The Credibility of God

by

A Special: Part 7

Is the gospel a credible basis for a just civilisation?

When Cayman Chief Justice Anthony Smellie recently ruled[1] to impose same-sex marriage under colour of law in Cayman, some of his underlying points suggested that tradition, religion and linked religious ethics lack basic intellectual credibility and are particularly prone to inequities. Also, in recent years, there has been a flood of articles and voices across the Caribbean that have tried to discredit and dismiss the gospel, the Scriptures that teach it and the churches that bear witness to it. Last September, in answer to one such article,  the below was submitted under the right of reply, but was unfortunately rejected by a leading regional newspaper. Given what is now so clearly at stake and given the foundational importance of the gospel message and gospel ethics, we present the below as a needed first defence of our civilisation.

Over the years, many millions have met and been transformed through meeting God in the face of Christ. This includes countless Jamaicans [and many other people across the Caribbean]. It also includes many famed scholars, eminent scientists and leaders of powerful reformations. Logically, if just one of these millions has actually been reconciled with God through Christ, God must be real and the gospel must be true. (Where, if instead so many are deeply delusional, that would undermine the rational credibility of the human mind.)

However, for some years now various voices have tried to dismissively question God, the gospel and Christians. So, it is not unexpected to see Mr Gordon Robinson writing in the Gleaner[2] recently (on Sunday, August 26, 2018),  about alleged “dangerous dogma promulgated by the Church and its many brainwashed surrogates,” “perverse propaganda spread by Christian churches,” “sycophants” and the like.

Along the way, he managed to ask a pivotal question: “Who/what is God?”

Regrettably, he also implied outright fraud by church leaders: “Either the Church has NO CLUE about who/what God really is, or it deliberately misrepresents God’s essence in order to frighten people into becoming church members and tithing. Nothing else makes sense.”

Fig 1 DNA, Showing the Genetic Code (HT ResearchGate)

In fact, a simple Internet search might give a better answer. For, thinkers such as a Thomas Aquinas or an Augustine of Hippo or a Paul of Tarsus or even a Wayne Grudem[3] or a William Lane Craig[4] have long since credibly addressed the idea of God and systematic theology at a little more sophisticated level than Sunday School lessons or Internet Atheist web sites. In so doing, they have made responsible cases that rise above the level of caricatures of the art on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

We may begin with Paul in Romans 1, 57 AD: “Rom 1:19 . . . what can be known about God is plain to [people], because God has shown it to them. 20 For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [people] are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  [ESV]

Here, one of the top dozen minds of our civilisation first points out how our morally governed interior life and what we see in the world all around jointly call us to God our Creator. But, too often we suppress the force of that inner testimony and outer evidence. (This, predictably, leads to unsound thinking and destructive deeds stemming from benumbed consciences and en-darkened minds.)

For one, consider how for sixty years now we have known that the DNA in the cells of our bodies has in it complex, alphanumeric, algorithmic code that is executed through molecular nanotechnology to build proteins, the workhorses of biological life. That’s why Sir Francis Crick wrote to his son Michael on March 19, 1953 that “we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another).”

Yes, alphanumeric code (so, language!), algorithms (so, purpose!), i.e. intelligent design of life from the first living cell on. Including, us. No wonder the dean of the so-called New Atheists was forced to admit that Biology studies complicated things that give a strong appearance of design. 

1947 saw the advent of the transistor age, allowing storage of a single bit of information in a tiny electronic wonder. We have since advanced to computers based on silicon chips comparable in size to a thumb-nail, with millions of transistors. These microchips and support machinery process many millions of instructions per second and have storage capacities of many gigabytes. Coded electronic communication signals routinely go across millions of miles through the solar system.  Every one of these devices and systems required careful design by highly educated engineers, scientists and programmers. The living, self-replicating cell’s sophistication dwarfs all of these; yet we question the all-knowing God, the author of life.

Figure 2: Crick’s March 19, 1953 letter, p. 5 with a highlight (Fair use)

Next, Mr. Robinson and others inevitably appeal to our known duty to truth, right reasoning, fairness, prudent judgement, etc.  But, where did that inner moral law (testified to by our consciences) come from? Surely, it is not a delusion; or else responsible, freely rational discussion would collapse into nihilistic chaos: might and manipulation (= “power and propaganda”) make ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘justice,’ ‘truth,’ ‘knowledge’ etc. Instead, our conscience-guarded hearts and minds clearly show the Creator’s design that we freely live by the light and law of truth and right.

