Why I Believe in God

About a month ago, a co-worker asked why we believed in God.  Obviously faith is a huge, huge part of it, but he wasn’t asking about faith.  He wanted to know what evidence we’d experienced that contributed to our beliefs.

Personal experience, some people said.

Another co-worker cited the teleological argument of the watchmaker: if you come upon a watch on a beach, you asume there was a watchmaker.

Me?  I shared one story and one historical finding.

bowI’m not sure I’m ready to share the story on my blog yet.  It’s such a special, intimate, significant experience in my life that most readers might think is silly, and I’m not ready to subject it to that yet.  I will say, though, that there was a moment in my life when I asked God for something and he gave it to me only seconds later.  Not a physical object but a thought/memory.  There was no other possible explanation for it but God, and it came at a very low time of my life, when OCD was like a railroad spike splintering my faith, and this experience mattered so much that I fell to my knees in awe and gratitude.

As for the historical finding, it comes from a book I read called Humilitas, which was written by Australian historian John Dickson. It examines the historical timeline of the virtue of humility, attempting to locate the turning point in history where humility went from being something people looked down on to being something people admired.

The turning point was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There are others things I could add: Can Man Live without God by Ravi Zacharias presents a fascinatingly different kind of apologetics as it examines not whether God is real but whether life has value and meaning if God is not real.  Other personal experiences with God throughout the years, most specifically an evening under the stars I spent with him. The backward nature of Christianity: how people can find joy in suffering, how we can lose our lives to gain them, how the last shall be first.

How about you? Do you believe in God, and if so, why?  

Keep comments civil, peeps.  I know we’re capable of having a mature, intelligent discussion on God.

Image credit: Hungry for God

 

12 thoughts on “Why I Believe in God

  1. Too many reasons to list them all! I love Him and I pray that everyday He will make that desire to love Him even more than the day before! As you said, it is not about being given something material but I am speechless to say…. It was not something where I just prayed and my life changed but yet it did. I began to trust Him, to spend time in His word and to get to know Him more each time. You talk to a friend and grow closer as you know more about them overtime right? He tells us we WILL have many times of trouble and that I have. After the dark cloud passes I can see the bright light and the warmth from the sun, yes He was with me each step up the mountain and while I may have had parts I did not think I would make it I always end up with a smile and song of praises and yet one more testimony of God and His goodness and His way is always the best even when he does not explain His plan before hand. We can always see clearly on the victorious end!

  2. beautiful post Jackie 🙂 similar for me – there are a handful of moments when I’ve had aching loneliness – and prayed ‘God please send a friend or have someone call me’ — when my phone rang from a friend right there immediately while praying after no calls all day. I remember getting on my knees and crying with a reverential fear from seeing evidence of God being so real

  3. Here is my contribution to this dialogue. I used to believe in God very passionately, so please know that I am speaking out of a deep level of love. My very simplest form of explanation I offer to why I no longer believe in God is that all of the beautiful things you describe…I have seen no evidence as to why they could not exist out of human goodness alone. We are the most evil and wretched, but we are also the most compassionate and capable of intense love. And I think that we see those powerful moments of our humanity and simply label them “God” because we don’t think we might have been capable of being good enough on our own. Again, I don’t say arrogantly that humans are good…but that we are capable of striving for goodness and that sometimes in fact we are. In my observation of the world as it is and also my personal experiences…I have seen believing in God cause guilt and shame and suffering…in many forms, because believing in God often required me to deny tangible evidence in the world. I read one of your blogs a while back in relation to science (how you don’t want to be constantly shaken in your faith every time a new piece of startling evidence might emerge)…but my response to that is, why must we be afraid? Why isn’t it okay just to wonder and admit what we truly don’t know? Why must I cling to faith when it causes me to suffer and to often to harm others? Yes, I know that faith helps many good people to love…but the argument that I am making is that love is not bounded by our idea of God…he isn’t necessary to it. We are capable of love, and quite often we are better at it when we wiling to listen to each other instead of to the Voice we hope in our deepest moments of fear to be God. I don’t know what happens when I die (my best guess something like sleep), but I am not afraid of it because there is no compelling reason to be. May that empower you to wrestle with your faith and find peace where you do- as it has empowered me to say my true thoughts aloud (for which I thank you for the opportunity as it is something which is very difficult for me to do for fear of hurting Christians I care about so dearly).

    • Thanks for weighing in, Amelia!

      I’m no longer afraid of new science and ideas the way I was when OCD was in charge of me. So that’s a great step in the right direction for me.

