A Purely Materialistic Universe Does Not Fit Reality

            The original idea of a purely materialistic universe based upon processes that are mindless, indifferent, and undirected should have been dismissed out-of-hand as being nonsensically inconsistent with reality.

            A reality founded upon trial-and-error, random, and unguided processes would not and could not be the basis for the challenges, confrontations, divisions, and revolutions that are an obvious part of the human experience.

            People do not have to look for trouble.

            Trouble finds us.

            The obvious question fundamental to our worldview about reality is would a blind and indifferent Mother Nature, lacking purpose and upfront intention according to the materialistic mode, produce and environment that has continual chaos and challenge in human relations?

            The reality of human history must have a rational connection with blind and mindless causation, if the purely materialistic worldview is to hold water…is to stack-up consistent with the evidence.

            A world devoid of purpose and meaning would not and could not be saturated with purpose.

            The spinning of the narrative of reality in human experience to be part of the survival of the fittest to fuel and energize small-step, incremental development is an incorrect half-truth. 

            It is a bad interpretation of the evidence.  It I a false skeletal explanatory framework upon which to hang the individual facts.

            The Bible starts (Gen. 3:1-6) with a malicious actor entering into the peaceful harmony of the Garden of Eden, introducing rebellion in its most profound form as autonomous individualism apart from God.

            This initial event is exponentially too deep for a mindless, indifferent, and purposeless Mother Nature to be the explanation for its origin.

            Yet there it is entering into the open marketplace of ideas at the dawn of contemplative analysis.

            Soon thereafter Cain murders Abel because Cain wants to practice “religion” his own way.

            The land of Egypt rewards the good service of Joseph leading them through a great famine, by having a future Pharaoh enslave the Hebrews living in the land for fear they will eventually outnumber the native Egyptians…an ancient version of the immigration debate in America today and the recurring theme of nationalism throughout human history that has been the rationale for countless wars and conquest.

            It takes the divine intervention of God to deliver the Israelites from Egypt through Moses.  The Jews must then militarily conquer their Promised Land by force and through the miraculous help of God.[1]

            This is already way beyond a blind, mindless, and purposeless Mother Nature, and this is only the events occurring in the first books of the Hebrew Bible, the Protestant Old Testament.

            This sudden leap into the depths of the subtleties of the broad array of moral concepts contained within the knowledge of good and evil is as abrupt an entrance as the instantaneous creation of the universe at the Big Bang.

            It is as sudden as the leap from zero DNA to 3-billion bits of genetic DNA coded language at the origin of single-cell bacterial life on earth.

            The introduction in human recorded history of the concepts of good and evil, and right and wrong, is a sudden leap like the Cambrian Explosion of new complex life-forms, having no transitional intermediate precursors.

            This reality of disruptive challenges and the universally experienced upheaval of confrontations through invading armies of “foreigners” bent upon geographical and political conquest, makes sense within the world of animal instinct, the biodiversity of predator/prey relationships, and balanced ecosystems.

            But this makes no sense when extended into the human capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning.

            Parsing and dividing good conduct from evil conduct, and the fundamental judgments of right versus wrong behaviors in human relations…has no correspondence to a blind, mindless, indifferent, material-only based universe.

            When purpose and meaning are added to the equation, then the calculus eliminates naturalistic materialism as a viable worldview.


[1] See on You Tube: How Archaeology Supports the Bible: A conversation with Joel Kramer, streamed live on Jan. 21, 2021 on Dr. Sean McDowell, and 20161030 The Oldest Yahweh Inscription 2 Kings Joel Kramer published on Oct. 30, 2016 by Lighthouse Church-Twin Falls, at Joel Kramer Archaeologist.

Jesus Has the Perfect Answer Every Time

            Are the religious leaders partially correct when they bring the woman caught in adultery before Jesus (Jn. 8:1-11)?

            Of course, they are…except that they aren’t.

            The main problem with the religious leaders opposing Jesus throughout the gospels is that in directing these “hard” questions at Jesus, they have the wrong motivation of trying to trip-up Jesus, to “catch Him in His words.”

            But that is not the issue here.

            The real lesson from the replies of Jesus to the questions posed by the religious leaders is that Jesus Christ as the living Word of God has different answers to the conventionally accepted viewpoints of these religious leaders in Jerusalem, different answers that by definition must be absolutely correct to fit each individual circumstance.

            The religious leaders certainly did not anticipate Jesus saying in John 8:7 “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

            After each of these men left one-by-one as they were convicted by their conscience, Jesus stands up and says to the woman in John 8:11 “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

            People can debate the rightness of this judgment made by Jesus.

            In all moral issues there is a latitude of possible choices, there is a range of possible answers.

            But the point here is that the answer of Jesus in this particular set of circumstances is different from the anticipated answer the religious leaders expected to hear, regardless of their corrupted and malicious motivations.    

            This reality can be graphed on a simple spectrum-line of possible answers and responses that Jesus could have expressed when suddenly confronted with this “hard” question put to Him by these men, of what was the right thing to do with the woman caught in adultery.

            John 14:6 records Jesus as saying: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

            Jesus gives the right answer to every issue presented to Him because He is brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and has divine foresight.

            In the New Testament gospels, people could have asked Jesus many more hard questions that He would have answered perfectly every time.

            But the religious leaders finally stopped asking Jesus questions they thought they could trap Him with, because their underlying motivation was corrupt and insincere (Mt. 22:46).

            Jesus is asked and He answers just enough hard questions to establish His credentials in claiming to be “the truth” as confirmed by the apostle John writing: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14).

            Slightly different circumstances in each case would have elicited different responses by Jesus, but each answer would be perfect in terms of truth and justice tempered by perfectly divine, unselfish love.

            Were the religious leaders correct in saying that the Jews were supposed to honor the Sabbath and do no work on that holy day (Mt. 12:9-13)?

            Of course, they are…but not entirely.

            When they object to miracles of healing performed on the Sabbath day as work, Jesus responds by pointing-out that owners of livestock lead their horses, mules, sheep, and cattle to water on the Sabbath without violating the Sabbath (Lk. 13:15-16).

            If a sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, we pull it out without this being considered doing work (Mt. 12:11-12).

            Here again the specific answer given by Jesus to this issue is different from the conventionally accepted interpretation of the Law of Moses as asserted by the religious leaders, which can be depicted on a single line-graph spectrum of all of the possible answers Jesus could have expressed.

            Another classic example of Jesus having the one right answer occupying a single point on a horizontal graph-line continuum of possible options is giving in Mark 2:23-28 of the Pharisees criticizing the apostles of plucking ears of “grain” to eat on the Sabbath, as if this should be classified as prohibited work: “And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?” (Mk. 2:24).

            Jesus answers that David in need ate the priest’s “show bread,” and that the sabbath was made for man and not the other way around.

            Some slightly different set of circumstances would have elicited from Jesus a slightly different response, but still perfect.

            The religious leaders asked Jesus: Do we pay taxes to the Romans or not?        

Surely here the Pharisees have Jesus backed into a corner in a no-win situation, there being no satisfactory answer that will not offend either the Jews or the Romans.

The impressive answer that has garnered the respect of friend and foe alike for its brilliant insight for the past twenty centuries of: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21), could only come from the living Word of God instantly having the right answer every time.

Jesus did not cover every issue that would confront the early church down to our present day.

If Jesus had exhaustively covered every issue, then we could erroneously relapse into a paint-by-by-the-numbers self-performance of a detailed program by our own solitary efforts.

This would open the door for self-salvation by good works that precludes a personal relationship with God

Jesus did not address the question posed to Paul by the first-century churches of what to do when invited to a banquet when the “meat” being served has been blessed over by a pagan deity (1 Cor. 8:1-13).

Jesus did not address the problem recognized by Paul of believers suing other believers in secular courts of law (1 Cor. 6:1-8).

Jesus did not address the pivotal question of whether or not Gentile believers should be circumcised in order to be saved.

God did this by deliberate intention.

Redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ justifiably enables God to brilliantly flip our fallen natures into the precise research vehicles to capably explore the knowledge of good and evil with the impunity of knowing that our eternal salvation is not placed in jeopardy by our honest mistakes in guided lessons-learned (Rom. 7:15-8:4; 2 Cor. 4:7; Mt. 5:6; Jn. 8:36).

Because every person who has ever lived except for Jesus Christ occupies an imperfect moral nature, it follows then that every person called into a God-composed journey of faith life-script will be accomplishing their joint-venture mission through the lens of an imperfect yet redeemed “earthen vessel.”

This is not a new biblical doctrine but is an insight as orthodox as can be.

When I was born-again spiritually at the age of 18 many years ago now, God did not transform me instantly into a perfect moral person incapable from then-on for making any mistakes.

If perfect, how would I learn anything?

And how could I comprehend the subtle nuances of the moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil, without being able to view this fallen and broken world through the microscopic and telescopic lens of an earthen vessel?

Jesus did not answer everything for us by deliberate intention, because we are supposed to discover first-hand the concepts of right and wrong through hearts and minds “hungering and thirsting after righteousness” (Mt. 5:6) coherently blended within an imperfect moral character…being the best and only way to conduct a credible investigation in the best traditions of empirical scientific research.

In the program of redemptive salvation, my sins are covered by the blood of Jesus past, present, and future so that I can with confidence enter into an authorized and sanctioned adventure of faith where it is guaranteed that I will stumble and fall many times as the path gets higher, narrower, and steeper.

Because the God of the Bible is brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and possesses timeless foresight, this enables God to orchestrate and manage my unique adventure of faith within this 4th dimension of time from the vantage point of a timeless environment.

Finally, the perfection of the order, intelligibility, and organized complexity of the physical universe establishes the parallel capacity for God to be given the benefit-of-the-doubt to compose life-scripts for us that fully develop and perfect our individual destinies.

            This is the common though-line theme that runs throughout all of the positive biblical narrative stories of faith.

A few other notable questions and issues addressed perfectly by Jesus Christ might be the woman at the well (Jn 4:5-42), who is my neighbor? (Lk. 10:29), and why do you associate with “publicans and sinners?” (Mt. 9:10-13).

The Sin Which Doth So Easily Beset Us

            “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:7).

            Nothing on this earth can defeat virtue, integrity, courage, and selflessness.

            The humility of fallen imperfect natures combined with the love of God living inside the believer is the essence of redemptive salvation that conquers the world.

            Peter and John testifying before the Sanhedrin Council (Acts 4:8-12) exhibits this…virtue, integrity, courage, and selflessness while still inhabiting imperfect fallen natures.

            Exploring the knowledge of good and evil through the God-sanctioned vehicle of our fallen nature, makes redemptive salvation and a journey of faith following Christ within reach of everyone.   

            To enter into redemptive, salvation God does not ask us to run an obstacle course, to “jump through hoops,” to go on a spiritual pilgrimage to some holy place, or to embark on a program of self-reformation.

            When we become Spirit-born Christians, God instantly flips our fallen, imperfect moral nature into this 4-wheel drive vehicle to investigate the knowledge of good and evil in this equally fallen and broken world, when we allow God to displace our ways with His higher ways…when we pick up our cross to follow Jesus.

            God then inserts a God-composed journey of faith life-script into our lives as the precise individualized route for our good and for the benefit of others…after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            When I became a Christian at age 18, I was not instantly transformed into a perfect moral being, capable of living my life flawlessly from that point forward.

            The people of faith in the Bible universally carry-out their unique callings and mission-plans while still inhabiting their imperfect fallen natures.

            There is no disagreement in our culture that Christians and nonbelievers are all human…are non-divine, flawed beings.

            But few people (none that I have ever heard) ask the basic question why do not Christians become divinely perfect after conversion, having the Holy Spirit now also living inside them.

            The Bible says that on Judgment Day the lost will weep and lament, partly because there is no going back for a second chance, but also I believe because on that day everyone will realize clearly what little actual difference there was between the destructive sin that separated people from God for the coming eternity…and this same sin, our imperfect fallen nature…that the God of the Bible through the redemptive salvation by grace through faith is and was able to flip into the perfectly designed vehicle wherein believers can enter into divinely sanctioned research programs to discover and understand the subtle nuances of the knowledge of good and evil.

            This occurs through the narrow gate (Mt. 7:13-14) of faith and trust in redemptive salvation…again by grace through faith in Christ…that makes this possible not through self-salvation by our performance of good works (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9) but by the entirely counterintuitive method of pursuing this research program while occupying the humility of an “earthen vessel.”

            The microscopic and telescopic lens needed to comprehend the broad array of moral concepts in the knowledge of good and evil, and the rare capacity to be able to evaluate the qualifications of Jesus Christ to be the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…this is the very thing in the great debate in human history that is so closely separated between the thin line of belief and unbelief…that divides forever eternal salvation from eternal damnation, the difference between one small step putting one leg forward in faith across this line…giving God the benefit-of-the-doubt that through redemptive salvation He can flip our imperfect nature into the positive of the one and only way we could discover and comprehend the knowledge of good and evil through first-hand empirical experience.

            Paul’s dual-purpose calling of spreading the gospel message and researching the truth that would compose his letters to the New Testament churches…occurred while he occupied his fallen nature (Rom. 7:15-8:4).

            The realization of the reality of how close salvation was in reach all the time on this earth…to the lost on Judgment Day…will be a large part of the unimaginable regret for those people pushing the God of the Bible out of their lives today.

            But the one tentative and courageous small step over the line that separates skeptical and indifferent unbelief…into redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ, inaugurates the God-intended potential for this adventure of faith to separate into the condition of being lost in our sins (Jn. 8:24) through unbelief, or into a redeemed fallen nature now capable of comprehending the knowledge of good and evil…into a gulf as wide apart as the Grand Canyon.

            This reality could only be creatively invented through the brilliance of the mind of God, and could never be the product of human literary imaginative mythology.

            To take the very thing that separates us from fellowship with a perfect God…and craft it into a positive that is the one and only way in which we could understand the issues at stake…through a redemptive salvation that only He could provide by bearing the penalty for sin Himself through the cross and resurrection…is a spiritual engineering feat that could only come from the same God who created this universe.

Why Did a Perfect Creator Produce an Imperfect Creation?

            In the six-disc DVD collection of Yes, Your Question…A Collection of the Best Questions From Top Universities, produced by RZIM in 2012, a person from the audience in the DVD disk recorded at Columbia University…asks Ravi Zacharias the following question:

“If God is all powerful, and all knowing, why would He still choose to create a world where it’s going to fall apart, where we are going to have atrocities now…when He knows that is going to be the outcome of what we choose?”

            Paraphrasing…Dr. Zacharias gives the standard apologetic response to this question, saying that when we deal with the effect, when we deal with what we have now in the world, regardless of the initial cause, we basically have four options for the possible worlds God could have created.

            The first option is best rephrased as a question: “Would it have been better to have no creation at all, than to have this one?”

            The second option is also best rephrased as a question: “Would it have been better to create people who would only choose the good?”

            The third option in the form of a question for a possible world is: “Would it have been better if God created a world where there was no such thing as good or evil…an amoral world?”

            The fourth option is this world…where there is a possibility of good and evil…knowing that we would still choose evil, with all of the negative outcomes this entails, being the only other option as far as we know.

            Ravi Zacharias goes on to say that when this question is raised, it metaphysically introduces a moral framework in the form of: “Would it have been better?”

            He elaborates by saying that if it would have been morally better to choose one of these other options…the only reason behind the question is that it must first assume there is such a thing as good or evil…otherwise what is the point of the question?

            He concludes his answer by saying that we cannot invoke a moral question in an amoral world, and the ultimate ethic in a moral world is love…which none of the other three worlds would have made possible.

            In this essay I would like to posit a fifth hypothetical option, of the possibility of God creating billions of junior gods in lieu of human beings, also created in the image of God…but having the added features of possessing divine timeless foresight and absolute goodness.

