by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
If God didn’t always exist, then what did?
It’s a serious question that begs a rationally, sensible response. Something always existed, right? Something (or someone) started at least the process for it all to get going. There is no way around it; as hard as some may try to explain away the problem of this reality.
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)
“I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know whence it came and how it arose… The safest conclusion seems to be that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect.” —Charles Darwin (1873 letter to Dutch writer and friend, Nicolaas Dirk Doedes)
Something happened. There is no question about it. Whatever it was that actually happened, happened. The thing about facts and truth is that facts are facts and truth is truth, whether anyone believes it or not.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Yes, it does… every time.
How do you know?
It doesn’t matter.
Whether we know or not doesn’t change the obvious. It doesn’t change, adjust, or alter the facts about what is true. The tree fell in the forest and it made a sound, whether anyone heard it or not.
So, what actually happened? How did it all begin, this big, wild and wonderful, amazing, glorious universe? What about this thing known as life? Did it all start with a bang… the big bang? What banged? What made it bang? Was it a fluke… coincidence? Was it an accident?
Perhaps the question is, WHO made it bang?
Was it God?
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11 (NKJV)
“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” —Albert Einstein
Is the science of evolution possible without God at the helm?
Is God real?
What is God? Who is God? Can God be seen? Can God be heard? Can God be experienced?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
Is believing in God like believing in Santa Claus?
But… but, what if…? What if Santa…? What if Santa Claus landed on your roof?
Would you believe in Santa Claus if he actually (for real) landed on your roof, came in and blessed your life? Then Santa came back and did it again… and again. Would you believe in what you experienced? Would you really? Would you come to trust in your experience? Would you tell anyone about it? Or maybe, you would tell everyone about it!
The Great Debate
So many that choose to reject the very existence of God will insist, “I cannot believe in a God I can’t see.” Atheists often insist that believing in an invisible God is ridiculous, and so many are so offended by those who believe in God that they’ll be insulting in their critiques of believers. Atheists can be quite passionate in their criticisms of Christians, in particular.
These are usually the same atheists desperate to prove theories that the universe came from virtually nothing. No that’s not the case. These atheistic scientists need to believe that the universe came from absolutely nothing. Either that, or the universe, or multiverses (other universes in addition to the one we live in), always existed. They point to theories in physics, such as general relativity, quantum physics, quantum mechanics, quantum fluctuation, and even something called quantum gravity, to explain how something can actually come from nothing… pop into existence, so to speak. But if that’s the case, are not these laws of physics—whatever they are—a thing? Are they not something, not nothing? Where did that something come from? Or, did it always exist, whatever it is?
“The general claim that the laws of physics could have created our universe suffers from a number of serious logical difficulties. Our understanding of the laws of physics is based on observation. For instance, our knowledge of the laws of conservation of momentum and energy come from observations made from literally thousands of experiments. No one has ever observed a universe “popping” into existence. This means that any laws of physics that would allow (even in principle) a universe to pop into existence are completely outside our experience. The laws of physics, as we know them, simply are not applicable here.” —by Jake Hebert, Ph.D., physicist, research associate, Institute for Creation Research
Dr. Hebert, in his article A Universe from Nothing? points out that atheistic theorists have a number of theories that argue against each other. The big bang theory requires enormous amounts of energy, while a theory like quantum fluctuation, necessary for something to come from nothing, requires that the universe consist of absolutely zero energy for subatomic particles to “live” before they are annihilated; meaning that something would become nothing again before “evolving” into something more.
These subatomic particles are, of course, a scientific reality. That’s not in question. The appearance and disappearance of these subatomic particles cannot be directly observed, though their effects are evident. The issue is whether or not theories of the origins of life in the universe without a creator can be substantiated at any point on any level.
Why does anyone find the need to refuse the existence of God? Is it simply because people cannot believe in something or someone they cannot see? Is that it? Is that really the case?
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” John 20:29 (NKJV)
You know, people accept and believe and trust in things they do not (and will not) see everyday. Who has seen gravity? Who has seen oxygen? Who has seen hot or cold? Who has seen wind? Who has seen the actual nutrients in food? Have you ever seen the active ingredient in the medicine you’ve taken? Ever seen a cell phone signal, or electricity?
You see the substance and the evidence of things you cannot see all the time. Everyday, you experience gravity and electricity and nutrition. You may think you’ve seen and heard wind, but what you’ve seen and heard is the evidence (outcome) of wind. You’ve seen things blowing around. That howling sound you’ve heard is resistance to the wind. You have certainly felt wind. And of course, you have felt heat, and you have felt cold, but you’ve never seen them. You have seen the evidence of cold in something frozen but you have not seen cold. You’ll see something cook or melt but you have not seen heat. By the way, what does air look like, sound like, and feel like? Does anyone doubt its existence?
Believing in something or someone we can’t see with our eyes isn’t far-fetched at all… so why not God?
I have not seen the person of God with my eyes. I have not heard God’s audible voice. I have, however, experienced God… known God from within. I know that I have heard from God in my thoughts. I have seen God in my circumstances. God has been directly involved specific to situations moved and directed beyond my understanding and explanation.
How have you experienced what you have not seen? How might you explain what you understand about the experience?
Of course, these “unbelievable” responses to prayer can be explained away by cynical skeptics as coincidental; a fortunate turn, perhaps. It must have been this, or it could’ve been that. But I know better. I know in the very fiber of my being that the same God that banged the universe into existence, while forming its every detail, intervened in my very specific circumstance, having confronted and altered the most likely, even the most certain of, inevitable outcomes.
In some cases, God has changed my mind from the natural course of how I process things intellectually and emotionally, leading to stark contrasts in behavioral choices from my more natural tendencies. I’ve been protected, even saved, from probable danger and risk because of changes in how I think and act beyond and within the make up of typical character flaws of mine. It’s as though my brain has been transformed; renewed in some way. And I am most grateful to God for changing the way I think and behave.
Why did God… the originator of life… do that for me?
Why would the creator care enough to be involved in my life or anyone else’s?
Because I asked him to?
Really… it was God?
Yes! It was God! There was, and is, no doubt about it. God is involved with what God cares most about. Am I a fool to believe that? Then so be it. I’ll take what comes with being that fool every time. Why? Because the alternative is living life without God, and there is nothing… NOTHING… more fool-hardy than that. But you have to make up your own mind about that as you consider for yourself whether or not there is something more out there… bigger than you can imagine… personal, and willing to engage in relationship with you.
I’ll say this about my experience. Just as I have experienced gravity, and I’ve experienced wind, and I’ve experienced the benefits of nutrition, and I’ve experienced hot and cold, I have indeed experienced God. And not you, nor anyone else will ever take that away from me. Experiencing God is as real as having experienced anything else. And you know what? There are millions upon millions of people today, and billions throughout history, who would tell you the same thing about their experience with God.
