ubject: Christianity: Why it is the superior worldview
1Peter 5:7 “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
“Of all the religious claims in the world, I believe that Jesus’ life provides interested observers with the most plausible, externally testable reason for moving beyond intellectually respectful deism to a heartfelt (but no less intellectual) theism.” This comes from the book ‘Life of Jesus: Who He Is and Why He Matters’, by Dr. John Dickson, Professor of ancient history at Macquarie University in Australia and Director of the Centre for Public Christianity.
In his book, Professor Dickson walks us through an exercise in thinking, where he first makes his case for why deism is the only responsible conclusion a person can reach by simply thinking through the rational order of the universe. Like so many scientists today, the orderly nature of the overall functioning in the universe, as well as the irreducibly complex nature behind biochemical life systems, are best explained, as he says, by “by the existence of an immense Intelligence behind the universe.”
Professor Henry Schaefer, PhD Chemical Physics and current Director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia echoes Professor Dickson’s sentiments that the universe seems to almost scream to us that God exists: “Why are there so few atheists among physicists? Many scientists are considering the facts before them. They say things like: ‘The present arrangement of matter indicates a very special choice of initial conditions.’ (Paul Davies). ‘In fact, if one considers the possible constants and laws that could have emerged, the odds against a universe that produced life like ours are immense.’ (Stephen Hawking), ‘A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.’ (Fred Hoyle). As the Apostle Paul said in his epistle to the Romans: ‘Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.’” (taken from ‘Scientists and their Gods: Science and Christianity, Conflict or Coherence?’,1999).
But now Professor Dickson advances the argument for Christianity beyond a simple acknowledgement of a superior Intelligence guiding the universe to a personal ‘Theos’ who not only thinks of us but has actually touched the earth, where we live, in a tangible way. As he puts it, “Is there any way of knowing that God has made a ‘dent in the historical records (of mankind)? Evidence of such a divine-human encounter would provide grounds for thinking that God was interested in us. It would give us a reason for moving from deism to theism, from a rational intuition that the universe was intended to a warranted belief in a personal God. “
And here is where Professor Dickson invites people who are honestly seeking to answer the question if God not only exists but actually cares for them to investigate the historical life and claims of Jesus Christ. In Christianity’s holy book, the New Testament, the offer made to the seeker is not simply doctrinal truth claims but verifiable history of the life and claims of Jesus Christ.
The person of Jesus Christ is testable under the most rigorous academic scrutiny. As Professor Dickson says, “Jesus has left a ‘dent’ in the historical record, and a significant one. The central claims about Him belong to the same category as the claims about Alexander reaching India. We can test them. Christian, Jewish or atheist—are confident about the following historical details: 1) Jesus was born during the reign of emperor Augustus, 2) Jesus grew up to be a famous teacher and healer in Galilee, 3) Jesus called a small group of disciples, 4) Jesus scandalized the religious leadership by closely associating with ‘sinners,’ 5) Jesus clashed with the Jerusalem elite over his sharp criticisms of the Temple, 6) Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, and 7) Jesus, shortly afterwards, was declared by his first followers to be the Messiah risen from the dead. All of this we can affirm without recourse to religious faith. We have enough sources close in time to the events themselves to declare at least these things to be historical fact, and only someone employing avoidance strategies would dispute them.”
So, when Peter encourages you and I to “cast all our cares upon Him (Jesus Christ)”, it isn’t because He has designed some amazingly order and rational universe that leaves you in awe of Him (which, of course, is true). It is because, as Peter continues, “He cares for you.”