While there are two basic ways of establishing the validity of any given claim, atheists and other sceptics seem to know about only one form of proof and they flail it about ad nauseam. That form of course is what they call the scientific method. Scientists and those who fancy themselves to possess a scientific way of thinking say, ‘If it isn’t observable, repeatable and verifiable it isn’t acceptable as having been proven scientifically.’
So, what's this got to do with Jesus? Well, listen -
While many if not most problems can be dealt with by only the scientific method or only by the legal historical method of verification, we can know that Jesus existed then and exists now by using both methodologies. Oral and written evidence from Jesus’ time on earth has been preserved in excellent condition (especially in comparison to other works of antiquity) and from that we can say with a great deal of certainty what Jesus was like and what He did during His ministry on earth. We know who His parents were, where He was born, where He grew up, what He did, how He died, where He was buried and so on.
Now, because of a tremendous and irrational bias, these records are dismissed out of hand by some individuals. This is not done by experts in historical evidence. Nor is it done by experts in forensic evidence. Rather it is done by inexperienced individuals for solely philosophical reasons. As I stated above, sceptics not only don’t apply standard legitimate tests for establishing the historical reliability of New Testament documents, they don’t apply any tests. When railing against the validity of the New Testament documents, sceptics are left to repeat arguments long put to rest by archeological and historical / literary discoveries.
Regardless, we don’t need to depend only on legal-historical evidence. We can also use the scientific method to make the case for Jesus. We can do this because of hundreds of millions of repeated life transformations, experiments if you will, that have taken place world wide. These are life transformations that have come as a result of coming into contact with Jesus. These transformations have been observed under the most intense sceptical scrutiny possible. This means of assessment makes peer review look like child’s play.
Have there been pretenders who’ve been weeded out? Sure. Just as there have been pretenders in the secular field. East Asian cloning anyone? Or how about Piltdown Man? Or maybe you prefer ‘The Secret Gospel of Mark’ which turned out to be written by Columbia University historian Morton Smith. Or the common textbook icons of Darwinian evolution in action that have all been discredited, eg. Haeckel’s faked embryo drawings, Mutant four winged fruit flies that are in reality dysfunctional, and peppered moths that in the real world don't rest on tree trunks; the photographs were staged. Oh and how about our high school biology textbooks that neglect to mention that the beaks of Darwin’s Finches returned to normal after the rains returned. No net evolution occurred. Like many species, the finch has an average beak size that fluctuates within a given range. Or how about Miller & Oparin “creating” life out of primordial earth’s ammonia, methane and hydrogen? Pfft! Bottom line - To focus on the pretenders instead of the reality simply to make one’s case is not very scientific. Is it?
The transformations in character that have come as a result of coming into contact with Jesus have been repeated and continue to be repeated on a daily basis. These transformations are observable, verifiable, predictable and reliable for any and every person who knows an individual in the grips of a healed, forgiven and intimate relationship with Jesus. This is the case because, as is proven over and over, Jesus is alive and well and living in the souls of believers worldwide. Some people are going to say that this is a stretch. However, there is scientific precedent for this type of information and the conclusions reached.
In the field of Quantum Physics, some forms of matter are known to exist, even though we can’t observe them. While we can’t observe the said matter, we know it exists because we can observe the reaction of known elements or particles which come into contact with the matter in question. While the experiments themselves are repeatable and verifiable, it's only the RESULTS of these interactions that are able to prove the existence of the said element.
Can we see Jesus? Not physically. Although many thousands did observe Him when He existed in a different form than He does today. The fact that we can know He exists by the reaction that is consistently caused when He comes into contact with others is even true for those who deny their need for Jesus. You can go up to almost anyone and talk about Buddha or Confucius or any other historical figure and talk about that person in a rational, controlled environment. Bring up the topic of Jesus and who He is however, and everything changes. The observed effect even on non believers is dramatic.
Some of the observable, measurable, consistent, predictable changes that can be found in people when Jesus comes into their lives are as follows:
. For someone who has accepted Jesus into h/her life, one’s motives and goals for living change dramatically. One is changed from living for self to living for God. This change is not the result of effort or desire. This change is inner, involuntary, natural. For those who try to mimic this change, the effect simply does not last as the effort required to fake it is just too much.
. Those who have become Christians have ‘eyes’ that have been opened to their sinful state. They go from thinking that they’re pretty good people, to realising that they are in desperate need of forgiveness and change. They go from blaming others for the sad state of the world to admitting that “The problem with the world is me.”
. The fear of death is gone.
. The fear of God is gone.
. God is no longer seen as evil and is now seen for what He truly is - kind, merciful and loving.
. These people are given the ability to forgive their enemies.
. These people are given hope for the future.
. These people no longer need the things of the world to reflect back to them their sense of self-worth (possessions, power, money, looks etc.). They have found Christ-Esteem as opposed to self-esteem.
. There is a tremendous sense of freedom
Some experiments require a meticulously prepared environment to glean clearly defined results, but this is not so when Jesus comes into a person’s life. In fact, so overwhelming is the reality of His presence that the more difficult the environment the more spectacular are the results. Examples include the apostle Paul whose conversion experience is found in the New Testament. He went from torturing Christians to death, to becoming one of Christianity's most effective witnesses. Jesus’ brother James, went from thinking that his Brother was insane to worshipping Jesus as Lord, Saviour and Creator of the universe. Murderers and criminals of all stripes have found their lives completely transformed from violence to peace, from hate to love, from fear to confidence. As stated, these changes or reactions to contact with Jesus are observable, repeatable, verifiable, measurable, consistent, and predictable. They are so predictable and verifiable that Jesus Himself said that if you don’t see these changes present in a person's life, then the person does not possess the Spirit of Jesus and is a pretender.
