The confounding attraction of the Christian worldview.
Chuck Colson with Catherine Larson
In recent years Great Britain's chief export to
the U.S. has been a payload of books by atheist authors such as evolutionary
biologist Richard Dawkins and literary critic Christopher Hitchens. They contend
that faith is irrational in the face of modern science. Other prominent British
atheists seem to be having second thoughts. Is there some revival sweeping
England? No; they are examining the rationality of Christianity, the very
beliefs Dawkins and others are so profitably engaging, but are coming to
Well-known scholar Antony Flew was the first, saying he had to go "where the
evidence [led]." Evolutionary theory, he concluded, has no reasonable
explanation for the origin of life. When I met with Flew in Oxford, he told me
that while he had not come to believe in the biblical God, he had concluded that
atheism is not logically sustainable.
More recently, A. N. Wilson, once thought to be the next C. S. Lewis who then
renounced his faith and spent years mocking Christianity, returned to faith. The
reason, he said in an interview with New Statesman,
was that atheists "are missing out on some very basic experiences of life."
Listening to Bach and reading the works of religious authors, he realized that
their worldview or "perception of life was deeper, wiser, and more rounded than
He noticed that the people who insist we are "simply anthropoid
apes" cannot account for things as basic as language, love, and music. That,
along with the "even stronger argument" of how the "Christian faith transforms
individual lives," convinced Wilson that "the religion of the incarnation … is
Likewise, Matthew Parris, another well-known British atheist, made the
mistake of visiting Christian aid workers in Malawi, where he saw the power of
the gospel transforming them and others. Concerned with what he saw, he wrote
that it "confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my
worldview, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God." While
Parris is unwilling to follow where his observations lead, he is obviously
wrestling with how Christianity makes better sense of the world than other
While we can't reason our way to God, I've long believed
that Christianity is the most rational explanation of reality.
Could this signal a trend? Well, not yet. But it does illustrate
something I have been teaching for years: Faith and reason are not enemies. We
are given reason as a gift. And while we can't reason our way to God (only the
power of God can transform fallen men—I've seen that in prisons for over 32
years), I have long believed that Christianity is the most rational explanation
of reality. And that fact, winsomely explained, can powerfully influence
thinking people to consider Christ's claims.
A strong empirical case can be made to show that Christianity is
the only rational explanation of life. For the past six years, I've been
teaching students in the Centurions Program to draw a grid listing the four
basic questions that most people ask about life: Where did I come from? What's
my purpose? Why is there sin and suffering? Is redemption possible? Then, on the
other side of the matrix, we list the various philosophies and prominent world
religions. By examining how each view answers the four questions, we can
determine which worldviews conform to the way things really are. This is the
correspondence theory of truth—a thoroughly rational test.
Students quickly see that only Christianity teaches that humans
are created in the image of God, thus protecting their dignity. It's no
coincidence that Christians have waged most of the great human rights
Or take the question of sin. If people are good, as French
political philosopher Rousseau argued, problems can be solved by creating a
utopian state. Yet all of history's utopian schemes have ended in tyranny.
Meanwhile, Eastern religions see life as an endless cycle of suffering. There's
no way for sin to be forgiven. And grace is an unknown concept in Islam.
This is nothing particularly novel. A long history of prominent
atheists, interestingly concentrated in Britain, have traveled back to faith.
These doubters began to examine the rationality of Christianity's claims.
Whether in the Victorian era, with Thomas Cooper, George Sexton, and Joseph
Barker, or in the 20th century, with T. S. Eliot, Graham Greene, and C. S.
Lewis, all of them concluded that the Bible speaks most accurately to the human
condition—the very definition of a rational choice. It is rational to choose the
worldview that provides the best choice for living, consistent with the way life
What does this tell us? People today have a caricatured view of
Christians, seeing us as followers, often hypocritical and judgmental, of an
outdated book of mere illusions. But if we can explain why Christianity is so
reasonable, our faith becomes a very winsome proposition, which will at least
open the mind, if not the heart, of many a doubter.
Conservative Christian leaders unveiled a declaration Friday calling on
Christians not to comply with rules and laws forcing them to accept abortion,
same-sex marriage and other ideals that go against their religious doctrines.