What is being called the “largest gathering of the secular movement in world history” is taking place in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2012. New Atheists like Richard Dawkins are gathering in Washington on this date by droves to participate in the Reason Rally (www.ReasonRally.com) to contend that atheism and secular humanism are the most reasonable worldviews. There are now more atheists/agnostics/humanists in America than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists combined, and they want to make their voice heard that “Atheism is reasonable.” Only atheism is a worldview of reason. Are they right?

Christians will also be attending the Reason Rally. This coordinated effort purposes to show that secularism is not the vessel of reason and Christianity is. The Christians are responding with an alternative website (www.TrueReason.org) and a direct response to the Reason Rally through a book to be published in early March.

Clearly this rally is a battle in a larger conflict for the mind and heart of every person in the world. Who has the upper edge on reason? Surely whatever view is true must be the most reasonable. We use reasoning capacities in everything from examining evidence in court to deciding what tires to buy, and thus our view of the world and what lies beyond can hardly be the exception to reason’s critiques. The Reason Rally’s argument that atheism is the only reasonable worldview is already believed by many who hold that religion equals irrationality and atheism equals the only choice for modern, educated men and women.

But is atheism truly reasonable? Let’s examine atheism on its own claimed turf, Reason. From the origins of the universe and the world of microscopic life to the reliability of an ancient document and the occurrence of an event two thousand years ago, we’ll check out atheism against its own standard.

In the Beginning

Atheism maintains that the universe is all there is and there are no supernatural forces involved. Yet modern scientific theory and discovery have shown superbly strong evidence that the universe had a beginning. These discoveries give atheism a problem, stated best in logic:

Whatever has a beginning had a cause to begin it.

The universe had a beginning.

Thus, the universe had a cause.

The first two statements are logical premises, and the last statement is the conclusion inferred from the previous statements. If the two premises are true and the logical argument is valid, then the conclusion is true also. This conclusion is not what atheism wants, because a cause of the universe would be separate from the universe – not a part of the universe. And since the universe contains all nature and is synonymous with nature, nature would be caused by the supernatural – that which is beyond nature.

So are the first two logical statements correct? The first, “whatever has a beginning has a cause,” is quite obviously true. A baby begins crying because of the cause of hunger. A war begins because of the cause of conflicting ideologies. A car begins existing because of the cause of the machinations of a factory and human engineering. This basic principle is the basis for all scientific study: Every effect has a sufficient cause. Rocks roll down hills because of gravity and lightweight bugs can walk on water because of surface tension. Nothing “pops” into existence all by itself – if something could, we could never be sure of the cause of anything. If something began existing sometime in the past, then some other person or thing caused it to be. Everyone, from children to doctors of philosophy, know intuitively that every effect has a cause.

So what about the second premise, “the universe had a beginning”? Vast amounts of scientific data and virtually all scientists support this statement, based on many reasonable evidences:

1. Second Law of Thermodynamics. One of the most proven scientific laws, this principle basically states that the universe is running out of usable energy and going from order to disorder. Useful work, such as the swing of an arm or the combustion in an engine, are not one hundred percent efficient and thus lose usable energy through friction or heat. Everything runs down over the course of time. Intelligent, directed activity can halt the tendency towards disorder, such as the growth of living organisms or the building of structures by intelligent humans or animals; but these upward activities eventually give way to the increase of disorder. Buildings collapse; we get old.

This move from order to disorder implies that the universe had once been “started” with a high degree of order. If the universe is “winding down,” then it makes sense that it once was “wound up.” If the universe was eternal in age, this tendency to disorder would have decomposed everything into a useless state by now. In fact, if there is no interruption from a creative source, scientists predict that the universe will decay and die in a “heat death” as a result of the second law of thermodynamics. Thus, since we have not yet experienced this heat death, the universe has not grown old enough to die. Since it has not gone through enough time to die, it must have begun life in the past. Thus, the universe had a beginning which was highly ordered.

