Why Is It Hard To Believe

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It was almost time for lunch and I was getting hungry. "Do you want to get a bite to eat?" I asked Geisler.

"Sure," he said. "There's a little sandwich place down the road."

I glanced through my notes. I thought I had covered everything I wanted to discuss-but then I noticed a quotation I had brought along with me. It was a sentiment that reflected the frustration of a lot of people: why does God make it so difficult to believe in him? I didn't want to end the interview without asking Geisler about it.

"One more thing before we go," I said as I read him the colorful words of a frustrated spiritual seeker:

So if I want to avoid hell, I presumably have to believe that a snake talked to Eve, that a virgin got pregnant from God, that a whale swallowed a prophet, that the Red Sea was parted, and all sorts of other crazy things. Well, if God wants me so bad ... why does He make believing in Him so ... impossible? ... It seems to me that an all-powerful God could do a much better job of convincing people of His existence than any evangelist ever does Just write it in the sky, nice and big: "Here's your proof, Ed. Believe in Me or go to hell! Sincerely, the Almighty."38

Looking up at Geisler, I said, "What would you say to him?"

Geisler was a bit bemused. "My answer would be that God did do something like that," he replied. "Psalm 19:1 says, 'The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. 39 In fact, its written across the heavens so vividly that more and more scientists who search the stars are becoming Christians.

"The great cosmologist Allan Sandage, who won astronomy's version of the Nobel Prize, concluded that God is 'the explanation for the miracle of existence.' 40 Sir Fred Hoyle, who devised the steady state theory of the universe to avoid the existence of God, eventually became a believer in an Intelligent Designer of the universe.

"The astrophysicist Hugh Ross, who got his doctorate in astronomy from the University of Toronto and did research on quasars and galaxies, said scientific and historical evidence 'deeply rooted my confidence in the veracity of the Bible."' Robert Jastrow, a confessed agnostic and director of the Mount Wilson Observatory and founder of the Goddard Space Institute, concluded the Big Bang points toward God. And I like what mathematical physicist Robert Griffiths said: 'If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn't much use.''42 The evidence, Lee, is so clear."

Not to a skeptic like Bertrand Russell, I noted. "He said if he someday stands before God and is asked why he never put his faith in him, he'll say he hadn't been given enough evidence," I reminded him.

Geisler, one of whose hobbies is collecting quotes from atheists and agnostics, pointed out something else Russell said. "He was asked in a Look magazine interview, 'Under what condition would you believe in God,' and he essentially said, "Well, if I heard a voice from heaven and it predicted a series of things and they came to pass, then I guess I'd have to believe there's some kind of supernatural being."'43

In light of our discussion about the miraculous fulfillment of predictive prophecies in the Bible, the irony in Russell's statement was obvious.

"I'd say, 'Mr. Russell, there has been a voice from heaven; it has predicted many things; and we've seen them undeniably come to pass,"' Geisler declared.

"Then you don't think God is making it hard for people to believe?"

"On the contrary, the evidence is there if people will be willing to see it. It's not for a lack of evidence that people turn from God; it's from their pride or their will. God is not going to force anyone into the fold. Love never works coercively. It only works persuasively. And there's plenty of persuasive evidence there."

I felt an obligation to disclose the identity of the person I quoted as asking why God makes it so difficult to believe. I told Geisler his name is Edward Boyd, and he made that remark to his son, Christian philosopher Gregory Boyd, as they exchanged a series of letters in which they debated the evidence for Christianity. In 1992, after personally weighing the evidence, the formerly skeptical Edward Boyd decided to become a follower of Jesus. 44

Geisler smiled at the story, and then he turned personal, even poetic, as he closed by discussing his personal faith.

"For me, I say the same thing that the apostle Peter said: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."' He's the only one who not only claimed to be God but proved to be God. When I compare this to all other claimants of all other religions, it's like the poet who said the night has a thousand eyes and the day has but one; the light of the whole world dies with the setting of the sun."'

Geisler's voice softened but kept its intensity. "At the midnight of human ignorance, there are a lot of lights in the sky. Noontime, there's only one. And that's Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Based on the evidence for who he was, there really aren't any competitors.

"So I cast my lot with him-not the one who claimed wisdom, Confucius; or the one who claimed enlightenment, Buddha; or the one who claimed to be a prophet, Muhammad, but with the one who claimed to be God in human flesh. The one who declared, Before Abraham was born, I am'46-and proved it."

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