Such considerations – and many more – point us to the only serious candidate for the source of reality that can bridge IS and OUGHT: the inherently good (and wise) Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Who is fully worthy of our loyalty and of humble, responsible, reasonable service through doing the good. Then, we may readily draw out the classic understanding of God described in scripture and studied in systematic theology: all-good, eternal, creator and Lord with sound knowledge and full capability to work out his good purposes in the right way at the right time.

Moreover, what we most of all need to know about God is taught by Jesus the Christ, recorded in scripture within eye-witness lifetime then accurately handed down to us for 2000 years now, at fearsome cost: the blood of the martyrs. Martyrs, who had but one incentive: that they directly knew and must peacefully stand by the eternal truth – cost what it will. They refused to be frightened by dungeon, fire or sword, much less mere rhetoric. Why would thousands die horribly to promote a known lie?

Their record is that Christ is the express image of his Father, Logos – Cosmos-ordering Reason himself, prophesied Messiah, the Saviour who in love died for us on a cross. He rose from the dead as Lord with 500 eye-witnesses, precisely fulfilling over three hundred prophecies that were long since recorded in the Old Testament. (See esp. Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, c. 700 BC.[5]) He ascended to his Father in the presence of the apostles. He shall return as eternal Judge, before whom we must all account. (Yes, professing and “backsliding” Christians too.) The Bible also records Jesus’ prayer for us: “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and [“thy Son”] Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” [John 17:1- 5, cf. 3:16.]

That is the truth witnessed by the church, whether it was 33 AD in Jerusalem before an angry Sanhedrin, or 50 AD before the laughing Athenians (who had built a public monument to their ignorance of God), or today.  We therefore confidently invite Mr Robinson et al. to join with us in a serious-minded, substantially informed discussion about “who/what God really is” and about why the gospel is just that: God’s good news that brings salvation, blessing and hope for the positive transformation for our nation.


[1]See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/cayman-islands-chief-justice-smellie-tries-to-redefine-marriage-fails/

[2]Cf. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20180826/gordon-robinson-gospel-according-gordon

[3]See: http://www.waynegrudem.com/

[4]See: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/

[5]See: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isa+52%3A13+-+53%3A12&version=AMP

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A Special: Part 7

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Is the gospel a credible basis for a just civilisation?

When Cayman Chief Justice Anthony Smellie recently ruled[1] to impose same-sex marriage under colour of law in Cayman, some of his underlying points suggested that tradition, religion and linked religious ethics lack basic intellectual credibility and are particularly prone to inequities. Also, in recent years, there has been a flood of articles and voices across the Caribbean that have tried to discredit and dismiss the gospel, the Scriptures that teach it and the churches that bear witness to it. Last September, in answer to one such article,  the below was submitted under the right of reply, but was unfortunately rejected by a leading regional newspaper. Given what is now so clearly at stake and given the foundational importance of the gospel message and gospel ethics, we present the below as a needed first defence of our civilisation.

Over the years, many millions have met and been transformed through meeting God in the face of Christ. This includes countless Jamaicans [and many other people across the Caribbean]. It also includes many famed scholars, eminent scientists and leaders of powerful reformations. Logically, if just one of these millions has actually been reconciled with God through Christ, God must be real and the gospel must be true. (Where, if instead so many are deeply delusional, that would undermine the rational credibility of the human mind.)

However, for some years now various voices have tried to dismissively question God, the gospel and Christians. So, it is not unexpected to see Mr Gordon Robinson writing in the Gleaner[2] recently (on Sunday, August 26, 2018),  about alleged “dangerous dogma promulgated by the Church and its many brainwashed surrogates,” “perverse propaganda spread by Christian churches,” “sycophants” and the like.

Along the way, he managed to ask a pivotal question: “Who/what is God?”

Regrettably, he also implied outright fraud by church leaders: “Either the Church has NO CLUE about who/what God really is, or it deliberately misrepresents God’s essence in order to frighten people into becoming church members and tithing. Nothing else makes sense.”

