Atheists who look around them, and respond to a Christian's exclamation of: "When green growth begins again each spring, it is an example of resurrection power being engrained within living things" with an adversely-hostile non-accomodating retort of: "No, it is only nature doing what is natural" -- are not really thinking in a rational sense, but instead exhibiting a despicable closed-minded anti-religious bias both shallow and superficial (which, incidently, is also characteristic of evolution mythologists embracing the illogical and idolatrous abstraction of "natural selection" as the presumed replacement-deity End of All Answers).
It is safe to say that such pseudo-knowledgeable non-scientists, mouthing their lurid-liturgy anti-scientific-mantra blatterings of mindless disbelief, have apparently never contemplated (or have long since given up on) the necessary-to-inquire-by-default query of: Who (rather than "what" - please!) created the building materials upon which all lifeforms began and started to function in the beginning (whenever that was) -- because it is illogical and obvious foolishness to assert that clearly-having-a-beginning-and-an-end, measurable-with-start-and-stop-dimensions, terminal and destructible physical entities around us in existence always existed and supposedly had a no starting point perpetually-backwards-into-eternity of allegedly always having had existed.
Not only that, but it is illogical and obvious foolishness to presume that lifeforms - or any other entity which actually exists - willfully and scentiently created and designed their own initial and continuing compositions, sizes, shapes, textures, adaptative capacities and potentials, limited-adjustable interdependent and intricate parts which suddenly and immediately were complete and promptly fully-functional.
Ever heard of a tongue magically appear and connect itself to a foot by trillion-year trial-and-error hit-and-miss? How about car parts in a junkyard automatically and intelligently assembling themselves together, no matter how many completely-random tornadoes and earthquakes occur over millions and even billions of years? No more can an encyclopedia assemble itself in a printing factory, regardless of how many windstorms supposedly cause favorable mutations over mega-millennia:
Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God [literally - not figuratively, metaphorically, symbolically, nor allegorically]!
A phenomenon in existence which many open-minded genuine scientists have discovered: the Sacred-66-books, Judeo-Christian Holy Bible (consisting of both an "Old" and "New" "Testament") thus far gives the most compelling answer concordant with the paragraphs stated above (which verses below belligerant-blackie Barack Obama described as "obscure" in his debate with McCain while Rick Warren moderated):
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live."
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all non-godliness and wickedness of humans who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20 Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
21 for although they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.
29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips,
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. [like to read more modern-day news reports?]
32 Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.
The question of who caused and continues to cause "evil" in the world ("evil" meaning sickness, disease, handicap, pain, poverty, death, and so on) is concisely answered by the scientifically-discovered-and-shamelessly-admitted verses above...which answer squarely puts the blame directly on certain human creatures (formed by their Creator) and mysteriously-desired deviation concocted and emanating from such humans against and away from the Creator's revealed Divine-social-order Operating-Manual-like procedures and intentions which He made known to them right from the start of their existence, with needed verbal then written [Biblical] elaboration following thereafter.
Enter the related-to-reality abstractions of "faith" and "works" -- two components involved in whether or not human beings live or die according to The Divinely-Inspired Playing Rules (revealed in Holy Writ), with the equivalent of penalties for infractions, scored points, and goal posts determining competitive reward with honorable and admirable achievement, or instead humiliating and dishonorable defeat.....with more than merely whether they live or die, but also how pleasurably or instead miserably they live or die, how much they do or do not accomplish while yet alive, and of what.
"Faith," to most humans, most of the time, and relating to belief, might not only seem feebly intangible, but somewhat silly and ineffectual as concrete and substantial productivity...but it is absolutely essential for both short and long-term accomplishments.
One of the components of both impossible-to-physically-grasp faith and belief is a given and associated requirement that willfully possessing and exercising faith or belief involves love-of-light-rather-than-darkness submission to Higher Authority, in whatever aspects that Authority is superior to the ones required to have faith or belief. For example, superior knowledge (or at least additional knowledge) not possessed by the one required to believe is a factor, and/or the additional incentive of viable and painful punishment involved for not believing what one should believe or have faith in.
