You first touched a computer when you were
n years old, where you discovered Carmen Sandiego/minesweeper on the generic PC your university/family had. Intrigued by the amazing abilities of the system, you immediately wanted to know how it worked, but were intimidated by the complexity. Nevertheless at
n+1 you were familiar with operating all the software you had. By
n+5 you had written a few simple programs, and by
n+10 you could bend the API’s to do whatever you commanded. At some point, you went to school for your CS degree, and a few years later, you had found the world of security, and could get whatever access you wanted. Around
n+20 you had written some serious exploits. By
n+40 you were a CSO at a profitable company, and by
n+60 you were happily retired, and just trying to keep up with the news. And at the age of
n+80 you died.
You’ve spent years learning about technical details of systems, and that may serve you well for the next few decades. But what about the next few centuries? Where will you be a million years from now? Most people believe everyone has a soul that will go on forever. It is a question that has more weight than anything else I can cover here. And no one should be scared, confused, uniformed, or in denial over it.
As some of you know, I am a Christian. It is a title I am proud to wear; for as I have matured, I have done my best to take a hard look at everything I have heard from my family, friends, and teachers, especially when they disagreed. So let me tell you about my faith. (Faith: the system of facts I know that are central to life, not just a hope in something I want to be true)
Mark Cahill has done a good job putting down his thoughts on the matter, and you can take part in a Q&A conversation by going to his website: http://www.markcahill.org/. I highly recommend reading this excerpt from One heartbeat Away as well. If you have read that and want to read the book (woah! book! no way! relax. It only took me a few hours. It’s brief.) let me know, and I will get you a copy, and would love to talk with you about it.
But maybe you need to see more of those technical details. Like many educated people, such as those in the security and other technical fields, you want to base your view of life, the universe, and everything in terms of the best deductive logic and peer-reviewed science. Good for you! I feel the same way. So I encourage you to please review just four of the reasons I believe, and read and consider them. And as the stakes of eternity imply, it is well worth your time.
Christians have always insisted that the universe had a beginning; that it was created by God, the First Cause. Since Einstein’s discovery of general relativity in the past century, scientists have also become convinced of this simple fact; that everything in this universe began at a point in the limited past. Yet, I’d point out, one of the most basic laws of nature, the first law of thermodynamics, insists that matter and energy are conserved; they can neither be created nor destroyed. (Just trust me) And I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that to show that Someone outside of this system created it, because the system cannot explain it.
Also, consider the laws of nature themselves. There are no serious explanations outside of God for the existence of the laws of nature in the first place, because there can be none. They describe the way things are, and they can link one effect to a cause, and that cause to a previous cause, but they can never explain the first cause. Naturalism is destined to fail. Making the assumption that this universe is all there is is not good science; it is a logical fallacy. Science is reasoning from observations to explanations, and it not limited to naturalistic explanations. In fact, it points to a Creator outside. I’ll call him God.
It has been rigorously scientifically documented in hundreds of ways: the world and whole universe we live in has been designed within an extremely narrow set of parameters necessary for the our existence. One relatively exhaustive compendium of scientific evidence for this fact is here: http://www.reasons.org/fine-tuning. tl;dr? Some stats: Based on the requirements to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less: “less than 1 chance in 10311 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.” Or, for three billion years: “less than 1 chance in 10556 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.” And yes, that is taking into account all thousands of billions of billions of possible planets.
And that doesn’t even take into account many requirements for basic matter, and all the requirements for intelligent life. What are some of these parameters? For example, consider “the ratio of the gravitational force constant to the electromagnetic force constant. It cannot differ from its value by any more than one part in 1040 (one part in ten thousand trillion trillion trillion) without eliminating the possibility for life” or “the space energy density (the self-stretching property of the universe). Its value cannot vary by more than one part in 10120 and still allow for the kinds of stars and planets physical life requires.” source Or another fundamental force: “If the strong nuclear force were just 4 percent stronger, the diproton (an atom with two protons and no neutrons) would form, which would cause stars to so rapidly exhaust their nuclear fuel as to make any kind of physical life impossible. On the other hand, if the strong nuclear force were just 10 percent weaker, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen would be unstable and again life would be impossible.” source A few others are discussed here: http://www.reasons.org/design-and-anthropic-principle. Over the past few decades hundreds of parameters have been found that need to fall within a restricted range for life to be possible. This place was designed. Looks like this God is smart.
