Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc. Ministry theology

What are you going to believe?

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 26:12

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

“What are you going to believe, science or your lying eyes?”

That fairly summarizes how I felt about evolution and naturalist explanations on the origins of the universe and life, before I became a Christian at the age of 29.  I knew I didn’t want there to be a God of morality and judgment, but I also knew what I saw all around me: incredible complexity and order from the subatomic all the way through to the galactic level.  Our bodies testify to the same – incredible and massively interdependent complexities working together to form what I take for granted as simply “myself.”  It seemed equally arrogant, naïve and foolish to think that humanity was at the pinnacle of life, that what we could measure with our little instruments captured all of reality, that our space-time continuum was “it.”

I also wanted nothing to do with Jesus Christ. I did not know and thus certainly did not understand the Gospel, but I knew that I did not want to be answerable for how I chose to live. I was wed to my pagan ways.  If I had to pick a religion, Zen Buddhism suited me just fine only because of its literal irrationality.

In my life, God has a way of quietly catching me off guard and then turning my life upside down.  Ultimately for my better.  One such instance was a conversation with my then-fiancé while sitting in my pickup truck in a parking lot.  We were talking about what might happen after you die. I explained that aside from “rotting,” I did not anticipate much else.  When tears welled up in her eyes, I realized I just stepped in it.  Sensitivity has never been my forte.  Lesley’s mother had recently passed away.  I apologized for my insensitivity towards her mother.  Lesley respond, “I’m not crying for her, I’m crying for you.”

As a 220 pound Airborne Ranger, I wasn’t accustomed to being pitied or cried for.  I had no response.  Further, I knew Lesley was smart, very smart, particularly when it came to math and science.  As a chemical engineer, she did multivariable calculus for fun. I was unsettled that this woman whom I loved so much was so convinced there was a God and an afterlife.

In short, years of study and introspection followed.  I quickly confirmed that “science” confirmed what I had casually observed: our reality is incredibly ordered and complex and the mathematical probability of any component of it happening by “chance” or by random, unguided processes was impossible. The thought of all of these components coming together by chance to form this reality seems insane.  I quickly concluded that a belief that our reality can be explained by only natural processes was grossly irrational.  Something or someone had a hand in making all this happen.

That begged another question, if there is something that caused everything around us and went to the trouble of creating and giving us consciousness and intelligence, wouldn’t it be likely there was a purpose and wouldn’t it also be likely this magnificent creative force would communicate the purpose? Of course this opened the door to religion.

When I started to research world religions a few things quickly stood out about Christianity.  First, it’s message was quite different from the rest, to put it mildly.  Second, few things if any have been researched and debated more than the historicity of the Bible.  Third, skeptics automatically exclude the historical narratives of the Bible.  Repeatedly, I read skeptics conducting historical analysis of Biblical books using other historical sources but simply refusing to treat the books of the Bible as historical sources themselves.  In short, everything was fair game as evidence, except those things which Jews and Christians have treated as the central evidences of their faith and foundational historical texts.  Hardly a fair analysis, but it was a method I had seen before. By now, I was a law student and I recognized the methods of “advocacy” posed as neutral analysis, i.e. ignore the contrary evidence.

My friend Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis where I serve as a board member, recently made a similar observation, “The Bible is evidence—it is evidence that enables us to correctly connect the past to the present and understand true history.” In his post, Ken points out the paradox of the Intelligent Design movement – they are evidentialists who do excellent work using observational science for purposes of demonstrating that the world as observed around us could not be the byproduct of chance.  However, for historical analysis, such as the origin of life, the Intelligent Design movement refuses to entertain the evidentiary value of the Bible itself (or any other historical material that includes supernatural effects).

For me, the historical evidences of Jesus Christ led to my intellectual conversion to Christianity.  (Years later, Christ opened my eyes and saved me, which is when I became a Christian, the difference between intellectual Christianity and true Christianity is a topic for another day.) CS Lewis logically observed that we have three options regarding Jesus Christ: liar, lunatic or God.  I could not escape from that analysis.  The evidences all pointed one way: God.