A high degree of order is exactly what Christianity states how the universe began – “very good” in God’s sight. Atheism, on the other hand, says the universe formed randomly with no plan and moved upwards in complexity – quite the opposite of the order-to-disorder tendency of the second law of thermodynamics. Thus, which view is more reasonably true when we look at the evidence from the second law of thermodynamics?

2. An Expanded Universe. When Mr. Hubble looked through his Hubble telescope in California, he made a discovery that shocked the twentieth century scientific world: the universe has expanded. The light from all the galaxies were redshifted, which meant that they were flying away from earth and each other in all directions. Galaxies flying away from each other meant that the universe expanded and/or is expanding. Conversely, if the galaxies’ light was blueshifted, the galaxies would be converging and thus the universe would be collapsing.

This universal expansion, in which space itself is stretching and bringing the galaxies with it, means that the universe once was smaller than it is today. Keep rewinding the universe back in time, and the universe shrinks into an infinitely small point. Thus, such an expanding universe could not have been expanding forever, but it must have begun its existence in a moment in time.

Some atheists try getting around this problem of an expanding universe by speculating that the universe goes through a cycle of expanding and contracting; this idea is called the oscillating universe hypothesis. It’s not much more than a guess, since it hardly has any evidence, and much against it. First, the second law of thermodynamics stated above would drain the usable energy from each expansion/contraction cycle until there was no more energy to do either. Second, there is not enough gravity in the universe to pull the universe into a “Big Crunch.” Third, there is no physical mechanism known that can initiate a new “Big Bang” from the hypothetical Big Crunch. Thus, rather than following the reasonable conclusion of an expanding universe, the oscillating universe idea clutches to little more than speculation in order to escape the conclusions of reason.

3. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Even before Mr. Hubble discovered the expanding universe in his telescope, Mr. Einstein was puzzled over his mathematical equations, which showed him that the universe – all space, matter, and even time – began from nothing. Einstein, preferring to believe in an eternal universe (which was in scientific vogue back then in the 1920s), did what no third-grader is allowed to do: divide by zero. By employing this mathematical crime in his equations, Einstein managed to avoid a universe that started from nothing. But when Hubble made his discovery, Einstein visited Hubble’s telescope himself to see what his equations had told him all along: the universe had a beginning. Einstein reversed his convictions in favor of his original equations. His theory of general relativity is one of the most evidenced theories of the universe, respected by all scientists and created by one of the most brilliant minds in history. It would be quite unreasonable to reject it.

Thus, scientific evidence is clear that the universe had a beginning.

Since whatever has a beginning has a cause, and the universe has a beginning, then the universe also has a cause. Remember in Einstein’s equations that the beginning of the universe brought forth the existence of not just all matter, but also space and time themselves. Thus, whatever caused the universe into being must itself be

  • immaterial

  • spaceless

  • timeless

Sounds like a spiritual cause, doesn’t it? In fact, these are some of the precise characteristics of the Christian God. Reason’s implications don’t stop there though: Since the universe is not eternal, but began at a finite time in the past, this cause of the universe must have made a conscious choice to bring the universe into existence. After all, if this cause was an impersonal force like gravity, it could not choose to create, but would either be always creating or never creating. Such an impersonal force cause would create an eternal universe, which has already been disproven. Thus, it would make more sense that this Cause is

  • a personal Being

And since the whole universe began from nothing, this Being must be “outside” the universe and be beyond the universe and nature:

  • supernatural – beyond nature

Thus, reasoning from effect to cause and cause to effect, we see that the universe is not all there is out there and that there is a supernatural world. Thus, these two basic tenets of atheism are found to be unreasonable, ignoring key evidences and logic accepted by scientists and everyday experience.

The Watch on the Seashore

If you strolled down a pebbled beach and found a Rolex watch straddled among the stones, would you think it formed from the wind and surf like the other round objects? Not likely, especially if you’re a reasonable man/woman. Yet atheism would have you believe otherwise.

