Christians believe in an all-loving, all-powerful God, a God who created the universe in all its inconceivable dimensions but who has also counted the hairs on each of our heads and who knows the innermost feelings and thoughts of every one of us. We believe that mankind cut itself off from God by deliberate disobedience, which we call sin, and that at a particular point in history, God started to reveal Himself to mankind as part of a plan to bridge the divide that such sin caused between humanity and God. Over many centuries, God prepared a particular people for the reception of His Son who would willingly carry the dead weight of all our sins. That Son was Jesus Christ, Himself God and yet also fully human, who accepted an agonising and humiliating death on a cross some 2,000 years ago as atonement for the sins of each one of us. We believe that within a few days Jesus came back from the dead and appeared to many of His followers for a period of some 40 days after His resurrection and that He then sent the Holy Spirit – the third person of the Holy Trinity together with the Father and the Son – to animate the Christian Church.
These are huge claims to make, and some consider it remarkable that any person of reasonable intelligence should believe in any deity at all. This is a modern, western perception: a lack of belief in the supernatural is, as a factual observation, the exception rather than the rule if we look at human society across the globe and over the ages. Most ancient cultures and societies had some system of metaphysics or religion and many African and Latin American countries remain happy today to embrace some concept of divinity. Even the ancient Greek culture, with its high regard for reason, used to incorporate cultic worship inside the Academy. Religious belief was also, of course, the norm in western countries before the so-called Enlightenment and the various “cultural revolutions”.