February 15, 2006

Why I Believe in God

April 20, 2005
We usually leave this topic to theologians or Ben Carson--for good reason, I find, as I erase sentence after sentence of my draft. I?m afraid of embarrassing God (or more likely myself) by my inadequate defense. On the other hand, Christians should be able to articulate their reasons for faith, and it?s a wonderful privilege to say good things about God. So here goes . . .

Heritage. I was raised in a religious home. Although I have had periods of serious doubt about the existence and benevolence of God over my 46 years, my upbringing has made taking God into account a reflexive action. This in itself has not made me a believer, but has forced me to be very aware of making a conscious choice in the matter.

The Bible. As an English teacher, I have read a lot of books, but nothing like this Book. It boggles my mind that the writing of it stretches over 2,000 years, and that it was written by many different authors yet fits together. The idea of putting a book such as this together and pulling it off is, in my scale of probability, much more like God than Random House. Also, parts of it, such as the Ten Commandments; the stories of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Esther, Ruth, David; and the Great Commandment (I could go on and on), seem beyond human wisdom, yet powerfully attractive.

The Life of Jesus. An extension of the previous section, I find Jesus? life and character to be a compelling reason--perhaps the most compelling reason--to believe in the existence and benevolence of God. Jesus, to my eyes, does not at all seem to be a literary character in the sense that Ulysses is, nor explainable as a historical human. The way His thinking diverges both from that of His time (as in His treatment of women, distinction between true religion and false, etc.) and from natural human tendencies, yet seems more sane and right the longer you look at it, is His certificate of authenticity. I don?t think Jesus could be made up. I think He ?was.?

Science/Nature. I look out my window and see the seasons change. I read the accounts of the latest Faith and Science Conference in Denver in the Adventist Review and Spectrum Online. I have both the extraordinary experience of inhabiting a human body, and an ongoing experience of the outside world through this body, and a limited book knowledge of science/faith issues.

1505 page24Although an incredible number of things about the human body can be explained by science (thankfully), I have a hard time believing nonsupernatural theories about the origin of life. On the other hand, I have no adequate knowledge base from which to refute various tenets of evolution, such as the long age of the earth. Nor does this lack of certainty keep me awake.

I think I understand the basic idea of Intelligent Design, and it appeals to my sense of logic. Nevertheless, I have to take the proofs of ID on faith. In short, ?book science? has plenty to say for and against the existence of God. I have only a layperson?s knowledge here, but find no deeply disturbing ?facts? that counter my belief, nor do I have any irrefutable proofs of God?s existence.

As I look around the earth, humans seem to be a very distinctly different class of ?animals? from any other, and to me it seems more likely that this is a result of a specific act of creation than an outgrowth of evolution. I don?t expect to persuade a lot of people with this modest idea; I?m just saying it appeals to me.

Likewise, being able to think a thought such as wiggle your toes and make that happen at the other end of the body from the command center seems to me so miraculous a process as to warrant a belief in God?s existence. Whitman?s line about a mouse being miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels comes to mind--although plenty of infidels still seem to be standing upright.

People I Admire. Most of the people I have deeply admired over the years have been committed Christians. ?Great people? who are living only for this life seem, to my way of thinking, to be a contradiction in terms. And if God exists, it definitely is. Although I?m giving short space to this reason, it is one of the most important for me.

Intuition. Believing in God feels right to me. Is this because religion is the opiate of the people, or because God planted something in me that responds to Him? In either case, my intuition leans toward God. Furthermore, it seems right to me to consider all humans on this planet as my brothers and sisters, rather than as competitors in a survival of the fittest. This concept is not unique to a Christian perspective, but it is central to it, and not natural to a materialistic perspective.

Morality. I have a hard time believing in an objective standard of morality without believing in God. I have a hard time believing the scientific explanations of altruism, unselfishness, compassion. Yes, it is ?incredible? to contemplate the love of God, but that very magnificence leads me to believe it comes from God, not humans.

Tolerance for Open Questions. There are many things I don?t have answers for. I think free will goes a certain distance in explaining the problem of pain, but I still have questions in that area. I?m not sure how the Pentateuch was composed. I believe intercessory prayer is a good thing and that something happens when such prayers are offered, but there are many things about it I don?t understand. I am with

C. S. Lewis in believing we will have a lot of surprises when we get to heaven about ideas we were pretty sure of on earth.

Well, there?s a draft of my reasons.

What would your draft look like?

Scott Moncrieff teaches English at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He and his wife have a son in college and a son in academy. He plays upright bass in a trio, and enjoys reading all kinds of books, writing poetry, and enough exercise to justify an enjoyable diet.

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