It's Freshers' fair at Girton and I'm standing behind a stall, smiling. A group walks by, their inquisitive eyes briefly meeting mine before bolting away as they hurry on to the next stand without daring to take a further look. Why? I'm a Christian Union rep, and standing next to me is a fluorescent cardboard sign with the questions 'What is the Christian message?' and 'Can it be true? What is the evidence?' above a list of the weekly talks that we were putting on to try to answer exactly that.
You see, we were tired of being caricatured as people preaching a message without any evidence and so decided to present these talks. Convinced of the truth of Christianity, we wanted to share the evidence for this belief, addressing some of the biggest questions in Christianity such as the Genesis creation stories, the problem of evil, the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and the historical reliability of the Bible. People were invited not only to come and have a listen to the talks but also to question and criticise what they had heard afterwards.
I myself spent many hours in the summer writing up all seven of the talks (although the content was based on research I had done over the course of the previous couple of years) and then I presented them over the course of Michaelmas term. So you can understand my disappointment when the attendance turned out to be very low – including a lowlight of having only three people attend the talk on the resurrection, despite my having stressed it as the linchpin of the evidence for Christianity.
Now of course I fully understand that much of the reason for this is that busy Cambridge students would be reluctant to spend an hour listening to a talk, much less a talk about Christianity given by a fellow student rather than some kind of expert! But I guess my real disappointment lies in the fact that, as a student who has spent a long time carrying out research and finding there to be strong evidence for the truth of many central tenants of Christianity, I really wanted to get a chance to share this with others and have the opportunity to chat about any common misconceptions. The talks just seemed to be the best way to go about doing this.
I never expected that I could reason anyone into believing in Jesus – after all, examining the claims of Christianity cannot be reduced to a cold, detached analysis because it involves a relationship with God that is based on faith and not proof. Yet it is not blind faith but a well-reasoned one, in which the evidence warrants the leap of faith.
Indeed I do not wish to insult anyone's intelligence by suggesting that there are not any genuine issues with Christianity. Of course there are, and it is undeniable that different people do in fact consider the evidence more fully and still reach the opposite conclusion. Yet if true blind faith is holding a view while never truly considering the evidence against it, then ironically I would suggest that it is those who are accusing Christians of having blind faith are guilty of it themselves.
In short, the claim that the God of love has revealed himself definitively, having suffered unimaginably so that we may come to know him, and demonstrated this through Jesus' resurrection, is absolutely massive! It is not something to be treated lightly but should be carefully considered. Although Christians are undoubtedly biased sources, ultimately everyone is biased to some extent and so it is surely worth having a listen to what both sides have to say.
So my talks are all available to listen to through a link on the Girton Christian Union website and I invite you to please question and critique them. The CICCU is also putting on their 'This is Jesus' week later this term, which will include various interesting talks of much higher quality than my own. So I really would encourage you to please come along and get to grips with the evidence and the message that we are convinced of and overjoyed with!