For example, most of us have seen: "DANGER. HIGH VOLTAGE" signs. Do we believe that? Or "POISON" signs on bottles with the skull-and-crossbones emblem. Shall we have faith that that literally means what it says? How about believing "WET PAINT" signs - literally? Should THAT be understood and taken figuratively, metaphorically, allogorically, or symbolically? Ditto either regarding (for those obedient who are destined to survive) or instead concerning (against those disobedient who are destined to exterminate themselves) involving "ONE WAY" signs on highways. Should we have "faith" that the letters: "EXPLOSIVE" is another warning sign which should literally (and not symbolically, figuratively, allegorically, or metaphorically) be heeded? Likewise with "RADIOACTIVE" signs and insignia?
Proverbs 4:4 He taught me, and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast My words; keep My commandments, and live;
Proverbs 7:2 Keep My commandments and live, keep My teachings as the apple of your eye;
Proverbs 9:6 Leave gullibility, and live, and walk in the way of insight.
Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, house of Israel?
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
All the physical and moral signs (near an electrical substation, on a poison bottle, on a highway, on a case of TNT or nitroglycerin, or a box of cesium-137 or other radioactive isotope) signs suggested above are closely related to faith, belief, obedience, non-careless and non-disregardant observation, and avoidance of fatality.
Notice that one does not have to necessarily "cross the bridge" of actually obeying or disobeying a physical warning sign near an electrical substation, on a poison bottle, on a highway, on a case of TNT or nitroglycerin, or a box of cesium-137 or other radioactive isotope.
Merely believing (that is, having faith in) the warning sign, then acting accordingly and safety, is preferable to doubting the sign, testing out the sign - and worse yet, arrogantly or defiantly ignoring it or transgressing it...with all the disasterous mortal consequences of doing so....which - incidently - are NOT the fault of the benign materials themselves, NOR of the benign Creator who created the benign material -- but are instead the deliberate or accidental fault of the frequently-defiant asinine (NOT "victims") who violate the holy parameters of Playing-Field Gaming-Rules, then, consequently, both understandably and thankfully experience the dire effects of so misdoing:
Romans 4:1 What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3 For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and IT was reckoned to him as righteousness."
4 Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due.
5 And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.
6 So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
7 "Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin."
9 Is this blessing pronounced only upon the Law-possessing, or also upon those who do not yet possess The Law? We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.
10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he received The Law? It was not after, but before he received The Law.
11 He received The Law as a sign or seal of the righteousness which he had by faith while he had not yet The Law. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without having The Law yet but who thus have righteousness reckoned to them,
12 and likewise the father of those possessing The Law who not merely possess The Law but also follow the example of the faith which our father Abraham had before he acquired The Law.
13 The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through [legal rules of doing good vs. doing evil, which people sometimes obey but sometimes they disobey Law] but through the righteousness of faith.
14 If it is the adherents of The Law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
15 For The Law (specifically, transgression against The Law) brings wrath, but where there is no Law there is no [un-Lawful] transgression.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants....not only to the adherents of The Law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all,
20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
21 fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.
22 That is why his faith was "reckoned to him as righteousness."
23 But the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone,
24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,
25 who was [literally and not merely symbolically nor allegorically nor metaphorically nor figuratively] put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
But physical warning signs and similar restrictions-implying laws relating to ACTUALLY obeying or disobeying a physical warning sign near an electrical substation, on a poison bottle, on a highway, on a case of TNT or nitroglycerin, or a box of cesium-137 or other radioactive isotope...are meant to be given as a help and not a hindrance, to aid human beings in accomodating and successfully adjusting to non-changeable given-and-unalterable entities as they are and continue to be (whether we like them so as they are, or not)...to utilize not simply for our wellbeing and satisfaction, but for the appreciation, praise, and blessing of and from our Creator.
