Not so long ago I read a piece on ‘The Bible Society’s debt to Arthur C Clarke' in the Independent Newspaper. The author had obviously carried out some good research about the society and highlighted some key statistics which would be very interesting to a number of people.
I was then quite amazed that the writer then chose to violently misrepresent the teaching of the very book that the society has spent so long translating and making available to the world. For example he chose to ignore that the Bible and Christianity had developed more education programs, opened more hospitals and changed more societies for the good than the current world atheistic belief has ever done.
Societies that have been successful (in theory) in establishing an atheistic state have generally produced as corrupt societies as capitalist ones but they have neither been ultimately successful or survived in the long run. All of this however only looks at the outcomes of the opposing world views without actually discussing the validity or plausibility of the views.
Consider for a moment the genuineness of the biblical documents; the writer called them ‘stories, myths, legends etc. I would have imagined that any intelligent person would accept the validity and historicity of the Bible. Even Professor Dawkins accepts the validity of the record and recommends that every child should read it (“Richard Dawkins, the atheist author of The God Delusion, believes that children should grow up reading the Bible”. The Times May 10th 2007) despite the fact that he does not like what it says. The biblical record has been consistently proven to be accurate in terms of history, archaeology and even in the realm of science despite the fact that the modern scientific world view is split between evolutionary belief and the biblical record of Creation (see The Genesis Enigma: Why The Bible Is Scientifically Accurate by Dr Andrew Parker, published by Doubleday).
In terms of the New Testament record, especially regarding the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth and the claims to his resurrection, there is clear evidence and logic that it speaks the truth even if many do not wish to follow through with the logical question that ‘if this actually happened what does it mean for me?’ Many clever people have attempted to discredit and disprove the historical accuracy of the account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ but have been persuaded by the evidence that he must have risen from the dead (A couple of examples come to mind; see the end of this article for details). How an individual responds to that information is up to them but I believe that the evidence is there to be found.
As far as the conclusions regarding the Old Testament I do understand the concerns and issues unbelievers have with what seems to be the severity of the God of the Bible. I am not sure if you have read the whole biblical record and sought to understand the complete picture before coming to a conclusion. A careful analysis of the Bible will show that among many things God is both holy (just, righteous and morally pure) and loving. One characteristic does not cancel out the other; in fact his goodness and love of what is right demands that he deals justly with acts of sin and wrongdoing.
Where people assume that God is acting out of order a careful analysis of the facts will persuade them that he was acting to maintain what is right. If a judge in our times was confronted with evil behaviour, child abuse, rape or one of a whole range of anti-social behaviours that were illegal and detrimental to the good of society we would not question his ‘goodness’ when he passed sentence and
enforced a punishment that met the severity of the crimes. But when facing the examples of God’s judgment on nations who engaged in the very same activities we question his goodness because he acts justly and righteously to deal with behaviour which breaks his laws and damages society. I am not sure if we are being consistent in our approach to the issues.
Ultimately God has revealed Himself in the Bible and is warning us that we are in danger of his coming justice and judgment as a result of our moral defection and sin (all of us). He has made provision for us all to flee from his coming judgement through the sacrifice of His own dear Son, Jesus. His offer to clear the legal case against us and to offer us pardon, forgiveness and salvation is
still on the table. That doesn’t sound like a vengeful, demanding, capricious, merciless and tyrannical God to me.
This is the alternative argument to the atheistic viewpoint: people should know what it is so that they can decide for themselves where the truth lies.
Note referred to: examples of legal minds who set out to disprove the resurrection and were convinced that it must be true – this is a limited list, there are many more examples.
Dr. Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of
Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he
emphatically stated: "it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the
truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISE FROM THE DEAD , . . ."
(Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29).
Dr. Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of history! And not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!).
Dr. Benjamin Gilbert-West and Lord Littleton were from Cambridge. They were so fed up with Christianity they wanted to destroy it, they took leave of absence to study and write books to refute both the resurrection and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. As a result of their study, they too became ardent believers and wrote: "Reject not, until you have examined the evidence."
Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer and engineer, was brought up in a rationalistic background. He liked Jesus, but thought the resurrection was a myth that was tacked on. He, too, wanted to write a book to refute it, but in the process of writing, he like the others committed his life to Christ. His findings are in the book "Who Moved the Stone"?