Still Life with Bible Van Gogh
Still Life with Bible
Van Gogh

The Bible presents numerous compelling evidences of the supernatural or divine nature of Christ.  Intrinsically, Christ’s life and message are both not of this world and yet perfectly describe the human condition.

The Bible teaches that man is in a perpetual state of rebellion against God, that our very nature rebels against the nature of God, and this by our own choosing – our original sin. Then, it gets interesting. The Bible repeatedly speaks of God ridiculing the wisdom of man.  Consistent with that message, at every level Christ confounds worldly wisdom. Christianity teaches that the omnipotent, infinite, omnipresent and eternal God of all that is seen and unseen, took the form of human flesh in His creation. Instead of the heraldry due the arrival of such an eternal King, he arrived as the apparent out-of-wedlock son of a peasant woman in a tribal kingdom somewhere in the west-Asian backwaters of the Roman Empire. To underscore the point, God was born amongst the squalor of livestock and his first visitors were sheep herders who were roughly the social equivalent of today’s garbage collectors. To further emphasize that Christ confounds the ways of the world, he was born to a virgin. This promised deliverer grew up in obscurity. This author of justice befriended prostitutes and tax collectors. This conqueror did not wield a sword but saved his kingdom by being beaten, tortured, and slowly and painfully executed by hated pagans. In the midst of his agony, Jesus asked for their forgiveness. Three days later, he rose again, and after a short period of teaching, ascended into the heavens. He then sent his Spirit to dwell with those who put their faith in His sacrifice.

It is also apparent that the Christian life itself also mocks worldly wisdom. As cogently explained by A.W. Tozer,

A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for one whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is the strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge.

A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous.

The Christian message is striking.  It was either insanity or not of this world.  We rebelled and in response, God sent himself, in the form of His son, to pay the price for our sins if we will only return in faith to Him.

The extrinsic evidence compels that Christ was neither insane nor a liar.  At the forefront stands the testimony of his disciples. They followed him, literally, for years.  They shared with him the darkest of nights, storms, meals, hunger, fatigue, continual teaching, persecution and travels.  Three things struck me about their accounts and the written summaries from their colleagues.

First, the Apostles all tell the same history from different perspectives.  The skeptics leaped at what they claimed were inconsistencies, but  what struck me was that the purported inconsistencies can be reconciled and explained (and they have been, repeatedly over the centuries).  To me, this was strong evidence against fabrication (or a lie).  Had the Apostles desired to tell a lie to the world, you would expect them to carefully craft identical versions of the same story.  Richness and diversity of perspective is a telltale sign that the authors truthfully reported what they witnessed and experienced.

Second, the apostle paid for their testimony with their lives, with the exception of the apostle John who was exiled to a barren rock of an island for his testimony.  And their testimony was that we are sinners in rebellion against God, and that God offers us the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ if we will just repent and accept the gift.  It is simply incredible to believe that these men would knowingly sacrifice their lives to promote such a selfless message – if that message was false.  It makes no sense.

Third, from an attorney’s perspective, the historical counter-testimony of the “opposing sides” is not just underwhelming, it also contains an incredible admission by one of the leading adversaries of the Apostles’ times.  To this day, Jews are largely hostile to the truth claims of Jesus Christ, that he is God.  Rome crucified Jesus.  The Jews and Romans controlled the land of the day where the Apostles testified.  The Romans and Jews killed the Apostles for their testimony.  All they needed to do to disprove the deity claims of these Apostles was to produce the body of Christ or provide testimonies from witnesses that any of the very many miracles did not occur when and where the Apostles stated or that their prophecies were not fulfilled in Jesus.  Instead, the historical record is silent on any rebuttal.  No such rebuttal evidence was apparently generated by the Jews or the Romans.

To the contrary, one of the leading Jewish authorities of the time, in fact one of

Apostle Paul
Apostle Paul

the first Jewish persecutors of Christians, converted to Christianity after being confronted by the risen Christ, by his own account.  If anyone then knew of the evidences against Christ, it would have been Paul.  Paul was a pharisee, descended from pharisees, and a Roman citizen. He became a Christian. There were no counter testimonies.  There was no body of a dead Christ.  From an evidentiary perspective, Paul’s conversion and the silence of the Jewish/Roman rebuttal at that time speak volumes as to the truth of the Apostles’ testimonies.

If you take the Apostles’ testimony as true, you are confronted with not just an incredible message, but also numerous miracles and the satisfaction of prophecies fulfilled in the birth and life of Christ. Some count hundreds of prophecies fulfilled in Christ.  Their testimonies routinely tell of Christ doing the supernatural – healing, walking on water, resurrecting the dead, changing water into wine, etc.  The Pharisees were the skeptics of that age and were not materialists, so they were not concerned about material miracles.  They simply attributed Christ’s material miracles to demons.  The Pharisees were however astounded (and outraged) by Christ’s forgiving of sins, which is spiritually supernatural. They knew that only God could forgive sins and thus thought Christ to be a blasphemer.

The historical texts are reliable.  The Apostles’ testimony presents a remarkable even confounding message that both accurately describe our condition while at the same time turns human wisdom upside down.  The Apostles testified with their blood that they told the truth.  The silence of the Jewish and Roman records remain, but the testimony of a leading and learned Pharisee prosecutor now comprises a majority of the books of the New Testament.  The miracles and prophecies further confirm the deity of Christ.

If Christ is God, then the prophets who testified of his coming were messengers from God, as they said they were.  Christ therefore, in my mind, reverse authenticates that the Old Testament is also the word of God.  The Bible then is God’s message to humanity, is inspired and should be taken most seriously, from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21.  As the word of God, the Bible is fundamental evidence.

This was my intellectual journey to Christ and to trusting the Bible as my authority for living and for interpreting reality.  God speaks to all of us in different ways.  We are all witnesses of general revelation; creation speaks to each of us.  Beyond that, Christ reveals himself to his people in multitudes of ways such as through general biblical apologetics, creationist apologetics, the witness of believers, and loving through the upbringing of loving and godly parents.  In the end, God uses all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

By Christ Ranger

God is great!

25 replies on “What are you going to believe?”

Speaking of the “creation speaks to all of us” idea…if the debate’s theme is along the lines of “is creation valid”? One would have to show that the physical evidence shows that the earth AND the universe are both no older than 6000 years old.

He has to show that a person who had no knowledge of the bible, OR of the “statement of faith” that all potential members of AIG, CMI, etc. must agree to (“No evidence, real or imagined, can be valid if it contradicts the biblical record”, etc) would still, based on the physical evidence alone, come to the conclusion that both the earth and the universe are both 6000 years old.

For instance, in the upcoming debate with Bill Nye, Ham can’t do any of that with say, bristlecone pines: AIG has an article ( where the author admits that the tree-ring chronology of the bristlecone pines is older than the YEC age of the earth, and is a problem. At the end he admits that he’s trying to “collapse” their chronology to fit the bible.

Where is there any need to “collapse” the chronology in the first place? Why not just follow the evidence where it leads? Remember: That statement of faith again: No evidence can be allowed if it contradicts what the AIG people have already decided to believe!

Astronomy is even worse, as a fellow xian and non young-earther Christopher Sharpe points out here:

Sharp gives examples of creationist distortions to make the evidence fit what they already believe here:

Bottom line: If the evidence truly led people to believe that the earth and universe was only 6000 years old; no “statement of faith” would be needed. No “collapsing” of any chronology would be needed. In Ronald Number’s book “The Creationists” he shows that Henry Morris had to come up with an obligatory statement of faith because once creationists got out into the real world, they kept losing their beliefs.

Glen Morton had many such stories on his site here:

You said: “Second, the apostle paid for their testimony with their lives, with the exception of the apostle John who was exiled to a barren rock of an island for his testimony. ” To which I say: “Citations”?

Prophecies? Like the ones exposed here?

Dear Mr. Hall,

Skeptics/atheists are welcome here, but as with most ventures in life, it’s both discourteous and errant to comment on and on regarding issues off-point from the blog to which you post. Less polite circles call such conduct trolling. I found similar conduct of skeptics when years ago I tried to research the skeptical counter-thesis to the historicity of the Bible. I stopped counting how many times I tried to research contrary research about the historical reliability of New Testament texts, only to end up reading a diatribe about “I can’t believe in a God that would sanction Jewish annihilation of entire cities/slavery/kill his own son/etc. … At least you’ve spared me that worn reasoning.