            This fifth option would alleviate the sticky problem of evil and suffering in this world, but introduces some new realities that make this option from a practical standpoint implausible and untenable, bringing us back to the original answer to the question of why God chose to create this world…that this present world having free-will choice is the only reality wherein the ultimate ethic of love can actualize

            Assuming that it is possible for God to create multiple junior gods possessing timeless foresight and absolute goodness…one obvious difficulty here is the fundamental question of: what is time.

            The creation of the fourth dimension time, at the Big Bang beginning of the universe, is an extraordinary invention that we take for granted.  We have clocks, wristwatches, and mobile phones that tell us what time it is, and we have our lives scheduled around business meetings and luncheon dates…but we have no idea what time is.

            Centuries after Isaac Newton, we can use his equations regarding motion and gravity to put men on the moon…but even today we have no idea what gravity is.

            Physics, chemistry, and mathematics are rife with equations describing heat, motion, acceleration, friction, momentum, and energy…but we have no idea what energy actually is.

            The notion that God could create beings like Himself who possess divine timeless foresight…bipedal, human-like junior gods walking the earth today…who would have no previous idea about the basic design and production issues involved in the creation of time in our universe, then going about their lives using timeless foresight but not knowing what time actually is…being created persons but not being creators themselves of fundamental things like time, gravity, and energy, of not having the Creator’s database of insider information and knowledge to take them the rest of the way to complete and total divinity…might turn-out to be a half-way exercise in futility.

            This might be asking too much of God…to create beings having partial divinity…but not giving them “the whole enchilada.”

            One interesting observation in this new Age of Information, is that the Intelligent Designer God did not merely use a pre-existing database of information in crafting the universe, in the same way that an architect or a structural engineer would utilize the received wisdom of an existing database of information for the design of a new building. 

            In the case of the Big Bang creation of the concrete physical universe at a moment of time about 13.7 billion years ago, out of nothing that was previously material, out of the mind of God who is a Spirit Being…the interesting realization here is that the very information used in creating the universe was invented “from scratch” for this one singular purpose.

            This would be like an architect or an engineer inventing 4×8-inch wood posts, structural steel columns, glass windows, granite countertops, and wood casing trim…from scratch…with all of the accompanying chemistry, physics, and mathematics, at the start of the design of a new house, office building, or shopping mall.

            The idea that God could create numerous, full-feature junior-gods possessing the ability to invent information from scratch exactly like He can…may not be possible…or even advisable.

            Likewise, with the attribute of absolute goodness…the first question here is what exactly is: “goodness.”

            In the essay “Where Does Good and Evil Come From”…I try to explain good and evil in terms of a vertical spectrum-line of light…making the case that evil is an absence of good, like varying shades of darkness are defined by the absence of light.

            But here also the fundamental question still stands: “What exactly is goodness?”

            Like gravity, energy, time, and light…we can describe goodness…but we have no real idea what it actually is.

            Creating billions of junior gods would involve the input of things that are certainly abstract, spiritual, and non-material, but would have essences inherent in absolute goodness and divine timeless foresight, substances that might not be fully or even partially transferable from one living being…God…to another living being.

            It appears within the four dimensions of this world, at least for us, that goodness and foresight are realities that are obtained experientially, through the course of the events and circumstances of our lives…entities that are again intangibly abstract and spiritually non-material…purchased by fallible human beings within the context of the fourth option of possible worlds mentioned above, containing good and evil, and providing the opportunity for experiencing love.

            But even with a multitude of individual junior gods…having absolute goodness, divine timeless foresight, and all-power…someone would still have to assume the role of leader…someone would still have to be in-charge.

            Imagine for a moment a nuclear submarine…with all of its officers and crew members having the equal rank of admiral.  The cooks in the ship’s galley would all be admirals…along with the captain, the navigator, the engineers, the gunnery mates, and the other officers.

            But the chief cook in the galley cannot do two jobs at the same time…to cook meals for the crew, and to serve as captain of the submarine.  One person has to assume the role of captain…no matter if the captain and everyone else on board the submarine also have the equal rank of admiral.  If each and every sailor aboard the submarine possesses absolute goodness, divine timeless foresight, and a perfect knowledge of submarine navigation and warfare…each sailor would still have to perform their precisely distinctive function aboard the ship…to the exclusion of other duties performed by their shipmates.

            The hypothetically shared rank and title of admiral becomes superfluous…washes-out as being unimportant, in this reality of the various duties of manning a nuclear submarine.

            Imagine a professional football team in the NFL, in which every player on the field and sitting on the bench, along with all of the assistant coaches and support staff, all have the equivalent rank and title of Head Coach.

            Even if every person on this football team had the divine capacity of a god, possessing divine timeless foresight, absolute goodness, and a perfect knowledge of football regarding every position on the field, and all of the possible plays to call for every imaginable situation…there would still have to be only one person making the play-calling decisions…making play-calling decisions in-the-moment by mass-committee being too cumbersome and time-consuming.

            This is one reason why the rebellion of Satan is even more ill-advised for us humans.  Whatever good attributes Satan once had and enjoyed as the “covering cherub” in heaven (Ezek. 28:11-19)…the idea that his beauty and charm justified his ambition to usurp the leadership position of God, epitomizes the error of the self-sovereignty of going our own way apart from God (Isa. 53:5-6).

            An eternal heavens…where everyone is a divine god…is difficult to imagine even with the universally shared attributes of absolute goodness and divine timeless foresight, without one key person still being the leader, without one key person still being in-charge.

            But much more important…on the most fundamental level…is that a world and a heavens in which everyone is a perfect divine being, has the potential for creating the bizarre environment of absolute autonomous individualism, where everyone could and would go their own separate ways, being equally qualified to do so, eliminating the capacity for engaging in personal relationships at the depth of intimacy that could create genuine love.

            Someone might ask the insightful question here, that if the Godhead Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoy absolute goodness, divine timeless foresight, and perfect love, why could this not telescope out to billions of junior gods created in the image of God…possessing the nearly complete attributes of God?

            Wouldn’t people be more lovable if they were perfect?

            Or does being morally perfect and possessing divine timeless foresight, but not possessing the complete package of the totality of the attributes of God…like the ability to create a universe and a planet earth, like the ability of God to create life…does this simply make partially divine beings who are better equipped to drift apart into autonomous individualism more perfectly…doing their “own thing” apart from God?

            Theoretically, without hitting this nail with a hammer too many times, if the God of the Bible could create numerous equivalent junior gods having the complete package of divine attributes, in possession of the vast database of information and the ability to create life, their own universe, and the laws of physics to match this universe…then we really would be looking at the possibility of the many worlds, “multi-verse” scenario.

            But what would be the point of having an endless series of equivalent universes and planet earths like ours…all managed by enumerable junior gods equivalent to the God of the Bible…all being omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and possessing divine timeless foresight and absolute moral goodness, producing a reality of gods all being in the same selfless giving mode of divine love?

            Where then would the varied realities of faith, trust, friendship, fidelity, and love be?  What would be the variation of context for the broad array of moral concepts to actualize?

            One or more of these perfect junior gods might say that a time had come in their created universe to produce non-divine human beings having free-will and the advanced capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning…yet then introducing the possibility of the entrance of good and evil, and the further introduction of the disruptive appearance of a liar and a con-man…a corrupted being…able to bring corruption into an otherwise perfect past existence.

            This would merely create an endless repetition of the present condition we are now in.

            Is the true reality…in however many number of universes we might theoretically imagine…that good and evil are eternal, stand-alone, and self-existent realities, timelessly inescapable entities that fall on the vertical spectrum-line of light and darkness, of good and evil?   

            Borrowing from a statement made in another essay in this book…that it is pointless to enter into a debate with a liar…if God would have confronted and challenged Satan the rebel and usurper during the temptation in the Garden of Eden, God’s word alone would have had no more weight behind it than that of Satan, disguised in the spiritualized form of a beautiful talking serpent having the feature of beguiling speech.

