theories teach that the universe has not always existed. For that matter (and this is somewhat mind-bending for me), these theories say that time and space did not originally exist either. That means that there was not even an empty vacuum in the cosmos waiting to be filled… there was literally nothing at all!
These facts strongly support the existence of a loving and wise creator. The designed appearance of the world implies a designer. The pleasures we enjoy are the loving touches of a master artist and a benevolent father. And the sudden appearance of our universe is nigh unexplainable, in my view, apart from God. My common-sense experience tells me that things do not come into existence out of thin air, but are always constructed by assembling parts that already exist. By analogy, I would not expect to see a Lego Set suddenly appear in my living room. I would expect it to be constructed from building blocks by the hands of a creator… most likely a young child!
To repeat, I am not suggesting that Christianity is the only worldview to answer questions about our origins. All thoroughly-constructed worldviews do so, including worldviews in which God does not exist at all. However, Christianity best explains what we observe. I’ll address some of the shortcomings of other views later.
Christianity Best Explains Why We Are Here and What We Should Do
Beyond explaining where we came from, Christianity also best explains why we are here and what we should do. In the Christian worldview, our creator God chose to make humans so that they would display his image, take care of his world, and enjoy a loving relationship with him. As created beings, humans owe their full allegiance to God, who not only originally brought them into existence, but also continually sustains their life. The Bible teaches that even the orderly nature of the universe is not something to be taken for granted, for the natural laws we rely on likewise depend on God willing their existence.
Furthermore, Christianity teaches that our moral values and duties originate in the eternal, unchanging character of God. Our acknowledgement of a non-corporeal reality such as love makes sense when we understand that we were created by a God who is love and created us to share that attribute with him.
This explanation of reality is a tremendous encouragement to weary human hearts. If it is true, then it makes sense of our longing for meaning and purpose. Better yet, it teaches that we can actually achieve these goals! We are meant to love and cherish God. By extension, we are also meant to love and cherish all he has made, including the world and our fellow human beings. This means that we can find our worth in God’s love for us as his masterpiece of creation. We no longer need carry the burden of establishing our own worth through our actions or proving ourselves superior to others. It means that your existence is not a mistake. God desires to relate to you personally!
Christianity Best Explains our Recognition that Something is Wrong with the World
However, for all the happy truths I have been discussing until now, Christianity also acknowledges that our world is corrupt and broken. Every human inevitably faces sickness, the loss of loved ones, and death. We are disgusted as we look at a world in which evil men and women prosper while the morally-upright suffer. Children starve. Natural disasters ravage communities. Wars take millions of lives. Marital unfaithfulness and divorce tear families apart. Most of our life work will not have a lasting impact on the future. Most of us will not even be remembered by those who come a few short generations after us.
Thus, for all the disagreement and hatred in our world, perhaps our species’ single most unifying belief is our sad acknowledgement that the world is not how it should be. Some have even concluded that the sorry state of the world proves that a loving God cannot exist, or, that if he does, he is doing a terrible job of running the world.
However, the Christian worldview explains exactly why the world is in this situation. It teaches us to expect suffering in our lives. It also shows why evil is in the world even though a good God exists: human sin.
Sin is a distinctly religious word, but it reflects what we observe every day. Sin occurs when humans do things that are objectively wrong… something that falls short of God’s perfect standard and violates his commanded will. Sin disrupts the way the world was meant to operate. It results in destruction. If you think about it, a large portion of human suffering can be easily linked to human sin. Humans start wars. Humans murder others. Humans have the God-given resources to end hunger, but selfishly horde them for themselves. Humans lie and steal. Humans sell others into sex-trafficking. Humans cheat on their spouses and abuse their children.
Now compare this to God. The Bible teaches that God is just. He is a perfect judge who cannot tolerate sin. Nor should he. Beyond the immediate consequences of sin already mentioned, all human suffering is God’s punishment for sin. Even the suffering we experience from natural causes, such as tsunamis and earthquakes, are only a problem for us because sin has removed us from God’s perfect protection. Ultimately, God’s judicial verdict for sin is death and eternal separation from him. Sin ruins creation, so a perfect and Holy God must expel all its corrupting influence.
You may very well ask yourself, where is God when humans sin, and why doesn’t he stop humans from sinning if he knows sin ruins everything? For that matter, why did God even design humans with the capability to sin in the first place? He could have made us like robots who cannot deviate from their programming, and thus prevented sin as a possibility.
