Assoc Professor 
David Cohen Geochemistry.
University of New South Wales.

In the same way that I
have faith in the evidence
for plate tectonics I also have faith that Jesus Christ,
God’s son, has made it possible for me to be friends with God forever.

My conversion to Christianity in my late teens was not a ‘road to Damascus’ event. It was the result of considering the events and ideas presented in the Bible and observing the faith and actions of other followers of Jesus over some years.

For geologists and geochemists like myself, the planet is a vast laboratory for us to work in. Our task is to make sense of the physical and biological evidence for those evolutionary processes that have shaped our 4.5 billion year-old planet. We begin by observing and measuring and then we propose models to explain those observations. Our goal is to provide a scientific narrative - a sort of geological book of Genesis – that explains how the world came to be like it is.

 

Much of the planet’s evolution can be linked to ‘plate tectonics’. It’s now the commonly accepted view that the world has seven large plates on its surface that move. This model explains such diverse evidence as continental drift, the distribution of earthquakes, sequences in the fossil record and the age differences between oceanic and continental crust. While the plate tectonics model seems so elegant, effective and obvious to today’s generation of geologists, there was significant opposition by some leading geologists when it was first proposed. Yet, the evidence for the model is overwhelming, and underpins much of our geological thinking today.

 

In the same way that I have faith in the evidence for plate tectonics I also have faith that Jesus Christ, God’s son, has made it possible for me to be friends with God forever. But what does the biblical evidence about Jesus demand in terms of a model? And what and why do I believe?

 

At the end of the famous Sermon on the Mount, the author, Matthew records the response of those who were listening to Jesus:

 

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29).

 

I can relate to that crowd. It’s not just the teaching of Jesus that appeals to me, but the events that reveal his nature and support his claims to be the Messiah. Throughout the Old Testament, prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, the writers of the Psalms and many others predicted that one day God would send a Messiah, or anointed King who would save people from their sin. Jesus fulfils these promises in extraordinary and specific ways. For example, Isaiah 53 paints a very detailed picture of the sufferings Jesus endured on the cross. Jesus understood that he was fulfilling these promises. He said to his disciples:

 

“…the works that the Father has given me to finish – the very works that I am doing – testify that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36 – see also Luke 24:26)

 

And Jesus knew that the prophets predicted a terrible execution for the Messiah.
But he also knew that afterwards he would rise from the dead. Speaking to his disciples he said:

 

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34).

 

The reason Jesus gives for his death is that it is a ‘ransom’ or payment for sin (see Mark 10:45). But Jesus explains that it is essential to trust in him for forgiveness.
He says:

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me….  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work (John 14:10)...

 

Nothing in science beats a predictive model that is subsequently confirmed
by new evidence.

 

My conversion to Christianity in my late teens was not a ‘road to Damascus’ event. It was the result of considering the events and ideas presented in the Bible and observing the faith and actions of other followers of Jesus over some years. From my vantage point the decision to follow Christ was evolutionary, not revolutionary. It was a response to the very real person of Jesus that the gospels (the four biographies of Jesus in the Bible) presented. I found the following kinds of things to be compelling proof of his nature as God - his words, his actions and his resurrection from the dead to then appear before many witnesses.

 

If the Biblical evidence points to Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, what is the implication for our future? Jesus says this:

 

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. (John 11:25)

 

This is the core of Christianity. It’s not a collection of church traditions but a simple set of propositions in the Bible. It’s why I believe.