Could Christianity regrow in a virgin world without Christian books or tradition?
Albert Einstein once said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Suppose Einstein’s catastrophic World War III happened, and it destroyed civilization. Then, after a thousand years, civilization returned to roughly today’s level of scientific awareness.
After losing all scientific knowledge of optics, thermodynamics, gravity, and other concepts, this naive society has re-discovered it. Nature didn’t change, so they have the very same scientific theories and laws we have now—relativity, evolution, e = mc2, f = ma, and so on.
These post-apocalyptic humans would have different terms and ways of representing things, but whatever notation they invented would be synonymous with our own since they would be descriptions of the same physical phenomena.
Now imagine that all knowledge of Christianity were lost as well. A new generation might make up something to replace it, since humans seem determined to find the supernatural in our world, but they wouldn’t recreate the same thing. There is no specific evidence of the Christian God around us today. The only evidence of God in our world is tradition and the Bible. Lose them, and Christianity would be lost forever.
There is nothing that would let this future culture recreate Christianity, assuming no more evidence than we see today—no obvious evidence for miracles or answered prayer, no God speaking, and no divine appearances. There would still be beauty to wonder at, great complexity in the interwoven structure of nature, frightening things like death and disease, riddles within nature, odd coincidences, and so on. People then, like they do now, might grope for supernatural explanations, but starting from nothing you could invent lots of religions to explain these things. Reality provides no evidence or observation that would guide them to any specific supernatural dogma we have today.
Christians today come to their beliefs because someone initially told them of Christianity, while science is built on objective facts. If no one told you, you wouldn’t be able to figure out Christianity on your own, which is the opposite from how science works.
The Bible comments on our thought experiment. It claims, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” But that’s exactly the problem—God is not clearly seen. Without God informing humanity of his existence, Christianity could never be recreated. It’s not built on objective facts.
What can you say about a religion that can’t be recreated from evidence at hand today? About a religion whose god is knowable only through tradition? You can say what applies to every other religion: we can’t prove it’s manmade, but it gives every sign of being so.
Image credit: U.S. Dept. of Energy (public domain) via Wikimedia
The New Testament says in two places that no one has seen God: John 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:16.
“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face”: Exodus 33:11.
“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities . . . have been clearly seen”: Romans 1:18–20.