“God” is a loaded word. It is loaded because of the different feelings that the word evokes for different people. Those feelings give each person their different opinions. From those opinions, there are actions, actions that include the forceful taking of life away from those who have different opinions about God. Complicated… the whole idea of God is complicated. That is another reason why “God” is a loaded word.
The fact that people have died, are dying and will die for their beliefs in God makes talking about God’s existence difficult. Are you insane?, the dead may ask. How can you question the existence of God when so many people have died already believing He does? To question God’s existence is to question the validity of over a millennium’s worth of conflict and bloodshed.
Yes, that is true. I do have the luxury of questioning God’s existence, a luxury that would have meant persecution or death for another person in a different country. I am fortunate, not just from being born in a country where I have the freedom to express my beliefs, but in many other ways, too: loving parents (who are still married), aunts and uncles who believe in me, younger cousins who admire me, an amazing woman who loves me, friends and coworkers who respect me, a good college education, and amazing opportunities and potential.
These – and many other – good fortunes are all evidence for me to believe in God’s existence. Not often have I wondered, There is Someone watching over me. There is a purpose I believe that I have… not just here among my fellow human beings, but also in the Great Chess Game in the Sky, played by God and Himself, where I am among the well-placed pawns. My good fortunes are the results of mainly forces and events beyond my control. Had one of my parents been killed in the Vietnam War, I would never have been born. Had my parents not been fortunate, I would have been born to a family poorer still. There would have been many fights in the family over money, stress for my parents from the financial burden that their children bring, and instability for me and my educational pursuits. What if the country was at war? What if someone in the family was robbed and murdered? What if I died in either of my car accidents? What if… many things. There are so many variables, most of which were positive enough for me to be fortunate. These variables, like the constants that define the physical world, all had to be working in concert. Too much for a coincidence. A higher power must have had a hand. Perhaps, God?
Perhaps my good fortune is because of God. In my heart, I am indescribably grateful to the Powers That Be that are responsible for my good fortune. However, my reasons are personal. Just because I have been lucky in my life does not give me the right to determine God’s existence for other people, people who might not have been as lucky.
What about the “challenges of faith,” as Lee Strobel puts it in The Case for Faith:
- Since Evil and Suffering Exist, a Loving God Cannot
- Since Miracles Contradict Science, They Cannot Be True
- Evolution Explains Life, So God Isn’t Needed
- God Isn’t Worthy of Worship If He Kills Innocent Children
- It’s Offensive to Claim Jesus as the Only Way to God
- A Loving God Would Never Torture People in Hell
- Church History Is Littered with Oppression and Violence
Once again, I’ve reached the same conclusion I made five years ago. The belief in God’s existence (or non-existence) must be on faith. There is no proof-beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt either way.