Atheism or Christian faith
by Richard Rice-Oxley
Which is more likely?
1. EITHER the material universe created itself out of nothing
OR the universe was created by God, an uncreated, non-material and eternal being.
2. EITHER in a purely material world, good and evil are not absolutes but judged to be one or the other by human beings
OR good and evil are distinct and real, light and darkness, and human good and evil are likewise moral realities independent of human judgment.
3. EITHER the theory of evolution is a sufficient explanation of human life as we know it
OR the theory of evolution needs to be set within a wider perspective, that of God’s creation. In particular the reality of disinterested human love, or altruism, can be explained as a reflection of the nature of a living God.
4. EITHER we cannot be sure of the intrinsic value of each human being – their value is dependent upon human judgment
OR every human being is made in the image of God, and therefore has intrinsic value.
5. EITHER belief in rational thought is a matter of faith, since reason is not necessarily the result of a self-generating universe
OR belief in rational thought flows from belief in a Creator who has created reason as part of his creation plan.
6. EITHER belief in the supernatural, including the practice of prayer to a deity or deities, which seems to be universal to all human cultures is a fantasy and animals who apparently show no such awareness are therefore nearer the truth than humans
OR the universal practice of prayer by human beings corresponds to a reality. There is a God and human beings are responding to One who exists.
7. EITHER the vast output of magnificent art, architecture and music, which has been inspired by religious belief, is based on a fantasy, since there is no reality to warrant it
OR these magnificent works are truly inspired. God has given the gifts which has enabled them and each displays something of his nature.
8. EITHER Jesus Christ, whose moral teaching is widely regarded as among the most profound and challenging the world has ever received, was deluded in his belief (a) that he was the Son of God, (b) that his death on the cross would reconcile us to God and (c) that he would be raised to life on the third day after his death
OR Jesus Christ’s teaching flowed naturally from his identity as Son of God, Saviour of the world, and the conqueror of both sin and death through his resurrection.
9. EITHER the first Christians were deluded in their belief that (a) Jesus Christ had risen from the dead (b) that the miracles they performed were done in his name (c) that the lives they saw changed were changed by God
OR the Jesus revolution was real!
10. EITHER there is no God, or God is a monster who doesn’t care for his suffering children
OR there is a loving a compassionate God revealed to us by Jesus Christ. This God showed his compassion when he allowed his Son to be assaulted by the dark forces of evil on the cross. He feels the pain of every sufferer, and prompts the action of those who relieve that pain. Christ’s resurrection shows us that evil will finally be defeated and all shall be well one day.
Which is preferable?
11. EITHER there is no life beyond this life: we are on the road to nowhere
OR this life is a preparation for the life to come.
12. EITHER there is no ultimate redress for the abused and no ultimate judgment for the abuser and wrongs that are not righted in this life remain beyond the hope of change
OR beyond this life there is judgment by an absolutely just God and every human being must given an account of their life to God. Innocent sufferers in this world can be welcomed into a place of bliss in the life to come.