Perhaps you have heard of Lee Strobel, the Chicago Sun Times journalist who set out to prove Christianity was not true. Ironically, in the process the atheist became a believer, and eventually a pastor.
Their backgrounds are not identical, but John S. Dickerson shares several things in common with Strobel. He too was an award-winning journalist. He also wanted to discover whether Jesus was who Christians claim he is, but he wanted to also know if Christianity has improved the world. His research eventually became the 2019 book, Jesus Skeptic: A Journalist Explores the Credibility and Impact of Christianity.
He ultimately concluded Christians have had a more profound impact on the world than almost anyone believed. He too is now a pastor. Allow me to chronicle some of the facts he uncovered which eventually convinced him Christianity has had a surprisingly significant impact on society.
Although critics sometimes accuse Christians of minimizing women, according to the World Economic Forum, nine of the ten best nations on earth for women’s rights, have majority Christian populations.
Though many today believe science and faith are incompatible, committed Christians like: Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler and Blaise Pascal all played key roles in launching the Scientific Revolution.
Despite the fact that some universities are now openly hostile to Christianity, Dickerson discovered, “Nearly every leading university in the world was founded by Christians.”
Dickerson also reported that hospitals and formal philanthropy to care for the poor grew largely from Christian ministries.
While certainly many Christians were pro-slavery prior to the Civil War, the author learned that among the most influential abolitionists, the ones who worked most tirelessly to overthrow slavery, he could not find one who was not a Christian.
When putting together his conclusions after ten years of research, this is how Dickerson summarized his findings, “Remove Christians from the last 500 years, and the evidence suggests we would be much closer to the illiterate average person of world history. That is, without the Christian founded norm of public education, the letters on this page would make no more sense to us than they do to a chipmunk.”
I know we live in a time when a sizable percentage of people trust nothing, and Christians have not always been right, but it appears we have accomplished more than we thought.
Jesus once told his followers, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor…? (Matthew 5:13, NLT) In short, Jesus wanted his followers to enhance their world.
Dickerson’s research suggests Christians have made the world better. While Christianity has not achieved perfection, it has improved society and it offers believers meaning and purpose they did not have before coming to faith in Christ.