In The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins states, “All appearance to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with future purpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind … . It has no mind … . It does not plan for the future … it is the blind watchmaker” (p. 5).

Natural Selection

So, despite “all appearance to the contrary,” the complexities of nature that exceed even the intricacies of a watch have, according to atheism, come about through random natural processes. Darwin’s evolutionary natural selection has been hailed as the key to this blind watchmaking, transforming over millions of years non-living matter into the first cell into the first fish into the first mammal and into the first human. But is this really reasonable?

When we think about it, natural selection can only “select” from preexisting materials, i.e. from genetic material already in the gene pool. One of the most famous examples of natural selection is the English case of the white moth versus the black moth: The black moths were easy for predator birds to see on white tree trunks until the Industrial Revolution blackened those tree trunks with soot, making the black moths better hidden than the now-conspicuous white moths. Thus, natural selection happened as the black moths increased in population relative to the white moths as birds ate the non-camouflaged moths.

Is this moth natural selection an example of evolution? No, if by evolution you mean the molecules-to-man variety. Only the percentages of white-to-black moths changed – no new forms evolved. Natural selection only reshuffled the population numbers – nothing new arose.

Even the formation of new varieties results just from the reshuffling of genes in the genetic pool. Imagine the dog breed scenario. The original dog variety was a kind of wolf, not too extreme in any one feature, and from that single kind all the various, even crazy, dog breeds developed. From tiny Chihuahuas to huge Saint Bernard’s, from curly-coated poodles to pug-faced bulldogs – all these dog breeds came from the same original stock, which contained the genetic potential for all these varieties. These kinds can be cross-bred, which gives rise to mongrel forms that more closely reflect the original type.

Because natural selection must work within an organism’s genetic code, it is limited in its abilities. This limitedness is exhibited in artificial breeding, where human ingenuity should at least copy the evolutionary power supposedly held by nature’s chance. But repeatedly in the search for better egg production, milk production, etc., breeders have eventually slammed into walls from where no more change could be mustered (Evolution: Fossils Say No, p. 33). Whether natural or artificial, small changes can’t lead to cell-to-man evolution. Even worse, species adaption can reduce genetic information from its formerly wide variation, which then reduces the ability of the species to survive in varied environments (Refuting Evolution, pp. 35-36). As an example, the survival of a long-haired type of dog, having lost its genes for short hair in the process of adapting to a cold climate, may then be reduced if the climate warmed (Ibid., pp. 34-36). Thus, natural selection fails to generate evolution.

Mutations to the Rescue?

Truly if there was one tenet that atheism must keep in order to survive, it is large-scale evolution. It is the foundation for atheism’s worldview without supernatural intelligence or purpose. So when natural selection does not appear to be able to do the job alone, mutations were considered as the key to providing the new genetic information from which natural selection could “choose.” Through mutations, or random changes in a creature’s genetic code, natural selection weeds out the bad and keeps the strong “innovations” in nature until new kinds arise.

But to work for evolution, mutations must add new information to the gene pool that natural selection can work with. Yet mutations are “mistakes” in the genetic code; they often lose information that the genetic code once had. This loss of information cannot be the mechanism for cell-to-man evolution, which requires new information not previously in the genetic code. Even the common example of modern day evolution, bacterial resistance, often relies on mutations that lose information, such as the disabling of a certain gene. This loss of information can never be used for the rise in complexity required in major evolutionary change.

To say that mutations, which are mostly harmful, are the key to evolving more complexity is like saying that by going 99 miles south, then 1 mile north, then 99 miles south, then 1 mile north, etc., that eventually you will arrive at north before south. A species will die out from mutations before it will ever evolve higher complexity.

