proof is there that Christianity is not a myth created
to assuage our fears about death?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rev. William A. Kolb
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
me respond briefly to two words: (1) Myth, and (2) Death.
Myth is our most important truth. We express our deepest truths
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.
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.
Death. I'm not concerned so much about death as I am about life.
For me, Christianity is about how to live life authentically.
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
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.
Rev. Lowell Grisham
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Rev. Mark Beckwith