I asked my young grandson, “Have you ever seen your brain? How do you know that you have one? Have you ever seen your heart?” He looked at me like I was simply messing with him, as I am prone to do. What I sought in asking what seemed to be ridiculous questions, was for my grandson to take a critical look at his belief in God, rather than just accepting it because of what someone else expected of him. I hoped that he would see the sensibility of what he believes.
We know we have a brain and a heart through the evidence of our experience. Since it’s so common to our collective experience, it is common sense for all of us to expect they exist within us. The way billions have come to have faith in God is not blind acceptance of a presentation, but has been experienced within and throughout day-to-day life. So believing in the reality of God, and having relationship with God is so common to the experience of so many that it is indeed what makes the most sense.
To all who believe, relationship with God is common sense. It’s a culture of faith; not just some religious crutch to survive the chaos, injustice, and brutality within and throughout our social culture. We see the struggle of the masses that don’t believe or have faith, and from an attitude of love, are compelled to share the witness of our own experience. That (divine) love is my motivation for this presentation.
I believe that should you take a critical approach to examining God’s existence—rather than blindly rejecting the possibility—you’ll be able to conclude that it actually makes more sense to rationally accept God as the originator of all that is and ever was.
It’s like anything, though. Until you experience it for yourself, it’s typically not enough to take my word for it; or anyone else’s, for that matter. For everyone else outside of what I, and millions more, have experienced, it is merely speculation.
Atheist types will tell me that they believe in science for truth. But asked what science looks like, feels like, and sounds like, well, that’s a particularly challenging question to answer. The other question about science that cannot really be answered objectively is, where did science come from? And if that sounds like an overly ignorant question, it can be more eloquently asked, where did the materials, intelligence, and all of the ingredients essential to the make-up of science come from? And if the questions can never really be definitively answered, then why ask them? If the problem of the unknown mysteries of it all cannot be solved, then why try so hard to solve the mystery?
If atheistic scientists are honest (beginning with themselves), they should admit that evolution by “natural selection” without God is indeed theory and not fact. Once a theory is proven it is no longer a theory. Then, it is simply fact; undeniable and indisputable, according to the evidence. So atheists who say they put their trust in science for their explanations of life’s origins, have put their trust—their confidence—and yes, their faith, in an unproven idea, and not in an actual experience that validates their lives.
Atheists who put their faith in the scientific theories of evolution say unapologetically that faith in a supernatural, spiritual deity is ridiculous, but then have no issue with something such as RNA and DNA, the foundationally essential ingredients for life, evolving initially from absolutely nothing. They must believe that something somehow came from nothing… they have to… or else they are left with, well… nothing.
Sure, atheistic scientists get excited about “revelations” along the way that fuel their speculative notions (a few identified briefly in this article), even though they’re still not, and will never be, definitive. They have not, and still cannot, prove theories of how life originated.
“With the laws of physics, you can get universes… We should trust the laws of physics.” —Alexei Filippenko, Ph.D., astrophysicist and professor of astronomy, University of California, Berkeley
Now, where does speculating in these indeterminate possibilities get them? What is the destination? What is the ultimate reward for the atheist’s human experience when all is said and done?
“Many scientists suggest that the laws of physics lead to trust in God, not from it.” —Brian Thomas, M.S., biotechnology
When common sense prevails in the minds of the most educated, sensible people living in the universe, they throw up their hands and submit to the reality that it requires more faith to be believe in a universe and the life therein without God than the faith it takes to believe that God must exist. Sometimes, conclusions for something are derived in the absence of rational sensibility of something else.
This is the case when the atheist the concludes that believing in God (what they refer to as religion) is a crutch creationists lean on while they continue their pursuit of what they deem to be absolute, concrete truth. They claim to only rely solely on facts. However, atheists then are quick to jump on the next theory train coming through their town.
Guess who said…
“The question, then, is, ‘Why are there laws of physics?’ And you could say, ‘Well, that required a divine creator, who created these laws of physics and the spark that led from the laws of physics to these universes.”
None other than the same Dr. Filippenko. Can you believe it? But since the good doctor could not affirm in his own mind the origin of the “divine creator,” he has chosen to believe in the same laws of physics he suggested cannot exist without that “spark.” How does that make sense?
How about documentation for the divine creator?
It’s been said that you cannot believe in spiritual literature (i.e., the Bible) as indisputable truth since it was written by human people. But we accept historical literature as truth and reality all the time. Whether it’s something written about that happened decades ago, centuries ago, or millenniums and even millions and billions of years ago, these literary accounts are accepted as fact again and again; usually without argument.
We are always trusting in the historical written word that we sense is reasonable. It’s not a bother so long as we’re not threatened by it; so long as it doesn’t render us uncomfortable. No threat… no risk… no conflict… no problem.
Who has a problem accepting that George Washington was the first President of the United States of America? A few out there might dispute it, but almost all Americans believe it to be historical fact. Has anyone you know ever seen George Washington? Was anyone around around when the first “George W” was the President? We’ve read about it. We’ve heard about it. There does not seem to be any argument concerning what has been said and written. Therefore, it’s reasonable to suggest that this written documentation of history is indeed factual, beyond dispute.
The same can be said for the theory of evolution. Evolution is taught to children throughout most of the civilized world as historical fact. How does anyone know? How can anyone prove the origins of life through this idea known as natural selection; these random mutations over time that evolved into everything living today? Was anyone there? Was there anyone throughout human history that was there? Who can substantiate the claims for any of it with any degree of certainty? So why then is evolution without a creator is being taught to our children as something factual?
Why God? Why Not God?
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” —A.W. Tozer
Where and when did it all begin, this thing we call life?
How does one actually explain it? How does it make sense that God always existed?
On the other hand, if God didn’t always exist, what did? If not God, what then?
Nebula image taken by NASA appears as though God has is eye on creation
Well, something had to always exist. Was the universe always out there? Was there something smaller than a speck of dust that always existed, that somehow randomly mutated into every intricacy that is within and throughout life… that somehow contained within it all of the matter, DNA, and intelligence of everything that ever was, is, and ever will be? Whatever it was, was it alive? Wouldn’t it have to be to beget life? Is it possible that one random mutation (incarnation, or whatever you want to call it) after another somehow, in some way, just happened to fashion together all of the aimlessly roaming parts in some infinitely vast space that through some arbitrary fluke sparked into existence the “miracle” of life?
Or, did something come from… nothing? Hmm. If so, then ‘nothing’ is ‘something’, and ‘nothing’ had to come from ‘something’ with the capacity to become something more… to eventually through random coincidences calculate the full measure of its evolutionary course. The least believable quality of ‘nothing’ is that it would have to originate from within itself the core ingredients and organization for ‘something’ to live.
How did the original first cell reproduce? Why did the first reproduce? How did it “know” to reproduce? What was the catalyst for cell production and reproduction? How did the first cell reproduce into a variation of itself, instead of duplicating itself repeatedly according to its original make up? How did the same original cell reproduce into both living and non-living organisms? How? Why?