Thus, since mutations are mistakes, mostly harmful, and fail to add new information in the gene pool of the creature kind, is it reasonable to consider them the key to the formation of life, one of the most ubiquitous phenomena on earth? How can such an unlikely process, the accumulation of almost always harmful mutations in genes, be the creator of so much life in every corner of the planet? Again, mutations and natural selection do not provide a reasonable mechanism for evolution, and thus evolution in its molecules-to-man form is not reasonable as an explanation for the origin of life.

DNA: Information Cries for a Mind

As if evolution did not have enough problems with harmful mutations and a natural selection that can only choose among already-present genes, undirected Darwinism runs into a gigantic problem with the discovery of DNA. The singular thing about DNA is that it is not only mind-bogglingly complex, but it contains a vast amount of information.

DNA is foundational for life. This double helix is within each of our cells in our body and each cell of every life form. This microscopic code (or instruction manual) is composed of chemicals arranged in specific sequences. These arrangements form the letters of a language that communicates to a cell all the information it needs to manufacture everything for life. Human DNA contains information from our height to our personality. The DNA in a single human cell contains the information equivalent of 4,000 books! How can so much information come to exist?

The Key Is Information

DNA is like a foreign language – it looks random at first, but once you understand the “code” and “rules” of the language, all the arrangement of the letters makes sense in this order. This irregular yet patterned aspect of DNA makes DNA very unique, because it is specified information. And information of this kind is only known to result from an intelligent mind.

Dr. Werner Gitt, Director and Professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology, states that one thing we have learned from scientific study is that information can only result from greater information that results from a mind and will:

A code system is always the result of a mental process (it requires an intelligent origin or inventor) … It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required.” In the Beginning was Information, CLV, Bielenfeld, Germany, pp. 64–7.

There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this.” (p. 79)

Thus, chance is unable to account for the information in DNA. This leaves the only reasonable option, design. Someone’s mind had to intentionally design DNA so the pattern makes sense and can function.

How reasonable is the atheist’s position that DNA – with the informational content of 4,000 books – formed by chance? We would literally laugh at anyone who speculated that the Encyclopedia Britannica arose from many years of copying errors in an abandoned library thousands of years ago – so why should we consider that DNA, the most complex, informationally rich entity we know of, just came to be without a mind and without a purpose?

How Can Anyone Believe This?

You may start asking why anyone would believe DNA could evolve, but the problem lies in that evolution became popular among scientists long before DNA or even the structure of cells was known. Did you know that during Darwin’s time, the cell was considered a simple “blob” of plasma? In the minds of scientists who had no knowledge of the hidden mysteries of the microscopic world, the cell was just a bunch of jelly that could easily arise by chance in an ancient pond. If one thinks about life’s origin that way, then it can appear reasonable that life arose by chance.

Yet once the microscopic world was opened to the eyes of the scientist, unparalleled complexity just kept getting more mind-numbing every day. Now cells are actually compared to cities in complexity – can you imagine a cellular city! That is so super complex – so how can that form by chance? The list of nature’s intricate marvels can go on nearly to infinity, but these microscopic examples themselves are enough.

So we have super-complex cells, the so-called “simple” forms of life, and super-complex and information-rich DNA, and both these entities, by themselves, reveal how utterly unreasonable atheism is in explaining the natural world. Even though science has been entrenched in undirected evolution for more than a century, many scientists are starting to buck the peer pressure and voice their conviction in an intelligent Designer of life. Thus, natural selection, mutation, DNA, and cells all testify to the logical and scientific hurdles that face purposeless, mindless processes as the key to life.

Rather, it makes better sense that an intelligent Creator began the universe, created life in all its complexity, and outfitted this life with the ability to adapt to varying environments. This is where natural selection comes into play – it acts not as a tool of limitless evolution, but as a built-in, limited variation mechanism within a creature’s population that helps the species survive and thrive in its surroundings.

