Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bertrand Russell, Evidence, and why we Reject God

The atheistic mathematician Bertrand Russell was asked what he would answer God if, in the midst of the final judgment, God asked, “Bertrand, why didn’t you believe in Me?”

Russell famously answered, “There just wasn’t enough evidence.”

Doesn’t this seem reasonable? God can certainly provide more evidence, and so, why doesn’t He? Jesus answered this question through a parable involving a poor man (Lazarus) and a heartless, disobedient rich man (known as “Dives”). Both had died. Dives found himself in a place of torment, while Lazarus in a place of blessing with “Father Abraham.”

After being informed that it was impossible, at this point, to relieve him of his suffering, Dives called out to Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers about this place of torment. He reasoned that if his brothers saw Lazarus rise from the dead, they would repent and not end up in torment. However, Abraham responded:

  • They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them… If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead. (Luke 16:29-31)
The evidence is already available! This parable explains that humanity’s problem of disbelief and rejection of God is not fundamentally a matter of a lack of evidence but an unwillingness to embrace it. It is not that evidence and proofs aren’t important. It is just that there are of secondary value. What is of primary value? Our proclivities/desires!

Jesus had raised another Lazarus from the dead after four days in the grave. One group of spectators believed; the other group set about more intently to put Jesus and now Lazarus – the evidence – to death (John 11).

They all saw the same miracle – the same evidence. What made the difference? Their hearts! The first group was willing to believe; the other wasn’t.

Scripture consistently proclaims that we are surrounded by evidence but reject it. Proverbs likens the evidence to wisdom crying out in the public for takers:

  • Wisdom crieth aloud in the street; She uttereth her voice in the broad places;  She crieth in the chief place of concourse; At the entrance of the gates, In the city, she uttereth her words: How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And scoffers delight them in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: Behold, I will pour out my spirit upon you; I will make known my words unto you. (Proverbs 1:20-23) 
Paul wrote that the evidence is so clear and pervasive that anyone who rejects it is “without excuse”:

  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)
Why then would we reject the evidence? The existence of God is simply not consistent with our agenda!

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