"What is truth?" This is the question that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate asked Jesus of Nazareth about 2000 years ago. It is a question that is as relevant today as it was then for we live in a society that, as a whole, has abandoned the idea that there are any absolute truths. For instance, a recent survey revealed that 70% of our nation's youth do not believe there is any such thing as objective truth.
This question is also one that has a special personal significance for me. A few years ago, as I was considering a change in careers, I bought the book What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. Parachute is a book that asks the reader to evaluate his or her occupational skills and motivations. As I worked through this book I discovered that my primary occupational motivation was to do "work which brings truth or information into the world." For the first time, I realized why I am both a Physicist and a Christian. Most Physicists and Christians place extreme importance on discovering and understanding what is true.
My search for truth began during my high school years. My father was a pastor of a large church, and as a child I was taught who Jesus claimed to be. Like most children, I accepted what I was taught without questioning it too much. However, when I got into high school that changed. I was no longer content to simply accept what I was told. I had to find out for myself what was true and what was not. The Bible makes so many claims about truth. Jesus said that he was "the truth," claiming to be the objective truth for all people for all time. The apostle Paul wrote that if Jesus' resurrection was not historically true then "we are to be pitied more than all men." I decided that I was not going to be pitied and I was not going to believe a lie.
In any search for objective religious truth, it quickly becomes clear that all of the world's religions are mutually exclusive. For instance, some religions teach that after death an individual is reincarnated, while others teach that each individual only lives once. Some religions teach that Jesus was simply a good moral teacher, while Christianity teaches that he was God himself. These teachings contradict each other and can not both be true. This means that either all religions are false, or only one of them is true. My search concluded with the realization that Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Creator and God of this universe, and that his claim was substantiated when he arose from the dead. I am not the only one who has critically examined the historical facts surrounding the resurrection of Jesus and come to the same conclusion. For instance, the British journalist and lawyer Frank Morison set out to destroy Christianity by investigating the resurrection and proving it did not happen. Instead, he became a Christian himself and wrote the book Who Moved the Stone? His first chapter is entitled "The Book that Refused to Be Written," for the book he did write proved to be a dramatic account of the irrefutable evidence for the resurrection, rather than a scathing denunciation of Christianity.
As a Physicist I search for objective truth regarding how the physical world operates. As a Christian I continue to search for truth about the historic events of the Bible, as well as spiritual truths about humanity and myself. If Christianity is true, it can stand up to tests and attacks. In all of my studies, it continues to be confirmed as true. Whenever critics have attacked the accuracy or truth of the Bible or of the historic facts about who Jesus was and what he did, the Bible has proven to be true. For example, archeologists in the early twentieth century asserted that the Biblical accounts of a Hittite civilization must be fabricated because no evidence of Hittite civilization had been found in the Middle East. Those archeologists were shown to be quite inaccurate and the Bible was shown to be true. Today we know of at least two different Hittite civilizations, and there is a discussion as to which is the one mentioned in the Bible!
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't add a few more personal remarks regarding my faith. My faith is based on the historical truth about who Jesus was and what he did, and on the proven accuracy of the Bible. I have come to the conclusion that the facts about the life of Jesus can be historically verified and that Christianity is true. But that is not all Christianity is for me. One thing that separates Christianity from other world religions is that true Christianity is not about rules and lists of things to do and things not to do. Christianity is about having a personal, intimate relationship with the one true living God. It is about having a fulfilling, meaningful, joyful life as we get to know God in a deeper way. That relationship began for me when I realized that my selfish attitudes and actions effectively made me god, and I asked God to forgive me and take control of my life so that I would live for him rather than for myself. Although I am not always successful at doing that, God has always proven himself to be faithful. Over the years I have developed and cultivated that relationship with God. It is a dynamic relationship with its ups and its downs. I have come to know God, love him, and trust him. He has brought purpose and peace into my life during good times and during bad times. He is the one person who knows all about me, my good sides and my bad sides, and truly loves me for who I am. He has demonstrated his love for me and acceptance of me time and time again, and my response to his overtures of love is to love him in return. He remains a pillar of consistency and truth regardless of the uncertainty in life. He has proven to be exactly who Jesus, as God, claimed he was, "the way, the truth, and the life." Mike Strauss