But, as recorded in the Christian narrative, the highest of God’s creatures did wrong and all creation fell from glory to corruption. Harmful mutations entered the scene and polluted the complexity, yet the beauty of the original can still be seen. Thus, disorder increasing among an incredibly ordered creation is what we see now and what we would expect from the Biblical creation account. Atheism and evolution expect order to rise from disorder and complexity to rise from simplicity, which is not what we usually see in the natural world.

Thus, though atheism claims to be reasonable and scientific, it fails in both realms.

The Bible: Just Follow the Evidence

Atheism brushes aside the Bible as a collection of myths and unreliable reports. But is this position reasonable? It may seem so until one looks at the evidence! Even though the Bible has been copied from copies for thousands of years, we have compelling evidence that those copies are reliable.

The Old Testament

Did you know that before 1947, the Old Testament we have, the farthest it could be traced in the copies, was around the tenth century? It’s called the Masoretic Text which the Jews preserved. Scholars argued that we couldn’t know if the Old Testament was reliable before the tenth century.

But in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and many Old Testament books are among the scrolls. These scrolls are dated from 100 years before the time of Christ to the time of Christ. That is 1000 years earlier than the tenth century Old Testament Jewish copies, which had been before these discoveries the earliest copies we had of the Old Testament!

And do you know what was found? The Old Testament books written 1000 years earlier were virtually identical with the Old Testament books of the tenth century! Scholar Gleason Archer states,

For example, even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumrun Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. They do not affect the message of revelation in the slightest” (qtd. in Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, p. 104).

Burrows makes further fascinating note:

Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only seventeen letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word “light,” which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly. . . . Thus, in one chapter of 166 words, there is only one word (three letters) in question after a thousand years of transmission – and this word does not significantly change the meaning of the passage” (qtd. in Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, p. 115).

These differences are minuscule – absolutely minuscule!

Do you know why there were so few differences? Because the Jews as God’s people had a very careful way of copying, even counting every letter in the most painstaking way of copying. Sir Frederick Kenyon explains:

The Masoretes [Jewish scholars of the 6th to 10th centuries) undertook a number of calculations which do not enter into the ordinary sphere of textual criticism. They numbered the verses, words, and letters of every [Biblical] book. They calculated the middle word and the middle letter of each. They enumerated verses which contained all the letters of the alphabet, or a certain number of them. These trivialities, as we may rightly consider them, had yet the effect of securing minute attention to the precise transmission of the text” (qtd. in Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, p. 112).

Thus they preserved the Bible like no other book. God made provision for the safe copying of His Word. With such precise copying and the proof of precise copies a thousand years apart from our next oldest ones, is it reasonable to doubt the reliability of the Old Testament?

The New Testament

And besides the Old Testament, we have so many manuscripts of the New Testament that we can cross-reference them to see if they have differences. We have copies dating to the 2nd century – that is so close to the time of Christ! Most ancient works have their surviving copies 1000 later than the originals – but the Bible has its copies only 250 years!

Date of Gospels

New discoveries show that the Gospels were very early.

A newly-discovered portion of John’s Gospel (considered to be the last Gospel written) was dated as having been copied in A.D. 130. Since this copy of John was located in Egypt, which is quite far away from where John’s Gospel was written (Asia Minor), the original Gospel of John must be even older if this early copy made it all the way to Egypt (McDowell p. 66).

Modern scholarship is concluding that the Gospels were written much earlier than previously thought. William Albright, one of the greatest Biblical archaeologists, says the Gospels can’t be dated any later than A.D. 80, which means that the gap between Jesus’ death (A.D. 30s) and the last Gospel written is 50 years, not 60-140 years.

Actually, the late 60-140-year range was more credible during the 19th century, for recent manuscript discoveries after that time are closing the gap between older manuscripts and the time when the gospels were written.