Some call that ability to discern with proper discrimination: being "born again" - one historical account of which is found when Jesus [Christ] was met by a Jewish Pharisee named Nicodemus....which Bible story and associated comparisons is very much related for us nowadays to know pertaining to what we should do about High Voltage, Poison, Wet Paint, One Way, Explosive, and Radioactive warning signs as to cautious and careful storage, utilization, deployment, or destruction.
In the following recorded narrative, Nicodemus gives the Lord [Jesus] credit in acknowledging that no one could do the wonderfully-miraculous (i.e. naturally-non-explainable) works Jesus did unless God was "with Him" (that is, unless the Creator was communicating miracle intentions to Jesus and empowering Jesus to perform them). [And perhaps Nicodemus was also patronizing Jesus for whatever cause].
Whatever the case, Jesus uttered a sexually-related comment about being "born again" (possibly because fellow-rabbi pharisees mis-thought and mis-reported that Jesus was not virgin-born but instead was a bastard born of fornication - which misconception Jesus angrily and thoroughly wanted to be corrected). Nicodemus took it in a physical sexual sense in relating being born again to re-entering some vagina and re-locating into some womb, only to go back out again through that same birth canal.
Fortunately, Jesus got Nico off a merely physical mentality, expounding upon a spiritual application to the sexually-related euphemism He had declared (which has a lot of other applications in Scripture, such as Christ's spiritual intentions involved in His swird and rather-disgusting command to euphemistically chomp on His human-body flesh and slurp His DNA-chromosomed human blood).
Leaving the sexually-oriented birthing analogy, Jesus got into a meteorological comparison about the mechanistic origin-and-destination operation and conveyance of atmospheric wind and air currents as another euphemism related to Spirit discernment necessity, presence, and conveyance...again applicable to what we should do about High Voltage, Poison, Wet Paint, One Way, Explosive, Radioactive, and other particularly-Bible-referenced moral and other warning admonitions, commandments, and signs as to cautious and careful storage, containment, utilization, deployment, avoidance, and destruction.
Nicodemus apparently was rather stuck in a mental rut about the need for proper operational characteristics of, appropriate discrimination pertaining to different-situational-circumstances applications of, causal-motivations involved with, and acceptable means of conveyance about warning-sign-equivalent rules of law, both moral and amoral.
The Lord Jesus ended the dialogue with what this webpage began with, which is the phenomena of reality-involved abstractions of faith and belief closely integrated with works....for survival, both temporal and eternal in the afterlife:
John 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night [scaredy-cat, but certainly not a homosexual solicitation, not a one with the solitary woman at the well] and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered him, "Truthfully, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Truthfully I say to you [so why the repetition of "truthfully?" Are you inferring I presume that You are lying? Or do You want me to simply pay close attention?], unless one is born of water and the Spirit [WHY "water?" How about blood or muscle tissue instead?], he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [which finally qualifies the weird euphemisms].
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.'
8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know from where it comes or where it goes to; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can this be?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? [So do You expect me to know the detailed medical workings of midwife-expert childbirth, or the meteorological details of wind currents? Just what are You trying to compare all this to? Go ahead, Mr Know-It-All, keep up criticizing me and see where it gets You. What is your point in chastising me for lack of knowledge? YOU tell me the particulars - since You're so smart!]
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we [we?] speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our [our?] testimony.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? [Hey, it is not that I don't believe in your scientific observations about wind currents, although less about your ridiculous analogy of re-entering childbirth wombs. I am not stupid, you know.]
13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man [and when did THAT happen during the earthly life of Jesus?].
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life."
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
First John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
John 3:17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (not "her")
18 He who believes in Him [NOT her] is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
James 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder.
John 3:19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their works were evil.
20 For every one who does evil hates the light [of truth], and does not come to the light, lest his [evil] works should be exposed.
