On Hell and Evolution - 08/15/2004
I am new to the Christian beliefs and have a few questions before I can put my faith behind what the Bible teaches. Growing up, I was never introduced to religion. My family is not religious, so I was left alone to determine whether or not God truly existed. Being uneducated on the topic, I concluded that God was myth...just based on the nature of the story. I
saw him as a Santa Claus or Easter Bunny for adults. I am a college student now and lived on a hall with many Christians last semester. At first, I joked many of them for what they believed. But as we became closer, we were able to debate as friends...without becoming angry. They helped me figure out that I believed in a God...a creator...just based on the
intricacies of life...how perfectly everything works together. But I still have many doubts and questions about the Bible and Christianity.
If God loves each and every person, then why does he send the majority of them to Hell? My understanding of the Bible is that only Christians go to Heaven. What if I had died a year ago...before I was ever really introduced to Christianity? Am I guilty of sin for never being educated? What about the billions of people in Asia and Africa who are taught other religions? How can ignorance be a sin? What about atheists who make educated unbiased decisions to believe in Darwinism? Is a Christian who kills a man more likely to go to heaven than a role-model atheist just because he repented for his sin? It doesn't make sense to me.
The other question I have is more scientific. I have read that there are stars that can be dated at ages between 12 and 16 billion years old. And the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Doesn't this contradict the Bible? I know I can't trust everything I read, but I have read that from many different sources...all seeming to be legit. I obviously don't know enough science to verify these findings...but I also can't verify that many historical aspects of the Bible are legit. I have read many places that the New Testament writings were discovered in the first century. But just like the ages of our universe, I don't know for sure what to believe and what not to believe.
There are so many reasons for me to both believe and reject Christianity. Even after only a few months of searching for answers, I have already become frustrated. Any help you can provide will be much appreciated.
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi Jeff. Thanks for writing to Contender Ministries. Let me first address your question about hell. It is true that God is a loving God. That's one of his qualities. Another one of his qualities is that He is a just God. That is, He always comes down on the side of justice, even if it's harsh. Long ago, God laid down his law in the Garden of Eden. He loved the first people, and He wanted us to love Him in return. However, such love can only be genuine if it's a choice. Therefore, God gave us free will. We can love Him and obey Him, or we can reject Him. Like any parent or lawgiver, God created a penalty for sin. In our system of earthly laws, if someone commits a crime, they're sentenced to prison, or death, or are fined. God's laws have the same type of system in place. Yet mankind rejected God, almost right off the bat. God could have said, "To hell with my creation (literally)," but He didn't. He still loved us, and wanted to reclaim us. He set up a system of sacrifice by which people could be forgiven of their sins. Yet mankind STILL rejected God. So God said, "enough!" God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ, and suffered a sacrificial death for us all. Through this death and resurrection, we can all be saved! There's just one caveat. We must exercise that free will and accept this. It's true that hell still awaits those who reject God, but I believe all people will have the opportunity to accept God or reject Him. God won't hold people accountable for what they could never learn, and the gospel will reach everyone somehow. This is more forgiving than our criminal justice system, in which ignorance of the law is no excuse. You can dwell on the fact that people will go to hell (because God is just), or you can thank God that He has given us the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven with Him (because God loves us). And yes, a murderer who accepts Christ will go to heaven where an honorable atheist will go to hell. Why? Because we can't do ANYTHING ourselves to earn the right to go to heaven. We literally go there by the grace of God. A murderer who repents and accepts that grace will be saved, where a humanitarian who rejects the grace of God will not.
As for the old earth theory, a lot of scientists believe in the age of the earth because they view geological formations from the standpoint of how long natural processes take to create such formations. They view it in sort of an equillibrium format, and don't acknowledge that God could (and did) create geological formations rapidly and catastrophically! The Grand Canyon would take millions of years to erode from the currents of a stream, even taking into account flash flooding. Yet God is greater than His creation, and can create a canyon or a mountain in no time at all! There are some links I'm going to post at the end of this email, and I encourage you to check them out. You can see at these sites how the Genesis account IS scientific, no matter how much your agnost/atheist/humanist educators want you to believe otherwise. Did you know over one hundred prestigious scientiests signed a public dissent from evolution? I'll include that link too. Something to think about. As far as the dates of stars, the age measurements are very subjectively made. There's a good article on Science Ministries about starlight and time. It's actually a 3-part article. Go to the following page and read the articles in order (Part I, Part II, etc.): http://christianity.com/CC_Content_Page/0,,PTID4859|CHID40|CIID,00.html
Jeff, in addition to the websites below, I encourage you to buy two books, both by Lee Strobel. Lee was an atheist and a journalist. He set out to disprove Christianity when his wife got "sucked up in it." His exhaustive research led him to accept Christ as well. The books, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith are must reads for you, I think. There's a wealth of historical and scientific data out there that supports the Bible, Jeff. Most people would be surprised if they saw how much. I ask you to look into this some more, and let us know if you have any more questions. Read Strobel's books. I think they'll help. Don't forget to scroll down for the other websites. God bless you for asking questions, and may He guide your search.
Ben and Jennifer Rast
p.s. Before I list the websites, let me just say that Jennifer and I have both asked the same questions you have, and have both gone on the same search you are. We have researched heavily, and our faith in Christ has just been strengthened.