Even liberal scholars are revising their dates of the New Testament to be much earlier than they claimed before. One formerly-skeptical scholar, Dr. John A. T. Robinson, concluded from his research (documented in Redating the New Testament) that all the New Testament, including the Gospels, was written before Jerusalem’s fall in A.D. 70. Since Jesus died around the A.D. 30s, then if all the New Testament was written at the latest before A.D. 70., then there is at most 40 years between the latest New Testament book and the events of Jesus’ life. Forty years is well within the generation that was living in Jesus’ time – and this 40-year gap would only be for the last books. Many were written much earlier.

Myth Formation?

This 40-year gap makes myth-making inconceivable, as William Lane Craig states in a comparison of Roman historians and the New Testament:

“According to Professor Sherwin-White, the sources for Roman history are usually biased and removed at least one or two generations or even centuries from the events they record. Yet, he says, historians reconstruct with confidence what really happened. He chastises NT critics for not realizing what invaluable sources they have in the gospels. The writings of Herodotus furnish a test case for the rate of legendary accumulation, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts.” – “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Truth 1 (1985): 89-95.

New Testament Vs. Ancient Writings

Manuscripts, like the fragment of John’s Gospel, reveal that the New Testament is profoundly reliable, especially compared to all other ancient works. The earliest discovered copies of the Gospels are 50+ to 225 years later than the original writings (McDowell p. 65).

  • Just compare that to Caesar’s Gallic Wars, written in 100-44 B.C., whose earliest copy is dated A.D. 900. That is basically a 1000-year gap between copy and original!

And nearly every other ancient writing is like this: the time between the original writing and the copies we have discovered hovers around 1000 years, with Homer’s writings having a “small” gap of 400 years between original and copy while Herodotus’s writings having a huge gap of 1,350 years. Yet historians see these ancient works as reliable, despite the hundreds of years between the original writing and the copies.

  • Surely the New Testament, with only a gap of 50-225 years, outshines every secular writing as a trustworthy source.

Not only do all other ancient writings besides the New Testament have huge time gaps between the original writing and our remaining copies, but the copies we do have are very few. The fewer the existing copies, the more likely that they had been tampered with and do not reflect the originals. We have only . . .

  • 10 copies of Caesar’s Gallic Wars
  • 7 copies of Pliny’s Natural History
  • 8 copies of Herodotus’s History
  • 643 copies of Homer’s Iliad

But the New Testament has

  • 24,970 copies

How could the New Testament be forged, when so many copies exist? Note: above list of manuscript copies from Evidence for Christianity, by McDowell, p. 65.

 Tampered Gospels?

With so many manuscripts in existence, it is extremely hard to conceive that people had the ability to change the Gospels or other books in the New Testament to suit their own beliefs. At the very beginning, Christianity was a missionary faith, and so the New Testament was translated into many languages, such as Syriac and Arabic. With the New Testament being translated and copied far and wide to distant lands, how could a forger gather each manuscript and make changes?

That would be equivalent to a modern forger gathering all the letters, articles, and writings about Abraham Lincoln and changing significant portions for his own beliefs – without letting anyone suspect his actions. The writings on Abraham Lincoln are mostly in one language, so the analogy does not even pose the greater problem of the different languages the New Testament was translated into soon after Christianity began.

One fact reveals that the New Testament hasn’t been changed significantly since first written (“Hasn’t the Bible been rewritten so many times that we can’t trust it anymore?” by Matt Slick, carm.org):

  • 99.5% of the material in our current copies of the New Testament agree with each other
  • The 0.5% of differences are mostly spelling differences or minor word variants, like substituting “Christ Jesus” for “Jesus Christ”; no major Christian doctrine is harmed

Since our copies of the New Testament agree with each other 99.5%, a forger would need to change thousands of manuscripts identically, an absurd task. John Warwick Montgomery notes that “to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament” (qtd in McDowell p. 61).

This is unbelievable – no other ancient work is as well attested to in manuscript number of manuscript dates. And many Bible students, in comparing the vast number of manuscripts with each other, have come away surprised how similar they are to one another! Thus, the Bible is not corrupted – and the textual evidence makes this very clear. When it comes to reason and evidence, atheism has no ground to stand and accuse the Bible of mythology.