“I think you can say that life is a system in which proteins and nucleic acids interact in ways that allow the structure to grow and reproduce. It’s that growth and reproduction, the ability to make more of yourself, that’s important.
“People have tried to find more general, more universal definitions of life. They’re speculative, because we don’t know about any life other than ourselves… First, you have to be able to reproduce and make more of yourself. You also need a source of variation so that all of the new generation is not identical either to the previous generation or to all its brothers and sisters. And once you have that variation, then natural selection can actually select, by either differential birth or death, some of the variants that function best. That may turn out to be a fairly general definition of life wherever we might find it.
“It’s pretty clear that all the organisms living today, even the simplest ones, are removed from some initial life form by four billion years or so, so one has to imagine that the first forms of life would have been much, much simpler than anything that we see around us. But they must have had that fundamental property of being able to grow and reproduce and be subject to Darwinian evolution.
“So it might be that the earliest things that actually fit that definition were little strands of nucleic acids. Not DNA yet—that’s a more sophisticated molecule—but something that could catalyze some chemical reactions, something that had the blueprint for its own reproduction.” —Andrew Knoll, Paleontologist, Professor of Biology at Harvard University
Professor Knoll is certain about one thing. Even for this renowned paleontologist, evolutionary theories about how even the most primitive living organisms evolved into anything more than what they were is anything but certain. And what about these little strands of nucleic acids, molecular variations and bacteria? How and where did they originate? And whatever the answer is to that question… how and where did it (the answer to the previous question) originate? And for every response follows the same question… Where did it (and they) come from, and how did it advance on their own from what it was? Shouldn’t there be something more definitive to hang your hat on than vague suppositions?
There are only speculative conclusions about how nucleic acids developed proteins that morphed into bacteria, that somehow formed cell walls to advance into cell membrane structures, that through innovations into the evolutionary process, “may help to resolve the early key steps in evolutionary development of the bacterial domain of life.” (National Center for Biotechnology Information)
“How did life begin on Earth? The fact is that no one knows the answer yet, and it remains one of the primary unsolved questions of biology. We may never know with certainty because life began on earth nearly four billion years ago. The events that initiated life no longer occur, and even the conditions of the early Earth are not known with any certainty.” —David W. Deamer, American biologist and Research Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California-Santa Cruz
“DNA is the center of all life, but it can’t be considered alive even though it has all the information required to make a living thing. DNA cannot reproduce by itself… We will never know with certainty how life did begin.” —David W. Deamer
Why all of these statements from paleontologists, physicists, biologists, and scholars of evolutionary beginnings? Because even they admit ultimately that they are only guessing, according to unproven theory. They don’t know. They know what they are talking about when they tell you that they’re not anywhere close to certain about any of it. All the while, evolution is taught to naive learners by educators as though it is proven fact; which is certainly not the case.
Okay, no doubt there has been evolution through the millenniums of time; throughout the ages of everything living. I’ve watched nature shows on television that suggest that for a species to survive some sort of evolutionary flaw that would inevitably arouse it’s extinction. It needed a fin, or an appendage, or something or other to protect itself from the elements, and… well… it just happened. Evolution took care of the problem. Whatever the species needed magically evolved into being… over millions of years, of course. It can just do that? Evolution isn’t random? Evolution is somehow intentional and specific? Really? Amazing!
How is any of it actually possible unless God is directing its course, attentive to every detail necessary to get it right?
I suppose one could release into space a trillion-piece jigsaw puzzle, each piece a billion miles away from the other, and they would, without any direction or purpose, somehow find somewhere in the vast space to find each other, solved, with every mindless piece perfectly fitting into just the right place. That’s possible, right? The odds of that happening are pretty good in comparison to billions and billions of years of incidental anomalies forming into the universe and life as we know it.
I had a chance recently to get into it with a couple of recovering suicidal teenagers who insisted they believed in science, and that something of the universe was always out there. I asked them, “Even if it was, how did the universe make life without a creator unless it was already alive? How did the evolutionary process occur through random, accidental mutations and occurrences? I asked them (paraphrased), “If the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle you’re playing were scattered a across the floor, and then just laid there a few billion years, would the puzzle put itself together and create a picture that made any sense? Would something like a strong wind come through and blow the pieces over time to eventually fit them all together just so? Would the building deteriorate and over time the pieces would find each other? Or would the pieces deteriorate as well? How would the pieces of this puzzle come to life, and then reproduce to make more puzzles, each with their own unique pictures, that with some built-in mechanism, put themselves together?”
They agreed that the puzzle would not solve itself or be solved without help.. Someone had to do something with it. I then asked them, if they were to accept that they were made by a Creator, if everything after that is possible (including the resurrection of the son of God)? The response? “That’s a good point. I have to really think about that now.”
These two teenagers, a boy and a girl, both made the point that they were against religion. So I made sure they understood that I was not all talking about religion. I was talking to them about what made the most sense in regards to the origins of life… how it all began. Their initial reaction was an emotional one (again) against religion. Don’t even get them started about religion. But once the emotional opposition to religion was taken from the equation, we were able to have a reasonable discussion on what made the most sense to them on an intellectual plane. All of sudden they were open-minded about a lot more after that; certainly willing to listen and ponder likelihoods and probabilities, according to their own understanding, rather than being limited by preconceived notions and hasty, misguided conclusions.
Alright, so maybe you didn’t like the puzzle idea to illustrate the point of gazillions of random occurrences culminating into life as we know it. Try this one on for size, then.
Imagine all of the most ingenious inventors and researchers throughout history all gathered together somewhere all at one time in their endeavor for discovery. Cram them all in; there’s a lot of them. They each go about their day-to-day routine every day without any sense of intention or desire or purpose to accomplish a single thing… ever. Yet somehow, someway, everything that has ever been invented and discovered; every disease that has ever been remedied; every food element that has become known to nourish the human body… every this and every that that has made living and sustaining life possible, came to be… BY ACCIDENT!
No one meant to discover anything. No one meant to research anything. It just happened. Relating this to the incidental, mindless, random occurrences and mutations over millions and billions of years of evolutionary process without God, all of the best ingenious inventors and researchers throughout history never did a single thing to be educated into any kind of knowledge… and yet they still just happened to (mindlessly, randomly) stumble into their inventions, discoveries, and remedies. Again… every action being accidental, incidental, and coincidental. It somehow, someway, simply came to be.
Is any of this at all believable?
But we’re to believe that from the big bang, a universe happened, that something in the universe happened in the way that was all so perfectly fashioned and conditioned for the next thing to be formed perfectly into the next thing… that somehow in some way just happened to accidentally form perfectly into another next thing… and the evolutionary formula for this then thing, and that next thing, and all of the other next things to follow in this convoluted mess of things happening, forming and accumulating, all so altogether perfect to somehow, and in some way through it all, without any sense of purpose or reason, breathe into existence the ultimate best next thing… life.
