I have an old acquaintance I occasionally interact with on Facebook. We went to secondary school together, but since I left home over 20 years ago we’ve not had the chance to meet in person.
One of the things we discuss, usually amicably, is God. I believe, he doesn’t.
This is not a new debate for me, and probably not for him either as we are both in our 40’s now – I’m not sure how that happened – and have built lives. I have travelled, and indeed settled on another continent, in another hemisphere, whilst he has remained local to where we grew up.
I have no problem with moving or staying put. Both my parents moved away from their home towns, their parents stayed fairly local to theirs. Both are valid life choices.
What I am troubled by is my friend’s inability to conceive that God exists. Our debates, for the sake of our friendship, generally end at a stalemate where each of us agrees to terminate the discussion for the sake of the friendship.
The problem is the ultimate meaning of that stalemate. If I am wrong and I choose to live as if God exists despite that, I lose nothing ultimately. If he is wrong, he loses everything.
No argument seems to hold sway, and not just with my friend, but with all the professing atheists I’ve talked to at length. I see the order in the Universe and ask how it could have come to be by chance. I look at the most intricate patterns in nature, the symmetry in a fractal pattern and finally at life itself. Science can do many things, but it cannot do just one simple thing. A chemist can mix together the exact proportions to mimic the size, smell, taste and appearance of a grain of wheat, yet when planted in the ground it produces nothing. There is no life in it.
Atheism, literally the absence of God, is without life, since God is the source of Life. Everything that exists is held together by that life given by Him. Yet atheists claim He doesn’t exist.
My friend denies the existence of Christ as a man but accept the existence of Julius Caesar – despite there being many times the number of primary source documents other than the Bible showing Jesus existed than that of Caesar. People doubt miracles, yet there are many hundred of documented occurrences through the centuries that science cannot explain where the Name of Jesus was called on. These are dismissed by atheists as they cannot explain them.
Christians are referred to as hypocrites, while their accusers celebrate Christmas and Easter – surely a greater hypocrisy than someone acknowledging they have weaknesses in (in my own case) a short temper? I cannot fathom the notion of using someone else’s beliefs to gain selfish unearned prizes in the form of gifts I neither need nor desire. I would rather wait and buy them myself – something my wife gets very frustrated by I might add.
Atheists are worse hypocrites than Christians. I never once met a Christian who wanted to take a day off work because it was Lenin’s birthday or to celebrate the publishing of Darwin’s “Origin of Species”. It seems ridiculous that the year numbering system had been forcibly changed from BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini -The Year of our Lord) to BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) without resetting the numbers to zero. I was studying for my degree and actually had to ask my lecturer what BCE and CE meant as it made no sense to me.
Atheism falls short and poses more questions than it can ever hope to answer because it can only pose questions. No answers are possible without God for many of the questions it poses. Why do people get sick? In theory, the human body produces cells identical to the ones that die off, so explain aging and death. Why give a super-computer the power of the human mind to something that can never hope to live long enough to use it all?
Until Creation, the Fall and God are factored into the equation, the answers will always elude us. Our minds were designed to never die. Aging and death are a result of Sin. If we are designed to live for ever, we need a computer like the brain that can grow and develop new pathways spontaneously to cope with the ever increasing data pumped into it.
Atheists tend to be, in my experience, a fairly morose lot. They have no vision beyond their own mortality and live very small lives. Most (not all I acknowledge) seem to be self-centred in their approach, wanting to leave behind something the world will look at and remember them. But who remembers the atheists of 2000 years ago? 1000 years? Last year? Few if any. Richard Dawkins will fade from memory but Jesus will go on as He has for 2000 years. John’s Gospel will still be read 500 years from now when the “Naked Ape” books have long been forgotten.
Eventually, Truth will win out, as it always will. Even Jesus had to deal with doubters in the form of the Sadducees, whose teachings are largely forgotten. The human Spirit requires Hope to function, and Christ to fuel it. CS Lewis suggested that Human History is the story of man tring to find something besides God to make himself happy. That’s not a direct quote, but a summary of parts from Mere Christianity, which I suggest anyone read as Lewis was far wiser than I.
A “rational” argument for faith could probably be made. Tony Campolo tried in his book “A Reasonable Faith”, and others have done the same, but ultimately Truth is not something that can be found through intellectual means, rather it is found in the heart.
Somewhere, a little Faith is required to recognise Truth when it shakes your hand. Take that away and Hope leaves with it.
And all you have left is an absence of God.