            This is one partial explanation for why God created this physical, material universe, and why the Second Person of the Trinity…Jesus Christ the Son of God…was incarnated into a human body (Isa. 7:14; Lk. 2:8-14; Jn. 1:14).

            The real truth is that God does input absolute goodness and divine timeless foresight into human beings, by giving us some of Himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through the process of spiritual rebirth…of salvation by faith through grace (Jn. 3:5, 16-17).

            But because the knowledge of good and evil cannot be purchased on the cheap by merely eating a piece of fruit hanging from the branch of a very special tree…the same free-will choice now flushed-out within the physical material environment of this world, provides the opportunity for God to input some of Himself into human beings.

            This also fleshes-out the rebellion element of the deceptive temptation put forward by Satan in the Garden of Eden, questioning God’s credibility through the hollow use of unsubstantiated words alone, of God’s qualifications to be the captain of the nuclear submarine or the Head Coach of the football team…to be the divine King and Ruler of the eternal realm of heaven, while imparting to us the free-will choice to accept the input of some of His divine nature and essence, through faith in Jesus Christ.

            This unique world we inhabit offers the potential for experiencing love, but also the potential for experiencing suffering as the outcome of evil…as the only possible option to expose Satan as a liar and a rebel…and at the same time set-up a fair and reasonable way in this broken world context to voluntarily want the input of absolute goodness and timeless foresight that God is offering to us, obtained by the faith through grace of free-will choice (Num. 21:8-9; Jn. 3:14-15; Eph. 2:8-10).

            Finally, if the God of the Bible is everywhere (omnipresent), all-knowing (omniscient), and all-powerful (omnipotent)…and possesses divine timeless foresight and absolute moral goodness…then the idea that He would need to set-up a police state having an intricate spy network, is superfluous and nonsensical.

            There would also be no point in creating robots programmed to always do the right thing, because God is already in a position to be an affectively dominating tyrant and autocratic ruler…if this was His choice…being everywhere, all-knowing, and all-powerful.

            John Lennox gives a great answer in his debates with atheists who object to the idea of a “Big Brother” God always looking over our shoulder…that in his home he has someone always looking after him 24/7 with caring love…his wife.

            For a God who possesses perfect virtue, justice, and divinely selfless love at the peak and pinnacle of brilliant pure light and absolute goodness, the only thing that He needs to work with is the faith and trust of His created beings…if He is going to have meaningful relationships with them.

            This is like the old adage: “What do you get…as a gift…for the person who has everything?”

            Creating junior gods as perfect in every way as He is…may be an impossibility for God…like creating square circles, married bachelors, or one-ended sticks.

            God does not want to be a policeman constantly looking over the shoulder of everyone all the time…although being everywhere, knowing everything, and being all-powerful…He does.

            God wants people who will freely choose virtue, who can be self-governing in the liberty of wanting to do the right things, who are open to the reception of His love and fellowship, the gift of Himself…of a perfect God living in the giving mode.

            This is the redemption and deliverance from sin that Jesus purchased for us on the cross and through His resurrection on Easter morning.

            This also might be a reasonable answer to why the Second Person of the Trinity…Jesus Christ the Son of God…was incarnated into a human body and now inhabits a new resurrected body in heaven, contained within a bodily form that we can see, listen to, and speak with, which is not the case with God the Father still in His original Spirit form, along with the Holy Spirit, being omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent…but unseen.  

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.   (Eph. 3:16-19)

Why Doesn’t God Reveal Himself Empirically?

            God is the architect of one of the most unlikely of creations…the delicate balance of belief and unbelief in our current environment…a management of dynamic information that is unimaginably fine-tuned and precise.

            Balancing belief and unbelief in our world, so that one does not overpower the other, is one of the great spiritual engineering feats in all of human history, yet one we do not…nor would not…normally recognize or attribute to the real God. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief is surprisingly calibrated, landing midway in the narrow zone of falling just beyond the reach of where human inventive imagination and contrivance ends, but falling just short of the demarcation line of clearly revealing its supernatural origin and nature, along with its carefully hidden requirement for periodic adjustments in response to social and cultural change. 

            The most unlikely of creations, because most of us would assume that the God of the Bible…a personal God we can get to know intimately through a journey of faith (Jer. 31:34)…would take every opportunity to tip-the-scale in favor of belief over unbelief, in terms of concrete, factually persuasive, irrefutable evidence in nature and through divine revelation, in favor of belief in His existence, very early in human history. 

            But this is not the case within the human decision-making zone of belief and unbelief. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief, the ability to freely engage with God in a fully-scripted adventure of dynamic faith having the risk, from our perspective, of possible success or failure in-the-moment…or to freely push God away in skeptical unbelief to entirely go our own way…is a true masterpiece of creative ingenuity precisely because of its balanced neutrality in this area of unforced belief or unbelief.

            On Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus Christ could have added to His already busy agenda…to openly walk down Main Street in Jerusalem and right into the Temple sanctuary, in clear view of everyone (Lk. 24:13-32; 36-43; Jn. 20:19-20), validating forever thereafter, without any doubt, His claim to be the divine Son of God.  Like Thomas (Jn. 20:26-28), people could touch his hands and the wound in His side, and believe based on the visual evidence (Jn. 20:29).  

            But then the delicate balance of belief and unbelief would also immediately disappear…forever thereafter. 

            Recognition of Jesus Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6) would not be an open option that could go in either of the two opposing directions of belief and unbelief…but instead would be a strictly obvious fact…like the daily occurrence of the rising sun, or that two-plus-two equals four. 

            This balance of belief and unbelief offers compelling evidence for the divine origin of the biblical message of redemptive salvation by grace through faith, because the mere existence of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief, that is the prerequisite foundation for the exercise of faith…is so transparently neutralso free of the taint of coercive human bias weighted in favor of one direction or the other…that it could never be mistaken as the imperfect conceptual product of human literary invention. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief in our current environment has a supernatural origin…because a humanistic explanation for its creative ingenuity and its functionally balanced longevity over time…is nonsensical.

            The existence of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief, of willingly entering into a risked-filled adventure of biblical faith wherein God displaces our ways with His higher ways, in contrast to pushing God away and going our own way according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, is a transcendent reality that could only come from the divinely imaginative mind of God…having a definite purpose…way beyond the initial set-up capacity of humans to invent, adjust, and sustain over its 4,200 year history, beginning with Abraham the “father of faith.”

            Hard-core biblical skeptics incorrectly want Jesus Christ, as stated above, on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week following His resurrection on Easter morning…to walk openly down the middle of Main Street in broad daylight and straight into the Temple in Jerusalem…thus initiating a widespread, empirically undeniable proof for His claim to be the Son of God, on the same level that we popularly recognize that one-plus-one equals two, or that the sun rises in the east each morning.

            The fundamental shortcoming of this insistence by skeptics of the Bible is that it creates no context…no milieu or environment of life events and circumstances to begin a personal relationship between God and people, within the otherwise insufficient framework of a mere factual acknowledgment and consensus that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.

            It would substitute the wrong category type of empirical facts, in place of the correct type of empirical facts…the correct type being discovered through the sequentially lived experiences of a journey of faith, rather than experiencing a visual observation, after which we would go back to living our lives unaffected, as before, within the parameters of self-sovereignty governed by worldly conventional normalcy.

            Replacing the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…with hard empirical fact…opens wide the door for the humanism of self-sovereignty to take the facts regarding God and mold Him in our image to suit ourselves…rather than the contrary dynamic of God molding us into His image through a journey of faith.

            The common people visually seeing Jesus walking down Main Street in Jerusalem after the resurrection, disrupts and alters the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…removing the critical element of the tension of suspense spread-out over time regarding future outcomes within our life-stories, that creates the context for faith to actualize into the mature, intimate, and personal relationship of trust between God and people, the same as occurs in human relationships (Heb. 11:1, 6).

            There is no moral component…no merit…to acknowledging the factual existence of the noonday sun, or the truth that two-plus-two equals four, and not three or five, other than the correlation to the truth of the accuracy of our information…because these things are not in dispute.

