Normally, I really like the Discovery Channel and the National Geographic Channel. They produce some of my favorite shows on television. During the days leading up to Christmas and Easter, however, they transform themselves into vehicles for the message of the New Atheists. Both channels produce shows with titles such as, “Who Was Jesus?,” “In Search of Jesus’ Tomb” and “The Real Jesus.” They present Christianity as some kind of conspiracy that has kept secrets from all of us for two thousand years and that a parade of scientists are going to reveal the real story. If there are any biblical scholars interviewed on these shows, they are those that do not read the bible as a believer.
One major thing all of these shows fail to understand or deliberately censor is that Christianity has never been a secretive religion. Everything we believe and do is public. In fact, one of our earliest witnesses to the liturgical practices of the early church is St. Justin the Martyr who wrote an open letter to the Emperor of Rome! In addition, Christianity rejected those expressions of Christianity that did want to have secrets — such as the “secret knowledge” of the Gnostics.
These shows will drag out writings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codex to prove that Christianity suppressed dozens, if not hundreds of different versions of the Gospel. What they won’t tell you is that we have known about these texts for almost two thousand years, because our main witnesses to them prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi Codex were Christians. St. Ireneus, for example, quotes the Gnostics and then explains why their writings and beliefs do not reflect what the Apostles passed down to us about Christ and our faith. St. Ireneus learned his faith on the lap of St. Polycarp, who was converted by St. John the Evangelist, the author of the Gospel according to John. If these shows wanted to be fair and wanted to find these answers, they could because they’ve been public since the beginning of Christianity. The problem, I believe, is that they don’t want to.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is imitating their fellow non-believers in London. They’ve put up anti-Christmas billboards. The most telling of these is one that declares “Reason’s Greetings.” In the face of our faith, the only way atheists can maintain their world-view is to reduce the human person to reason. If we disregard feelings, emotion, the miracle of the cell, and the wonder of bio-mechanics we can disregard all those things about being human that point us in the direction of God. In fact, we can make ourselves into gods — if we think it, we can make it happen. Science becomes a vehicle to control the world.
The great irony in all of this is that the fallen world is not reasonable. It defies our control. In a world where suffering, decay and death are pervasive, the only thing that really makes any sense is Christ born, crucified and risen. This is why some of the most educated, scientific and reasoned minds in history have come to the conclusion that there is indeed a God and He loves us so much that He sent His Only-Begotten Son so that we might have eternal life in Him. Amen.