Okay, okay. As impossible as it may be, what if it somehow did occur? How did this life form, whatever it is, develop any semblance of intelligence or ability to reason, or more than that, care to do what’s necessary to produce enough to survive?
Answer? Instinct. That’s how the atheist scientist responds to this dilemma.
Well, if instinct is an innate impulse, tendency, or inclination, how did it develop the disposition to want or like or care enough within its core… about anything… to have a natural (automatic) impulse, tendency, or inclination that is productive, and not counterproductive? How did the will to carry out a pattern of enough instinctive actions necessary to survive and live come into the evolutionary process of things?
Before that, how did the brain develop for humans and animals? Where did the internal mechanism for bacteria to function, reproduce into a variety of forms, and then interact with other forms of bacterial life? How were plants programmed to have survival skills for nourishment?
Any living thing of any kind of species must be nourished to survive. Even instinct must be derived something learned at some point in time. A plant or a blade of grass has to be nourished or it dies. How would it know to seek nutrition? It’s hungry, but so what? What does that mean to the first living thing? Did the first living thing derive nourishment from something not living? How did the first one of anything do it? How would it know what to do… and, most important… have the will to do it? Even a species of something only seen with a microlens has built-in incentive to survive. Where would the motivation come from to seek what it needs without knowledge or competence?
On instinct alone? In a few billion years, something got lucky and just so happened to stumble into some random, incidental discovery before it died trying?
Again, really? That’s possible? That makes sense? Or, am I simply too naive and ignorant to recognize how lucky this evolutionary process is to have defied these astronomical odds to have made this far without God?
Every one of the infinite number of evolutionary formulas for life had to progress in their process so perfectly that they meticulously and, dare I say, miraculously all fit together just so. And it all happened without plan or design or purpose (without God). And yet, it was alive. It all just happened. Not only did life randomly morph into existence, but it somehow, on its own by chance, became intelligent, and emotional, and nurturing, and predatory. R-i-i-i-i-g-h-t. And it’s believing in an ever-existent God that’s ridiculous? Think about it. Doesn’t not believing in God necessitate more faith than believing?
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein
Have you ever considered how much has to go just right for life to even possible on a planet receiving constant force from a mammoth incendiary power source? Have you wondered how we can be spinning and flying through the universe at phenomenal speeds, trusting stratospheric and atmospheric realities—not to mention gravity—to remain stable so that we can exist? What maintains order in the universe to prevent planetary—and perhaps even galactic—destruction? Doesn’t it make more sense that some sovereign mindful entity has to be the catalyst at the center of it all?
Have you ever considered everything that has to go exactly right for our bodies to even function? Why does it all work? What about the intricacies of our brains transmitting specific informative signals just so we can wake up and get out of bed? Why does our heart beat and keep beating? Why does breathing work? Why does food nourish our bodies and provide systemic sustainability? Why does sleep restore order and energy when we’re exhausted and broken down? Why do we grow? Why do we decay and die? Why do we think and feel and reason? That all just happened… by chance… accidentally… without purpose or intention?
Did it really? That’s believable? That is acceptable? How is it even possible?
“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” —C.S. Lewis
The evolution of life without God… the genesis of life with God… where lies the evidence—the verifiable proof—for either?
While it may not seem altogether possible to offer tangible proof that God is all that God is, a reasonably intellectual case can indeed be made when applying common sense. On the other hand, since atheists rely on scientific evidence to prove the theories they want acknowledged as fact, the burden of evidentiary proof is then laid before their throne, to prove their assertion that something somehow came from nothing.
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. Hebrews 11:3 (NLT)
“I say if it says it, it means it. People will laugh at me and say, ‘Well, you know, you can’t really believe that.’ And I go, ‘Well if I can believe that God created the world and everything in it, why wouldn’t I believe a simple thing like that? That’s not a hard thing.” —Vincent Furnier, a.k.a., Alice Cooper, regarding the Bible as the Word of God
Let There Be Light
You see, I have no problem with the ‘big bang’ notion of how things came to be. “Let there be light…” Then… BOOM! Something (or someone) blew stars and galaxies into what became the ever-expanding universe and then, well… “there was light.”
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light… Genesis 1:3 (NLT)
“We have for the first time a detection for the mythical gravity wave signal that people have been searching for so hard, for so long.” —Clem Pryke, associate professor at the University of Minnesota
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1 (NASB)
“Inflation is the theory about the ‘bang’ of Big Bang… It explains why we have all this stuff in the universe.” —Chao-Lin Kuo, assistant professor of physics at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
If you are dependent on the field of evolutionary science to understand the origins of the universe and what evolved into life, what will you do with mounting scientific evidence suggesting that the big bang was not the “steady state” of an ever-expanding universe that for decades has been the prevailing opinion of how it all happened? What if that mounting evidence—the new discovery of traces of gravity waves—now suggests the likelihood that something from the “outside” of the big bang caused it to occur… faster than the speed of light… something closer to instantly? Would less than a second (a trillionth of a second, according to one finding I read) be considered instantly?
“Certainly everything in the universe that we see now, at one time before inflation, was smaller than an electron. And then it expanded during inflation at faster than the speed of light.“ —Kent Irwin, Stanford physicist
Scientists have studied and continue to study a theory they refer to as inflation to explain the discovery of gravitational waves that “ripped apart space” faster than the speed of light on the space-time continuum that banged throughout the universe in an instant. This theory was predicted decades ago by Albert Einstein as part of his theory of relativity. Scientists today are amazed that he may have been onto something even then. There is now a discovery process with the BICEP2 telescope that one scientist suggested may be the “smoking gun” (Marc Kamionkowski, professor of physics and astronomy) for the gravitational waves hypothesized by Einstein.
According to Dr. Irwin, the gravitational waves, suggested by the BICEP2 discovery, would have expanded across the entirety of the universe at that time. He reported that the length of one of these waves—the distance between the peaks and troughs in the wave—would have extended billions of light years across in less than a second. (He actually said “in a trillionth of a second,” but come on… who’s going to believe that, even if the math doesn’t lie?) It is remarkable that science is unearthing, so to speak (pun intended), revelations that may actually support the creationist approach to instant light if the universe banged through space into existence… instantly.
“The remarkable discovery of ripples in the space-time fabric of the universe rocked the world of science—and the world of religion.
Touted as evidence for inflation (a faster-than-the-speed-of-light expansion of our universe), the new discovery of traces of gravity waves affirms scientific concepts in the fields of cosmology, general relativity, and particle physics.
The new discovery also has significant implications for the Judeo-Christian worldview, offering strong support for biblical beliefs.
The prevalent theory of cosmic origins prior to the Big Bang theory was the “Steady State,” which argued that the universe has always existed, without a beginning that necessitated a cause.
However, this new evidence strongly suggests that there was a beginning to our universe.
