Yesterday’s New York Times (May 5, 2015) carried an article by Nicholas Wade, ‘A New Order to Life’s Origins’. The article focuses on a hypothesis of Dr John Sutherland, a chemist at the University of Cambridge, England, that life on earth has its origins in an asteroid bombardment from Jupiter and Saturn some 13.8 billion years ago. However, the article notes that other eminent scientists have serious questions about Dr Sutherland’s hypothesis.
My purpose here is not to discuss the merits or otherwise of the thesis (I am not a scientist), but to observe once again the scientific recognition of the extraordinary complexity that we find in the universe and in life on earth. Yet despite the disagreements amongst scientists, the opinion-shapers in the world of academia and in the social media consistently dismiss the Bible’s account of the origins and meaning of life. The public voice has been persistent: the Genesis account of creation must be dismissed – no further questions. What is overlooked is that Genesis makes no claim to be a scientific explanation. It is not interested in the ‘How’, but ‘Who?’ So, Psalm 19 speaks into our world with, The heavens declare the glory of God.
When we come to the New Testament it is significant that every outreach presentation is undergirded by the statement that Jesus rose physically from the dead.
If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith, writes Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15.
Jesus’ resurrection is extraordinary.
But unusual things do happen. G.K. Chesterton applied words of Lord Byron to Christianity, Truth is stranger than fiction, he said,
for fiction is the creation of the human mind and therefore congenial to it.
In Corinthians we read:
He (Christ) was buried,… he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and… he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living…1 Corinthians 15:3ff
Christianity didn’t start because a group of fanatics had invented a story about their hero. It didn’t start because a group of philosophers had come to the same conclusions about life. And it didn’t start because a group of mystics shared the same vision about God. It began with a group of eye-witnesses – a company of very ordinary men and women who saw something very extraordinary happen. In a word it began with history.
The tomb of Jesus of Nazareth was empty, not because the body had been stolen, or because the disciples had removed it, or because Jesus had come out of a coma in the cool of the tomb, but because of a divine intervention. The late Dr. Pinchas Lapide, an eminent Jewish theologian, said this about Jesus’ resurrection:
…In my opinion the resurrection belongs to the category of the truly real… A fact which indeed is withheld from objective science, photography, and a conceptual proof, but not from the believing scrutiny of history which more frequently leads to deeper insights.
Jesus’ resurrection is not a mythical story. It was the real God, breaking into real history at a particular place and a particular time. This is what makes Christian faith with all it says about God, you and me, and the meaning of life, credible. Christianity is real because it has the evidence of eye-witnesses.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give humble and hearty thanks for all your goodness and loving kindness to us and to all people. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your amazing love in the redemption of the world through our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us that due sense of all your mercies, that our hearts may be truly thankful, and that we may declare your praise not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.