The Most Evidenced Event in Ancient History

Atheism certainly considers the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be a most unreasonable belief. Yet the circumstances surrounding this amazing event in history force one to realize that the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation.

Just take a look at each of these skeptical men:

  • Dr. Simon Greenleaf: law professor who raised Harvard Law School to preeminence

He doubted the resurrection

  • Dr. Frank Morris, journalist and lawyer

He set out to write a book refuting the resurrection

  • C.S. Lewis, expert in Medieval and Renaissance literature

He thought Christians “to be wrong” and Jesus’ resurrection a legend

  • Josh McDowell, scholar and speaker to more than 650 universities worldwide

He ridiculed Christians and thought the resurrection “intellectual suicide.”

Each man held that Jesus’ resurrection was fiction. But they also share another thing in common – they all investigated the historical and legal evidence for the resurrection and changed their minds. Many other men of intellect have examined the evidence and also reversed their convictions in favor of the resurrection. What is this evidence that changed them so drastically?

First, the evidence of the reliability of the New Testament mentioned before does not have to be repeated here. The New Testament has been shown to conclusively represent the actual original documents, and thus we can rely on them as accurate descriptions of Jesus’ life. Since the New Testament was written within only a few decades after Jesus’ death, we can know that Jesus is not just some myth created centuries after the fact.

Living Eyewitnesses

The factor that settles Jesus of Nazareth beyond all myth is witness testimony. The New Testament reminds its readers that the miracles and words of Jesus had “not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). In front of crowds, Jesus gave sight to the blind (Matt. 9:27-30; 21:14), healed (Luke 7:21; Matt. 8:2-3), fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes (Matt. 14:15-21), raised the dead (John 11:1-45), etc. The disciples wrote that this same Jesus was crucified, buried, and arose from the grave on the third day (Matt. 27-28; Mark 15-16; Luke 23-24; John 19-20). They were calling, “Check the tomb. He’s not there!” Because the New Testament was written within the lifetimes of the witnesses to these events, anything the disciples wrote could be tested against the memories of countless thousands.

Many of these thousands believed. The New Testament was preached far and wide and translated into many languages (Jeffrey, Signature of God, p. 88). Copies multiplied, making impossible any forgery, as shown by illustration (Ibid., pp. 88-89): Suppose a forger in the 1990s wanted to claim that John F. Kennedy rose from the dead after his assassination. This forger would have to gather all the countless writings about JFK, hoping none would suspect any change, even the millions who lived during JFK’s life. This is just absurd. The fact that Christianity was born in Jerusalem, outside whose gates Jesus was crucified, and then rapidly spread to the entire Roman Empire testifies that many in that generation saw the works of Jesus as true history, not myth (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, pp. 106-107).

Hostile Testimony

Even the Jewish religious leaders, who hated Jesus for exposing their hypocrisy, couldn’t deny His empty tomb. Rather, they accused His disciples of stealing His body in an attempt to make Jesus’ resurrection prophecy come true (Matt. 27:62-64; 28:11-13).

Die for a Known Lie?

Yet if the disciples really stole Jesus’ body, why did they die for their own lie? These disciples had displayed cowardice when fleeing Jesus during His arrest and trials, but after claiming to see Him alive, they passionately preached His resurrection while suffering intense persecution from Jews and Romans. Nearly all the disciples died for preaching a risen Christ, yet none renounced Him (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, p. 94). Would anyone live a persecuted life and die for his own fabrication? Many religious fanatics have died for false beliefs, but each could not objectively know that their beliefs were true. Only the disciples of all martyrs had the unique opportunity to know if their beliefs were true – because they knew if they had seen Jesus alive. Even Apostle Paul, a persecutor of Christians, and James the brother of Jesus, skeptic of Jesus during His ministry, later believed after His resurrection and died for their faith. They died willingly, for they knew the truth.

