It’s a little strange, isn’t it, when you listen to someone who has the nerve to tell you why you believe what you do. I mean… how would they know? They are not you. So let me confess that I find it a little annoying when atheist opinion leaders try to tell me why I’m a Christian—and then paint that reason as pathetic and rationally empty.
Bertrand Russell, arguably the foremost exponent of atheism in the early 20th century, played this game. In his lecture, “Why I’m Not a Christian,” which he gave to the National Secular Society in 1927, Russell said that people fundamentally believe in God because of their fear of death. This is a well-known stick with which Christians are beaten, and it is a misconception, a fiction designed to make atheists feel superior and comfortable in their stories.
How would Russell and the legions of atheistic opinion leaders know why Christians believe? It’s as cheeky as inviting a baker’s apprentice to express an opinion on nuclear physics. The reality is: An atheist is experientially ignorant of the changing fact of God in one’s life. They are also almost always unaware of the historical evidence for Jesus Christ and what Christian theology has to say about the great problems of life, such as suffering.
This is a well-known stick with which Christians are beaten… a fiction designed to make atheists feel superior and comfortable in their story.
So, in case some “Bertrand Russells” are reading this, may I share why I am a Christian?
It’s not primarily out of fear. It was because I met the love story of a God who pursues us with relentless grace. It’s the story of a God who died on the cross to pay the price for all the stupid things I’ve done that would disqualify me from his presence.
Second, I was prompted to look at the possibility of God because our universe exists at a level of “fine-tuning” (to a degree of many, many trillionths) that has allowed intelligent life to evolve. Not thinking about the possibility of God is believing that everything came out of nothing as a result of nothing—which, I admit, is irrational.
There is a pain in the human soul that is divinely given. This pain is not fear. The discomfort comes from feeling like you don’t yet fit where you should. It is a longing for meaning, morality, and hope that is as restless as a compass needle until it finds its true north.
I pray you to find that “north”.
And last but not least, let me admit that I am guilty of one aspect of fear—the kind of fear often referred to in the Bible. It is a fear that can be more accurately defined as reverence, respect, and awe. I think such reverence is entirely appropriate when confronted with the reality of a holy God who dreamed you into existence and invites you to be a part of his eternal adventure.
Dr. Nick Hawkes is a scientist, preacher, apologist, writer, and broadcaster. He also describes himself as an absent-minded, slightly obsessive man, pathetically weak from cancer and chemo, who has experienced and must experience the grace of God every day.
Nick has written a book, Soar Above the Storm, in which he draws on his experience with cancer to encourage anyone going through a storm to find peace and hope in God. It offers a 40-day retreat to be refreshed and strengthened and to find deep peace in God. Order it from Koorong.
He blogs and records podcasts at nickhawkes.net.
Nick told Eternity his life story here: Deadly Storms, Heroin Addicts, Cancer, and My Faith.