Its belief system provides us a foundation for understanding the meaning of life
■ Dennis Rasmussen / Contributed
Out of all the religions in the world, how do we know that Christianity is true? One way is to examine the system of truth, or worldview, present in Christianity to see if it corresponds to the real world. If we see that it does, we can have confidence that Christianity is objectively true. And if this is the case, we will have found something of great value, a justifiable foundation for all of life and thought.
For example, what is the nature of final reality? The current consensus in the West is philosophical materialism, the view that final reality consists only of matter/energy, shaped by chance. The spiritual world, in this view, is considered an illusion. By way of contrast, a dominant view in the East is pantheism, the view that final reality is ultimately only spiritual. In this view, the material world is considered an illusion. However, historic Christianity claims both that the physical universe is real, as created by God, and that the spiritual world is real as well. Here, then, is an opportunity to examine a central claim of Christianity in light of its two major competitors. Which view of final reality corresponds to the real world?
Another claim concerns the origin of the universe. For much of the history of the West, the view has been that the universe is eternal and therefore had no beginning. The idea that the universe had a beginning was mocked. However, beginning in the first half of the 20th century, scientists observed through more powerful telescopes that the universe is expanding and that it is cooling down, both implying that it had a beginning. As a result of these observations, the current consensus is that the universe had a beginning, popularly called “The Big Bang.” Again, here is an opportunity to examine a central claim of Christianity, that the universe had a beginning, in light of the current scientific evidence. Does the Christian view correspond to the real world?
A third claim concerns what the central problem of mankind is. Here there are multiple competing claims, usually associated with social structures, including poverty, ignorance, global warming, etc. However, historic Christianity’s claim is that the central problem is deeper, that man has a fatal flaw in his nature, that he is a sinner, and that these other problems stem from this basic problem. Again, we can ask the question, does this view comport with our experience of the real world?
A fourth claim concerns the solution to this problem. Again, there are multiple proposed solutions, depending upon how the problem is understood, including the redistribution of wealth, welfare, education, and mystical enlightenment. However, historic Christianity claims that the problem is so profound that God himself had to provide the solution by taking on the sin and guilt of all mankind upon himself and atoning for this sin through his death on the cross, in the person of his son Jesus.
The bottom line is that coming to see that Christianity is true provides one with a foundation for understanding the meaning of life and for making choices that have eternal significance. I hope therefore that you will examine whether it corresponds to the real world with intellectual integrity.
Dennis Rasmussen is a practicing attorney and director of The Francis Schaeffer Center.