Isaiah - 7:14 - ‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’
Over 2 billion people celebrate December 25 as Christmas - supposedly, the birthday of Christ. Every human being living in Christendom, in the Western World, is influenced in some way by the Christmas period - unless, of course, one is living in a cave far in some distant jungle.
Some persons reject Christmas seeing it as the most commercialized period of any age. Many, caught up in the frenzy, spend what they do not have. As one preacher puts it, it is no longer no room in the inn, but it is now no room in the parking lot at the mall.
For others, Christmas is sorrel and fruitcakes with or without alcohol or family get-togethers, or gifts and parties and Santa-clauses. For many, there is little reflection on the beautiful ‘impossibility’ of the virgin birth, and what it must have been for Mary, in her virgin innocence, to understand the miracle that she carried. For the person of faith, growing within her was our salvation, our Christmas. Did she fully understand that within the confines of her womb was Immanuel ‘God with us’ that her baby was divinity and humanity entangled in unison for the purpose of the salvation of humankind?
For us believers, people of faith, that Chris was born, we are certain, that he is God we know, that He is our Saviour and Redeemer we bless Him, and that He shall return riding the glorious clouds of Heaven, we look forward.
However, for the growing number of the sceptics, atheist and non-believers, in an increasingly secular world, all of this is mere mumbo-jumbo - statements of religious fanatics - a tale told by idiots, ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ but the unfortunate stupidity of those who hold on to these ideas.
The Bible asserts that the universe is a testimony to God's existence and precision. The psalmist had this to say: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.’ (Psalm 19:1-3).
To the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote:
‘For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.’ (Romans 1:20).
However, even if atheists and sceptics are prone to dismiss the Psalmist David and Saint Paul as men before modern science, once one is keeping abreast of the best minds today, one will know that the theory of evolution is taking a beating now that science has been able to unravel our DNA and to examine in detail how a cell operates and the information necessary to get life going. Books such as - Signature in the Cell - now on the New York Time best selling list, by one of the most astute graduates of Cambridge University, Steven Meyer, and another entitled - Darwin’s Doubt - The Explosive origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design are important contributions to the history of science and ideas. Another book making great waves - is Michael Polany’s - Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry.
There is movement in the intellectual wind because in evolutionary biology today, there is an increasing number of scientists who are questioning the creative power of mutation and natural selection, the corner stone of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The more modern technology probes the intricacies of our DNA, the more they marvel of what is going on deep in the recesses of our biological humanity.
Meyer notes that: ‘The living cell is a system of capable of storing, copying, error correcting, proof-reading, transcribing, alternatively splicing and splitting, transmitting and decoding digital molecular information.’ They are concluding that the basis of life for biological function is protein but the protein in the DNA needs information, and the information is stored in our DNA - and so, how did the this digital code come about in the first place. The question is, they say, how can the molecules, which have billions of choices, in brilliant precision, know exactly which ones to attach themselves in order to make life possible. The precise determination of sequence either of bases in the nucleic acid or amino acid residues in the protein, is too startling to be the result of pure chance, undirected forces. They are concluding that intelligence is behind it, a mind unimaginably superior to ours.
What makes for life at its very cellular level, they are concluding, is far too complex in its precision, too delicate in its nuance, too ‘guided’ to be unguided, to be anything but the creation of a mind - not even untold billions of years of Darwinian evolution could make this possible.
Bill Gates said some time ago that the Human DNA is like a computer programme but far, far more advanced than we have ever created.’ A good conclusion must be that a mind is behind this, as pure material process could not land this.
The digital information stored in molecules points to design. Darwin did not know these things - it is our modern machines which make it make it possible to break into our DNAs which are giving us this knowledge. The amazing way the universe is fine-tuned to make life possible led Michael Turner, astrophysics at the University of Chicago, describes it as follows: ‘The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bull’s eye one millimetre in diameter in the other side of the universe.’
Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists of all time, had told us long ago the very same thing - ‘Though these bodies may indeed continue their orbits by mere laws of gravity, yet they could by no means first derived the regular position of the orbits themselves from these laws. Thus, the most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the council and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being’ Isaac Newton, author of Principia Mathematica.
For the believer, the celebration of the birth of Christ is the direct fulfilment of Bible prophecy. The believer will point to numerous prophecies in Old Testament, and this, for this person, authenticates, the birth, resurrection, ascension and second coming. For the believer, in one, singular person, the God Man, all the prophecies converge. For the person of faith, this proves the authenticity of the Bible. Off-course, for the secularist and atheist, this is pure nonsense.
For the astute Christian, the birth of Christ, allows us to scrutinize his life and in that life, to see a revelation of God. He became one of us, so we could truly know God.
For the person of faith, who takes Christmas as a fact, the event makes the Bible meaningful, allows us to have glimpses of God, and paves the way for forgiveness of sins and for prayers to be answered.
The Christmas event, the core of the Christianity, causes us to consider what it means, to quote Orlando Patterson’s - Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, ‘that spiritually, the son of God made himself incarnate, then gave his life in order to redeem mankind from spiritual enslavement and to make people free and equal before God.’
Placed in its proper perspective, Christmas provides for us an occasion to find answers to life’s most vexing questions: why was I born? What will happen to me when I die? What is the meaning of my existence? Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Etcetera.
For all, I wish a true experience of Christmas. For believers, I pray that as you accept Christ anew, that upon you will shine a light as bright as the one which shone upon those shepherds as they watched their flocks by night. For the non-believer, may the period provide contemplation and silence, and even, maybe, a sense of God.