            Mere acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is the Son of God through empirical, observational fact, that would be commonly undisputed, has no change-of-character impact upon the strength of the attractive pull of the worldly conventional narrative.  It has no course-correction, has no power to induce regret, in our worldly decision to go our own way, as autonomous, self-reliant junior gods sitting atop the thrones of our lives.

            Seeing the resurrected Jesus walking openly down Main Street in Jerusalem, visually with our eyes, does not change our resolve to live our lives our way without “interference” from God…any more than seeing with their own eyes Jesus raise Lazarus to life after being four days dead in a rock covered tomb, changed the thinking of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lawyers, and only a few days later in that same week these same men thoroughly and with finality rejecting Jesus…cruelling mocking Him as He hangs dying on the cross (Mt. 27:39-44). 

            The decision to accept Jesus Christ into our lives, to choose to follow Him, is a moral choice involving faith…is a decision of the heart and mind at the center of the reality of personal relationships involving faith and trust…at the center of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief.

            The empirical part comes after we become spiritually born-again, being a supernatural experience that confirms that God actually exists, and as we enter into the Christian discipleship of a journey of faith, that reveals to us what God is like as a person…that builds a personal relationship.

            During the temptation in the Garden of Eden, God could have arrived on the scene, and to empirically refute the serpent and to establish His authority, performed some visual demonstration of His divine powers that the serpent could not duplicate…the serpent being a spiritual manifestation of Satan and not possessing divine powers to match God.

            But God performing a visual demonstration of His power…of a sign that was clearly observable and thus empirical to Adam and Eve, would not and could not in any way establish the personal trustworthiness and integrity of God’s Word…being something entirely in a different category of facts…different from performing a visually observable supernatural act…different from a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  

            Without hitting this nail on the head too many times, the recently resurrected Jesus Christ walking openly down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and into the Temple, merely translates the intimate relationship earned through lived-experience between people and God, into the unremarkably commonplace recognition of an observed fact.  It translates the resurrection of Jesus into a category of facts, the possession of which confers no special merit…on our behalf…or even on God’s behalf.

            This is one thing that makes this time in human history unique, in that the recent discoveries in modern science are creating an empirical revelation about the existence and character of God, precisely timed for the “last days”…beginning to approximate the certainty that would have been produced two thousand years ago had Jesus Christ openly walked down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and straight into the Temple…a few days after His resurrection…and began to teach on His unique calling and mission as the Son of God to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin.

            The lack of empirically undisputed credibility within the written and verbal testimony of the early disciples, who did visually see and engage with the risen Christ after His resurrection (not having the technical means to videotape as “home movies” their interaction with the resurrected Jesus) and the green-light option of skeptical critics to discount the veracity of the supernatural participation of God within the biblical narrative stories of faith, has now turned the corner into the realm of fact-based empirical evidence…identifying and elevating the recognition of the high craftsmanship of the Intelligent Designer God of the material universe, thereby at the same time identifying and recognizing the divine nature of the composition of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            This is a sea-change…an inflection-point…in the history of mankind.

            If the data from modern science is now telling us through the unbiased, independent secular enterprise of human scientific investigation, that there are a vast number of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural world…such as the fine-tuned constants of the laws of physics, the periodic table of elements in chemistry, the Big Bang creation of the universe, and the information within DNA, that identify the inarguable need for an Intelligent Designing Agent…this in essence now empirically shifts the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…something that has never occurred before.

            If the human enterprise of scientific research reveals the logically inescapable need for an Intelligent Designing Agent behind the architectural and engineering design of the natural world…purposely foreseen and intended by God in making the natural world both orderly and intelligible…this revelation coming in the end-times produces the empirical conclusion in the exact way God wanted, through the human investigative search for truth, through the innate, created capacity for human beings to exercise their intellectual and moral reasoning…to actualize into reality the fact that we are made in the image of God and not the mere accidental product of a naturalistic universe.

            Modern scientific investigation was always going to reach a point in time when the inescapable recognition of the need for an Intelligent Designing Agent of the natural world…to explain the presence of complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information…was identifiable everywhere we look in the living and non-living world, now well beyond the rational and plausible reach of purely materialistic causations.

            Because the natural world was always this complex, starting at the Big Bang 13.7-billion years ago for the universe and beginning 4.5-billion years ago for our planet earth, this world-changing epiphany was waiting all this time for human scientific discovery to advance to the point today where intelligent agency is now the only remaining option to explain how all of this came into being.

            As the recognition of the specificity of information increases, the plausibility of random chance decreases as the explanation for the origin of this material universe.

            But equally astounding, the delicate balance between belief and unbelief had to be precisely adjusted and maintained, also all the way up until this time-period in human history, not being categorically decisive for or against either belief or unbelief in the existence of God until modern scientific investigation could weigh-in on the question…to conclude on the basis of fact-based evidence…that the quantity, quality, and upfront timing of the information discovered in the natural world requires a designer.

            The scientific fact-based evidence, obvious to unbiased observers, is that we do not see anything in the living or non-living world that can self-assemble into something that is a complex, specified, and coherently integrated system.

            Information, in the quantity and quality required to produce complex life-forms and their supporting biosphere on earth and in the cosmos, cannot simply come into existence on its own.

            This should also give us a hint…a heads-up…that we are currently living in the end-times.

            The resurrected Jesus on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after Easter morning…openly walking down Main Street and into the Temple being a clearly too premature evidence in the first-century…would have toppled the delicate balance between belief and unbelief towards belief.

            By contrast today modern scientific investigation is revealing not only complex systems of information inexplicable by naturalistic origins…but also that modern science actually dissolves the philosophy of atheism as being self-refuting…discussed in the essay “Are God and Science in Conflict?” 

            The shaky ground that atheism now stands upon thanks to the corrosive solvent of philosophical materialism that asserts that our minds/brains are the undependable product of a random and undirected naturalistic process…dissolves the credibility and reliability of all systems of thought, including science and the philosophy of atheism.

            This is an unexpected and unanticipated development accruing out of Darwinism that could only occur in the end-times…otherwise it would affect the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…too early in human history.

            When the indecisive, put-it-off-until-later, fence-sitting of procrastination regarding the question of belief or unbelief in God, begins to lose some its long-standing truce of neutrality and tips in favor of belief in God…then the equal and opposite reaction is an erosion of unbelief as a previously viable worldview option.

            At some point in time, in the rapid accumulation of evidence, which I believe is now, the only two remaining worldview choices left standing will be belief in God…or people resorting to simply saying “I don’t want to believe in God.”

            Without having the credible excuses of naturalism, Darwinism, or scientism to fall back on…or even the now philosophically illogical position of atheism that is undermined by its own adherence to scientific materialism…the only remaining reason left for choosing to go our own way apart from God is exposed as pure and simple unbelief.

            Skeptical unbelievers and people sitting on the fence, by their choices and actions, will someday soon, in truth be limited to saying: “God, and Christianity, and the Bible”…be damned…I want to live life…my way…no matter what the evidence tells us is the truth.

            Not everyone can become PhD scientists, able to navigate through the technical facts spanning several disciplines of research…supporting either atheism or agency in nature.  

            Winning a consensus that favors design in today’s scientific community, and rejecting naturalism would be without question a monumental event in human history.

            But the discovery by modern science of the inescapable presence of design in the natural world, and thus the existence of an intelligent designer God…expands a million-fold when filtered through the biblical narrative stories of faith…of making a compelling argument that a faith-journey following the God of the Bible is credible, accessible, and advisable in our modern popular culture…as the one true worldview narrative…excluding all others (Mt. 7:13-14; Jn. 11:25, 14:6).

            The amazing revelation here is that it is the unexpected product of modern science that has provided the answer to the age-old objection of skeptical unbelief, that the real God should come forward and reveal Himself empirically by writing across the sky for everyone to see… in fiery-red letters…that He exists and who He is.

            The delicate balance between belief and unbelief provides the free-will opportunity to cast a vote in favor of making the God of the Bible our ruling King…or to reject Him altogether in favor of the humanistic worldview of self-sovereignty.

