I’ve been struggling with my faith a lot lately because I find myself constantly questioning God’s existence. All the things we hear on the news (babies being raped, people being brutally murdered, etc.) I’m wondering how such a loving God can allow that to happen?
Do we have concrete proof that He exists? Evolution seems logically possible, even the Big Bang Theory seems logically possible. Are we supposed to simply have blind faith? Good things happen to people, is it God or just good luck swinging their way? How do we know the Bible is the absolute truth? How do we know the people who wrote the Bible didn’t have schizophrenia or some other mental condition? What if there is no heaven or hell? Maybe when we die that’s literally what we do, die. Is religion put in place simply to keep the masses in check? To keep everyone “in line”, so to speak? What do we really know? Is it all just speculation?
I’ve seen horrible things happen to wonderful, good-hearted people - believing in God is making less and less sense to me.
You have many questions, so it will take two posts. Sorry to make you read so much.
No one really knows the answer to that question, but we do have information in our lives to draw upon. We have example after example of good coming from something actually or seemingly tragic. Things like parents losing one child only to reform the bonds they had lost with other children. People finding a faith they didn’t believe they ever would; people returning to a faith they’d forsaken. Those in addictions seeking treatment. Societies changing their whole outlook or mores, such as with slavery or civil rights, for example. You could go back in each of those and find moments or events that appeared to be nothing short of complete evil, yet what we believe is that all things happen for a reason, and that plan, the complete plan, end-to-end, is not ours to know or see. Even when Jesus was asked for the date of His return, He deferred to things known only to the Father. We also know from Jesus’ teaching that eternal life is “where it’s at,” so to speak, and that what happens in this world is of little consequence in the long haul, disbelief being the exception.
Do we have concrete proof that He exists?
Concrete proof is a subjective term; it means something different to each of us. There isn’t a litmus paper against which you can hold God and have it turn blue or pink, if that is what you mean. The evidence we have is sort of like evidence for wind thousands of years ago. You couldn’t actually see or measure the wind, but you could see its effects… trees leaning, leaves blowing, etc. We can see it in the lives of people who believe and try to grow in faith. Some look for more profound things, such as the many miraculous cures and things of that nature.
Evolution seems logically possible, even the Big Bang Theory seems logically possible. Are we supposed to simply have blind faith?
No, we are not supposed to have blind faith. In fact the New Testament calls for us to “be able to give a reason for the hope that lies within” us. You can’t do that if you are simply an “I believe” sort of person without any depth to that belief. We use the word “belief” to describe our relationship with God and Church, but that is just a term that does not adequately cover the whole deal. The whole point of that belief is to have a relationship with God, a personal one, where those doubts you are speaking of have vanished and have been replaced by a surety and a conviction that the relationship is true and worthy of both God and you. Thus when you pray, it has meaning. When you worship, you are fully aware of the holiness of that Being you take the time to worship.
I don’t know if you’ve ever loved someone, really loved them, and they didn’t love you back, or not. If you have, it might give you some insight into God’s relationship with us. He’s everywhere, loving us every minute, extending His hand to us with the key for true meaning in our lives if we will but just accept it. Those who do, amazingly, seem to find that meaning and cherish it. Those who don’t imagine every good thing, every success in their own lives is their doing. Then when calamity strikes, when hard times come, they are left without an answer because they didn’t do it.
We see this scenario in the classic example of people in the music industry who rise meteorically to fame and fortune, and often are not equipped to deal with the baggage such wealth and notoriety bring with it. As soon as their recordings stop selling and their latest video is scorned, they begin to replace cheering fans with cocaine, heroin, or other unhealthy substitutes. The common man doesn’t enjoy the wealth those stars have, wealth that allows them to assemble whole teams of enablers that help them grow sicker and weaker under the guise of being their friends. One day, the money runs out or some “friend” jacks up the medication a bit too strong and all that’s left is a memory of what was once a bright, shining light. Think what could have happened in some of those tragic stories had those individuals had a faith, a belief, a relationship with God that would help them keep their head on straight and not fall prey to the weaknesses and temptations that would take the very life right out of them?
Good things happen to people, is it God or just good luck swinging their way?
