The Livability of Christianity
In biblical Christianity, the belief is that God exists and that life extends beyond the grave. The purpose of life is to establish an enduring personal relationship with God, which extends into eternity. Moral values and duties are grounded in the character of God, who is loving, just, kind, generous, and faithful, providing a basis for objective ethical standards. Furthermore, God has created humans for Himself, and the ultimate goal of life is to come to know Him. This provides a sense of meaning, value, and purpose that is absent in atheism. Biblical Christianity provides the necessary conditions for a fulfilling and consistent life – belief in God and the concept of immortality. This article looks at the livability of Christianity.
Ed. Note: This article is excerpted and slightly modified from our series “Does God Exist?
Dr. John Ankerberg: Yes. How does biblical Christianity challenge the worldview of modern man?
Dr. William Lane Craig: In light of the “unlivability” of atheism, it seems to me, John, that we need to go back to square one and say, “Wait a minute. How do we know that God does not exist?” If God does exist, then there is an objective basis for meaning, value and purpose in life. And therefore I think this should motivate us to examine anew the evidences and arguments for the existence of God and truth of Christianity; because if there is good reason that God exists, that gives us a framework within which we can live consistently and happily.
Ankerberg: You have said that “biblical Christianity provides the two conditions necessary for meaningful, valuable and purposeful life: God and immortality.” Explain that.
Craig: That’s exactly right, John. On biblical Christianity, God does exist and life does not end at the grave. The meaning of life is to be found in a personal relationship with God which lasts forever into eternity. The values of life are rooted in the nature of God Himself, who is by nature loving, just, kind, generous, faithful and so forth, so that we can affirm the objectivity of moral values and duties. And finally, there is an objective purpose for life: God has created us for Himself. Our end is to be found in the knowledge of God. This is the fulfillment of human existence, to know God and His love forever. So unlike atheism, biblical Christianity furnishes the necessary conditions for a consistent and happy life—God and immortality—which give us meaning, value and purpose.
Ankerberg: This is not just academic for you. You’ve actually experienced what you’re talking about. Take us back to the time when you were not a Christian and you started thinking about these things.
Craig: Yes. I was not raised in a Christian family, though it was a good and loving family. But I experienced the despair and the blackness that I’ve talked about and that I later read in the French existentialist philosophers. As I looked out at life and my own existence, I thought, what is the meaning of my existence? I was aware that everything was doomed ultimately to extinction, and I could see no meaning or purpose for my existence or the existence of anything else. And this filled me with a deep despair and blackness. And I don’t know if you understand what this is like, but it makes every day miserable; another day to get through.
And I remember one day I was feeling particularly crummy. I walked into my high school German class, and I sat down behind a girl who was one of these types that is always so happy it just makes you sick. And I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “What are you always so happy about anyway?” And she said, “It’s because I know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.” And I said, “Well, I go to church.” And she said, “That’s not enough, Bill. You’ve got to have Him really living in your heart.” And I said, “Well, what would He want to do a thing like that for?” And she said, “Because He loves you, Bill.”
And that just hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I was, so filled with despair and anger, and she said there was someone who really loved me. And who was it but the God of the universe! And that thought just staggered me. To think that the God of the universe could love me, that worm named Bill Craig down there on that speck of dust called the planet earth.
And so I went home that night and picked up a New Testament that had been given to me, and I began to read it. And as I read the Gospels, I was absolutely captivated by the person of Jesus of Nazareth. There was wisdom about this man’s teaching that I had never encountered before, and there was an authenticity about His life that was simply undeniable.
Well, to make a long story short, I went through about six months of the most intense and agonizing soul searching I’ve ever gone through, until finally I just came to the end of my rope. And one night I cried out to God, and I cried out all the anger and the bitterness that had been building up inside of me. And as I did so I felt this tremendous infusion of joy like a balloon being blown up until it was ready to burst. And I rushed outdoors. It was a warm Midwestern summer evening, and you could see the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. And as I looked up at the stars I thought, “God! I’ve come to know God!” And that moment just changed my whole life. I knew that I could not do anything less than spend the rest of my entire life sharing this good news with mankind. Because if this is the truth, if it’s really the truth, this is the greatest news ever announced.
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