There’s a certain type of atheist that lets out a big guffaw and says something like, “What kind of a person believes in God these days? I mean, come on. Some people just haven’t got a clue.” I can’t stand a person like that. Not becuase he’s an athiest, but because he ridicules the most intense and frustrating debate of my entire life. I’ve struggled with the question of God’s existence on and off for thirteen years, and this guy is basically saying I’m an idiot for not getting it straight away.
Literally days after I became a Christian (aged seventeen) my beliefs came under immediate attack by my best friend, whom I suddenly discovered held pretty strong athiestic views. Still in my spiritual nappy, I was no match for this guy, and within a few days, my faith was snuffed.
But it didn’t stay dead for very long. I discovered that many of the apparent contraditions in the Bible could be resolved. But sooner or later, something would come along to make me doubt again – some big whopper of a contradition that I couldn’t ever imagine being solved. As a young Christian, the learning process was a difficult one. I sometimes envied less intellectual people, wishing I could be more like them. Wishing I could just accept things without the need for evidence. I was the kind of person who needed to act on what he had learned. I could not simply shelve information in my brain and act on it at a later date. If I found out something that made me doubt the validity of Christianity, I needed to act on it now.
Those early years were torturous. I would become anxious that I was throwing my life away, believing in a pipedream. I would go out walking at night, praying that God would let me know for sure that he was real. And then the lack of any answer would only serve to increase my doubts, and my anxiety. Christianity is, after all, something which affects your whole life – that is, if you’re prepared to become more than just a typical churchgoer whose religion amounts to two hours on a Sunday. If Christianity was true, I wanted it to be real and vibrant and life-changing. If it was false, I wanted nothing to do with it. I gave up Christianity and re-affirmed it again so often that my mates used to say, “Sloan’s away on another trip again,” when I’d start believing.
As for the later years, looking back, I’m aware of something that I wasn’t aware of at the time. Sometimes my reasons for abandoning Christianity were not based on reason at all, but on emotion. Sometimes my religious life would become so agonising, for one reason or another, that I looked for a way out. All I had to do was take a look inside my head and grasp hold of a few unresolved arguments against Christianity. They weren’t hard to find. Presto! Instant agnostic. Then, after a while, the agnostic life would get me depressed, and I’d look inside my head for a reason to believe again. I would find it, and presto! Instant Christian. I’m probably over-simplifying things here, but it’s worth noting this dangerous and deceptive trend that our brains are capable of.
Let’s cut to the chase. Now that I’ve been a solid Christian for about three years, I feel some justification in finally closing the book on that massive period of doubt in my life. So, what is it that makes things different now?
Well, what I finally learned to do was to take a step back from all the noise of all the debates, and take a very simple look at the universe and our place in it. On the one hand you have earth, teeming with life, beautiful and complex; on the other you have the rest of the solar system and beyond, vast and lifeless (insofar as we have discovered, of course). Now, I don’t want to minimise the wonder of the heavens – astronomy is fabulous – but there is a contrast here between earth and the universe that people need to be more aware of.
This contrast is not always seen, due to a sort of “scientific propaganda,” for want of a better term. To a spiritually-minded person, the growth of a plant from a seed is a wonderful mystery to behold. To a scientifically-minded person, it is a process to be probed and understood and catalogued. Too many people in this world think like the latter person, when really they need to learn to think both scientifically and spiritually. The propaganda that I spoke of is when science is allowed to convey the vague idea that mankind now understands the way things work and why they work that way – that life is nothing more than a series of biological reactions. But the truth is, nobody knows why life happens. We’ve put life under a microscope; we’ve observed how things behave; we’ve tampered with genetics. But nobody knows why things do what they do.
Even if someone proved evolution, you are still left with the wonder of why creatures evolve. We’ve allowed science to take the mystery out of this planet, when all it has really done is put labels on things.
All I’m trying to say is this: the big reason why I believe in God (and I mean a personal God, as opposed to some mystical force) is because I’ve finally started seeing that there is something going on here with this planet that is unique and wonderful and unexplainable by science.
You can tell me that life happened here on this planet because all the conditions were just right. But all you’re doing is sticking labels on things again. Even if I conceded that there might be another big blue ball out there somewhere, you still haven’t answered the deeper question: why do the processes of life exist at all?
This clicked with me three years ago. And that is why I haven’t doubted the reality of God since. And what’s really great about it is that anyone, regardless of their IQ, can grasp this contrast between earth and the universe. Even though I’ve ranted for ages, the observation is a pretty simple one. The big problem is seeing through the pseudo-scientific fog we’ve all been subjected to.