The topic of this post was general biblical apologetics and the the verification of the Apostles, not the age of the Earth nor Bristlecone Pines.

Ironically, your generally off-topic argument misses my main conclusion, or ignores it. Assuming you are arguing in good faith, I either failed to clearly articulate that point or, since it’s a long article with which you apparently disagree, perhaps you did not feel compelled to read it closely. I understand your point to be that one approaching the evidence would not independently conclude the earth is 6,000 years old. The lie in your argument is your attempt to narrowly constrict the word “evidence” to exclude an evidence that suggests supernatural causes, to include human testimony that purports to reflect revelation. The general point of my article is that the Bible should be considered evidence, and for followers of Jesus Christ, it should be the weightiest of evidence.

I agree that a person without a Bible would not view any item of nature and conclude with certainty that it was 6,000 years old. I would also state that such a hypothetical person would also not conclude with certainty that it was millions or billions of years old. I have studied the dating methodologies used to claim rocks give dates. As you likely know, there are dozesn of such methods and models, each with layer upon layer of assumptions. Volumes have been written about the data inconsistencies and demonstrated error. See, e.g.

The martyrdom of the Apostles was noted by ancient church and Roman historians. There is a general overview here: If you’re familiar with American jurists, you may be familiar with Simon Greenleaf, a Harvard professor of evidence (and Jewish), who was regarded as America’s best evidentiary mind. His writings on this topic can be found in The Testimony of the Evangeslists (by Simon Greenleaf), which you can order online.

To the extent you want to debate 6,000 years further, please read and comment on the following: (not entirely on point, but at least directly related to what you want to argue)


Golly. The fact the Andromeda galaxy is 2.5M light years away should be a giveaway that creationism has some problems with the earth being 6000 years old. The fact the sun has a fair amount of He, produced by fusion of hydrogen, should be a giveaway…to anyone who views evidence from a scientific rather than a fundamentalist view point.

You said:
” Volumes have been written about the data inconsistencies and demonstrated error. See, e.g.
Maybe you’d better do some reading also:
“Radiometric dating–the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements–has been in widespread use for over half a century. There are over forty such techniques, each using a different radioactive element or a different way of measuring them. It has become increasingly clear that these radiometric dating techniques agree with each other and as a whole, present a coherent picture in which the Earth was created a very long time ago. Further evidence comes from the complete agreement between radiometric dates and other dating methods such as counting tree rings or glacier ice core layers. Many Christians have been led to distrust radiometric dating and are completely unaware of the great number of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent. Many are also unaware that Bible-believing Christians are among those actively involved in radiometric dating.

This paper describes in relatively simple terms how a number of the dating techniques work, how accurately the half-lives of the radioactive elements and the rock dates themselves are known, and how dates are checked with one another. In the process the paper refutes a number of misconceptions prevalent among Christians today. This paper is available on the web via the American Scientific Affiliation and related sites to promote greater understanding and wisdom on this issue, particularly within the Christian community.”

You said: “The topic of this post was general biblical apologetics and the the verification of the Apostles, not the age of the Earth nor Bristlecone Pines.”

You had also earlier said: “creation speaks to all of us”. That was a point that you had made in your post. That was the point I was talking about. Kindly do not complain when I bring up a rebuttal to a minor point in your essay, and say that it’s “discourteous” and kindly do not lie…my comment was not “off-poiint”…it was addressing an actual, minor point that you yourself had made.

Then of course, there is archeology and the bible: “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts” by Neil Asher Silberman, and Israel Finkelstein.

Maybe the fourth option that C.S. Lewis left out of his so-called “trilemma” should be considered: Legend.