God’s divine plan encompasses everything, good and bad. We don’t have the blueprint and are never likely to get it. What we do have is a God who created us. We, that is, mankind, are not perfect like Him, we are imperfect, and as such when given the free will He gave us, we often use it in ways that aren’t in our best interest, at least long-term. We fall to temptations, we lose our temper and say rash things we regret later, etc. But because of His infinite love for us, He reached out to us, not us to Him, and offered us a way to come back into community with Him when we err and fall out of it. That is the entire significance of Jesus’ coming into the world and going out of it in the way that He did. He died for us, but equally importantly, He LIVED for us. Now we know how to get home again.
How do we know the Bible is the absolute truth?
There are many approaches to this question. If you believe in God, and that Jesus is who He claimed to be - and He said, “I am the Truth…” - then that pretty much answers whether the writings in the Bible are true. If you begin with no belief in God, you have to work the problem a different way. You first have to decide how we came into being. Accident? Deliberate act? Then you get into all the philosophical questions about first cause. That is, every “thing” is caused by something. If you work it backwards, you end up with two possibilities… either that set of dominoes extends backward for eternity, or somewhere there was some “thing” that was the first… that is, did NOT have a cause. You can research that or search on here, I’m sure it’s been discussed, but the thing is you have to decide one way or the other. Saying “Big Bang” was the start only answers part of the question… where did the matter for BB come from? Why did it suddenly explode one minute when it was perfectly happy to be a superduper compressed dot of something the second before? The questions are infinite.
How do we know the people who wrote the Bible didn’t have schizophrenia or some other mental condition?
All of them? Well, let’s see… some of them were chosen as leaders by huge groups of people, with the leaders often putting some serious demands on them in terms of behavior (Moses or Joshua for example). People generally don’t elect a nutcase and follow them when the going gets difficult. They toss them overboard and elect someone more to their liking. Of course when God parts a sea for you and drowns your enemies in it behind you, and feeds you in the middle of nowhere with food that falls like rain… well, it’s kind of hard to reject a leader like that even if you did think he was a bit odd.
The historicity of the NT has been studied, dissected, chopped, sliced and diced by many experts, some with the express intent to disprove it. Every one of them has failed. One test of historical forgery is the date of its beginning. It is believed by most experts that you could not effectively re-write a true history or make up one that didn’t happen until at least 3 generations had passed. This is because grandma would be over in her chair waving the “BS” flag if you read her a history that didn’t really happen and she was right there to know if it did or did not. The Gospels and all the NT books were written within 3 generations of the date of Christ’s death, making it impossible by critical standards to have been a complete forgery. They tell a story that contains historical figures, dates, events that match up with secular historical accounts, thus there is no real axe to grind in terms of complete historical fabrication.
What if there is no heaven or hell? Maybe when we die that’s literally what we do, die.
What if that is so? IF it is so, then that means we have no real purpose here. You understand the implications of that, right? If you have no purpose, there is no such thing as a moral law or act. The best we could hope for is a moral sense that comes out of an instinct to survive. So while we might be able to justify not killing each other, if we happened to, it would be no big deal, really. Nor would stealing be wrong, in fact you could make the case it would be dumb NOT to steal, since it could increase your chances of survival. Lying would be almost required, since by doing so you would set up others to take risks dangerous to you, and put yourself in conditions most favorable to you.
Is that the world you want? Is that the world that makes the best sense to you? In that world, suffering and death would be folly to those it happened to, but hey, no biggie if you aren’t the one effected. You get to live another day, lucky you. How would you justify compassion other than some kind of illogical weakness? You want to do WHAT!? Go care for a leper? An AIDS patient? And risk your own survival? Absolute stupidity.
That’s the world random chance and lack of purpose mandates.
Is religion put in place simply to keep the masses in check? To keep everyone “in line”, so to speak?
If it is, it is the most ineffective, sloppy, ill-designed program in the history of the human race. Take a look around you just on this forum. We have believers and non-believers. Christians of many different flavors. Muslims, Hindus, you name it. You can see frequent discussions over doctrines, teachings, interpretations, all manner of questions. What does that say about religion’s effectiveness at keeping everyone “under the thumb?” There is no thumb. Religious beliefs, different faiths, all have rules and standards they each go by. So do the Boy Scouts, 4H, my homeowner’s association, and the bank I do business with. The existence of rules or standards do not necessarily equate to oppression. Sometimes they only exist for purposes of defining who they are, and what they are about.
