What if you were given a school assignment on critical thinking? Your assignment is to review a list of statements and mark them as factual claim, common assertion, or opinion. Statements include things like George Washington was the first president and people who wear glasses are smart. But one statement arrests your attention: There is a God. How would you mark it?
According to a recent news report, a Texas middle-schooler was faced with this choice. She marked “There is a God” as fact. According to allegations, she was told that she would fail the assignment unless she changed her answer, because God is not real. What would you do?
Since the news story broke, the school district has released a statement saying that the assignment was intended to spur critical thinking and was not intended to question religious beliefs of students. They further admitted, “… still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued.”
What do we make of this news story? I’m well aware that not everyone believes in God. Yet, I believe there is sufficient evidence to prove the existence of God. So is God a fact or not? A lot depends on our working definition for fact. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as “a thing that is indisputably the case.” Obviously, a dispute does exist, and some people deny the existence of God. However, the Merriam-Webster 3rd Unabridged Dictionary states a fact is “something that has actual existence … the reality of events or things the actual occurrence or existence of which is to be determined by evidence.” Clearly English usage allows us to say that the existence of God is a fact even if it is a disputed fact.
What lessons do we learn from this news story? First, I’m reminded of Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 3:14-16:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14–16, ESV)
We need to be prepared to make a defense of our faith.
Second, we need to be willing to take a stand for our faith. Jesus warns us: “
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32–33, ESV)
Taking a stand for our faith is not optional. These two lessons are imperative because our God is real!