God has revealed himself to us in creation, Scripture, and Christ. My first thought experiment post was on creation, and my second on Scripture. Now we come to the ultimate thought experiment, Jesus Christ, the Jesus who was from Nazareth who claimed to be Israel’s long awaited (400 years!) Messiah, and the Savior of the world. Here is our thought experiment: try to make sense of reality without Jesus. One time atheist C.S. Lewis tried and realized the futility of such an exercise. He came to this conclusion:
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.
That’s what Jesus does, he makes sense of everything, all the puzzle pieces that puzzle us can now fit into the biggest of big pictures. Without him, all you have is the pieces, and they will never fit together because there is no universal (big picture) into which the particulars (the puzzle pieces) fit. Speaking of Russia in 1939, Winston Churchill’s description fits life without Christ perfectly: It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
Non-Christians, of course, say that is wild hyperbole. People get along just fine without Jesus, and indeed they do. It all turns, though, on what we mean by fine. If people don’t care in any sense about ultimate things, don’t ask any of the big questions about life, then I suppose life can be endured until it plays itself out in inevitable death. The end. But in the history of the world it seems most people aren’t real satisfied ignoring the big things and big questions, ergo the ubiquity of religion in every time and culture. Those questions impinge on us at every moment, even as secular culture encourages us to ignore them. Minor questions like, why do I exist, or what does life mean, or why is there death and suffering. Those just get us started, and I’ll suggest more below, but why should I bother if it’s only about me in the end? Or if it just ends, and doesn’t mean anything in any ultimate sense anyway? Good questions.
Which brings us all back to Jesus who gives us plausible answers to all these questions and many more. Those who dismiss Jesus must first dismiss the resurrection, which is difficult to do because the historical evidence is overwhelming. Most who reject the resurrection never actually address the evidence, but reject it based on question-begging anti-supernatural bias; miracles can’t happen, the resurrection is a miracle, the resurrection didn’t happen. End of story. With the evidence, however, that event changes everything. I always marvel that people will just blow off the Christian claims to the resurrection, as if it wasn’t even worthy of their time, as if it changed nothing. Part of the problem is that people in Western culture (which is pretty much the entire world at this point) are way too familiar with the resurrection, and think it’s a nice, made-up Easter story preceded by a nice made-up Christmas story. Many people believe first-century Jews could actually make it all up; they couldn’t! (But that’s an argument for a coming book.)
How exactly, then, does this risen, living Savior and Lord make sense of everything? It starts with something Augustine said about 1,600 years ago in his Confessions:
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
This takes us to an apologetic concept called explanatory power, or what best explains things. In this case, what best explains us! What best explains human existence and all it entails. Let’s dispense right away with the atheist/agnostic canard that nothing needs to be explained. Everything just is, they claim, deal with it. Nope. And everyone knows it, even those who choose to ignore it. Why is there, most sentient people ask. joy, sorrow, love, hate, pain, pleasure, suffering, sadness, hope, meaning, jealousy, loyalty, sacrifice, fulfillment, emptiness, goodness, evil, beauty, truth, lies, heroism, violence, cowardice, purpose, rhythm, harmony, melody, numbers, math, physics, the human cell, animals, pets, chemistry, biology, and I’ll arbitrarily end with the entire human, animal, and insect struggle against death?
That’s an awful lot for mere matter in motion to explain, if that’s all we are. Of course, that is the secular alternative we are daily presented with; don’t ask too many questions, don’t rock the boat, and if you die someday, oh well, it happens. Thankfully, the questions must be asked because we are not accidents! Random chance and matter colliding don’t explain all the questions that can, and must, be asked. It merely explains it away, and it is supremely unsatisfying. So what offers us the explanatory power ex-atheist C. S. Lewis found in Christianity? It is found in the grand scope of the history of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration we learn about in God’s revelation in creation and Scripture. It’s a package deal! As the apostle John says in the first chapter of his gospel, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” He is the answer to every question.