Why the Bible?
At this point, you might say, but what about all the other religions in the world? How do you know which, if any, is true?
One clear indication is in the fulfilled prophecies which would have been impossible without God. For example, many prophets foretold the exile of the Jews to Babylon before it happened. Then Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied their return about 70 years before it happened.
Many prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus, who also made many prophecies. Example: about 800 years before it happened, Micah foretold the birthplace of the Messiah. Jesus prophesied that the temple, the pride of Israel, would be destroyed so that not one stone was left on top, and it was fulfilled about 40 years later. He also prophesied that the Jews would be again exiled, which was fulfilled after the destruction of the temple. And the same had been prophesied by the prophet Micah about 850 years before it happened. Psalm 22 contains many details about Jesus, that were fulfilled in his life and death.
For those who like figures & numbers: This page http://www.reasons.org/fulfilled-prophecy-evidence-reliability-bible contains a few more examples of fulfilled prophecies, along with a corresponding probabilities of fulfillment. Another example: “Some time before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off,” killed, and that this event would take place prior to a second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation shows that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ.” In case you’re wondering, the listed prophecies have a combined probability of less than 1 in 10138 of happening without Divine guidance; which, as pointed out, is stronger than our confidence in certain laws of physics, like the second law of thermodynamics. All Biblical prophecies have an estimated probability of 1 in 102000 of just happening by chance.
A note on these probabilities. Just as a matter of perspective, if your friend asks you to pick a card out of a deck without showing him, and then he “randomly” picks the same card, you would know that it was rigged; your friend had to “cheat” somehow to figure out which card you pulled. And that’s just one chance in less than 102. For comparison, an estimated number of atoms in the observable universe is 1080. These numbers are literally inconceivable; the chance of these prophecies being randomly correct is far less than if two people each completely randomly picked a single atom out of the entire universe and they both happened to pick same one. Nerdy analogy, but you literally can’t come up with a bigger deck to pick the card out of. That doesn’t happen by chance; it can only happen by God’s design.
It is one of the central tenets of Christianity. When Jesus came, he performed many miracles that quickly drew and astonished the crowds; a big reason the number of Christians basically exploded in just a few years, only God could have done them. But the most well-known and important miracle God performed was after Jesus’ death, his resurrection. A brief outline of why you can believe it is here from Stand To Reason. But I’ll just list five basic facts, accepted by almost all scholars. See this page http://www.str.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PL_article_dead_or_alive_1 for a little more info.
Fact #1: Jesus died by Roman crucifixion. (numerous eyewitness accounts including medical reports, ancient historians, pre-burial procedures, and the Roman executioners all confirmed it)
Fact #2: The disciples believed they had seen the risen Jesus. (numerous eyewitness accounts; most chose to die rather than deny this fact, and no one dies for what they know is a lie)
Fact #3: Saul of Tarsus (Paul), an enemy of the church, converted because he believed he had seen the risen Jesus. (after dedicating his life to beating up, imprisoning, and killing Christians – no other believable explanation)
Fact #4: James, the brother of Jesus and a skeptic, converted because he believed he had seen the risen Jesus. (a skeptic his whole life until this event)
Fact #5: The tomb of Jesus was empty. (Once again, numerous eyewitnesses, as well as the inability of religious & political leaders to produce a body)
Over 500 individuals saw, met, touched, ate with, and/or talked with the risen Christ. From which I conclude that Jesus in fact did rise again from the dead.
So what does all this mean?
This faith is not a nice story, it’s a fact. There is a real God who is beyond our universe and our conception. Yet he has put this incredible design together for us, and has given us his word, with a seal of authenticity. Jesus, who told us how to live, who claimed to be God, equal to the Father and the only way to God, proved it with his life, death, and resurrection. What does that mean for you? You can trust what the Bible says. You can trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior and know where you are going after your death. Then love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. It’s the best way to live.