Welcome back Mr. Hall,
The life of Christ could be legend, but if you wish to delude yourself with such fantasy, you have to respect that the vast majority of “accepted” ancient history should also be treated as “legend.” The Biblical historicity has been more researched than any other piece of human history. Many have devoted countless pages over thousands of years to this topic. In more recent time, Josh McDowell, Simon Greenleaf and Lee Strobel have all reviewed this topic. I’m particularly fond of those three since each of them, like myself, started their analysis of the evidence as unbelievers. To quote John Montgomery, “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classic antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.” As well it should be …

My apologies, but…Josh McDowell? Lee Strobel? Are you sure about them?
Lee Strobel ==>
Josh McDowell ==>

Sorry, but it’s extremely doubtful that Strobel, for instance, was an unbeliever. One would have figured that he’d have went to atheists rather than just religious apologists in his books. He doesn’t seem to have done so. Not the act of a person who just wants to get at “the truth”.

I’m not sure you closely read what you cited … the Strobel critic specifically says he knows Strobel was an atheist. In any event, why do skeptics always think everyone is a liar, except themselves? Strobel lied about his faith; the scribes lied about what they transcribed (notwithstanding Dead Sea Scrolls etc.), the Apostles lied about Christ, the Prophets lied, Moses lied … Consider perhaps the more straightforward explanation is that these people had the same passion for the truth as I hope you believe you have. Regardless, I’ve reviewed the pages and find them wanting particularly when compared against the works they purport the critique. The McDowel “analysis” seems particularly weak from a number of perspectives. Even getting past this is a summary of the author’s email exchanges with his brother, his argument is largely disagreeing that the extrinsic Biblical account is as compelling as what McDowel portrays. Of course, the author gives no weight at all to the Biblical testimonies themselves, i.e. standard skeptic form. We’re simply to accept his summaries of ancient historical records, which is an odd trust to request in this case since the author is neither a historian nor an ancient texts scholar. No, he’s a professor of Industrial Engineering. He’s clearly not in his element. We can agree to disagree regarding your links. I hope you took the time to at least thumb through one of McDowell’s and one of Strobel’s books. For McDowell, the one your IE critiques is a good one with vast bibliography.

To: Mr Anthony Biller : About 30 years ago – I had heard about the “electro-magnetic field of the earth. It is decreasing at a rate which can be measured. According to these scientific calculations, the earth could only be about 6-10K years old. I saw the factual evidence at that time and it was Ir-refutable! Have you been able to ‘come across’ this information? It is very helpful in the valid defenses of creationism.

You have a bit of a problem here. You talk about the testimony of the apostles. What about the testimony of your computer? The very same physics that run your computer also tell us about the big bang. So either creationism is wrong, or your computer doesn’t work

Which is it?

Incidentally, ALL science is ‘historical’. The universe is an historical event. If science was ONLY observational it would be nothing but a parlor trick. What a weak excuse!

We’ll have to certainly agree to disagree. You may convince yourself of the idea that if I don’t agree with your rock dating methods, etc., I could not understand how to build a computer, etc., but that’s your delusion not mine.

There is only the creation or evolution solution for origins. Evolutionists basing their calculations solely on how fast light travels today against creationists refutes effectively refutes their own arguments because for the big bang to be possible, inflation is needed to explain the cosmic microwave background to solve the horizon problem. In cosmology, inflation is a hypothetical hyper-expansion (far greater than the speed of light) that occurred very early in the universe. It’s hypocritical that they can have light travelling faster to solve their problems but prohibit the opposition from doing the same thing.

Thank you for this post – it is an excellent apologetic and I am going to save it for future reference. Looking forward to the debate 🙂

My walking away from faith was a two step process. The first step was rational and the second and harder step was emotional.

When I started to question my long held belief in god, I quickly realized the lack logical and scientific support for a god. In debates, I could easily recognize the spinning of rationalizations to conceal the lack of direct evidence for god. However even without proof I still believed in god.

I didn’t cast away my belief until the emotional battle was won (or lost depending on point of view). I realized that without god I would not lose my romantic view of life. In fact after dropping religion, I mulitplied my sense of awe and wonder. I wrongly believed that a walk without god was solely analytical….dry and merciless. I now know that in believing in god I was limiting my horizons.

Dear ChasingColor, thank you for sharing. Regarding your “long held belief in god,” at that time did you consider yourself as having a real, spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ based on prayer, service and reading his Word?

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