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What proof is there that Christianity is not a myth created to assuage our fears about death?

It's funny to use the word "myth" as meaning the opposite of truth, because a myth by definition is "truth told in the form of a story." For example: some Christians believe that Adam and Eve really existed, and some believe that they did not actually, historically exist. But all of us believe the deep Truths contained in the Genesis account of this "first couple": God made us; God loves us; God gave us choice and freedom; we often make the wrong choice and misuse our freedom; when "caught," we often blame others; temptation is a real part of life and our choices can make a big difference. There are other lessons to be learned from this "myth," but the "bottom line" here is that the Adam and Eve story is absolutely Truth, whether it is fact or not.

When I was studying for admission to the seminary, I was required to read a lot of "world literature." One day I went to my rector and said, "Some writers believe that the whole Christian story is made up, not true." He said, "If that is the case, I don't want to know about it." Even a priest of the church will acknowledge that in matters of faith there is no "proof." Much of our faith, all of it in fact, rests on trust, because there is no way to prove matters of faith. Period.

If the Christian faith, with resurrection at its "center," comforts you about your death, well and good. And it is well and good whether or not the resurrection actually happened, physically.

I would add this thought: I believe that Christianity is Truth based on historical facts because of the dynamic and vital life of the Church over a period of 2,000 years. I do not believe that human hands and minds and institutional processes can keep anything going that long and give hope and vibrancy that the faith gives to so many. Only something inspired, in this case the Holy Spirit, can do that. I believe in the resurrection because so many saw the risen Christ, so many wrote about it at different locations, at different times, people who couldn't have read each other's writings. I believe in the resurrection of the dead because I see resurrections all the time in everyday life: people whose spirits seemed absolutely dead for years, finding themselves alive and excited again. Marriages that seemed dead springing to new life. Bitter angry people mellowing and learning at advanced ages how to love and be loved. Longtime victims of clinical depression finding new spirit and joy in life. All these "resurrections" tell me there is a God, a God of life, and a God who can bring the dead to life.

--The Rev. William A. Kolb

There are many powerful philosophical and scientific arguments that can be made for the existence of a Christian God. To me these arguments have always been at least as defendable as the arguments against His existence. However, none of these arguments—scientific or philosophical, pro or con—are adequate, in my opinion. Ultimately, it has to get down to faith. You cannot prove that God exists nor can you prove that he does not. How could we? Think how primitive the thinking and science of, say, the 12th century seems to us today. How foolish will we look to those who follow us? If we are created by God, how could we be sophisticated enough to prove anything about Him that He does not want us to know? Instead, we must rely on Him to reveal Himself to us. I think He does so through all of the things that cannot be measured or proved.

Many years ago, I went through a period when I seriously doubted God's existence. It was a "crisis of faith." After nearly a year of anguish and searching, my crisis ended. After exhausting logical and philosophical pros and cons, I walked outside one night and got on my knees and prayed. I said something like, "I really want to believe in you and I am really struggling. I know my faith is weak. If you are out there, please help me." My head was bowed and my eyes were closed. As soon as I finished saying those words, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and I felt loved. To be precise, I felt that I was loved by a presence that was not myself. I looked up into the night sky. That moment a shooting star appeared overhead.

You could say that what happened to me was coincidence or chance. I lived in a reasonably large city at the time. Seeing shooting stars was not a common occurrence. Still, a cynic would say you can never be sure. That is what is meant by faith. I am sure of what happened and what has continued to happen for me. Since that time I have experienced that same presence and felt the "peace that surpasses all understanding" on several, albeit far too rare, occasions.

I am convinced that God will reveal Himself to anyone who sincerely seeks Him. He will do so in His own way and on his own schedule, but He will open the door if we knock.


"Proof" in a scientific sense is relevant in the world of Matter, but not nearly so relevant in the realm of the Spirit. Dismissing Christianity as a myth fashioned to assuage the fear of death bespeaks cheap psychology, poor history, and a total misunderstanding of what constitutes religious myths. Myths are the product of prophetic and poetic genius. They provide us with a language to deal with the awesome mysteries of Being. One wise man has defined a myth as a story so profoundly true that particular details about the story do not matter all that much.


