Faith: Why I Believe in God
I guess a cynic could say that I believe in God because I was conditioned to do so. It is true that I was brought up in a Christian home, where we went to church regularly when I was small, and I was read Bible stories from a children’s Bible as bedtime reading. I went to Vacation Bible School every summer.
When I was in high school we stopped attending church as regularly, but I still went occasionally. I continued to believe in the existence of God, but I questioned some of the theology I had learned as a child.
It was in college that I really came to a mature faith. I took that questioning a step further and determined to find answers for myself. I wanted to know not only what I believed but why I believed it. I took to really studying the Bible and reading apologists like C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine. Reading the New Testament from beginning to end instead of in snippets from liturgies or the pulpit helped to shape my view of Jesus, and I was personally transformed by what I read. I felt touched. I felt that God had called on me, and I still do.
Even though as a young person I sometimes had some wacky views about the smaller details of religion, I never questioned the existence of God. Even when I was angriest at God it never occurred to me that he did not exist. I wonder how on earth an otherwise intelligent person comes to the conclusion that there is no God just because he cannot be seen. You can’t see the wind, but you can feel it. You can see what it does. You don’t question its existence. Or the concept of love. You can’t see it or touch it, but you know it exists. You know when you feel it.
I’m not one of the closed minded fundamentalists that believes that science is in direct opposition to faith. I don’t believe that “intelligent design” should be taught in school alongside evolution. I don’t believe that the world is flat.
I do, however, wonder how anyone can look at the miracles of our world and fail to see the hand of God in the wonder of our world, the absurdity of an egg and sperm cell uniting to create the complexity of an entire human being, for instance. And the fact that each human being is unique and precious, like snowflakes. Even identical twins aren’t entirely identical. The skies that fill at night with a million stars are a testament to God’s existence. The vast ecosystem of our oceans seem to shout God’s name.
How on earth could anyone come to think that this entire world formed by accident? Even a Big Bang doesn’t answer the question of how our world came to be. For every theory that science comes up with as a possible “answer,” you can still ask yourself further, “Why?” Why was there a Big Bang? Who caused it? Where did it come from? How did it happen? And the only plausible answer to these questions, for me, is God.
One of the things that I find difficult to understand about atheism, aside from the view that our universe formed for no reason out of a vacuum, is that atheists always seem to consider themselves the smart ones. It’s like they think they’ve been let in on this little secret that God and the world’s religions are nothing but a sham, a conspiracy of small minded people. They see themselves as being open minded and as our intellectual superiors, and yet they have closed themselves to even the possibility of a God, often without doing any research into the matter.
I wouldn’t be opposed to reading the viewpoints of an atheist. I’ve read philosophers who questioned the existence of God. However, when you ask an atheist if he’s ever read a Christian apologetic or try to share Bible quotes with him, in my experience you are likely to get a response of rolled eyes and thinly veiled contempt. He’s above all that.
Finally, there’s the question of the human soul. I cannot bring myself to think that a human being is nothing more than the sum total of its physical parts. I cannot believe that our physical existence serves no greater purpose than our physical existence. I cannot believe that we are merely animals. I cannot believe that when we die we cease to be. I cannot imagine an existence so dark.
There it is. It’s not an intelligent argument but a visceral response. I simply do not want to imagine a world without God. It seems so brutal and hopeless and pointless. It makes me wonder how an atheist can drag himself out of bed each morning or keep from killing himself. After all, what’s the point? No matter what you do you end up as nothing more than food for the worms.
I can’t imagine an existence more lonely than one without God. Who would you turn to in times of crisis? Who would you thank for your blessings? How would you begin to make sense of life’s absurdities?
In truth, I feel sorry for people who cannot believe in God. They are missing a great comfort. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they are going to hell, as one former atheist friend of mine said a Christian girlfriend once told him. I am a mere human being, and it isn’t for me to decide or to judge who is going to hell. The biggest reason I feel sorry for the atheist is for the absence of the presence of God from their lives and the comfort and peace that that presence can provide. I actually pity them that they cannot tap into that.
Finally, I think it should pain us that there are people who will never know God’s love. It should literally break our hearts that we were chosen and they were not. There is a tension in the Bible about doctrines of free will versus predestination. Did we choose God or did God choose us? And the answer, of course, is both.
The atheist is, of course, just as well loved as any of God’s creatures, but just like relationships between human beings, a one sided relationship isn’t a relationship at all. God wants to be in relationship with us. God loves everyone equally, but some people choose not to love him back. When someone denies God’s existence, it must break God’s heart, the same as when we love someone who won’t love us back. It should break our hearts as well.