I imagine a conversation, perhaps with a Richard Dawkins, so proud of his atheism.
“Have you ever seen God?” he asks. “No more than I have seen the wind,” I reply.
“Have you ever heard God?” “No more than I have heard the sun set.”
“Can you explain what you mean by ‘God‘?” “Explain God? No more than you can tell me what went Bang and why.”
“Why do you believe in God?” “Because one day I woke up and was different than I had been the day before. The difference was startling, extremely pleasant, but completely baffling until I remembered that I had prayed a few hours before sleep. ‘God,’ I said, ‘if you’re up there please come down and let me see you so that I can know. Every step I take turns our wrong. Can you show me another direction?’ If you had asked me at the end of that prayer, I would have affirmed my agnosticism. My prayer was not one of faith but it was honest. And the next day I knew I was different in some very profound way, at some depth beyond my intellect. And as soon as I heard the name of Jesus that day, there was an instant and overwhelming sense of recognition. Jesus is what happened to me! I went around for a week mumbling in awe, ‘I prayed and he answered; that means he is real and I am real.'”
“Do you expect me or anyone else to believe in God just because you had some sort of emotional experience? Can’t you give me a rational reason or is you faith just blind?” “Oh no, I would never expect anyone to believe in God just because someone else has had an experience that cannot be well articulated or rationally explained. Whether you believe or not is something between you and God. It is something quite beyond the reach of any other person. All I would ask of you is that you try to be scientific about it.”
“Scientific about God? What does that mean? Science deals with reality, not with mere thoughts or wishes.” “I have in mind a particular strength of science, it’s ability to adapt its methods to be appropriate to its subjects. A paleontologist gets dirty using pick and shovel, dental prick and brush. These are tools that the chemist never uses. The astrophysicist uses powerful lenses, lots of mathematical formulae, and very sophisticated computer software. That software and that Hubble scope in the sky don’t help the geneticist. Isn’t one of the basic tenets of science that one must use tools and methods that fit the object of study? Tell me, which scientific method have you used to conclude there is no God?”
“The point is not that we’ve proved there is no God but that none of the scientific methods we have lead us to God.” “Could that be because you’re using the wrong tools? Have your tools led you to a deeper understanding of love, joy, peace? Or of evil? Which scientific tools explain Hitler and Stalin? Or music and art?”
I wonder where the conversation goes from there?