Just Visions?

Did Jesus’ disciples just hallucinate His resurrection? Yet if Jesus appeared in their minds only, why did the Jewish leaders imply an empty tomb by claiming the body was stolen (Matt. 28:11-13)? How could thousands of Jews in Jerusalem convert to Christianity during the first sermon (Acts 2) when they easily could walk to Joseph’s tomb and verify if it was truly empty (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, pp. 106-107)? Many converts were persecuted, so seeing the empty tomb was vital (Ibid., p. 107).

The hallucination doesn’t fit what the disciples saw.

People can’t have the same hallucination at the same time, since each vision depends on an individual’s unique experience (Ibid., p. 84). In contrast, at one point five hundred individuals saw or talked with Jesus (John 20:11-18; I Corinthians 15:6). Unlike a couple drug addicts, each high and having a different hallucination, each person saw the same Jesus. Some even ate with Him (John 21) or touched His wounds (John 20:24-28); what kind of vision allows that? Their accounts are detailed, just as psychologists expect of someone seeing reality (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, p. 84). Also, seeing a false image requires a person to expect to see it (Ibid., pp. 85-86). Jesus’ followers were last to expect that Jesus had risen (Ibid., p. 86). The women brought spices to anoint His body, expecting His body dead. The disciples had fled their Master at His arrest and trial (Mark 14:50), expecting Him to be dead.

Not Really Dead?

Did Jesus only faint on the cross, reviving in the tomb’s cool air? Maybe His disciples mistakingly concluded He had resurrected. Yet this theory ignores the fatal brutality of crucifixion, as described by Dr. Alexander Metherell, Ph.D., (qtd in Strobel, Case for Easter, pp. 12-24):

(1) a Roman whipping that stripped off the flesh to the bowels, causing severe blood loss and shock

(2) an arduous walk to execution carrying the cross

(3) the nails through sensitive nerves in wrists and feet

(4) the hanging from the cross, pressuring the chest so that Jesus had to push Himself up continually in order to exhale, until exhaustion and then suffocation set in

(5) cardiac arrest from shock and slow suffocation

(6) the spear thrust into Jesus’ side, which let out much blood and water from a ruptured heart.

How can anyone survive this ordeal? Many prisoners died at the beating stage. Jesus couldn’t even “play dead,” for none can pretend to stop breathing for long as the lungs were pressured in the hanging position. As Dr. Metherell declares, Jesus couldn’t survive it.

The Greatest Testimony

But the greatest testimony against the reviving theory are the disciples (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, pp. 98-99). Just imagine: Jesus had to (1) revive, (2) unwrap Himself from 100 lbs. of burial cloth, (3) roll the stone away, and (4) escape the guards. As the anti-Christian theologian David Strauss admitted, this weakened, mutilated Jesus could never persuade His hopeless, cowardly disciples that He rose in a new, glorified body. Yet the disciples did preach from Jerusalem to the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire that Jesus is Conquerer of death because they actually saw their Lord risen in a perfect new body.

The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is not only the pivotal event of history, but a life transformer. Only the resurrection explains Christianity’s massive growth in the very city of Jesus’ crucifixion. Because Jesus rose, He is who He claimed to be, the Christ, the Son of God, the Creator indwelling flesh to pay the penalty for men’s sins and save them. Because He conquered death, those who believe will rise from death to life eternal to be with God in His heavenly kingdom. Please believe in Jesus today as your Savior and your Lord. There is nothing more reasonable.

As we have seen, atheism cannot provide a more reasonable explanation in these subjects. From the origin of the universe to the events of Jesus and His disciples, only Christianity explains these facts of science and history in a reasonable, compelling manner. Though those at the Reason Rally may think otherwise, reason is Christianity’s friend time and again. If you want to choose reason, choose Christ.