If the universe did indeed have a beginning, by the simple logic of cause and effect, there had to be an agent – separate and apart from the effect – that caused it.” —Leslie Wickman, former Director, Center for Research in Science at Azusa Pacific University, and engineer for Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, where she worked on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station programs
If it was God that is responsible for the creation of the universe and the life therein, did he do it in six days before he rested? Well, what does that even mean in the first place? Was time at all relevant before the earth turned on its axis in a day’s time, while simultaneously orbiting around the sun with barely any variation in its distance from it as it makes its way around every year? If there was and is a creator commonly known as God, has God ever been bound by time, or limited anything at all? Wouldn’t God be the originator of time? It’s more likely that there were various stages in the evolutionary advances of the universe, as well as life as we know it on earth or anywhere life might exist.
It very well may have occurred over the course of 14 billion years as speculated by some of the most intelligent, curious minds to ever grace the planet. It just so happens that their discoveries are no accident. There’s been a sovereign creator at the helm from the beginning, gifting his creation with the genius to begin putting this puzzle together piece by piece. While there has been progress, there are still so many holes to fill, it’s a never-ending project. If the puzzle is to ever to solved and make any sense, science cannot discard all of those pieces that display God’s hand in the operation from the beginning.
“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” —Albert Einstein
Were there dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals walking upright before the days of the first civilized human beings as identified in the Bible and the rest of the literature? Of course, there is archeological evidence of prehistoric life in museums and relics around the world, and there is likely a great deal more to be discovered. It’s silly to dispense of Christianity because its historical manuscripts speak of “days” in its narrative to account for various stages of the genesis of the universe and life on earth.
Understand that both of these “theories”, random evolution and intentional creation, require a degree of faith. I simply find it more reasonable to wrap my mind around the reality of an eternal creator. If that makes me the fool, then so be it. If I’ve somehow missed it believing in God, I’ve lost nothing. But if God is alive, and is loving and gracious, then I have everything to gain believing that. Please understand that truth is not subjective. It is what it is. One way or the other, truth is truth whether I believe it or not.
God always existed. I’m not going to debate who or what God is here. Some will read this that have different names for God. I’m not getting into that much either. God made you and God made me. God is the creator of all things. Even if that means that God came up with the recipe that includes the ingredients that when stirred together in the pot, stirred up the evolution of all things.
If the genesis of life in its gazillions of forms began with God, then God is life. God is all about good, and right, and best. So why do bad things happen on every level of existence? It’s not for me to say? Those who deny the existence of God because God allows bad things to happen, miss the point. What if God was demanding and tortured anyone who denied their ruler? How many would bow to God frightened to death for their lives?
Why is it that children have the easiest time believing in God? Is it because they’re naive and will believe anything since they are so easily persuaded? Children don’t accept the possibility of God because they fear hell. Children don’t believe in God because they want heaven, either. Children don’t really comprehend heaven and hell. They typically don’t believe in God for what they get out of it. So why, then?
I have a very young nephew that loves going to church with his grandmother, and talks of loving Jesus. He prays to Jesus—whom my nephew equates to being God—in front of his unbelieving father and mother. My nephew doesn’t know that his parents do not believe what he believes. His parents will tell you that Jesus is a well-constructed fairy tale. My nephew knows what a fairy tale is. He knows that Santa Claus is a fairy tale. God isn’t. He’s seen Santa Claus at the shopping mall. Today, he knows that shopping-mall Santa is just a guy. My nephew has never seen God. Yet he thanks God for provisions and asks protection for those he loves. But he doesn’t ask God for stuff. He asks providing adults for stuff. But my nephew surely believes in God… quite enthusiastically, I might add. So why, then?
What if children believe because they are innocent? Children are not ridden with guilt. They’re not ashamed. They don’t have reason to believe that the so-called nature of God is to condemn them to hell. There is a certain purity in their belief and, dare I say, faith in God. Kids are commonly confident in their belief in God; compelled in their belief, as though they’re in on something the rest aren’t as sure of. And since that induces discomfort in the adults they’re with, they’re ridden off as naive and gullible. Give the kids time; they’ll grow out of it.
“I want to recover my lost innocence and wake up in the morning saying, ‘Good morning, God,’ instead of waking up and saying, ‘Oh God, it’s morning.’” —Wynonna Judd
When children fall away is when they have lost their innocence, and have been swayed to fear God, rather than embrace their faith in God as they once did. They grow up and become prone to doubting that God loves them. These kids get hurt by religious adults the they have come to know to be hypocrites. Should children have it repeated to them—especially by adults that claim to believe in the same God they believe in—that they are guilty of this and that, these kids tend to develop that profound feeling of shame to the point they are convinced that God cannot love them. As they rebel in their shame in an attempt to protect themselves, they often misguidedly reject what they’ve believed in about people, and what they’ve believed about God.
Adolescent kids typically don’t care about the origins of life and such when they tell me they don’t believe in God. They have rejected the idea of the God that allows bad things to happen to good people and condemns people to hell. These young people have been betrayed and scorned by love. Why put any confidence in a belief in God when they have moved away from believing in love at all?
But then I ask them, “If you don’t believe in God, what do you believe in?”
Most of these older kids I interact with professionally have not really contemplated that.
These adolescent minds are back to needing something they can sink their teeth into; back to struggling to believe in a God they cannot see. They want tangible proof. It is then incumbent on me to apply reason and sensibility to break through emotionally-charged objections that fuel their doubt. So I again point to things they really do not see but see rather see the evidence of that feeds their understanding, and begins to make some sense.
How have you experienced what you have not seen? How might you explain what you understand about the experience?
They have not seen warmth, nor heard it, but they’ve known warmth from within, having experienced it. How is warmth experienced? Is warmth experienced physically? Is warmth experienced psychologically… emotionally?
How do you know that you have experienced warmth? Warmth can be comforting, whether physically or emotionally. Warmth can be applied to a sense of acceptance and belonging, and is, therefore, inviting. When experienced physically, warmth can feel good, or feel burdensome (too warm). While warmth is known to be experienced on so many levels often not easily explained, one knows that they’ve had the experience. Warmth, or the absence of it, can have a life-changing effect. While you may not always be able to describe it, warmth is an experience you have come to know, pursue, and even rely on.
You have not seen or heard compassion, but you have experienced compassion. You have known compassion from within. The same can be said for mercy and love. You don’t see it. You don’t hear it. You experience it. From what you have experienced, it is known to you. When you experience love and mercy, it’s more than a feeling. It’s effects can be compelling; profound even, drawing you in. It’s as though you cannot help but to be grateful, and to respond in kind. Warmth, compassion, love, mercy, and generosity are experiences that are genuine and immeasurable—priceless—and when experienced, are undeniable.
