In a conversation with my brother recently, he mentioned something about someone who was struggling with a disease, but it was “better than the alternative,” or death. Believing that heaven is real, and our souls go there when our bodies give out, I disagreed. I don’t fear death as the end, but as a new beginning.
My brother is a scientist, and his whole life he’s been deeply influenced by the naturalistic worldview. This view believes that science is to be conducted without reference to otherworldly causes, and assumes that observable events are fully explainable by natural causes without any reference to the supernatural. Science will discover all the answers—eventually. That is his motto, as well as many of his comrades in the field. I agree that science is a tool to discover many mysteries of life, but I also believe that “tool” is a way to highlight the intricacies of God’s creation.
I then asked him how he would explain consciousness, since science has not been able to figure that out. He stated flatly, “There is NOTHING you can say to me that will change my mind.” Door closed.
Not giving up, I said, “Well, what if I could prove God’s existence to you scientifically?” He then looked at me with a wry expression and said, “Then you’d be the richest person in the world.” As if THAT was my motivation? To gain riches? Oh brother, brother!
This goes to show you that our two world-views are diametrically opposed. My desire to try to “convert” my brother has absolutely NOTHING to do with money. It has everything to do with my desire for him to spend eternity with me in heaven, enjoying God and others in what dreams may come. There is no other motive but the motive of love!
What motivates the atheist? Atheists debate Christian apologists because they are in pursuit of what they perceive as truth, and feel Christians, or people of any faith, are delusional. Apologists are also in pursuit of the truth, and ultimately desire atheists/agnostics to know the love of God. I am not claiming Christians are better because of our motivations. We surely are not! We acknowledge that we’re sinners just like all of humanity. We do believe, however, that there is an eternal stamp on the heart of every man to know and be known by His creator. We also believe that ignored long enough, that stamp fades with time, hearts harden, and people can become so fixated on their own strength, they no longer recognize that imprint on their souls (as they don’t even believe they have a soul). Everything, in their minds, can be explained by biology. Any form of love we may experience is simply a biochemical reaction to hormones to procreate. Really? How do you then explain the love you have for that dying friend, diseased and hurting? What about an aging parent who faces death soon? Are those feelings simply biochemical responses to…what?
I wonder sometimes if the atheist simply does not want to believe in God because if they do, then they are accountable to this “higher power.” (They will be accountable no matter what, but they don’t believe that.) It takes a certain amount of humility to recognize that maybe, just maybe, we don’t have all the answers, and that science can’t solve every puzzle. At least agnostics haven’t completely written off the possibility that there might be a creator.
I am sorry that not every person has had the faith experience I’ve had as a Christian. I wish they would! I do know, however, that I was open to the possibility, and I was seeking God wholeheartedly before He revealed Himself to me. It wasn’t like Moses and the burning bush. It was a more gradual, subtle process. But I kept pursuing God. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matt. 7:7 (ESV).
God may not answer you in the way you think He should, and He may not give you what you think you need. That can be a stumbling block for many. We need to remember that Jesus never promised us a rose garden this side of heaven. Instead, He told us to expect trouble (John 16:33). We see things from an earthly perspective, and He sees things from an eternal one. Jesus said we should not fear the first death, but warned us to fear the second death, or the final judgment.
As they lay dying, Jesus looked at the thief on the cross and promised him that “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paradise awaits on the other side, and that is what Christian apologists want everyone to experience — that is our motivation, and that is what will make us “rich.”