21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his works have been wrought in God.
The desired end result, in the mind of the Creator who created humans, is not merely the type of can't-do-much-of-anything-from-now-on-when-soon-dead belief or faith of the penitent dying thief on a cross, but an increasing quantity and quality of good (not wicked) works (a better word than: "deeds") by which the Ultimate King will, on Judgment Day, separate euphemistically-termed evil "goats" from euphemistically-termed good "sheep:"
Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32 Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
33 and He will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me,
36 I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.'
37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 And when did we see You a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
39 And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?'
40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'
41 Then He will say to those at His left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'
44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, [it's too late to call Him that!] when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'
45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me.'
46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot [a sexually-oriented reference] justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way [yet lied about it to the authorities]:
Joshua 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." And they went, and came into the house of a harlot [a great place for Hebrews to search out and enter and whatever else!] whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.
2 And it was told the king of Jericho, "Hey, certain men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land."
3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring forth the men that have come to you, who entered your house; for they have come to search out all the land."
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them; and she said, "True, men came to me, but I did not know where they ame from;
5 and when the gate was to be closed, at dark, the men went out; where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them."
6 But she had brought them up to the roof, and hid them with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof.
John 8:5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?"
Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices
Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done.
13 And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.
And what preciselyhad they done? Is there any place whatsoever during the Matthew chapter 25 Judgment-Day Trial where anyone was asked whether they called Jesus 'Lord' while they were alive, whether they had had faith or belief, whether they said that they had accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, or whether they had claimed that they had had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Apparently, faith and belief are not enough, because:
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Even Jesus indicated that He required more than simply incomplete or inadequate works of mere (or, worse yet: deceitful and dishonest) verbal allegiance and assent:
Matthew 21:28 "What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'
29 And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he repented and went.
30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go.
31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the [cheating but penitent?] tax collectors and the [immoral but penitent?] harlots go into the kingdom of God before [or instead of?] you.
Luke 6:46 "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?
Intriguing it is that Christ seemed to imply that mere audible or verbal proclaimation is enough to atone for sins, and be a sufficient sacrifice to expiate against human transgression, perhaps even with or without acceptance of such by the receiving persons:
John 15:3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.
Reminds us of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac without having to actually sacrifice him:
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son,
18 of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named."
19 He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
'FIGURATIVELY speaking' is right (which is THE way to consider chomping on Christ's muscular body and slurping His blood per John 6:54,56)!
That indeed is reminiscent of the previous assertion that mere Abrahamic faith by itself alone before receiving The Law would have been enough righteousness for Abram to have gotten into heaven, without him having done the obedient and good works Abe did afterwards.
Yet, both faith and works are human responses which are only means to an end, and not the end in themselves. For one thing, both human faith and works are a mixture of good and bad, performed and committed, thus irreparably polluted and useless as a tool of self-sacrificing self-atonement and self-justification.
What is absolutely vital for entrance into Heaven is not simply Matthew-chapter 25-mentioned good works with the absence of evil works, bellering out that Christ was a follower of the Son of God and Son of The Most High God (as the demon girl blurted out in Acts 16:17), and/or preaching that Christ is the way of salvation...but at least having faith (hopefully professed before one's demise) that the death of Christ Jesus was and is THE crucial and perfect sacifice against sins, accomplishing atonement for all who believe that. That is not to say that additional faith that Jesus was born of a virgin woman, that He actually did real supernatural miracles, that He rose from the dead after being crucified, that He ascended back to Heaven after that, and that He will return to rule Earth in power and glory...is irrelevant to believe and (if, then as much as possible) declare.
But those who discover or encounter what that atoning-death-of-Jesus gospel is must in faith believe it, to access Heaven, to automatically become born again, to properly discern which laws of The Law should be or should not be operationalized when and how and to whom to not be guilty of misrepresenting God, His Word the Bible, and His actual intentions related to that.