Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
December 6, 2010
Atheist signs and Advent hope
Have you heard about the battle between atheists and pastors in our area? The Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason has paid for signs which read, “Millions of Americans are Good Without God.” They are up on Ft. Worth city buses this morning. A group of pastors in the city has called for a passenger boycott of these buses.
A similar campaign has begun in New York City. A billboard outside the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan depicts the Wise Men on their camels with the words, “You KNOW it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason.” The sign is brought to us by “American Atheists, reasonable since 1963.”
Ironically, this is the Advent “week of faith.” I’m reminded of the little boy who was asked in Sunday school to define “faith.” His answer: “Believing what you know ain’t so.” Are we asked to leave our brains at the door when coming to church? Is the biblical story of Christmas a “myth”? Can we “celebrate reason” and be followers of Jesus?
This Advent “week of faith,” let’s review the facts behind the story we tell this season. Christmas actually begins at creation, as Scripture claims that “all things were created by Jesus and for him” (Colossians 1:16). According to Christians, Jesus created the universe he entered at Christmas. Consider the scope of his work.
Last week, astronomers announced that they have discovered evidence of billions of stars of which they were previously unaware. They now estimate that the universe contains around 300 sextillion stars (that’s three followed by 23 zeroes for those of us who don’t speak math), three times as many as were previously thought to exist.
Imagine traveling in a spaceship across that cosmos at the speed of light. You would need 14 billion years to reach the edges of the universe visible through telescopes on Earth. And yet Isaiah 40:12 says our God holds all of that in the palm of his hand.
As Jesus made this unfathomably large universe, he created our tiny planet. How small is it? Our sun is medium-sized compared to other stars in the universe, but it is 330,000 times larger than the earth. If you could bore a hole in the sun and somehow put in 1.2 million earths, you would still have room for 4.3 million moons. The Christ of Christmas made all of that. Then he reduced his omnipotence down to a fetus and became a tiny baby in Bethlehem. C. S. Lewis suggests that you consider reducing yourself down to a slug to get the hang of it.
That’s only the beginning of the true story of Christmas. For today, know that the Baby of Bethlehem chose to enter his creation for you. Never wonder again if you are loved. This is the truth, and the invitation, of Christmas.