The past few days I have been wrestling with my faith. I have been experiencing symptoms of severe anxiety and depression such as excessive sleep, not eating or drinking, nervous breakdowns, etc. The things that have been bothering me the past few days have to do with evolutionary psychology and the resurrection of Christ.
1. Evolutionary Psychology- I had read somewhere that it is believed that the only reason Christians feel the things we do (faith, feeling love from God, a presence of a higher power, prayers, etc)is because our brains have evolved in such a way that we believe in something along the line of a higher power. This leaves me thinking that what if everything I feel about God and Christ is nothing more than an illusion generated by my own mind?
2. The Resurrection- I keep having doubts about the Resurrection (no matter how strange or how they don’t add up). I keep thinking thoughts for example like “What if Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus in a separate tomb and the Romans guarded the wrong one?” or “What if the supposed eyewitness accounts after the Resurrection were just false claims and people just went along with it, believing instead of asking first?”
Please help the best you can John. Thank you.
I think your problem is principally an emotional one, and will be best helped by sharing your feelings with supportive Christians you know and to share them with God in prayer. Such emotions are not “solved” or “fixed” by rational arguments. These are principally the symptoms of the faith crisis you are going through. Besides, we need to remember that “Faith is belief in things unseen.” There will always be unresolved issues and questions in real Christianity and we cannot rely simply on evidence or “seen” things. In the end, we need to ask ourselves, given the evidence, are we willing to step out on faith. Are we willing to live by faith, not by sight.
Having said all that, let me still give you something to “see” with regard to these two questions.
1. It is true that the human brain is physically designed in a way which allows us to have religious experiences. The materialist, with his/her presupposition that there is no God and that supernatural things are simply not real, naturally interprets this on a way consistent with their world view. They assume the answer before asking the question. They conclude (and assume) that there is a “natural” evolutionary explanation of the fact that religious experience is common to all human beings.
Let me give an alternative explanation of the facts. If we begin with the hypothesis that there is a God who created us, who wants to know us and who wants us to know and experience him, then it is only reasonable to propose that the human brain would be a wonderfully designed God-experiencing organ. Well, that is exactly what it is! We are “wired” to have the emotions that God has. Our brain is connected in a way that we can experience joy, inspiration, connection and a wide variety of “religious experiences.” I say we are this way because God created us this way. If God used an evolutionary process as at least part of how we came to be what we are, this would be consistent with the data on evolution.
So, we should be cautious about listening to the hard-core atheists who declare as fact that it is sheer evolutionary accident that we are religious. This is not a scientific statement, but is the result of a presupposition. In the end, science does not answer the philosophical “why” questions.
Is the second scenario above the true one–that God has designed us wonderfully so that we could be known by him and that we could know and experience him? I will let you decide for yourself, but please do yourself a favor and recognize that atheists who act as though scenario #1 above is scientific and proved by the evidence are putting up a smoke screen. I say that the evidence much more strongly supports the conclusion that the universe is designed and that we are designed by a Designer. The universe exists, not because of some sort of completely unexplainable accident. It exists because of a God who purposed it. The accidental universe and the accidental human brain hypothesis is a very weak one, in my opinion.
2. If the evidence for a designed universe, designed life and designed brains is strong, then the evidence for the reality of the resurrection f Jesus is still stronger. I have seen no scenario which comes within light years of explaining the facts of 1. The death by crucifixion 2. The empty tomb 3. The public announcement of his resurrection outside of the obvious one, which is that Jesus was raised from the dead.
About your doubt with regard to Joseph of Arimethea: Do you think it is likely that the Romans would have sealed a tomb without checking that there was a body in there first? Is it likely that, if the body was not in that tomb, that the church would have then covered it up with a massive conspiracy? If the body was in the wrong tomb, then why were his grave clothes in the right tomb on Sunday AM? If the body was in the wrong tomb, then why did the apostles see and even touch the risen Jesus? If the body was in the wrong tomb, then who was it who appeared to more than 500 eye witnesses, nearly all of whom knew Jesus very well? Could the apostles have been faked out about seeing Jesus? Would they have begun a conspiracy and cover-up of massive proportions and then lived the rest of their lives in constant fear of death, yet not one of them would have admitted the lie? This is a bit silly. I say that the explanation that the body was placed in the wrong tomb makes no sense. That is my response.