Is belief in God just, as some say, a matter of blind faith? For me, there are good reasons to believe. Lots of things about the world that I cannot explain unless a creator God exists.
For the past 12 posts we’ve been looking at the aspects of life and the universe that I think point to God’s existence. So now to sum up.
Some people believe or disbelieve in God for intuitive or personal reasons – it just feels right to them, or their experience of God (or of not experiencing God) is enough to convince them.
But that isn’t the case for me. My apparent experience of God is not objectively strong enough to form the basis of my belief. I feel I need evidence – something much more objective and external.
And so I look around at the world, and at people, and at religion, to see what they tell me.
And in the last 12 posts I’ve described my conclusions. In brief …..
The universe can’t be explained without God
There seems to be no logical or scientific explanation of the universe’s existence, except that it is the creation of God. (I don’t regard “It exists for no reason.” as an explanation.) Likewise it is difficult to explain why the laws which govern the universe take the extremely unlikely form that allows stars and planets and life, unless they were designed to do so.
These classic arguments still seem to me to retain their force in the modern scientific world.
Our experience as human beings points to God
We human beings are complex creatures, and our brains and minds are especially complex. We are conscious of being ourselves and not someone else. We make choices to do this and think that, and law, psychology, logic and common experience all suggest these choices are real and meaningful. Most of us believe deep down that some things really are right and others wrong. Our brains can do mathematics and logic and we can draw reliable conclusions (mostly!).
These are wonderful abilities, not always used well. But without God, our selves are an illusion and our choices, thinking and ethics are determined by physical processes we cannot control. Only if God created us can we humans have the dignity of being rational, ethical, freely choosing conscious beings.
Experiences of God that are very real
Many people say they have been healed by God, and others say they have seen Jesus or experienced God in an unusual and intense way. Some of the healings have been investigated and documented, and natural explanations seem unlikely (for some healings at least). And some of the experiences satisfy reasonable criteria for being real.
It is easy to think there are natural explanations for all these healings, but the medical evidence is that they are unusual and unexpected. And it is tempting to think that experiences of God are pathological, but they generally show no signs of this, but rather they can be positive and life-changing. They all leave people with a strong belief in God. And they provide corroborating evidence that God does indeed exist.
Jesus is a unique religious figure
There are good reasons to see Jesus as a unique religious teacher. His life was demonstrably historical. His teachings set a high ethical standard, they were revolutionary in his day and they have endured to this day. And he made claims to reveal God that were backed up by his character, teachings and miracles. No other religious teacher matches these credentials.
Either he was divine as his followers claimed, or he was a mistaken and failed religious revolutionary whose words cannot have been true. For many people, his life and teachings are enough to inspire belief that God really is there and really does care.
Making life less ordinary
One of the ways we test the truth of an idea is how it works out in practice. If God is there and if christianity is true, then it ought to lead to better lives and a better world.
The evidence is mixed. We are all aware of situations where religion and religious organisations have done evil, but studies and people’s experiences show that heartfelt belief in a God of love helps people get broken lives back on track and to behave better and be more altruistic. Institutionalised religion doesn’t have such a good track record, but personal faith seems to point to God really existing and being active in people’s lives.
When you add it all up ….
In all the 12 cases, it seems that God’s presence and action explain what his absence cannot explain nearly so well. Some of the 12 reasons are stronger than others, but cumulatively they make what seems to me to be a very strong case.
The choice is yours.
Thanks for reading. I hope this series has been helpful in offering you some new ideas and provoking you to new conclusions.
There is plenty more on this website to give you food for thought.
6 reasons to disbelieve in God?
Check out the other side of the story in 6 reasons to disbelieve in God?.
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash.