In the mid and late 1800s, the philosophy of evolution shook the foundations of Western society. Entire Christian denominations accepted evolution, and seminaries and pastors preached that the Bible could not be taken literally; thus the Book of Genesis was a morality story rather than actual history. Without a real Adam and Eve, original sin, and the need of a Saviour from sin, these preachers and organizations turned to politics and social reform.
Robert Ingersol was born in 1833. His father, John Ingersol, was pastor of several Congregational Churches. He believed the Bible to be nothing but a series of morality and political stories and the purpose of Christianity was social reform. His liberal politics and religious beliefs were a source of constant conflict with his congregations. He was charged many times with conduct unbecoming of a minister and preaching false doctrine. He found a friend in revivalist Charles Finney, who believed that man could choose to be good or evil, and salvation was about social reform and freeing the oppressed, not regeneration of the the sinful soul. He became Finney’s associate pastor. Young Robert hated Christ and Christianity.
By his thirties, Robert Ingersol was America’s most famous atheist and evolutionist. He proclaimed, If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane. He began his popular debates by demanding God prove His existence by striking him dead within five minutes. When Ingersol didn’t die, he said it was proof God didn’t exist.
Sinful hearts and minds often demand God do more to prove His existence.
Luke 16:19-33 records a parable told by Jesus about a wealthy man and a poor man. Both died; the rich man went to Hades and the poor man to Paradise. The constant and fiery torment brought the rich man to beg that the poor man return to earth and warn his brothers about eternal damnation. The response was that They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them … if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead.
God has given ample proof of His existence in nature, human conscience, history, and the Bible. God doesn’t need to prove Himself further, man just needs to believe.