Is the Bible still relevant?
Society may think the Bible is outdated, but Alistair McKitterick, lecturer in biblical and theological studies at Moorlands, knows better...
In Stephen Hawking's new book, Grand Design, he writes, "Because there are laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
Like other secularists, Hawking believes that you don't really need God to understand the universe. And if you don't really need God, then there's really no need to have a book about God. That would be like needing a manual for servicing flying carpets: since flying carpets don't exist, there's not much point wasting your time reading how to service them.
It is no surprise, therefore, that for these secular scientists - and for the secular media as well - the Bible is completely irrelevant.
It is important to note, however, that they probably haven't found the Bible to be irrelevant by reading it. It is their worldview that makes them believe the Bible must be irrelevant. So how is it they have such a low view of the Bible, whereas most Christians around the world consider the Bible to be one of our most valued possessions? What is it about our secular society's worldview that makes people ignore it?
We all have a worldview that shapes what we know. In his book Personal Religion, Public Reality?, philosophy professor Dallas Willard writes, "Worldview, simply put, consists of the most general and basic assumptions about what is real and what is good - including assumptions about who we are and what we should do. That may sound terribly abstract to you, but there is in fact nothing more practical than our worldview, for it determines the orientation of everything else we think and do."
JP Moreland, another Christian philosopher, writes in his book Kingdom Triangle that our society is in the thick of a battle between three main worldviews: post-modernism, scientific naturalism and Christian theism.
Stephen Hawking holds the second of these, arguing that only matter and energy are real, and the only thing that counts as knowledge is what science can tell us. For Hawking, if you want to know about the world and about ourselves, there is no point in reading a book written thousands of years before science began.
The Christian theist, on the other hand, has a completely different worldview, observing that there is a personal God who is more real than the matter and energy of the universe, and that He created the world in order to live in covenant relationship with us. The way we know this is through revelation from God in the Bible.
So how can we get our secular neighbours to change worldviews and start seeing the relevance of the Bible? John Lennox, the Oxford Professor of Mathematics, shows a practical way to challenge their scientific worldview. He asks a simple but profound question: "Which came first, mind or matter?" In other words, did the mind of God create all matter, or did matter make a mind by itself? Are we the result of a mindless process of evolution, or was the universe made with us in mind?
In a Daily Mail article, Lennox challenged Stephen Hawking at the worldview level. "As a scientist I'm certain Stephen Hawking is wrong," Lennox said. "You can't explain the universe without God."
Hawking wants to convince us that the universe created itself, because all that's needed is the law of gravity. But where, Lennox asks, did the law of gravity come from? And who lit the blue touch paper that set it in motion?
The big questions
Hawking's secular worldview can't answer the big questions of life: where the laws of the universe come from, the fine-tuning of the physical constants and the complex make-up of each cell. He certainly can't explain consciousness, not to mention the biggest question everyone must ask: what is the purpose of it all?
The Christian worldview, on the other hand, does have credible answers to these real questions. God tells us in the Bible, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... Through him all things were made" (John 1.1-3).
This worldview approach, of course, is not new. Paul used it when he addressed the Greek philosophers in Athens (see Acts 17). God is the Creator, he begins, and He created us so that we should seek Him. Paul concludes by pointing towards the return of Jesus and the hope of resurrection.
And as Paul's experience shows, this doesn't always result in revival, and some will scoff at our words the way they scoffed at Paul's message. Rather, it is a slow, often difficult process to change the way people they see the world. But if we want to get our secular society to value the Bible, we have to show people how God's Word more than answers the big questions that their shallow, materialist worldview can't.
Once our neighbours see their own life-story as part of the big story of God, then the Bible will become as relevant to them as the air we breathe.