            For God to write across the sky in fiery-red letters that He exists and who He is…and to worship only Him…is an empirical evidence for God that removes the free-will quality of our decision to vote for or against God.

            Jesus on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His resurrection walking openly down Main Street and into the Temple in Jerusalem…likewise removes the freedom of choice and replaces it with factually visible evidence.

            Everyone in heaven will be there because they wanted to be there…because they voted in a “fair and free election” to make Jesus Christ their King and Ruler.

            Those who voted for the skeptical unbelief of self-sovereignty within the free-will choice afforded them through the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…will not be in heaven by their own decision to push God away.  

            Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:24…”I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

            The Pharisees and scribes also wanted an empirical sign from Jesus to authenticate His qualifications, and Jesus said no (Mt. 12:38-39).

            A personal relationship is based upon mutual faith and trust…and that is one explanation for why God chooses to introduce Himself to the world through the biblical narrative stories of faith…and why He does not reveal Himself universally to everyone through the empiricism of a “sign from heaven.”

            But what is remarkable in our modern world today like never before…is that both the scientific data about the natural world and the narrative stories of faith from the Bible…are telling us who God is and what God is like…in a compelling way that approaching the certainty of being a sign from heaven.

“The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man boast.”                                                           (Eph. 2:8-9)

Could the Story of Jesus Christ be Human Literary Invention?

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”                                                                                                             (Jn. 20:31)

            In the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, He encounters push-back from the religious elites in Israel generally and in Jerusalem specifically, which exhibits the unmistakable characteristic of self-righteousness.

            This is displayed in the lack of empathy for the common people…the attitude of looking-down-their noses at the less-educated general public…which then stereotyped Jesus into the lower category of being a common, middle-class artisan carpenter coming from the insignificant small-town of Nazareth in Galilee (Jn. 7:15). 

            This lack of empathy for the common people was the exact opposite of what we should expect from religious leaders who are supposed to be in the business of helping other people.

            The self-righteous character of the religious elites, painfully pointed-out by Jesus throughout His ministry…is too numerous in the New Testament gospels to be discussed in detail here (Mt. 3:7-12; Lk. 4:16-30; Mt. 5:20, 9:10-13, 16:11-12, 20:25-28; Lk. 11:39-52; Jn. 5:38, 7:19, 7:49, 8:24, 40, 44, 9:34).

            The attribute of humility that is revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God…in temporarily leaving His position in heaven as the divine Second Person of the Trinity…to be born into a common family in Nazareth as a human and learning the trade of becoming a carpenter from his stepfather Joseph…exhibits the broadest imaginable range of character in assuming the most worldly humble status in contrast to His true identity.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ is Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper…times ten…combining royalty and humility in the same Person.

            Align this with the worldly practical reality that a perfect moral person could never be crucified as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world…because it would be socially and culturally impossible to get such a perfect person all the way to the utter rejection of the cross on Calvary Hill…unless they were for starters the most commonplace of persons according to outward appearances…according to worldly conventional status.

            How do you get a perfectly sinless, blemish-free Lamb of God person all the way to the cross at Calvary?

            The story of the life of Jesus Christ is real…because it cannot be human literary fiction…because it is too worldly unconventional.

            The story of Jesus not only requires targeted script-writing of unimaginably insightful creative invention, but also the wherewithal to actually pull it off…to not merely talk-the-talk on paper…but to walk-the-walk in concrete reality in our modern first-century…within a singular life-script that even manages to challenge God Himself in the divinely exclusive area of perfect God-sovereignty…a concept that no human writer could or would invent.

            The brilliance of God here is seen in the journey of faith life-script for Jesus…based upon perfect trust, perfect integrity, and perfect truth…contrasted with the disastrous end-point product of the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes in first-century Jerusalem, their actions being the direct result of crafting our own individual life-script programs according to the self-performance of good-works, of attempting to earn our way to heaven, the exact opposite of the life-story of Abraham justified by faith (Rom. 4:3).

            On the night before His crucifixion…in the Garden of Gethsemane…Jesus reveals the free-will difficulty of staying perfectly within God-sovereignty when He says: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Lk. 22:42).

            If Jesus deviates even a hair’s breadth from His life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, and says this is too difficult as originally planned and that He is going His own way in search of an easier and less costly salvation method than the cross…then the unity of God-sovereignty within the Trinity of the Godhead would have been broken for the first time in eternity.

            Here God is not only revealing something personal about Himself, but He is telling us one of the most profoundly amazing facts in all of eternity…that He can compose a thrilling and suspense-filled final chapter for the life of Jesus Christ on earth…that manages to challenge Himself in the precise area of God-sovereignty that we will have the most trouble with.

            God is telling us here, that not only is Jesus Christ taking upon Himself the sins of the world…on the cross…but that the life-script for Jesus composed by God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), intentionally factors-in Gethsemane and Calvary.

            The life-script for Jesus contains the unimaginable feature that God can now personally relate to our understandably human struggle to make the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty…a new and novel experience set-up for the divine Son of God living as a human person on earth, the perfect and indivisible God-sovereignty that as the Son of God in heaven comes naturally to Him and is otherwise unchallenged and untested in that environment.  

            The enormous range and breadth of character for God to “stoop to conquer” sin displayed in the super-humility of Jesus Christ suffering through the demeaning rejection of Roman crucifixion in Jerusalem…on our behalf…displays the diametric opposite quality of being “petty” according to Richard Dawkins, on a scale of mistaken judgment that is so off-base and misguided as to be beyond adequate description

            The disrespect of the current group of New Atheists towards the life and ministry of Jesus Christ…shows a shallow quality of lazy scholarship…an unwillingness to even attempt to dig deeper, to think through and understand the opposing viewpoint.

            If human sin…imperfection of character…cannot be pushed aside as being the mere product of the partially incomplete development of Darwinian evolution, but instead is so important as to require the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God as a human person, this raises the incarnation, life, and ministry of Jesus up into the seriousness of a life-and-death issue…now and for all-time.

            This then requires the most earnestly sober consideration and analysis, worthy of a dignified and proper investigation.

            Some people have called the life of Jesus “the greatest story ever told”…but the worldviews of philosophical materialists like Richard Dawkins relegate human sin…imperfect character…to merely be the work-in-progress actions of matter and energy, according to the tenets of Darwinian evolution…no other viewpoint being open to atheism.

            This worldview enables philosophical materialists to devalue sin as being natural and unimportant, and thereby devalue the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ again as being “petty.”

            Self-righteousness is one of the few character traits within the broad array of moral concepts…that is unsolvable…that is unfixable…because it pushes-out the ability to recognize our shortcomings that produces regret, that in turn can produce genuine and actionable humility.

Without humility we cannot exercise empathy towards other people (Mt. 9:10-13; Lk. 16:15; Jn. 5:44).

            At the cross on Calvary Hill…God introduces Himself to us at the most intimate level…telling us something deeply personal not only about Himself, but also about the way to discovering genuine truth.

            The Intelligent Designer of the grandeur of the physical universe is telling us that He is up to the character challenge of playing the role of the lowest level of selfless humility, when it is in the service and cause of goodness, truth, and self-sacrificing love…a character trait I judge as being the least petty thing imaginable.

            Regarding self-righteousness…why was Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God (Jn. 1:1-3) in the New Testament gospels, continually butting heads with the biblical interpretations, rituals, practices, and attitudes of the Pharisees and scribes (Mt. 5:20, 22, 28, 34, 39, 44, 6:5, 16, 7:29, 9:11, 11:16-19, 12:1-8, 9-13, 14, 24, 38, 15:2, 16:12, 17:22-23, 19:3; Lk. 11:42-44, 52, 12:1; Jn. 7:19, 24, 8:19, 39-40)…while as the Creator of everyone and everything (Jn. 1:3) He freely interacted with them in open dialogue throughout His ministry and outreach to the world?