These dramatic transformations, brought on by contact with Jesus have been seen in people like Constantine, Copernicus, Augustine, Kepler, Loyola, Galileo, Teresa of Avila, Brahe, Calvin, Descartes, Pascal, Boyle, Bunyan, Newton, Wesley, Leibniz, Whitefield, Mersenne, Jonathon Edwards, Faraday, Herschel, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, Joule, Finney, Kelvin, Sojourner Truth, Ohm, Livingston, Ampere, Spurgeon, Pasteur, Tolstoy, Mendel, Booth, Billy Sunday, Steno, Evelyn Underhill, Gassendi, Schweitzer, C.S. Lewis, Lin Yutang, Waugh, Hammarskjold, Simone Weil, Merton, Muggeridge, Eldridge Cleaver, Colson, and Rod Holmgren.
You may have noticed that half of these names were scientists, founders of universities and the fathers of modern science. Upon a life changing encounter with Jesus the Christ, in every single person, there is a complete change from one life-style to another. "There is the flashing vision of truth, the conviction of sin and unworthiness, the joy of forgiveness and absolution, and the ready acceptance of a new life of mission and service." Life takes on meaning, context and purpose.
As in an experiment where a new form of matter is discovered in a particle accelerator, be it Leptons such as Neutrinos or various flavours of Quarks or Mesons, while Jesus cannot be observed with the unaided eye, the proof of His existence is unmistakable to those who are using the correct tools for verification.
Thoughts / Comments from some notable Christians and which are immediately recognised and experienced the world over in those who have come in contact with a healed, forgiven and intimate relationship with Jesus are:
Augustine - "There was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away."
George Fox - "And then the Lord did gently lead me along, and did let me see his love, which was endless and eternal, and surpasses all the knowledge that men have in the natural state, or can get by history or books; and that love let me see myself as I was without him."
John Bunyan - "O how good a thing it is for God to send his word!"
Jonathan Edwards - "Yet of late years, I have had a more full and constant sense of the absolute sovereignty of God, and a delight in that sovereignty. . . It appeared sweet, beyond all expression, to follow Christ, and to be taught and enlightened, and instructed by him; to learn of him, and live to him."
John Woolman - "I felt a tender compassion for the youth who remained entangled in snares like those which had entangled me. This love and tenderness increased, and my mind was strongly engaged for the good of my fellow-creatures."
Charles Finney - "I never can, in words, make any human being understand how precious and true those promises appeared to me . . . I could now see and understand what was meant by the passage, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Sojourner Truth - "How strange that He had always loved me but I had never known it."
The Apostle Paul - "I have learned the secret of contentment in all circumstances."
Charles Spurgeon - "When the Word of the Lord came to me with power, it was as new as if I had lived among the unvisited tribes of Central Africa, and had never heard the tiding of the cleansing fountain filled with blood, drawn from the Saviour’s veins."
William Booth - "Rather than yearning for the world’s pleasures, books, gains, or recreations, I found my new nature leading me to come away from it all. It had lost all charm for me. I soon began to despise everything the world had to offer me."
Therese of Lisieux - "Jesus, accomplished in an instant what I had been unable to do in a life-time. I forgot myself and henceforth I was happy."
W. T. Grenfell - "Over the years I’ve learned that religion involves real courage. The inefficiency which I had associated with it had not been it’s fault but mine."
E. Stanley Jones - "A sense of deepest gratitude a human is capable of knowing takes possession of me when I think of what I would have been had conversion not intervened and turned life into new channels."
C. S. Lewis - "I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a hareem of fondled hatreds."
Lin Yutang - "Father, forgive them; for they don’t know what they’re doing." That voice, unknown in history before, reveals God as forgiving, not in theory, but visibly forgiving as revealed in Christ. For thirty years I lived in this world like an orphan. I am an orphan no longer."
Evelyn Underhill - "On the whole, in spite of blanks, times of wretched incapacity, and worse, I have never known such deep and real happiness, such a sense of at last having got my real permanent life, and being able to love without stint, where I am meant to love. It is as if one were suddenly liberated and able to expand all around. Such joy that it sometimes almost hurts. All this, humanly speaking, I owe entirely to Jesus. Gratitude is a poor dry word for what I feel about it.”
C. F. Andrews - "I became painfully aware that I was not ready to meet Christ at His Second Coming if He should suddenly appear."
Makarios - "I'm free! I am free from guilt. I'm free from fear; free from feeling constricted by the rules of the world; free to love; free to give of myself, my time, my money. I'm free to start the day by putting on the breastplate of God's approval. I'm free to wade into the pain of life with my eyes wide open and my chest bared to the blast. Thank you Jesus for your love, your mercy, your patience, your forgiveness, and most of all for your salvation."
I could go on and on but the point is, the reality of Jesus in one’s life, as these quotes demonstrate, is observable, verifiable, repeatable. The transformations described above take place around the world no matter one’s race, position, gender, or any other qualifier one can think of. All that is necessary to experience the presence of Jesus is to invite Him into one’s life. He is real. He lives. He loves you.
Don’t let atheists deter you from the greatest Love ever known to human kind.