Kathy and I went to see the movie "The Case for Christ" this afternoon. It was an excellent movie and well acted. I found myself being caught up in the emotion of it all.
In case you don't know, Lee Strobel is a famous Christian apologist who started out as an atheist. He has written many poplar apologetic books. This movie depicts his journey from atheism to faith. As an investigative journalist for The Chicago Tribune, he was a firm believer in following the facts wherever they led. When his wife becomes a Christian, he sets out to prove the resurrection of Jesus never happened by visiting and interviewing experts in many fields of study. Eventually he realizes that the evidence for the resurrection was strong and he could not disprove it, so he converts to Christianity himself.
I have read several of Strobel's books and used to watch a question and answer TV show he hosted. His story is intriguing, as are other stories like his, such as Josh McDowell's. There have been a number of atheists that have come to believe in the resurrection of Jesus after examining the evidence. But on the other hand, there have been a number of Christians that have become unbelievers upon more thoroughly investigating the evidence. I am one of those people as is Dan Barker, who was an evangelical preacher for 19 years before realizing that he really didn't believe what he was preaching.
So, how can that be? How can two people examine the exact same evidence and come to such radically different conclusions? It's a conundrum, but fascinating. Think about a trial where 12 people are listening to the evidence being presented about the guilt or innocence of an alleged criminal. Sometimes the evidence is overwhelming one way or the other and all 12 vote the same way. However, in other cases, the evidence is not quite so clear. There is some evidence that makes you think the person is guilty, but other evidence that makes you think the person is innocent.
So what makes a person come down on one side or the other? Well, I believe it has to do with how much evidence each individual requires in order to be convinced of something. Some people can be told that friendly space aliens are going to land in Central Park tomorrow to take willing Earthlings to a better planet, and they will be lined up waiting at midnight. Others could actually see aliens land and take people and still not believe it, thinking some sort of delusion had overtaken them.
There's many other factors that can affect someone's decision in the face of conflicting evidence. Past experiences, facial expressions of the witnesses while they were testifying, how often they have been lied to by supposedly trustworthy people, etc. So, getting 12 people to agree on the meaning of the evidence is actually quite a feat.
In my case, I'm hard-nosed. I want to have near ironclad evidence, especially when it concerns supernatural events such as a resurrection. But when I conducted my multi-year investigation of the Bible, I discovered that the evidence for the supernatural events reported in it, especially the resurrection of Jesus, didn't even come close to being ironclad. In fact, the more I studied, the more ironclad it became against the resurrection. But, it never became what I would call conclusive. And that's the problem. I recorded my thoughts concerning my studies in a book entitled, "God Is."
The Bible says that God does not want any to be lost. Yet, it also says that if you don't believe, you WILL be lost. If you had a child that was in danger and you knew exactly what that child needed to be saved from that danger, would you not do exactly what was required of you? So, if God knows what each of us needs to believe and be saved, why does he not provide that for each individual? Why leave some hanging with a lack of evidence? These are the questions I cannot answer, assuming there is really a loving, powerful God in control.