            The Pharisees and scribes crafted their own revised version of the faith of Abraham and the law of Moses, putting in place their own system of rituals and practices, briefly listed above, that were achievable through the alternative program of the self-effort of self-realization rather than faith…a form of self-salvation through the performance of good-works, and thus placing themselves in direct conflict with Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God and the chief architect of the very Judaic religion they professed to follow. 

            In a genuine biblical-quality journey of faith…starting with the detailed life-script of Abraham…God displaces our ways with His higher ways, in the process automatically removing any pretense on our part to gloat over self-achievement…in the process removing any portion of the God-composed life-script storyline to degenerate into the negative pride of self-righteousness.

            By contrast…in a journey of selfbased upon the performance of good-works, we actually displace God’s ways with our ways, opening wide the gate to invite-in the erroneous, worldly standard for self-evaluation that with some limited measure of “success” easily morphs into pride-filled self-righteousness…of “look at me how good I am.”

            The performance of the many religious rituals and practices the Pharisees and scribes manufactured to afford them a false standard by which to judge themselves…which fell far outside the bounds of the faith of Abraham or the law of Moses…translates today into the secular variation of similarly displacing God’s ways with our ways, this time using the seemingly more sophisticated, human-manufactured worldview of naturalistic materialism that is primarily based upon Darwinian evolution…in place of the good-works program of the Pharisees and scribes. 

            When self-righteousness pushes-out our capacity to recognize that we are all sinners in universal standing before God…are imperfect beings needing the turn-about of regret and repentance in order to purchase the humility that will accept a reconnection back to God, and a heart-felt desire to allow God to introduce Himself to us through the personal relationship of a life-journey of faith, this debilitating character trait of self-righteousness becomes the hallmark…the epitome…of using self-invented worldview programs as the excuse for unbelief, of going our own way apart from God.

            Both Pharisee-ism in the first-century…and Darwinism today…share the same character trait of self-righteousness, inserting their own worldview system, either through the self-salvation performance of good-works, or by the elimination of sin chalked-up to the progressive development of incomplete Darwinian evolution.

            What is sad from the viewpoint of Spirit-born Christians is that the Pharisees and scribes in the first-century, and people like the New Atheists today…were then and are presently now living within a false sense of security.

            False worldviews generate a false sense of security, and God cares enough about us to introduce Himself in person to mankind, and to separate and divide out for us the right way to go in life (Jn. 1:1-14, 11:25, 14:6).

            Staying with this essay a little bit longer…because the issues are so important…the question can be asked: Why didn’t Jesus choose a few of the religious elites in Jerusalem to be among His apostles and disciples, during His ministry?

            The simple answer is that the character trait of self-righteousness is unsolvable, is unfixable, because it takes-up the space exactly where repentance occurs…pushing-out the ability to have an about-face, turn-around change of mind and heart regarding accepting Jesus Christ.

            The Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem come out to the Jordan River to see what John the Baptist is doing.

            John sees right through them, saying in Matthew 3:7-10:

7 O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits befitting for repentance.

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

            Some of these same hard-core men were still in the Sanhedrin Council decades later when Paul stands before them on his last visit to Jerusalem…men Paul knew well when he was a Pharisee (Acts 22:30; 23:6, 26:5).

            It took no less than a blinding light from heaven to convert Paul (Acts 9:3)…a special calling and a unique variation of the Great Commission coming from Jesus Christ Himself.

            If Paul, a highly educated Pharisee, was going to have the required empathy to take the Christian gospel message to the pagan, polytheistic, and idol-worshipping Greco-Roman world…he was going to need a large dose of humility obtained through the discovery that he was completely wrong about the status of Jesus of Nazareth…thereby displacing the self-righteousness he shared with his colleagues in the Sanhedrin Council, up until that fateful moment on the road to Damascus.

            John the Baptist imprisoned by Herod, has some difficulty with the adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the established leaders in Jerusalem, justifiably assuming that Jesus by then would be in the process of literally fulfilling Isaiah 9:6-7 in this First Advent.

            Mary the mother of Jesus appears to have profound confusion over this same adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the religious leaders…men she would normally admire and respect…regarding the divine status of her son Jesus, which she is acutely and intimately aware of better than anyone, other than Jesus Himself.

            When Jesus begins to tell His disciples about His upcoming arrest, mistreatment, death, and resurrection (Mt. 16:21-22)…Peter emphatically objects, saying: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee”…unable to accept the inevitable negative outcome that would occur when radically pride-filled self-righteousness collides with the low worldly status of being considered petty…in the case of Jesus brilliantly camouflaging His true identity.

            In the account of the Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:1-11)…the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 is fulfilled: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon the foal of an ass.” (Italics and bold mine).

            Jesus moderates the impact of everything He does…because He must maintain a perfectly fine-tuned balance so as to remain within the low worldly status of being able to be rejected and crucified (Ps 22; Isa. 53).

            The life-script of Jesus Christ walks this line perfectly, and is a compelling evidence for it being real.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ aims at the very thing that offends Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists…the divine capacity to be able to “stoop to conquer” sin being beneath the dignity of a supposed creator god of the universe, but therein introducing to us a personal character trait of God that is amazing to contemplate…yet is incomprehensible and inaccessible to Darwinists.

            To get a perfect person Jesus Christ all the way to the cross of Calvary, at this one point in time in human history to qualify as the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin, requires a rare mixture of the easily offended self-righteousness in His critics, and the low worldly status of His outward appearance of being petty (Isa. 53:1-6)…both positioned at the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum graph-line of humility and not moderated toward a compromised and more reasonable center.

            The scenario presented here is light-years beyond any Darwinian program to produce human beings as mere hunters and gatherers…and far beyond the literary imagination of human fictional mythology.

            The life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ inspire the most earnestly sober consideration…and the most dignified and proper analysis…because His story cannot be anything other than genuinely real.

Why Would God Become a Human Person?

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”                                                                                                 (Isa. 9:6)

            In the 2009 Oxford debate[1] between the atheist paleontologist Richard Dawkins and the Christian mathematician John Lennox, both PhD scientists and Oxford college professors, entitled Has Science Buried God?…Richard Dawkins makes the statement that in comparison to the exquisite grandeur of the universe, the idea that God would become a human person and then be crucified and resurrected from the dead, is petty, trivial, local, earthbound, small-minded, and unworthy of the universe…combining some other descriptive terms Dawkins used from their earlier 2008 debate in Alabama.

            The biblical account of the virgin birth, turning water into wine, walking on water, the substitutionary atoning sacrifice on the cross for human sin, and being raised three days later from the dead…to the thinking of Richard Dawkins this is not only incredulous as to the facts, but is also beneath the dignity of the creator god of the universe, if it could be shown scientifically that there is one.

            John Lennox gives the brilliant response, in my opinion, that if he could do an MRI scan of the brain of Richard Dawkins, the purely mechanical and materialistic nature of the imaging data generated from a brain scan, would not extend to the point of revealing any information as to who Dawkins is as a person…as a unique personality. 

            The material molecules of the mind/brain of Richard Dawkins will not tell us what he thinks, what he believes, what he loves, his sense of humor, the qualities he admires in other people, and what are the innermost dreams and aspirations that motivate the course of his life. 

            An MRI brain scan will not give us any information about the core values of a person, being limited in the scope of its investigative reach.

            John Lennox then looks directly across at Richard Dawkins and offers the insightful comment: “I can only get to know you if you tell me about yourself”…a truism that every person on the planet can understand and relate to.

            This gives us a definitive start to answering the question of why God would become a human person, why He would enter into human history, and why He would introduce Himself to the world “in the flesh” as a personal someone rather than as an impersonal something…rather thanas a mere abstract concept to follow (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7, 53:5-6; Jn. 3:14-21, 9:39-41, 15:22-25).

            We can learn through scientific investigation all about the physical aspects of the natural world, that give us a very good and full picture of the technical competence of the Intelligent Designer God as a craftsman…but this cannot reveal to us who God is as an individually unique person…as a personality.

            The theme of this essay is that the biblical narrative stories of faith record God’s signature way of introducing Himself to people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Peter, and Paul…and down through the centuries to the world at large…but especially through the life and ministry of the Son of God Jesus Christ.