These are fair questions. While the Bible doesn’t provide an exhaustive answer to them, it logically follows from biblical teaching that God has a good reason for allowing evil. This inference can be summarized as the permission of a necessary, short-term bad for a long-term, far-greater good. Love may be the clue to what this long-term good might be. It makes sense that the kind of love we are meant to experience with God is only possible when humans are given permission to choose whether to love God or not. God’s love for us is heightened further when he selflessly chooses to woo humans who have rejected him. Regardless of what the ultimate answer is, we must remember God’s eternal perspective and his plans for an unending relationship with mankind. What are a few thousand (or longer!) years to God for the achievement of a greater good when eternity is in the balance?
Christianity Best Explains How to Fix the World
So, the Christian worldview teaches us that the problems in the world come from sin and its devastating consequences. However, Christianity also provides the answer for this problem! Many worldviews are skeptical that the world can truly be saved. Instead, they charge their followers to do their best to outright escape, or at least minimize suffering. In contrast, Christianity boldly asserts that the future of our planet is a positive one. That is because God has sovereignly allowed evil for a time. He will not do so forever.
While this sounds good, it creates a problem for us. God must perfectly judge all evil… not just the evil that bothers us. If we are honest, we are far more comfortable with evil than we would like to admit. We want autonomy over our lives. We hate it when people tell us how we should or should not live. If you’ve ever felt like someone was too rigid about keeping rules or thought less about someone for being a goodie-two-shoes, that is further proof that the idea of absolute perfection bothers you. We minimize sin and call it living a “balanced” life.
Therefore, to at least some degree, all humans love sin. We are corrupt to our core. That is not to say that humans are entirely evil. After all, many people do good deeds in addition to bad. Belief in God is not required for someone to act in a righteous manner. However, all people struggle with (or tragically embrace) a self-serving, rebellious nature for their entire lives. And human sin unequivocally requires the punishment of a human.
Therefore, God planned the ultimate solution for sin so that he would be able to judge evil while simultaneously saving his precious human creation from destruction. God’s solution was that He would become a human Himself and take the penalty that human sin deserved.
In the New Testament of the Bible, a great mystery was revealed that had been hinted at all throughout the earliest teachings about God. God was revealed to be a single being consisting of three different persons: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These should not be thought of separate parts of a whole, but three persons who are each fully God. More could be said about this, but this general overview is sufficient for the moment.
The Father sent his son, Jesus, to become a man and live the perfect life that we have not. Then, Jesus voluntarily took on himself the punishment for sin that we deserved through his death on the cross. He allowed humans, his own creation, to be the instrument in bringing about this death. The Father then raised Jesus from the dead three days after his death, demonstrating that death had been defeated. We have strong historical evidence that this indeed happened and is no mere myth. The killing of the Son of God was the vilest act humans have ever committed. Nevertheless, it became our means for restoration from sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection offers total forgiveness for the wrongs we have done if anyone is willing to ask for it. Sadly, even though the offer for forgiveness exists, many people reject Jesus and do not take the gift that is offered to them.
The Christian worldview teaches that Jesus rose again to heaven and will eventually return to usher in God’s final judgment of evil. God’s people will live in resurrected bodies like Jesus and enjoy fellowship with God forever on a restored earth.
This admittedly sounds like the end to a fairy tale: “and they lived happily ever after.” I’ll be the first to confess that I have a hard time imagining a world without evil, much less a resurrected people living in direct communion with God forever. However, the evidence from the resurrection of Jesus Christ supports this future reality. And I think this truth makes sense of the longing many humans have to live for eternity. It’s as if we know that our existence was never originally meant to end.
Because of God’s ultimate plan to fix the world, the Christian worldview provides a meaningful command that all Christians are expected to follow: tell everyone the good news about how they can avoid God’s judgment, be forgiven of their sins, and enjoy eternity with God.
Christianity is the Best News
You may not yet be convinced that the Christian worldview is true, but I hope you can see why one might be motivated to investigate whether it is! I certainly felt a pull towards this amazing news, and it is what has driven me to research everything that I have presented to you here. I feel that Christianity convincingly makes sense of why there is evil in the world and why I feel guilt when I do bad things. It gives me a joy rooted in the utter astonishment of everything that God suffered to have a restored relationship with me. I have the resources in my worldview to make sense of my suffering as well as a hope that my suffering will one day be gone forever. I have a compelling mission to give purpose to my life and an absolute reason to love others: God loves them. I can confidently judge good from evil, not arrogantly on the basis of my own subjective opinions or the fluctuating views of society, but on the timeless authority of God’s instruction to us. Christianity is amazing!
Now that I have made this case, I promised earlier that I would demonstrate how other worldviews do not make the same sense of reality that Christianity does. I don’t think they can hold a candle to the joys that Christianity offers either! Check back soon to learn more.