CertaintyCardinal Newman once described certainty as the accumulation of probabilities. We can be certain that the sun will rise in the east each morning because that is our habitual daily experience. We know that there are laws of nature that support our observations. That is not to say that it is not possible to experience pitch darkness one morning. There could be, for example, a cataclysmic event such as a massive volcanic explosion or a nuclear war that could create such denseness of matter in the atmosphere that the sun would be completely obscured. But then only our perception would be affected. The sun would still have risen in the east.
I want to consider in this story my certainty in the existence of God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Is it more probable that God exists than that He doesn't exist? Is it more probable that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God than that He is a myth, created by fanatical religious observers?
First, let us consider the question of the existence of God. The first thing I observe about the world around me is that it is full of living and non living things that grow and change. Either they were created by a super intelligence or they were not. If not, then how did they come to be? In favour of intelligent design is the extraordinary complexity of even the smallest basic building blocks of every living thing - DNA. I have read testimonies of scientists who say that it is statistically impossible for DNA to have evolved on its own. Such phenomena as binary stars and necks of giraffes show a relationship between creatures that has no explanation other than intelligent design. The more I observe the natural world and its complexity the less convinced I am that it could have come into being by chance or that it somehow evolved over an astronomically long period of time.
The next thing I observe about the world is that things move. Things move because something moves them. Nerve signals from my brain are telling my fingers to tap on the keyboard. The branches sway on the trees because the air is moving. The air is moving because of changes in temperature. And so on. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, as Newton tells us. But that begs the question, doesn't it? What or Who was the primary source of movement? Who or What was the first cause? How did something just happen that triggered the whole process off with out an intelligent primary mover?
My third consideration is that we have Revelation of God's existence. We are not groping around with just our human faculties to guide us, it seems to me. We do have the Bible. And what a work it is! From the beginning to the end it explains the reason for our existence, the reason that we suffer, the reason that we die, the summit of human perfection, the history of the world's salvation and what we are to expect in the future. It has a marvellous unity and consistency that convey God's unity and essence, that He sees everything at a glance. And most importantly, it introduces to us a God who created us and loves each one of us personally, who does not watch from a remote distance but came to earth as one of us and lived life subject to the same limitations we have, who is extremely interested in each one of us and the least of our thoughts, words and actions and who would do anything for us.
Take away for a moment the notion that we have Divine Revelation of God's existence. What are we left with? Big questions about the purpose of our existence, the reason for suffering, the reason for death, and a kind of gaping loneliness and despair about our place in the universe.
I believe in God. I believe that the Bible is the revealed Word of God. Everything I experience in life supports this belief. Nothing contradicts it.
Now, why do I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? I first heard about Jesus from my little Catholic playmate when I was just a little toddler. Later I went to a Methodist Sunday School and was introduced to Biblical texts such as John 3:16. At that Sunday School I first saw a picture of Christ crucified and I asked myself, "What is this all about? Why did He do this?"
I wish I could say that I applied myself assiduously to the study of these questions, but I am afraid I was too self indulgent and since my parents did not go and did not compel us to go, I stopped attending Sunday School and abandoned all thought of religious questions. But not for long. Eventually they do catch up with you, and they caught up with me.
Did Jesus Christ really exist? Well, the Bible says He did. Did anyone else? Yes. There are many extra Biblical historical accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is a website you can view these on called Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence for the Life, Death and resurrection of Jesus. To cite a few: 1. Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 AD) the greatest historian of ancient Rome 2. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas, chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian (117 - 138 AD) 3. Flavius Josephus (37 - 97 AD) court historian for Emperor Vespasian 4. Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor around 112 AD 5. Emperor Trajan in reply to Pliny 6. Emperor Hadrian (117 - 138 AD) in a letter to Minucius Fundanus, the Asian proconsul 7. The Jewish Talmud compiled between 70 and 200 AD 8. Lucian, a second century Greek satirist 9. Mara Bar - Serapion, of Syria, writing between 70 and 200 AD from prison. And there are many others.
That Jesus Christ existed is an historical fact. But was He who He said He was? Was He God? In support are an overwhelming number of considerations. First, His miracles. Second, the sublimity of His doctrine. Third, His resurrection. Fourth, His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Fifth, the inspiration given to His disciples. Sixth, the success of the Church in spite of every attempt to suppress it. Seventh, the religious experience of so many souls dedicated to Him. Eighth, the miraculous conversions of souls determined to oppose Him.
Either Jesus was a liar and a hypocrite, or He was who He said He was, the Son of God. And from where I am standing, the evidence in support of Him being who He said He was is enough to make me certain.