In the latest episode of The Big Conversation, Justin Brierley visited with Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins. These two prominent scientists promote the polar opposite beliefs of atheism and Christianity.
Dawkins wrote The God Delusion, while Collins led the Human Genome Project and wrote The Language of God. In spite of the huge spiritual chasm between them, these two deep thinkers nevertheless agree with one another on many scientific conclusions.
For example, “Scientists of all worldviews agree that the physical constants of our Universe and the conditions of the early Universe are exquisitely fine-tuned for life.” (Here is a comprehensive list of 140 factors of fine-tuning for life in the Universe as compiled by astronomer Hugh Ross.) As rational and reflective scientists, Dawkins and Collins deeply appreciate these astounding factors of fine-tuning.
With that commonality in mind, consider this helpful analogy.
Dawkins and Collins are free to travel to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A car ride or a plane ticket is all that is needed. A trip to the Moon, however, requires a rocket with far more power than an airplane or an automobile.
Likewise, man’s intellect can only take him so far, similar to the limitations of airplanes and automobiles. There is a point at which spiritual “rocket power” is needed if man is going to obtain faith in God, and specifically, faith in Jesus Christ.
The Kennedy Space Center represents the fine-tuning of the Universe, and the Moon represents Christian faith. Francis Collins took the space flight from fine-tuning to faith while in his 20s when God converted his soul from atheism to Christianity. This supernatural shuttle required the “rocket fuel” of the Holy Spirit.
One thing to keep in mind is that the space flight from fine-tuning to faith requires a certain measure of humility.
“Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). Humility before God is necessary in order to be “lifted up” from fine-tuning (Kennedy Space Center) to faith (the Moon). “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). God’s grace is like rocket power for the soul.
Where might a person start if faith in God is a completely foreign concept? You could begin by offering this sincere prayer with an honest heart and an open mind:
“God, if you are real, I would like to know it. Please reveal yourself to me. God, if the Bible is true, I would like to understand it. Please reveal the truth to me. Jesus, if you died for my sins on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day, I am willing to believe it. Please reveal the Gospel to me.”
And then read the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John and meditate upon those 36 verses.
You may wonder, “What could such an exercise accomplish?"
Well for starters, “Faith comes from hearing the message” (Romans 10:17). Your intellect and human reason can get you to the space station (fine-tuning), but only the Holy Spirit can get you to the Moon (faith). Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
After reading the 3rd chapter of John, you could offer this additional prayer:
“God, if what I just read is the truth, please plant it deep within my soul. That is, if you are real, and the Bible is true, and Jesus truly is the Savior I need in my life.”
And then repeat this sequence once a day for a week.
Do you know why so many intelligent men and women do not yet have faith in God? The answer is simple.
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
In other words, intelligent men and women who work at the Kennedy Space Center are not able to jump to the Moon. A rocket is required in order to get there, such as NASA’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).
In similar fashion, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can bring you to saving faith in Jesus Christ. You cannot “obey your way" to the Moon, and your religious deeds cannot get you there. You can only believe your way there by trusting Jesus.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Francis Collins has faith in Christ, whereas his good friend and well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens never claimed to have faith even up to the day he died.
None of us are smart enough or strong enough to make it to the Moon by our own intellectual power. Martin Luther penned this insight in The Small Catechism: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel.”
In other words, you can only get to the Moon through the rocket power of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, our fallen nature resists the very space flight that is necessary in order to be saved from our sins.
A proven way to obliterate one's moral resistance to God is to approach the Savior with this heartfelt request: “Forgive my sins dear Lord. Wash me Jesus with your precious blood.”
You might want to check out my CP op-ed, “Christianity is not Rocket Science,” as well as the article, “An Encounter with God on the Moon: Astronaut Jim Irwin’s Incredible Lunar Experience.”
The Earth is man’s first stop; the “Moon” (faith) is the second stop for believers, (John 3:16; John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and Heaven is the final destination and eternal home for God’s children (John 14:2; Revelation 22:1-5).
“In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people…and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Acts 2:17,21).
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.