Having come to know God in my experience, I am able to interact in relationship with God. Billions of people through history lay claim to that. People pray to God and experience God’s response to their prayer. Sometimes, God’s response to their prayer is extraordinary, other-worldly, miraculous, and certainly beyond explanation. That’s been my undeniable experience.
Then I will ask them, “If God didn’t always exist, what did?” I work to wiggle into what they care about and try to get them to care about that question. They usually do.
If God made them and loves them, has every resource there is to bless them, would they want that? If God’s love could replace what hurts, would they want that?
At some point then, like everyone else, they get to choose. With young people, once slipping past those emotional objections, the intellectual choice to believe in the possibilities around believing in God are not quite as challenging.
Because God is love, and God is life, and God has afforded all people the choice to make up their own minds, we as a people (at least for now) get away with denying God. Because we are selfish and choose selfishly to benefit ourselves, we make poor, bad, foolish, unhealthy, destructive choices. Then when the outcomes of our entitled behavior affect us adversely, and ripple through one another until they are permanently embedded into our social reality, we cannot blame ourselves. We blame God. And for now, get away with that because God loves and will not hold us responsible.
God sent a sacrifice to cover the debt owed to one another for our selfishness against ourselves and each other. God loves us with so much compassion and mercy that God has carved a path out of our mess and built for us a bridge back into his generous favor. Anyone that believes in the treasures of paradise on the other side of the bridge hesitates not in crossing. That’s all I am going to say about that, here.
“That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us… where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse.” —A.W. Tozer
Acceptance in the reality of God tends to lie in the perception of who and what God is. If God embodies the sovereign standard throughout the universe, and God is loving and accepting of me, then I am all in with God. If God is judging me, critical of what I want and do, why would I want anything to do with God? A predatory, condemning God is not good for me. I am not at all comfortable with that. That God is a taker of life and must not exist. But… hmm… What if God accepts and loves me, and judges and opposes things that I do when I do not live up to his standard; yet is compassionate, merciful, a giver of life, and remains generously favorable towards me? What then?
Why Heaven and Hell?
It’s often asked, “How can a sovereign, loving God send anyone to hell? How is that love?”
It’s a fair question.
What is heaven? What is hell?
What if hell is merely the absence of good… the absence of compassion and mercy? You would find nothing that is good in hell. What if hell is best described as an existence without good, where evil is given free reign to breed, grow, expand, and abound, seeking to overwhelm and overcome everything in its path? What if hell is the ugly, painful, miserable condition of this world without love in it at all? What if possessing free will leads to selfish thinking and behavior? What if selfish thinking and behavior results in the opposite of giving, which is taking? What if the essence of giving is love, and that taking produces jealousy, resentment, injustice, and ultimately hatred… until it is evil?
What if hell is the light going out in an otherwise dark existence?
…And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:4 (NLT)
“The people who walk in great darkness have adjusted their eyes.” —John Eldredge
What if hell is the absence of God’s presence? What if hell is the absence of conviction concerning right and wrong… good and evil? What if hell is the survival of the fittest without any regard for who gets hurt?
When He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (regarding) sin, because they do not believe in Me… When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. John 16:8, 9, 13 (NKJV)
What if hell is the absence of the truth that rescues us from what’s destructive within; truth that defends us against the bane of evil throughout?
While I have suggested this idea of what hell could be, I do not really know or understand what or where hell is. There are a great deal of people suffering in the world for one reason or another who feel like they are experiencing hell right now. There is so much hate and evil in the world. We all live in the world together. We carry the burden of injustice, entitlement, jealousy, and resentment, doing evil to one extent or another. Then what? We blame a sovereign, loving God for the consequences for our collective behavioral choices?
What if heaven is everything good and right… absolutely everything? You would find nothing bad or wrong in heaven. What if you could go to heaven until you did something wrong or bad and then, oops, to hell with you? Wouldn’t you be living in constant fear in what is supposed to be utopia—paradise? What kind of heaven would that be? So how can heaven remain without flaw with flawed people living there? What if a loving God had—has—a viable solution to such an unsolvable dilemma?
What if heaven is freedom from hatred and evil into all that is loving and good without measure? What if heaven is freedom from all displeasure, discomfort, disturbance, and disharmony into fulfilling peace and contentment? What if heaven is freedom from conflict, anxiety and stress into the experience of what is truly unconditional love between every single one of its inhabitants? Are you kidding me… who wouldn’t want that?
What if there was a sure way out of hell into heaven? What if the only condition to experience freedom into that kind of living is having a relationship with the most honest, sincere, compassionate, generous person that ever lived? What if that is all it costs? What… that’s too much?
Why set conditions at all, right?
Conditions… standards… expectations… a convenient excuse to justify dismissing the matter of relationship with God. What about family relationships? What about romance? What about friendship? While some might like to believe the love in those relationships is without condition, be rest assured these relationships are absolutely conditional and loaded with expectation.
What about scholastic and professional relationships? No standards or expectations there? Are there no conditions to meet to get a good grade and diploma… or to keep your job, or to get a raise or promotion… or to get paid, for that matter? What about conditions for even healthy competition? Does everyone win, or do certain conditions have to be met?
People in relationship with each other expect honesty, trust and loyalty if they’re going to expect the best out of the relationship. Without necessary standards and conditions relationships are untenable, unmanageable, unstable, and then finally miserable until they fail and die. Parents expect to have trustworthy relationships with their children in order to trust them enough to bless them to the full with the best of their resources. Spouses expect undivided loyalty and commitment for their relationship to thrive. Otherwise, their relationship fails to survive.
Conditions and standards are essential and make sense in all relationships. Why would relationship with God be any different? The literature I read tells me that God doesn’t care about rules and religion. All God cares about is love in relationship… God with us, and us with each other. That’s it!
Why would God set it all up like that? I don’t know. Ask him! Because if that’s how it is, then that’s how it is. It doesn’t matter if we think relationship with the life-giver costs too much. It doesn’t matter if having a relationship with the creator of the universe who loves what he has created sounds unfair. The reality is that our world is in free-fall into self-indulgent entitlement, and evil and hatred have a clear advantage. If God is goodness and love, and this world is consumed with evil and hatred, the contrast between these realities couldn’t be more stark.
Which side are you on? You best make the right choice about it. Or else, just continue to live with what you already have until the hatred and the evil in the world catches up with you, if it hasn’t already.
To believe or not believe? Is there a creator? Does God exist? Is God alive? Does God matter? Is God involved in what happens here? Is God at all interested? Is God interested in me? Why believe in God? Why not believe in God?
What gets in the way of me believing in God? What do I risk if I am wrong about God one way or the other? What’s at stake, here?
What makes the most sense and what does not? What about all of this that is beyond explanation? What really is tipping the scales one way or the other?
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 (NLT)
If you believe that God doesn’t exist, then I suppose you best pray that he does, and that heaven is real. Because the alternative is truly hopeless and worthy of every fear you’ve ever had.
How can you know that God is real… and that he knows you and loves you?