            God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, for Christian disciples today are the precisely fine-tuned and highly specified  contexts of life events and circumstances in which we can individually get to know God on a personal level (Jn. 14:9)…the divinely authorized method of proper introduction through which God can tell us about Himself.

            We can get to know God, as our experienced, competent, and personal Tour-Guide in life, through the events and circumstances of a journey of faith, because Jesus Christ the Son of God actualized in His own life a journey of faith to perfection…going out ahead of us along this dynamic, living way of faith and trust in God, thereby qualifying Himself for all eternity to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), for all human beings.

            Jesus goes before us in a journey of faith in a human body…exemplifying how perfect God-sovereignty operates in a human life…so that He could justifiably ask us also to “pick up our cross” (Mk. 8:34-35) and follow Him along this same route of committed faith and trust in Him to show us the way in our own life-scripts…to make the difficult transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty that is the unique hallmark of biblical faith.

            Jesus Christ steps into a risked-filled journey of faith, becoming incarnated into a human body (Isa. 9:6; Lk. 1:35), putting everything on-the-line so that He could qualify as the sinless, blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice through the cross at Calvary, amidst the most adverse and perilous challenges (Isa. 53; Lk. 22:42).

            The life of Jesus leading up to the sacrifice on the cross, of divinely perfect moral character and truth, must be acceptable to God the Father to the degree that Jesus could then justifiably be worthy to be resurrected from the dead…being three days in a rock covered tomb in the city of Jerusalem…death being something never previously experienced by one of the three members of the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            Jesus Christ the divinely perfect Son of God offering Himself in our place, for our offences, justifiably enables Jesus to extend to us an unconditional pardon in that He has paid in full the penalty that ultimate justice demands in a Godly universe of truth and right living.

            This is why God became a person through the incarnation of the Son of God Jesus Christ…through the virgin Mary giving birth to her first-born child Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem…accompanied by Joseph her new husband, the inns in the city all being full, beginning an extraordinary story of divine character blended with radical humility throughout the life of Jesus extending all the way to Calvary, that no human literary genius could or would ever invent as fiction.

            What will be repeated a few other places in different essays in this book, is that the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross covers the sins past, present, and future for believers.

            When I became a born-again Christian at age 18 in 1970…I was not instantly transformed into a morally perfect person…of being incapable of making mistakes, poor decisions, or exhibiting less than perfect character from that time onward.

            For the Christian disciples after Pentecost recorded in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit descended upon each of them in the form of tongues of fire, they also were not instantly transformed into morally perfect people.

            The package of salvation through Jesus Christ creates a new life of discipleship that does not include moral perfection.

            But what turns the world upside-down once we see and understand this in the biblical narrative stories of faith and in our journeys of faith today…is that God is able to shape and channel our imperfect nature into the best imaginable vehicle to venture out into this broken world to investigate the knowledge of good and evil…through a journey of faith having the impunity of a full advance pardon upfront, removing the risk of losing our salvation as a result of our poor performances along the way…of falling at times far short of perfection in our thoughts, actions, and exercise of faith.

            God imputes to us through Jesus Christ…by grace through faith…the righteousness that we lack, so that we can embark on a God-guided and sanctioned journey of discovery into the knowledge of good and evil, through a mission-plan that also provides service to others.

            God covering my sins past, present, and future allows me to enter into a risk-filled journey of faith following Jesus Christ…with the confidence that this imperfect nature I inhabit creates the context for me to explore the knowledge of good and evil…in exactly the way God intended two-thousand years ago through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:15-8:1-4). 

            This is a brilliant biblical concept that serves as the solid foundation upon which to confidently build an unshakable worldview (Mt. 7:24-27; Rom. 35-39).

            In Matthew 5:6 in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not say blessed are the morally perfect, but blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.

            A person who has attained moral perfection does not hunger and thirst after righteousness.  They already are righteous. 

            The timeless quality of God’s creative ingenuity is exhibited here in crafting a program of salvation by grace through faith…to anticipate ahead of time the insightful use of imperfect human character, redeemed and forgiven through faith in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the very means to be the remedy and the antidote to the otherwise destructive sin in our lives…to brilliantly flip imperfection into an investigative vehicle of exploration.

            That the cross and the resurrection allows us to step into individualized journeys of faith research programs into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…with impunity and without the risk of condemnation (Rom. 8:1)…being justified by faith in Christ…this falls on the opposite end of the spectrum-line of ultimate purpose and meaningful foresight from Richard Dawkins’ characterization of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of the divine Son of God Jesus Christ…of being “petty” and therefore not worth serious consideration.   

A personal Jesus Christ is accessible

            In the New Testament gospels, Jesus reveals Himself to us in terms we can understand, at a level we can comprehend, because we are persons and Jesus became a person…a human being like us. 

            Jesus becoming a man puts the Son of God in a form we can relate to…and creates the opportunity to get to know Him on a personal, more intimate basis, which on the surface would be something that would and should seem to be out of reach.

            We can read the biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington, and we can learn details and facts about them, but we can never get to know them on a first-hand, personal basis from a book.

            Jesus Christ raised from the dead enables us to know God on a personal basis today…and for all eternity…because He is alive and reachable today in the Spirit.

            This is the eternally accessible part of God…that Jesus is telling His disciples about in John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Holy Spirit will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

            Jesus here is telling His disciples that the time has come for them to make the transition to getting to know God through His Holy Spirit, which will soon become the universal experience for all New Covenant Christian believers…being guided into all truth (Jn. 16:13) through a journey of faith…building a personal relationship with the living God that is not possible to have with the now dead and buried Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, or George Washington.

            A mere biography about an inaccessible and non-relatable God will not produce an intimate personal relationship.

            What is also important here is that the pettiness to Richard Dawkins of Jesus Christ the Son of God becoming an insignificant human person on the same level like the rest of us…in comparison to the vast grandeur of the universe…actually highlights a personal trait about the character of God that could not be demonstrated any other way.

            Through the life of Jesus Christ, God is telling us something that is immensely important about Himself…as to who He is as a person…that is astounding in its sword-edge splitting assessment of empathy contained within humility.

            The current group of New Atheists in this 21st-century who write books critical of God and faith…and debate Christians in public forums over these issues…universally display a form of arrogance that is a product of their atheistic worldview, a worldview possessing the humanistic allowance of built-in self-forgiveness, of having no recognition of sin as a fault, of experiencing no regret leading to repentance before God…in short, of exhibiting self-righteousness, of having an over-inflated self-opinion.

            Of course philosophical materialists would “naturally” prefer atheism as their worldview…but not for the high-minded intellectual reasons they put forward…but instead because this allows them to interpret their imperfection of character as a product of Darwinian progressive evolution, thereby producing no fault on their part, and no introspective cause for regret.

            Interpreted this way, human sin is conveniently cloaked within a naturalistic imperfection of flawed character…to be theoretically remedied in the distant future through the continued Darwinian progression of random mutation and natural selection. 

            This philosophically short-circuits entrance into a God-composed journey of faith life-script designed to utilize our imperfect character as the lens through which to understand good and evil…starting with faith that produces humility that generates empathy, the ingredients needed to unravel the knowledge of good and evil, the very same attributes the humble worldly status of Jesus actualizes into reality in the four New Testament gospels.

            If our brains/minds are merely the product of random and undirected natural processes…how much more ongoing discord, chaos, and warfare do we need to experience before the atheistic version of mutation/selection works its hypothetical magic…to perfect for human beings in the future a more fully developed adaptation to our moral environment?

            The biblical concept of God becoming a human being in the person of Jesus Christ…to be the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin, opening up a new and living way into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil without the risk of jeopardizing our eternal salvation, while still being morally imperfect but hungering and thirsting after righteousness…is immeasurably superior in terms of truth, hope, and purpose…to the random and undirected, survival-of-the-fittest program of Darwinian evolution.


[1] John Lennox and Richard Dawkins: Has Science Buried God debate at Oxford 2009, hosted by the Fixed Point Foundation, on You Tube.

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