Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born to a virgin. He healed the sick, performed many miracles, preached a gospel of love and redemption from sin, was crucified, and was resurrected on the third day. He rose up to Heaven, where he is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is the light of the world and the savior of all who seek him. His followers wrote books about his works and teachings and formed a new religion through which all of mankind can find salvation and life everlasting.
Jesus of Nazareth was a minor preacher, whose message, similar to those of other self-styled messiahs at the time, was recorded by one or two followers. He was killed for being rebellious, and his body may or may not have been stolen, or he never actually died and simply escaped after being taken down from the cross, injured but still alive. Paul started a religion based on this figure (who might not even have been real), and the New Testament was composed much later by unknown adherents of the Christ cult started by Paul.
Which version is true? We cannot know. One can find evidence for both scenarios. One can find even more evidence that is consistent with either scenario. The events happened a long time ago, but that isn’t why we can’t be certain about what happened. Even if we were living 100 years after the events, we would have about as little proof, either way, as we have now. Even if we were alive in Palestine during Christ’s mission, we might be uncertain. We know that not everyone was convinced by the words and deeds of Christ—as recorded in the Gospels.
Christ refused to perform miracles to prove that he was the Messiah. When people asked for “a sign,” he grew angry and refused, calling them a wicked and unfaithful generation. Why? I mean if I present a finding that I claim to be true, and a colleague says, “prove it,” I will show the data of the experiments which provide strong evidence that what I claimed is true. Wouldn’t you do that? So why didn’t Christ win over the Pharisees during his interrogation with a nice miracle? Why is it so difficult to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that Christ, was a real figure, that He walked among us, was the Son of God, and that He rose from death? In fact, why doesn’t God simply appear on TV and tell all the atheists that they are wrong, and everyone better get with the program and start worshipping?
Why can’t we prove or disprove any of this religious stuff?
The answer is, because if we could, if proof in either direction were possible, if an argument on one side could not always be countered by an equally valid argument on the other side, than the title of this article would be false. You would not have a choice.
You are allowed to choose to accept God or not. You cannot choose to believe in gravity, or the motor vehicle bureau, or perpetual motion machines, or phlogiston, or the internet. But when it comes to God, the choice is yours. And it always will be. This means that discussions of proof and evidence go nowhere, and it’s why I do not consider myself to be an “apologist.” The power to choose is a gift. Accept it and use it well.