Why do I believe in God? Posted byAndy January 10, 2008 9 Comments on Why do I believe in God? Because it seems true. Why don’t you believe in God? Because it seems untrue. Where do we go from here?
That sounds like the conversation I’ve been having with myself over the last year or so. I haven’t talked to other people so much. I’ll have to think where I’ve got to in the conversation.
Well, one thing that struck me when I was reading an intro to philosophy of religion (by C. Stephen Evans) was this: If people’s thoughts about worldviews were completely objective, we ought to be able to agree what’s a sensible thing to believe when we look at the same evidence. If their thoughts were completely subjective, people would just believe all kinds of things and there wouldn’t be any point discussing reasons.
But it’s really a bit of both. People’s views aren’t purely rational and objective, so when other people just can’t understand how a sane person could believe in God or the resurrection for example, I shouldn’t worry too much that I must be stupid and fooling myself. But at the same time, their views are rational enough that I shouldn’t think it’s a waste of time even trying to discuss why we believe what we do.
On the one hand, what people are convinced by depends a lot on deep assumptions and feelings about what can and can’t be true, which they might not even be aware of. These things are different for each person. But on the other hand, what people find convincing depends a lot on what evidence they’ve been exposed to. If you’re surrounded by sceptics and only read sceptical books or watch sensationalist TV reports, you’re bound to feel less comfortable about believing in Christianity. Anyone who is seeking to know what’s true should want to expose themselves to a range of evidence and arguments, and swap ideas with people who believe differently.
So we won’t necessarily be able to change each other’s mind that it seems true or seems untrue, but if we’re open-minded, we can exchange ideas and reasons that will help to understand each other’s point of view, and maybe even start to see things from the other side.
Unsure if you will see this or not, last blog update was in 2008 and it’s now Dec 2009.
You say ‘because it _seems_ true’ in response to the question ‘Why do I believe in God?’ The answer to such a question is binary in nature – it’s either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Over the years I have found this to be true – it’s either you believe or you don’t. There is no maybe. To say that it seems to be true indicates you actually have doubt, and in fact really do not believe or are very unsure about some things. If you have doubt, I encourage you to do according to what your blog is entltled – wrestle with God. Challenge Him. He will prove Himself to you. I know beyond a shadow of doubt HE is the ONE and ONLY True and Living God. I know this by Faith, Reading His Word, the Miracles I have seen, praying to Him and actually hearing, seeing, and experiencing His response (and no I’m not some nut case). I was raised in a somewhat Christian environment (my family broke down in later years with my parents getting a divorce). I became an athiest and proclaimed as such. Because if God really existed, I would not have went through the difficulties I faced as previously implied, amongst other things. A small part of me still knew there was a God, but I had always rationalized that to being a left over from my childhood. I completely doubted and attempted to logically rationalize God away to some leftover primative ideology. So instead of God, I clung to the only thing I thought was true – science and technology. After some years, while in college, I stumbled upon a Christian program. I started to think about the existance of God, I remember the program saying to challenge Him to reveal Himself, so I did that – I mentioned everything that happened to me, and told Him to prove Himself to me; cause as far as I was concerned, what happened to me should never of happened and he would have to prove Himself to me. Now this is what happened and it’s going to sound a little nuts – but it’s not and it did happen. There was still a small part of me that believed in Him, but it was a very small amount of faith that I was trying to convince myself didn’t exist. One day at college during class, we somehow got talking about religion and computers. Someone said to me ‘who do you think you are – God?’. I said (even though a small part of me believed otherwise) ‘God? There is no God – I am God’. Not a second went by from the words that came out of my mouth and water poured from the ceiling soaking me from head to toe. I felt a presence I never felt since I was a child and I actually heard a voice that belonged to no one else – it said ‘You are not God I am who I AM – alpha and omega. There is no one but me’. Ofcourse, everyone laughed at me when they saw water pour down on my after I spoke, but they did not hear what I heard, nor did they know of my challenge to God.
Within about a year I gave my life back to Christ. I tried to logically rationalize this away, but I could not deny what happened, nor the timing of it. Since then, I have seen so many miracles in my life and answers to prayer that I cannot deny the facts of the existance of God or the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and then rose again. There is no maybe it’s all the way. It’s either all of you for Christ, or none of you for Him. You either believe or you don’t. I know know this sounds pretty rigid. Yes there are times when you have situations that maybe is involved and are both yes and no or sometimes yes, sometimes no. But Christianity is not that. When it comes to your faith and your your following of that faith – it’s either yes or no. There are no real grey areas in Christianity – just absolutes. You are either hot for Him, or cold for Him. Lukewarm does not cut it.
I hope this helps you.
Graham, thanks for your encouragement. I think it’s true that in practice you either live for God or you don’t – if you’re unsure about whether God exists, you won’t really be able to centre your life on Him.
I think Andy used the word ‘seems’ not to express doubt, but to express the fact that each person has to decide for themselves. I believe something because it has the ring of truth, it seems true to my mind. Other people disbelieve in something because it seems false to them – not because it _is_ false.
You say you’ve reached certainty about God because of miracles and answers to prayer. Similarly, I first became convinced of God’s existence due to various answers to prayer and impressive events. But in the last 10 years that all seems to have stopped, in my life, and I doubt whether God is there. You say ‘Challenge Him – He will prove Himself to you’. I’ve asked God to help me, to give me faith, to show me He’s there, to give me an answer to prayer that I can see, but life goes on in an ordinary fashion, and I wonder whether those apparent answers to prayer years ago really were from God. Hence I am lukewarm and grey.
Hi Midge, thanks for the comment. I think you’re basically right about what I meant. I do have some doubts from time to time but somehow they feel irrelevant to my life – I just kind of carry on with the assumption that God exists. Of course, we all go in phases, so I’ll probably by crippled by doubt next week. I do identify with what you say about feeling like God is not interacting with me much these days. I don’t put much time into prayer, though, so maybe I’m just not giving him a chance.
I can assume that God exists as long as it doesn’t impinge on life, but if I have to deny myself something for Him, or stand up for what I believe, the weakness of my faith is clear. It doesn’t help that I only spend an hour and a half a week in an explicitly Christian environment (i.e. where people actually talk as if it’s true), and when I’m there, I’m having to think about what the next hymn is. The rest of the week is in practice Godless.
I think what I need to sort out is that I can’t depend on God to do impressive things all the time, for me to believe in Him. God often chooses not to do that in a person’s life (like the stories in Philip Yancey’s ‘Disappointment with God’). On the other hand, a purely intellectual argument doesn’t cut it for me either – it only shows that it’s a plausible idea. I need to know the assurance of trusting in God as a real person, and that’s not something I can just pull myself together and do.
PS Good to hear you’re still around!
Any chance you could do something more Godful e.g. a church small group?
That’s what people have suggested, but I haven’t got v far with it. The only Bible study at my church is on Tuesday mornings (when I’m at work). I’m not sure how easy it would be, going to another church’s house group meetings but not being any more involved. I could change churches, as a friend of mine suggested, but I feel a certain amount of commitment to where I am. Maybe I should put my wellbeing first tho.
I suppose an alternative would be to try to set up a church group myself, if I felt I could take on the responsibility, and wouldn’t be doing all the organising.
There’s a fellowship group in the office which I occasionally get to, if I’m not feeling too hungry and busy. I usually feel encouraged by that. And there’s Westminster at One talks, if I want a reformed Anglican style sermon with my lunch.
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