As the pastor who initiated the presentation of the manger scene I have special interest in the response from the community and would like to add a few insights to the conversation.
Every one of us has a personal belief system that ultimately effects every facet of our lives. It defines us, guides us and influences our conduct, our emotions and our relationships with others. Everyone could therefore be termed “a believer.” This “belief system” is referred to as “faith” in the religious community.
Our belief systems develops through two fundamental sources, 1) what we read or are taught and 2) our observational experiences. Not all belief systems are “intelligent.” Some are simply unsupportable opinions with little or no credible evidence. Christians possess what I term “intelligent” faith, because it is based on irrefutable evidence that supports and affirms its core tenets. We believe something. Atheists, by contrast, define themselves by what they do not believe — “no God, no devil, no angels,” etc. — and are particularly disturbed that their fellow citizens who have these beliefs, and apparently would like to overthrow the faith of their believing neighbors for some reason.
The first source of a Christian’s “intelligent” faith rests first upon the Bible, the written Word of God. It is smart to believe the Bible because it has the best manuscript support of any writing from antiquity, over 6,000, with many written within the first 100 years of the events. It is filled with eyewitness accounts of the events recorded and accurately records the history of nations, groups and individuals. Written by over 40 authors over 1,500 years, it speaks with agreement on hundreds of topics. It’s history has never been found in error as a result of archaeological discoveries, but they rather continually affirm the accuracy of the Scriptures. And finally, the Old Testament records over 300 very specific prophecies predicting of the coming of a one unique man in history, a Messiah, a Deliverer who would give his life, a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. And every one of those prophecies was fulfilled in one man: Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us! An impossibility without divine intervention. Unquestionably a supernatural book! The manger scene celebrates the momentous event of that Savior’s birth. Yes, it is a very intelligent choice to believe the Bible. To discount, ignore or to ridicule the faith of those who believe the Bible to be God’s Word is simply not smart.
Second, a Christian’s intelligent faith rests upon observable evidence from creation. The macro order of the universe with its innumerable stars and galaxies and our own solar system that move in clocklike precision is clear evidence of intelligence, a Creator. No explosion (big bang) ever created order! “The heavens declare his glory!” Then observe the incredible complexity of the life on our planet, so diverse, so vast. Plant life, animal life and, oh yes, human existence. Where did this life come from? Scientists have calculated the probability of all the elements needed for life occurring randomly and spontaneously as being essentially zero. I agree. Their existence demands a creator, the un-created God. You can’t get something from nothing as the atheist concludes. Now consider the micro universe — the world of cells, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles. All function and move in wondrous unity, never ceasing to amaze, a world so complex it defies explanation by the greatest scientists.
If you found a fine Swiss watch on the beach, would it be rational to believe it arrived there by chance or that there was an intelligent maker of that watch? The atheist would conclude it got there by chance. The Christian with intelligent faith would conclude the obvious, it was created by a skilled watchmaker.
In conclusion, given the vast evidence of a Creator God through the written Word and the observance of the created order, it is intelligent to have faith in God and believe in his Son, the Babe in the manger. No “blind faith” is needed. To deny the obvious is foolish. Psalm 53:1 says, “For the fool has said in his heart there is no God.”
It is my hope that all unbelievers, including our atheist neighbors, would look up, look around and read the Bible to find hope, peace, joy and meaning to life through faith in that truth, faith in Jesus Christ. It will provide answers to life’s most profound questions. It will transform your life as it has mine and multitudes of others who have received Jesus Christ as their Lord. Try it! It’s the smart thing to do.
Ed Neubert is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Statesboro.