When I was a journalist in my 20s, I needed to verify a fact about atheism. This was before the Internet age, so I phoned the Texas headquarters of American Atheists. Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the mother of modern atheism in this country, answered my call. Apparently she had a very small staff!
Her voice was gruff, and she sounded angry and cynical, even before I identified myself as a Christian. She answered my question and I hung up. Ever since then, I’ve felt intense sadness for people who deny the existence of God. Explaining her beliefs, O’Hair once said, “There is no God. There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There are no angels. When you die, you go in the ground; the worms eat you.” What a sad way to view life!
I’m sure Mrs. O’Hair would be upset about the new Christian film God’s Not Dead, which opens in theaters this Friday. The film features Kevin Sorbo (who played in the 1990s TV show Hercules) as an atheist college professor who tries to force a Christian student (Shane Harper) to rethink his beliefs. The film releases at a time when atheism is growing in this country.
I was never on the debate team in high school, so I’m not the best guy to take on evolutionist Richard Dawkins or comedian/atheist Bill Maher in a televised argument. Still, my faith in God is certainly not shaken when I hear these guys whining about how stupid or weak Christians are. They have a constitutional right to view life negatively. But if I had a chance to give them my reasons for believing in God, I would list these:
1. Babies. I watched my wife give birth to our four daughters, and last month I visited my new grandson. I’ve stared at little Hananiah’s cute face and tiny fingers—and the cleft in his chin that resembles mine. How can anyone deny the reality of God when they see a baby? The amount of information encrypted in one cell in the human body is equal to that of 1,000 books. The total amount of information stored in your DNA is 40 times more than that of the largest set of encyclopedias in the world. King David felt this sense of awe when he wrote, “You wove me in my mother’s womb. … I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13, 14, NASB). Life is truly a miracle!
2. Thunderstorms. I love to sit on my back porch in Florida and listen to the rumbling of thunder. It reminds me of God’s majesty and power. The apostle Paul said creation was the best evidence of God’s existence. He wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen” (Rom. 1:20). Nature is actually full of quantifiable miracles. Just consider the fact that the earth is the perfect distance from the sun to support life. If we were any farther away from the sun, we would freeze; if we were even slightly closer to it, we would burn up. It’s obvious God created this home for us!
3. Flowers. There are more than 400,000 species of flowers in the world, and most of them are not edible. Their job is to simply make the world beautiful. Did they just haphazardly evolve over time, or did a loving God create each individual shape and color scheme for our enjoyment? People who choose to deny God don’t spend enough time looking at tulips, snapdragons, orchids, lilies, lotuses or magnolias. This is why it’s really important to stop and smell the roses!
4. The Bible. Paul wrote that “all Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible itself is proof of God’s existence because He used 40 unrelated people over a period of 2,000 years to write His unique love letter to us. There is nothing like the Bible because it carries the same consistent message throughout all of its 66 different books. Atheists can laugh at this idea, but those who have read the Scriptures and experienced God through its pages know why it is the best-selling and most-translated book in all of history. (Fact: 100 million copies of the Bible are sold every year. Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion has sold 2 million.)
5. The global spread of Christianity. Over the centuries, the gospel message has been vilified and ridiculed. Roman rulers threw first-century Christians to the lions, and 20th-century dictators sent believers to prison camps. It is estimated that 70 million Christians have been martyred since the church began—and 40 million of those were in the 20th century. Yet today Christianity has more adherents than any religion, and numbers are growing in many parts of the world. Our faith is spreading because it is the truth—and history shows that when this truth is mocked and scorned, it actually spreads faster!
6. Jesus. The most amazing thing about God is not that He exists, but that He loved us so much He was willing to send His Son to earth to save us from ourselves. Jesus was with the Father from the time of creation, and His arrival was predicted numerous times in Old Testament prophecy. Finally He interrupted history and came to live among us. His crucifixion is historical fact, and His resurrection was verified by hundreds of witnesses. The man who perhaps knew Jesus best—the apostle John—saw the risen Christ and touched His nail-pierced hands. He wrote, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you” (1 John 1:3). Jesus is not an illusive fairy tale. He is the living, breathing, touchable Son of God.
7. My personal friendship with God. Atheists may not be convinced that God exists after listening to a storm, smelling a hibiscus or reading the Bible. When I am asked to defend my faith, I don’t start an intellectual argument. I have to go back to the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:12: “I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed.”
There are many reasons I am convinced God is real (the existence of coffee alone proves that He loves me!), but the best evidence is how He forgave me, changed me and put unexplainable joy in my heart. And I can prove that.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. He now leads the Mordecai Project, an international ministry that confronts gender-based violence and oppression. You can learn more about his work at themordecaiproject.org or follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women and other books.
God’s Not Dead opens this weekend. You can check out the movie trailer here.