Encouragement

To the Christian who Struggles with Atheism

Hey there,

I’m not going to pretend that I have an unshakable faith that has never failed me in times of trouble. Quite the opposite has been true, in fact, for the last four years.

Due to a wide variety of things that happened to myself and loved ones, the general suffering in the world, and being faced with new information (psychological, philosophical, historical, etc.), I have been questioning everything I believe to be true.

I’m not here to argue against militant atheists – I see where they are coming from and, quite honestly, understand their choice to not believe in a God. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot for the past few years:

What if it’s all a lie/scam/hoax? What if there really is no God, and we’re all alone out here in the vast, cruel universe that doesn’t care about us, and when we or loved ones die everything that we or they were ceases to exist, ergo life is ultimately meaningless?

For example, I finally asked myself how there could be a God when literally everything bad that could possibly happen to a human being has happened to me or my immediate family members – faithful Christians – while other quasi-Christian, prosperity Gospel friends and celebrities (or influencers, as they’re called now) have encountered lots and lots and LOTS of blessings from praying to the same God as I have. Why are they showered with good things, while others get jack? Do we have a capricious God who arbitrarily favors some over others? If that’s the case, I don’t want to believe. I’d rather be an atheist than believe the Judeo-Christian God is like the Greek gods and goddesses.

While I’m not in a place where I can justify the behavior God seems to display right now, I can tell you the things I fall back on to remind myself that there is a God. I keep holding on because of these reasons, and I hope that over time, through lots of prayer, thought, education, and counsel, I can come to better conclusions as to why some Christians are #livingmybestlife while others, equally as faithful, are suffering in the pits of despair.  

Anyway, here are the things that keep me holding on to the existence of God:

  1. The fact that the universe – and consequently we – even exist. There are physicists who’ve calculated the percentage of likelihood that the Big Bang would lead to life, and the fraction of percentage is so infinitesimally small, it literally is a miracle that we’re here; it’s as if everything that constructed the universe was against our coming to be. Now, I’ll hear the “infinite universe” theory (basically there were/are/will be an infinite number of universes created and destroyed in succession, meaning we were bound to come along at some point), but because we can’t prove this to be true, it’s just as big of a leap of faith to believe the multiverse theory as it is to believe the universe was divinely created. Furthermore, the factors that needed to line up perfectly in order to have a life-sustaining planet such as Earth are so numerous that the likelihood of “other earths” in the universe is incredibly low, especially considering the sheer number of planets within the massive universe. For a more eloquent explanation of all of this, however, please view the following video:
  2.  Human consciousness is not accounted for by evolution; in fact, according to modern neurologists, the human race all became “conscious” at the same time, across the whole planet. Whereas Darwinian evolution would suggest something like consciousness should come to be through mutations that passed down through family lines over the course of hundreds of thousands (or millions) of years, it’s not so with consciousness. It’s like we all of a sudden awakened, and there’s no real scientific explanation. The change was planet-wide and simultaneous, meaning evolutionary theory can’t explain it. It seems to me that if we all awakened, conscious, all at once, it seems to match the story of eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden and having our eyes opened.
  3. The 10 Commandments are too perfect to have been created by man. Now, if you read Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy, the infamous political philosopher says – and he’s got a point – that every great religion that can be used to found a political order (meaning religious law, moral law, and political law are the same) first came from the mind of a great man who convinced a lot of people that the law came from God or some other divinity. And he poses an excellent question: was Moses the true maker of the 10 Commandments, as he just so happened to be a brilliant lawgiver and philosopher? There’s a lot of directions one could take this argument, but what seems the most likely to me is that the 10 Commandments are such a perfect, all-encompassing set of moral laws that there’s no way a man like Moses back in 1300 BC could have come up with them. If you read other sets of laws from that time period – for example, the Code of Hammurabi, written in 1750 BC – there is a significant difference between the kinds of laws and the ethos of the lawgiver. And the modern “enlightened” political philosophers did not emerge until 1,000 years later, in Greece. Not to mention, the 10 Commandments have a universal appeal that has transcended cultures and time periods, influencing far greater numbers of people than the ethnocentric Code of Hammurabi. 
  4. Thomas Aquinas’ 5 Proofs. If you’re unfamiliar with these classical arguments for the existence of God, I’ll sum them up like so: using classical logic (statements that, if true, naturally lead to the next statement, and so on, until you’ve reached a conclusion where no further statements can be extrapolated), the theologian Thomas Aquinas reasoned that there must be 1. a first mover, or because motion can’t begin on its own, something must cause it; 2. a first efficient cause, or because something cannot come from nothing, something must have caused the existence of everything; 3. argument from possibility and necessity – because there was a time when there was nothing, but now we exist, there must be a being that existed before all and was not created but always existed; 4. gradation of being – that because we can conceive of good and evil on a scale from most good to most evil (as well as compare other things on scales from most to least) there must be a being that sets the standard as the best to which we measure all things; 5. intelligent design, or because all things seem to act according to a natural order, there must have been an intelligent being who designed that order. Read the full arguments here.
  5. Intelligent Design. Now, this is a hot-button issue often labeled as “pseudoscience” when Googled. However, the debate has shifted because there are limits to Darwinian evolution, and now it seems that by studying the human brain, DNA, and their evolution, one may start to see the similarities between them and computer programming – that there is a certain order, with built-in capacities and information that could not have gotten there through mutations over time; if mutations were a cause it would seem that, much like altering computer code at random, you’d have more glitches than advancements. And like a computer, it seems that our brains and our DNA needed some kind of intelligent programmer of sorts to put it together in order to function properly. While I’m no expert on this, I find this compelling. For your own reading and viewing, see videos about the modern argument for intelligent design here and read about it here. 
  6. Philosophers have been wrestling with the God question for millennia. And for me, one of the most compelling arguments is that for whatever reason, we seem to continue to find these universal truths that have no explanation for their cause. The fact that math exists, that we can understand it, and that the universe seems to obey a rational mathematical order is preposterous, yet it’s so. How is the universe so intelligible through math? Why do humans naturally seem to ask themselves the same questions over and over – Why am I here? Is there a God? Where will I go after death? It seems like it’s built in to the human condition to ask these questions and wrestle with them, but there is no real reason why we should or do ask these questions. I hypothesize that it is because there’s a part of human nature naturally bent on looking for God; that it was placed there to cause us to look for Him and wrestle with the notion of Him. Otherwise, why ask these questions at all? Otherwise, who came up with the idea of a god in the first place? And why is the idea of God so universal, despite separations between cultures and peoples and advancement in technology and science over the course of human history?
  7. Lastly, the Christian argument I fall back on is the lunar, liar, or lord argument from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. This is what separates me into the camp of Christianity and stops me from being just a deist or ethical monotheist. Basically, we have it on good historical authority that Jesus was a real dude, who was reported to have been seen after death by not just a handful, but hundreds (thousands?) of others. So we have this little piece of weird historic record, coupled with the fact that while Jesus said some cool stuff like “love your enemies,” he also came out and claimed to be God so much that the Jewish authorities at the time murdered him for the charge of blasphemy, or pretending to be God. So either he was lying (which means he was deceiving people, which is totally not okay at all – I might call it evil, because it makes Jesus a con man); he was nuts (which, considering he did say some pretty wise things, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense…?); or he’s actually who he claimed to be, i.e. the Son of God. Once you follow that train of thought, there’s a lot of justification for miracles. I’ll go into miracles on a different day, because occurrences of the supernatural can often be used to justify a spiritual realm, but I like to tackle the God argument from a more logic/reason/science-based angle.

For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God. (Acts 5:38-39)

So, that’s it. If I think of any more things that have me convinced that there must be a God, I’ll update this post. Mostly I wrote this because I just wanted to give you and me, the Christians struggling with atheism, a place to go to remind yourself that there are reasons to believe that God exists; understanding His actions (or inaction) is a whole other issue, to be tackled when I finally figure it out.

May the peace of Jesus Christ, which surpasses all understanding, rule in your hearts.

 

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