There is no "proof" by literal contemporary definition. Proof of Christian credibility is demonstrated in the faith and conviction of those dedicated to a life in Christ.


Let me respond briefly to two words: (1) Myth, and (2) Death.

1. Myth is our most important truth. We express our deepest truths through myth.

An illustration may help. I believe that America is a good and great country, worth risking my life to protect. We have some stories about that. Some of those stories are historically true; some are not. Washington did not cut down the cherry tree; freedom was limited for slaves and women in the “land of the free.” The myth of America is the powerful story that helps create a people. Because I believe in the myth of America, my heart can be touched by music like “God bless America.” It is on the basis of that myth that I will challenge her with loving severity when I believe she is not living up to that vision.

The deepest truths I know about the nature of life and how it is to be lived are those I find in the story of Jesus. It may all be a myth, but that myth is more deeply true than any other reality I have discovered. It's the best story I know of—a story worth giving my life to.

2. Death. I'm not concerned so much about death as I am about life. For me, Christianity is about how to live life authentically.

What I've found is akin to what countless others have found. When I give my life to the story—or more precisely, to that person of Jesus—living within that trusting relationship becomes self authenticating. It brings me life—authentic life.

St. Augustine said, "Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe." I have exercised my faith in the God of love that Jesus reveals. What I have experienced is the God of love that Jesus reveals. That is the God that I surrender my death into. Whatever God wants for me and for all of us after we die is just fine with me. I will trust God with death.

The Rev. Lowell Grisham

Wow. What a good question—there is no beating around the bush with this one. There are many logical, reasoned arguments you could make. Some of my favorites involve the arrogant folly of mankind and the progress of science. We were convinced the world was flat. If you disagreed, you were a heretic. As modern physics has evolved, it turns out that many of the mechanistic principles (accepted as "facts") of Newtonian physics have been turned on their head. Quantum physics describes a universe consistent with the beliefs of the ancient mystics and is generally supportive of the concept of a Creator. Consider this "fact" from modern science: Nothing disappears—its form simply changes from matter to energy and vice versa. This principle implies eternity and points towards the existence of a soul.


Rational methodology has been employed to prove the existence of God. It works for some, but rational thinking is an invention of man. Some would say that God is merely a device, invented by man, to explain what cannot be explained by man's experience here on earth. Belief in God is a leap of faith. There is no rational explanation that at some point does not turn on itself or offer the "proof" that no other explanation can rationally exist.

There is a children's story about Saint Augustine walking on a beach trying to comprehend the mystery of the Trinity. He happens upon a small boy carrying water from the sea to a small hole in the sand. He watches as the boy scoops up the water in a bucket and pours it into the hole. The procedure is repeated many times. Finally, the good saint asks the boy what he is doing. "I'm putting all the water in the sea into the hole I have dug in the sand," replies the boy. "That's impossible," the amused bishop observes, "You are wasting your time." "And so are you, trying to understand the mystery of the Trinity," answers the boy.


Christianity doesn’t propose proof; instead it invites faith. Faith in what? Not in facts and data, but in truth—which is often to be found in myth.

In her book Amazing Grace, Kathleen Norris has written that a myth may not be true on the outside, but is true on the inside. Perhaps the best example of this is the Garden of Eden story in Genesis. It is a myth. The story did not happen in human history, yet it is still true. The creation myth reveals one of the most basic truths of the human condition—that we humans think and act as though we are the masters of our universe, that we don’t need God. The first man and first woman thought that because they were in a perfect environment, they must be perfect, too. Their mistake—their “fall”—was the result of their hubris; their conviction that they didn’t need direction or guidance from the one who created the perfect garden.

We have retold this myth over the centuries to remind ourselves of the truth of our hubris; and the truth of our death. Myths lead us into the deepest mysteries of life and death, and guide us through them.

The Rev. Mark Beckwith



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