I suspect that those who do not believe in God, tend to not believe because they cannot believe in God. It isn’t that they don’t believe. They won’t believe. It isn’t so much that they resist believing in the existence of God as much as they refuse to believe in the existence of a bigger-than-life authority. After all, justice is ultimately about what’s comfortable, isn’t it? So, how can God exist if it makes me at all uncomfortable?
Why is it that those who don’t… I mean, won’t… believe in God are so passionate in their opposition? Why care so much about something if it doesn’t exist in the first place? Why care about being judged by those who believe in this “God” that doesn’t exist if they are the fools?
“No one… not even God… dare hold me accountable! No one… not even God… dare tell me what to do and what not to do. No one… not even God… dare dictate to me what is best for me. Who can know me better than I know me? Only I know what is best for me.”
Is that right? Where then lies the hope for any kind of mercy from this hell on earth? Where then lies the hope for redemption from imminent suffering and death? Where then lies the hope for anything more than this… or anything beyond this life? Where then lies the hope for a better life?
The Scriptures say, “If you hear his voice today, don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled.” Hebrews 3:15 (CEV)
Inmates at the prison I counseled at would talk about having an axe to grind with someone out there, and how they might seek revenge when they get out… that it would be worth it, even if they had to do life for the manner in which they acted out their vengeance. “It would be worth it?” I asked. “Worth it until when?” There was always someone in the therapy group who would reply, “Until you have to do life.” Then it matters. Then it matters big time.
You might not be concerned about anything beyond this life at this time. But when will it matter? It will matter when it matters. Then it will matter big time. Thank God that he is indeed real and loves you. It’s good that God is paying attention. Because God is for you and not against you.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 (NKJV)
Once concluding that God is real and alive, originator of all creation, the catalyst and life-giver to everything evolving and living, then everything after that is possible. If God created the heavens and the earth and all of the life contained therein, then something like the virgin birth and the resurrection of his son, Jesus, are unquestionably possible. If God continues to be invested and involved in what he has made and loves, it only makes sense to be on his side of things. If God is all that he is, and he is for me and with me, then who or what can prevail against me?
I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:35 (NKJV)
Once realizing that I was made to live by God, then I need understanding of what it means to live the life that he intended when he gave me life. I accept that I was afforded the favor to choose. Whether I choose wisely or foolishly, I decide. I was made to desire. I was made to love and be loved. I choose to believe that God is loving, and that he loves me. God’s love, once experienced, is most liberating.
With all that is happening in the universe and in the world, how do I know that God is interested in me and loves me? What if in the same way we love what we make and try to repair and restore what we’ve made when it breaks, God loves what he has made and repairs and restores what he’s made from it’s broken condition to whole once again? What if like loving parents that forgive their wayward children when they return, God forgives you and me when we go our way and then return to him?
Why is God Necessary?
Why do we need God?
Let’s start with matter of evil and pain. It’s a bit of a mystery to me why God would permit evil to have any place in his creation. How did evil originate? Might it be that evil is the by-product of free will—choice?
Instead of asking how a loving, sovereign God would allow for evil in the universe to affect harm and pain; perhaps it should be asked, why would a sovereign creator give choice to the created if it is to their undoing?
May I suggest that evil is partner to choice by anyone that isn’t pure and selfless. Assuming that God is pure and selfless without flaw, and that only God loves purely and fully, then anyone who is not God is impure, flawed, and selfish. Selfish as we are, and allowed by our creator to choose, our choices at their core are self-centered. Our love for one another is, at its core, selfish. Therefore, we are prone to hurt one another since we ultimately value ourselves above anyone else, including those we love most. We grow to resent and despise those who hurt us and cause us pain. The free will to choose as we wish from the beginning of mankind, and animalkind for that matter, has led to pain that builds upon itself, and has done so for at least thousands (if not millions) of years, to the point that evil exists and thrives.
So then, flawed by selfish desire and motivation, we are prone to selfish mistakes. We are entitled and corrupt. We then on some level contribute to the evil in the world. Because we contribute to the problem of evil in the world, we are all subject to its wrath as a logical consequence. Our lives are therefore vulnerable to infection. Evil is a malignant cancer that is always terminal. No one’s immune.
Imagine the oceans have been filled by wrongdoing, one bucket of water at a time, for at least thousands of years. Over the course of my life, perhaps I have dumped a large pond’s worth of water into the sea of evil. By comparison, someone like Hitler or Stalin may have dumped a large lake’s worth or an entire ocean into the sea of evil. In any case, I contributed something, and continue to through selfish behavior. My selfish behavior has the potential for harm to me, and harm against you. Your selfish behavior can cause you harm and be harmful to me.
The waters in the sea of evil by nature find their way back to us. When we see clouds, it’s safe to say that evil is lurking. Evil may come back, metaphorically speaking, in the form of rain. There is a storm rolling in. Evil can come on like a flood. It might rush on us like a hurricane or a tsunami. Evil doesn’t care who contributed what to it. Evil is not partial to anything or anyone. Evil doesn’t care who it hurts, or kills for that matter. When it comes it comes. When it rains it pours. Its floods can be devastating. Evil is a furor with not a drop of mercy.
We all contribute to the problem of evil. Yet, when evil crashes in on us, we tend to blame God. Where was God? How could God allow such destruction to occur? How does blaming God for the evil, that I in so many ways contribute to, justify rejecting God? Or is it perhaps a convenient excuse for denying God’s very existence?
In any case, how does blaming God for the evil in the world help in the face of its harm against me?
Why do we need God? Well, consider the alternative. If everyone who ever lived, loved their neighbors as themselves, perhaps we wouldn’t feel the need for God. We would find contentment in gladly taking care of each other. Instead, we are selfish. We don’t know how to love ourselves in ways that are healthy enough to love each other.
Our reality is that we need God. You know, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” We need to be loved by God to be truly capable of loving ourselves, and in turn, our neighbor. It’s what I need; it’s what you need; it’s what the world needs. It’s what we have always needed from the beginning of time.
How Can You Know that God is Good?
How can one know that?
If God is evil, then God is deceitful and dishonorable. If God is all of that then why would God tolerate any good in any of creation? Would good simply be a mean-spirited facet to this game God manufactures and manipulates? Can authentic love come from a sovereign source that is at its core evil?
Some would have you believe that humanity is inherently good and that God is responsible for the evil in the world, if God indeed exists. So then the attitude tends to be that if God exists, well then, I will not serve a God that allows bad things to happen to good people, and sends anyone to hell. I am angry with an unjust God who would do that. How could a God who is loving and good be alright with that? Therefore, I reject God.
Isn’t that really the justification for atheists to be so vehemently opposed to spiritually-inclined religious types, especially if they profess to be Christian?
The problem with identifying God as mean, bad, power-hungry, control-mongering, or anything else remotely selfish, is the acknowledgment that this predatory kind of God exists at all. If that’s the case then we are all set up for a doomsday scenario, whether in this life or the next. There would be no heaven and we would all be damned to some sort of hell; to whatever degree of destruction, pain, and struggle that comes with it.
