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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Proving God-Over at Josh's, guest blogger Andy from the World Wide Rant through down the atheist gauntlet asking believers to make a case for God's existence. A heated back-and-forth has flowed through the comment section, most of it focusing on a creation-evolution food fight. I'd take a different tact here for a moment. Evolution backers and Creationists are shouting past each other on this one. For the sake of argument, let's concede most of the point to the evolutionists and assume that God created the universe (the Big Bang points to a first actor of some sort) and used evolution as the primary tool. If we take that view Genesis 1-6 is allegory and we start to get into solid historical footing with Abraham. That doesn't take away to potency of the New Testament. You still have to explain away the historic figure of Jesus, for whom the best documentation of its day has him leaving an empty tomb behind. You have to explain away an early church willing to die for a man they claimed to be God incarnate. There's enough historic backup from non-Christian sources to give a better historical record of Jesus than of Julius Caesar. If the historical record isn't enough, I'll offer up secondary evidence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I won't tough faith healings per Andy's request. There is a placebo effect of a generic faith to mitigate some social pathologies, but a Christian faith seems to have more than just that placebo effect; it seems to have a greater transformative effect than that of other religions. While I don't have hard evidence on that front, strong antidotal evidence from substance-abuse treatment seems to point to evangelical-based programs having a lower recidivism rate than generic 12-step programs. Even if the first few books of Genesis are better read allegorically, it still doesn't take away the historical presence of Jesus nor the transformative power of people who see Him as Lord and Savior. A hard core atheist might retort that the resurrection was a hoax and the transformations I mention represent merely a strong psychological effect. It's a persistent meme (contagious idea) that can turn people's lives around. The operative question is whether it is merely a meme or the work of God. That depends on how you want to hedge your bets. If you believe there is no God, we all die and turn into worm food, end of story. If you believe that there is, or might be a God, it becomes important to check to see what God is like and what He wants. If God's not picky and lets everyone get to Heaven, then it's not important to check the details. However, if God does care what we believe, then being wrong about Him has a downside and it's best to check out which of the various faiths (and subsets of those faith) have the best claim of having the truth about God. It might be worth checking out the Christianity stuff; if following Jesus gets that good results in general (yes, we've got our failures and fruitcakes) , it might be something to believe in.

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