First and foremost, I think we should believe in God. I do. And why not? Is it more comforting to think that this entire universe just…kinda/sorta…happened? You know, spontaneously popped into existence “for some reason” that we cannot explain? Not for me it’s not. I prefer to believe that the universe was instead created deliberately for us. And that our Creator (let’s call him “God”) wants to meet us when this mortal life is done. Yes, I believe that our souls live on. Maybe they’ve always lived. Maybe we’ve always existed and always will exist, and this human phase is just that: one transitory step in the process.
Atheists say that if we God-believers would just use our brains, we would come to the immediate and logical conclusion that there is no God. Evolution is so clearly evident; how could there be any other explanation? To the atheist, the concept of “God” is just a crutch for the emotionally weak; something we turn to because we feel that we don’t have control over our lives, something we use to explain the inexplicable…e.g. “God did it,” or “It’s God’s will.”
Maybe it is easier for them that way.
Atheists challenge us to empirically prove beyond a shadow of a scientific doubt that God exists…that it is in fact our obligation to do so. Of course we cannot. But so what? We take a lot of things on faith. If someone says they love us, do we not believe them? They cannot “prove” their love and neither can we. We take it on faith. How sad, dismal and dreary our lives would be if we denied the existence of love simply because we cannot touch, feel or see it, or prove it scientifically.
As for God, I have felt His direct intervention in my own life. I see His handiwork everywhere, in things as simple as…well, the orange.
Consider the orange. To begin with, it is pleasing in color to us humans (but to any other species?). Beneath the tough, protective rind is a marvelous fruit that tastes great either in solid form, squeezed into a juice. Not only is it tasty, but it is tremendously good for us too! Could you even remotely think that the orange just sort of developed naturally and coincidentally as we humans were evolving out of the primordial soup? Can you think of any other reason for the existence of the orange except as a gift for us? How about the pineapple and the coconut too for that matter? With a little thought I’m sure you can come up with other examples of things on this planet that are of no use to anything but humans.
You want evidence that there is a God? Just look around objectively. Do we think that any other species on earth sees a particularly dramatic sunrise or sunset and thinks, “Gee, what a beautiful day!” If they do, they haven’t let us know yet. And as I’ve pointed out before, monkeys have not written “War And Peace,” dolphins haven’t gone to the moon and giraffes haven’t built any submarines (although there may be good, practical reasons for the latter). Elephants have not invented the orange creamsickle, hot chocolate or the pineapple upside-down cake. And as smart as my dog is, I doubt I could teach him to drive a car with a manual transmission. So we humans are inarguably at the top of the food chain on this planet. A serendipitous accident?
My favorite televangelist (i.e. the only one I watch) is Joel Osteen, pastor of the huge Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Osteen is often dismissed as merely a “good news” preacher by and as opposed to those who’d prefer to see us burn in fiery hell or at least purgatory for our “sins.” Pointing out Joel’s good-newsyness is not far from the truth, and yet I see no harm in this approach. His sermons routinely focus on the idea that God wants the best for us…that He wants us to succeed and do well and be well. It is a recurring theme. Joel uses Scripture, but he doesn’t bash us over the head with the Bible. He does not tell us what we *cannot* do. Instead, he just extols all the good there is in life, the tremendous possibilities available for us and how we can achieve them – which is through ourselves!…and a loving, healthy relationship with God and Christ, of course, but that goes without saying.
Churches down here in the South frequently put up little marquee billboards outside with cutesy sayings on them. For instance, "God accepts ‘knee-mail’" and "If you won’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything." Stuff like that. And so I was driving around recently when I spotted this church. The message on their marquee was, "We are called to be witnesses, not judges or lawyers."
And I thought, yes! That’s it! That’s right! So simple and yet so true. Witnesses!
Look, I can talk to you all day long about God’s existence and presence in my life. I can tell you how He has touched and helped me in very direct ways. How He gives me spiritual guidance and courage and strength. Are these things already within me…within all of us? Sure! But believing and praying helps me tap into and channel them more fully.
After our day of talking, you may still feel that all of my examples can just be chalked up to “luck,” or happenstance or coincidence. All of my “evidence” of God’s existence is faulty and invalid. Oh, well.
In the end, I cannot tell you what to believe. You must come to that on your own. Very likely, your beliefs will evolve over your life. What you believe today may not be what you believe tomorrow…or what you believed yesterday. But I hope you will look at this universe objectively and realize that it was created just for you. And that you were deliberately created! For what purpose? I have no friggin’ idea. I guess/hope we’ll find that out when we die. But created we were, by a God who loves us very much and wants us to succeed and realize our fullest potential as humans, whatever that may be. That’s all I need to know.
We have the power within us to succeed or not…to be happy or not. I opt for the former in both cases. I know I can do it, and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to admit that sometimes I can use a little help and guidance. Even at my lowest times, I am never truly alone. And what a wonderful, reassuring feeling that is! Is it illusory…a self-delusion? Not at all.
When I die, I will meet my Creator and give a good accounting of my life with no excuses. In fact, I look forward to that day. The atheist may say the same thing. He may claim that he can be just as happy and successful as me, without the perceived guilt-trip of ever having to be accountable for his actions. And maybe he's right.
But I don't think so. And if that’s being simple-minded or not being objective or logical enough, well, so be it. Such a belief system has not harmed me yet. In fact, I would testify to the exact opposite.