If God is not loving, then God is hateful. If God is hateful, then how could there be anything good for anyone anywhere? Anything else defies common sense.
Therefore, for God to exist in the first place, then God is loving and good with the best of anyone and everyone at the forefront of everything that God is about. It makes sense that God would want an eternal lifetime for all created life; specifically human life. That God would require the sacrifice for human sin in the person of Jesus Christ is a mystery indeed. But that is God’s call. The atonement for selfish, harmful human behavior is for our good; it must be, even if that part of it all doesn’t make sense to us.
God being good does not require humanity to be perfect, just so, or even religious. I believe, though, that God desires relationship with what God has made, just as parents want authentic relationship with their children.
Speaking of children, it appears that they typically embrace relationship with God on some level. Children don’t doubt the goodness of God, at least not until someone gets involved in casting aspersions and doubt about what they believe in, driving them away from God and apart from faith.
Children get caught up in the selfish ambition of societal expectations and perceived injustices of failed expectations. Kids grow up believing what they are told they deserve and fooled into believing that if God loves them, they should get what they feel they’re owed. Entitlement can be the corrupter of the human spirit. Either God is responsible to deliver on the promise of a better life; or God is held responsible for their deliverance from evil, as the prayer goes. Admittedly, the latter is a reasonable emotional response to life’s travails.
The problem is that if God exists enough for blame, then it is understood that God has sovereign stature to sway circumstances one way or another. That being the case, then blaming God takes one further away from resolution to the matter at hand. Blaming God then doesn’t hold any favor for the one seeking favor of any kind. There is no cause then for optimism or hope.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:1-3 (NLT)
Of course, there are those who have given up on God because they have been truly victimized in life. The behavioral choices of others have caused them harm; perhaps even sheer brutality against their hope for quality of life. Others have been victimized by natural afflictions and tragedy, because of disease and disaster. If God is good, how do these things happen at all? Why do they happen if God is sovereign?
Reasonable thinking tends to conclude that if God exists, then God is good. So when feeling let down or betrayed by God, then God must not exist at all. If God doesn’t exist then there is no reason to expect anything from God. Well, there has to be some kind of remedy for discomfort, pain, so struggling victims feel the need to put their trust in something or someone else that isn’t God. Loyalties shift from relationship with God to relationship with something or someone lacking sovereign influence and power.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-8 (NLT)
Who expects to receive anything from God that does not believe that God exists? Anyone not believing that God exists has no reason to be offended by a passage from the Bible. What difference does it make?
So once caught up in the measure of entitlement as dictated by societal expectations, the prevailing mindset is to be prepared for whatever it takes to (at the very least) survive and (at the most) conquer to apprehend and obtain what one deserves and has come to expect. At that point, it becomes less likely, and perhaps less possible, to resist temptation in whatever form it comes in. We have seen the outcome of untamed ambition affecting civilization that has led its undoing.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 (NLT)
For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. James 3:16 (NLT)
If you are reading this and you don’t believe that God exists, or don’t believe that God is good, or want to believe, but you see all of the disorder and injustice in the world and you’re wondering if God is on vacation, then I appeal to your deepest intellectual sensibilities concerning what you have read. You may have noticed that even the Scriptures referenced here have not been targeted for an emotional response, but are aimed at the heart of what makes the most sense to your intellect. It is therefore up to you to determine what is reasonable.
Reconciling Sensible Truth with Faith and Religion
God this, Jesus that. Another component to rejecting God is by linking God to religion, and then rejecting religion and religious people. Maybe you are reading this and you’re struggling with it because you’ve been scorned by religion or burned by religious people whose rhetoric is not in line with their behavior. I get it, but this is bigger than that. This is less about what sounds or feels religious and far more about recognizing what makes the most sense.
Why does religious banter commonly emote such hostility and tension if it’s supposed to be a cerebral thing… you know… so-called intellectuals (scholars and scientist types) making their claims to truth about our existence while interjecting vigorous, and perhaps even venomous, attacks against faith, religion, God, and (especially) Jesus Christ? Why is faith and religion such a hotly contested topic that so many are uncomfortable with it? It’s not exactly a loaded weapon aimed right at their soul or anything, is it?
So again, why so intense? Why so angry? Why this need to be right… to prove we’re wrong… to convince us, “the enemy,” that believing in God is so ridiculous? Why care so much about us?
The conflict within themselves is the threat that cannot prevail. The conflict is determining truth. The simple fact is that truth is truth whether or not anyone believes it. So what is truth about God? And what is really at the heart of opposition against God, particularly if it turns out that God is loving? Is it the reality of having to surrender to truth that poses a threat to one’s self-indulgent motives and behavior?
What it’s really about then, is the emotional conflict from within that is the catalyst for such contentious debate. Those who take issue with faith, again, are very passionate about their “rational” arguments. They accuse “believers” of being dogmatic about their faith, yet it seems those opposing faith are just as fanatical in their need to persuade believers to stop believing in something they cannot see.
Rather than take on the intellectual sensibilities of faith, those who passionately oppose the ideals and principles of faith attack not faith, but religion as though it was the embodiment of the moral standards and causes they oppose. It’s their way to justify the pursuit of what they desire and covet that otherwise are morally suspect. Should God oppose their behavior in any way then it is beholden to them to oppose God.
Since what is desired and coveted doesn’t entirely satisfy, it becomes necessary to encroach the moral challenges waged by the assertion that such selfish pursuits are inherently vain. What matters ultimately are the pursuits that have the most certain and sustained benefit to best quality of life; the way of life that is most enjoyed with far more to gain while minimizing cost and the risk of loss.
Please, do not be persuaded by emotional arguments that are in actuality offensive to your deepest intellectual sensibilities; that which you already know to be truth. Allow the light of what you already know at your core to shine brightly on those deceptions lurking in the shadows so that when they are sprung will not catch you unaware.
God didn’t create religion, people did. A long, long time ago.
Even Jesus didn’t care much for religion; more specifically, the institution of religion. In his day the religious leaders used their position as a club to beat people down and break their spirit. Jesus called out those religious leaders as corrupt hypocrites who were dangerous. It was the institution of religion that killed him. Jesus (central to solving the puzzle) understood that it’s all about relationship with God and loving one another.
What God created is relationship, and relationship is what living is all about. The questions raised here should not be dismissed because of barriers erected by religion. Putting up walls doesn’t do anything but veil sensible truth. The answers to these questions will inevitably lead to choices about what to do about them.
The essence of faith is to be embraced and experienced… not feared and thereby thwarted.
If interested to investigate more into this whole deal about this Genesis of life with God versus evolutionary theories of life’s origins without God, consider clicking on Reasons to Believe to continue to your own exhaustive search into what it’s all about and how it all began.