Summary: In order to answer the question, ‘what does it mean’ you must first answer the question ‘what is real’? I realize most people are not asking this question. But philosophers and scientists do.
The purpose of apologetics is to present biblical answers to the questions of Origin, Meaning, Morality, Destiny. If you can answer the questions of these issues you have presented a worldview
This morning I’d like to focus only on one aspect of this collection of four questions-the question of meaning. In order to answer the question, ‘what does it mean’ you must first answer the question ‘what is real’? I realize most people are not asking this question. But philosophers and scientists do.
Einstein said the whole universe is an illusion, though a very persistent one.
[slide 3] The pop-culture film-phenomenon The Matrix was released in 1999. It, and the two sequels which followed presented a world in which all of the things we think of as Real were actually only a computer simulation designed to stimulate parts of the brain with the illusion of reality-while the Real Reality was a world of machines that harvested humans and kept them in vats to feed on the energy their bodies produced while the humans slept through their lives dreaming of a reality which was only a dream-world [video clip-slide 4].
Many people were impressed by this film. I’m not recommending it, though there are many (including those who produced the film) who have seen the main character “Neo” as a Christ figure. I have no need for such Christ figures-I prefer Jesus.
But the film inspired a great deal of discussion of the questions of what is real and how we can know it.
[slide 6] John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Only Begotton, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
C.S. Lewis was a scholar of classical Greek. He translates that last phrase “full of grace and reality”.
I believe Ravi Zacharias was right-
[Slide 7] “The ultimate pursuit should be the truth, no matter where it leads you.” Ravi Zacharias (Message given at “why Jesus” April 2012)
[slide 8] Lawrence Krauss, a physicist and string theorist, argues once we figure out what happened at the inception of the universe we may one day have the power to create entire new universes ex nihilo-out of nothing (A Universe from Nothing). Yet he, with all of his wondrous intelligence, is unable to come to a knowledge of God-he is an avowed atheist. He can believe something as patently ludicrous and silly and unscientific as the suggestion that human beings may one day become like God and create universes at will, yet is unable to come to that conclusion which is obvious to the greatest and the least intellects among us, that a good and magnificent Creator brought the magnificence of this universe into existence.
[slide 8] We are surrounded externally and internally with evidence of the Creator. He speaks to us in the gentle breezes clapping together the leaves of mighty oaks. He speaks to us in the germinating seed, from its muddy, wrinkled planeness it transforms into a living, breathing, beautiful, fruitful vine. He speaks to us in our own liveliness; our every breath is in His hand, our thought He knows before we think it, and, if we are willing, in a still small voice He speaks to us in our own minds, revealing Himself to us in peace and prophecy, in joy, and restoration.
God is, everywhere, shouting to us, yet we, with hands firmly clasped over our ears shout profanities in an attempt to drown out His mighty flood of a voice. As CS Lewis put it:
[slide 9] “Good beats upon the damned incessantly as sound waves beat on the ears of the deaf, but they cannot receive it. Their fists are clenched, their teeth are clenched, their eyes fast shut. First they will not, in the end they cannot, open their hands for gifts, or their mouth for food, or their eyes to see.” C. S. Lewis: The Great Divorce
[slide 10] Our denial of reality in no way diminishes it; it only diminishes us.
[slide 11] Thalia Wheatley was once a deeply devout believer, and prayed every day. But in her research of the way the human brain processes information she discovered that you can stimulate the temporal lobe of the brain with an electric current a person feels connected- a sense of the presence of God. Because of this she came to doubt her own experience of God’s presence, and attributed it to a trick of the mind. (interview with Robert Kuhn)
This is curious to me. [slide 12] Research has discovered electrical impulses of the brain associated with the smell of lemon, or the taste of chocolate cake. Yet no one concludes from this research that lemons or chocolate cake therefore do not exist. If you were God and you wanted to communicate with humanity, what better way than through pathways in the brain-eternal Mind communing with temporal mind? Why is it that roughly seven billion people around the world affirm some kind of belief and experience of the existence of God? To claim the experience of those billions is invalid seems to me, somehow, un/anti-scientific. It seems like a conclusion which lacks objectivity.