Fig 1 DNA, Showing the Genetic Code (HT ResearchGate)

In fact, a simple Internet search might give a better answer. For, thinkers such as a Thomas Aquinas or an Augustine of Hippo or a Paul of Tarsus or even a Wayne Grudem[3] or a William Lane Craig[4] have long since credibly addressed the idea of God and systematic theology at a little more sophisticated level than Sunday School lessons or Internet Atheist web sites. In so doing, they have made responsible cases that rise above the level of caricatures of the art on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

We may begin with Paul in Romans 1, 57 AD: “Rom 1:19 . . . what can be known about God is plain to [people], because God has shown it to them. 20 For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [people] are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  [ESV]

Here, one of the top dozen minds of our civilisation first points out how our morally governed interior life and what we see in the world all around jointly call us to God our Creator. But, too often we suppress the force of that inner testimony and outer evidence. (This, predictably, leads to unsound thinking and destructive deeds stemming from benumbed consciences and en-darkened minds.)

For one, consider how for sixty years now we have known that the DNA in the cells of our bodies has in it complex, alphanumeric, algorithmic code that is executed through molecular nanotechnology to build proteins, the workhorses of biological life. That’s why Sir Francis Crick wrote to his son Michael on March 19, 1953 that “we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another).”

Yes, alphanumeric code (so, language!), algorithms (so, purpose!), i.e. intelligent design of life from the first living cell on. Including, us. No wonder the dean of the so-called New Atheists was forced to admit that Biology studies complicated things that give a strong appearance of design. 

1947 saw the advent of the transistor age, allowing storage of a single bit of information in a tiny electronic wonder. We have since advanced to computers based on silicon chips comparable in size to a thumb-nail, with millions of transistors. These microchips and support machinery process many millions of instructions per second and have storage capacities of many gigabytes. Coded electronic communication signals routinely go across millions of miles through the solar system.  Every one of these devices and systems required careful design by highly educated engineers, scientists and programmers. The living, self-replicating cell’s sophistication dwarfs all of these; yet we question the all-knowing God, the author of life.

Figure 2: Crick’s March 19, 1953 letter, p. 5 with a highlight (Fair use)

Next, Mr. Robinson and others inevitably appeal to our known duty to truth, right reasoning, fairness, prudent judgement, etc.  But, where did that inner moral law (testified to by our consciences) come from? Surely, it is not a delusion; or else responsible, freely rational discussion would collapse into nihilistic chaos: might and manipulation (= “power and propaganda”) make ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘justice,’ ‘truth,’ ‘knowledge’ etc. Instead, our conscience-guarded hearts and minds clearly show the Creator’s design that we freely live by the light and law of truth and right.

Such considerations – and many more – point us to the only serious candidate for the source of reality that can bridge IS and OUGHT: the inherently good (and wise) Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Who is fully worthy of our loyalty and of humble, responsible, reasonable service through doing the good. Then, we may readily draw out the classic understanding of God described in scripture and studied in systematic theology: all-good, eternal, creator and Lord with sound knowledge and full capability to work out his good purposes in the right way at the right time.

Moreover, what we most of all need to know about God is taught by Jesus the Christ, recorded in scripture within eye-witness lifetime then accurately handed down to us for 2000 years now, at fearsome cost: the blood of the martyrs. Martyrs, who had but one incentive: that they directly knew and must peacefully stand by the eternal truth – cost what it will. They refused to be frightened by dungeon, fire or sword, much less mere rhetoric. Why would thousands die horribly to promote a known lie?

Their record is that Christ is the express image of his Father, Logos – Cosmos-ordering Reason himself, prophesied Messiah, the Saviour who in love died for us on a cross. He rose from the dead as Lord with 500 eye-witnesses, precisely fulfilling over three hundred prophecies that were long since recorded in the Old Testament. (See esp. Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, c. 700 BC.[5]) He ascended to his Father in the presence of the apostles. He shall return as eternal Judge, before whom we must all account. (Yes, professing and “backsliding” Christians too.) The Bible also records Jesus’ prayer for us: “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and [“thy Son”] Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” [John 17:1- 5, cf. 3:16.]

That is the truth witnessed by the church, whether it was 33 AD in Jerusalem before an angry Sanhedrin, or 50 AD before the laughing Athenians (who had built a public monument to their ignorance of God), or today.  We therefore confidently invite Mr Robinson et al. to join with us in a serious-minded, substantially informed discussion about “who/what God really is” and about why the gospel is just that: God’s good news that brings salvation, blessing and hope for the positive transformation for our nation.


[1]See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/cayman-islands-chief-justice-smellie-tries-to-redefine-marriage-fails/

[2]Cf. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20180826/gordon-robinson-gospel-according-gordon

[3]See: http://www.waynegrudem.com/

[4]See: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/

[5]See: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isa+52%3A13+-+53%3A12&version=AMP