Atheists and Skeptics

Some time back I had several exchanges with readers who dislike Christianity — or any theistic religion — because there is no “evidence” for God. The problem with that position, of course, lies in our understanding of evidence. Science deals with the natural world and the ever-evolving scientific method is perfect for understanding that dimension of reality. So, in natural matters, scientific evidence is all that is of value.

But people of faith — including myself — believe there is a spiritual dimension of reality which cannot be reached by the scientific method. That doesn’t mean we think science is flawed, just that it has limits. It seems to me that it is highly unreasonable to reduce our understanding of reality to be no more than that which science can perceive. What possible reason could there be for such a reduction?

One reader that I give the evidence by which I believe in God. All I could do was tell my story, the story of the day my heart and mind were changed in an unimaginably deep way. The reader then complained that Christians, when asked for evidence, just tell anecdotes. I’ve been chuckling over that one ever since.

If the core of Judeo-Christian faith (not all the silly junk that has been added over the centuries) is any approximation of true, then what else would we expect than that only stories are adequate for perceiving God. If we worship the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, we cannot imagine any sense in which God’s reality could be narrowed down to something as minor as a mountain or a tree or a speck of DNA. Creation submits to the Creator, not the other way ’round.

So, sorry, but anecdotes are the best “evidence” we can offer. We don’t expect anyone else to believe in God because of the stories we tell. A person can believe in God only because of his or her own story. No one else’s can be persuasive evidence.

Let me move beyond that conversation to tell you of something of the biblical story about God’s relation to humanity. While it is true that the Creator does not submit to our microscopes or our test tubes, there is a very different sense in which the Lord does indeed submit to humanity. In Jesus Christ, the revelation of God, we see a very real submission to the sin and hatred and murderous ways of humankind. In Jesus Christ God was vulnerable by choice to the full fury of human hatred. Jesus was raised from the dead but that means he did not protect himself from death. He let all the evil of the human race become centered on him. Just as in the story of Adam and Eve, who chose to supplant God in their own lives and be their own gods, so now that rejection of God has come to full fruition in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Christians will recognize what I am saying but to non-believers I know those words must sound like complete nonsense. The truth of God is personal and spiritual and it cannot be known from outside. Maddening, isn’t it? You will know God when, living out your own story, you find that God intercepts your path and changes you in ways you would never be able to anticipate.

There are lots of stupid Christians (methinks my wife may have married one!) and lots of bad Christians. Our response to God is inadequate and often foolish but that simply means the change is not yet complete. But you will know when it has begun. I promise, you will know.

Meanwhile, have you ever asked God to show himself to you?

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About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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