      I appreciate your thoughts and that you feel comfortable sharing even though we disagree!

      • That is really great about your OCD and that you feel less afraid. I struggle with anxiety/depression and while I know we all deal with different things…I guess I just wanted to grab the moment to say I really appreciate how open you are and how much of an advocate you are in your blog for conquering mental illnesses, that’s something I think we can agree on!

  4. One problem with John Dickson is that it’s from a Western, Judeo-Christian background. Confucius was preaching about humility a century before the Jews even compiled the Tanakh (Old Testament) together; thus saying that Jesus (Christianity) was the historical turning point upon which the societal stance of humility changed is simply scholarly ignorance.

    I never really believed in an actual god. It stems from my very early (from 2.5 to 5 years of age) childhood experience of asking questions, doing research, being allowed to have opinions, and the game-changer of finding new information, processing it, seeing if it fits with previous knowledge base, changing my opinion, and moving forward without using the bible as a security blanket (my parents didn’t want their faith and biases to become my own, they allowed to follow my own path of discovery).

    I would read about the old Egyptian gods, Roman gods, Greek ones, and then came Judaism and Christianity. Thousands of years of polytheism in the western world suddenly switched to monotheism. That doesn’t happen by chance, it happens gradually as new information is gained, and as humanity changes.

    So do I believe in God? No. Why? I’m not afraid to seek out and find information that while it contradicts my personal belief system, I can accept it as valid, and form a new stance on an issue. Fear of the unknown can hold us back, bring us forward, or hold us stagnant.

    I like this post and question.

  5. Defining God is a real problem for me. When people say God it can mean so many different things to different people. The Judeo-Christian/Islamic God for me has been very difficult for me emotionally to process. My head says the Abrahamic God doesn’t exist, but sometimes my emotions and OCD will latch on to the “what if you’re wrong” a la Pascal’s Wager which in turn can make me more scrupulous. I’m not an anti-theist by any stretch, but I don’t have any evidence for any God(s) either. So I guess I would say that it depends on one’s definition of God. Pantheism, for example, may be true, but offers up no new information. I do have this sense of “religious awe” when looking at the night sky and pictures from the Hubble telescope and astronomy in general.

  6. Good post.

    I don’t believe in God (though I did quite sincerely for 25+ years), and I think the Christian version of theism can rather easily be demonstrated to be false and contradictory to anyone willing to listen to the evidence.

    The premise of Humilitas is really interesting. Humility—and cooperation, altruism, etc.—are all traits that evolved in species, according to Darwinian principles, over millennia. Science would concur with the broad premise, I think.

    I share your admiration for the symbol of Jesus as someone who chose others over himself—that’s a choice that could change our world for the better—socially and politically—even to this day. Interpretations of his life and death, as well some of his teachings, are very powerful—and I try and live my life (as best I can) by those examples of sacrificial love, sticking up for the oppressed, speaking honestly, helping those who are hurting, etc. We’re both big fans of Jesus of Nazareth.

    The problem you’d have citing Humilitas as strong evidence for the supernatural claims of Christianity (i.e. Jesus’ divinity), or that Jesus caused some metaphysical shift (or “turning point”) in the history of the Universe is, well, it’s just simply not strong evidence supporting those claims.

    You’re running headlong into all sorts of cognitive biases and scientific failure modes. Any proponent of any belief can cite “historical evidence” of a “turning point” that rests in the actions of their particular “savior”. The Muslims do it with Mohammed; the Mormons with Joseph Smith; the Branch Davidians with David Koresh; the Scientologists with L Ron Hubbard…and so on, and so on. Each is just as convinced (or more) as you are that their savior [fill in name] is the true turning point in history.

    One of your other comments says: “I have seen believing in God cause guilt and shame and suffering…in many forms, because believing in God often required me to deny tangible evidence in the world.”

    I think this is well said, and it describes my experience pretty well. I have no clue as to why Christians and non-Christians cannot unite in our appreciation for the better parts of the Jesus narrative *without* people being urged to “deny” that the overwhelming “tangible evidence” suggests a literal interpretation of the Bible—including Jesus’ miracles and ressurection—is simply untenable.

    Generally, I think people believe in God because (a) they want to and/or it benefits them, or (b) they have been indocrinated into it, often from childhood.

    If it works for you, great! But that doesn’t change the evidence.

    Good topic, Jackie. Interesting stuff, as always.

  7. Pingback: Is Mental Illness a Spiritual Issue? | Jackie Lea Sommers

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