What do we really know? Is it all just speculation?
This comes back to what I spoke of earlier, about meaningfulness in one’s life. How do you know a movie is “a good one?” How about a book? A new flavor of coffee from Starbucks? Usually people will go see it/read it/taste it and if it has meaning (or good taste) for them, they like it. Makes them want to see the sequel, or read the next book, or go buy another coffee tomorrow. Faith works the same way. You can’t experience it based on reading the reviews. The only way to discover if it has meaning for you is to go dive in that pool and swim around, hopefully with a good spiritual guide or mentor to help you learn where the too shallow and deep parts are.
I’ve seen horrible things happen to wonderful, good-hearted people - believing in God is making less and less sense to me.
What would you say if I asked you how important that feeling you have right now will be in the year 2306? It’s a pretty safe bet that you, I, and all the good-hearted people you know will no longer be in this existence. Where will we be? Dust, or in another existence are what it comes down to. I cannot give you 100% assurance it won’t be dust; all I can do is tell you I don’t believe it will be. I’m in my mid 50s, Lorrie. I’ve seen a lot of things bad that came to something good, something better, later. I’ve also seen senseless tragedy that I can make no sense of whatsoever. But in all those things I’ve learned that the eye of man is only so capable. We don’t know all, we have to extrapolate outward from what we can see and know to what we can’t or go insane trying to construct a puzzle without all the pieces.
My life has meaning and much of it is from the faith I have that God did create us and didn’t leave us like some discarded toy a child tires of playing with. I’ve seen too much good in my life to chalk it up to mere chance. When I have been in need, I’ve received response, not always in the way I’d like it, but always in a way I could feel assured my prayers did not radiate into an empty space. This gives meaning to my faith. It is from that place that I can give you any answer to your questions at all.
The problem of evil is the greatest challenge to every believer’s faith throughout history. I don’t think any other argument against the existence of God measures up to the problem of evil.
But that is because it gets down to the root of why the world is the way it is. Ultimately, it comes down to an act of faith for each individual struggling with this difficulty.
I myself had a mini-crisis of faith after viewing a documentary on September 11th and the WTC attacks. I thought to myself, “How does a man dying 2000 years ago mean anything when things like this still occur today? How has anything changed since Jesus died?”
This may be unsatisfying to you, but I simply took it as an act of faith in God that everything will be made right at the Last Judgment, and that I have to trust him until then.
God gave us free will. That means he gave us the ability to do unspeakable acts of evil. That also means he gave us the ability to do unimaginable acts of good.
When I wake up in the morning and look out at the sunrise, I think this to myself: “God, you allowed the world to exist in its present form, for one more day, for a reason. That must mean that more good will come out of today than evil. Help me to make the most of this day, and bring more souls to you.”
All will be made clear when we die, or at the Last Judgment. Whichever comes first. :eek:
I’m not in any way trying to belittle your question, but lately when I hear people ask this question of God being good yet allowing evil to exist, I usually survey my past actions for that day and see whether I made an impact for Christ in some way - however small it may be.
I’ve found that most people who ask this question (and I’m not saying you are this way), are not actively and personally (physically) involved with organizations who come to the aid of the needy or work with victims of certain crimes.
If we are christian, then we know that God has given us His marching orders. And He has given us a great privilege to be his ambassadors and represent Him on this earth by changing it through active participation in agencies that champion the sanctity of life, help the needy, aged, prisoners etc.
If evil is so present in this day and age, then it may well be because we as members of the church militant have become too apathetic or lazy. Maybe we’re not doing enough including myself.
You’re welcome! You had asked for proof of God’s existence, and scientifically and experientially you can acquire all the proof you need. There’s nothing ‘miraculous’ with seeing, if your eyes were truly opened.
All the things you mention are the work of satan. All the good we see is the work of God. God relies on us to do the good that needs doing in the world. With so few faithful disciples God is incapable of doing all the good that is needed. We are the answer to the problems. Have you ever sinned? Ifso you must repair the damage done to all humanity by that sin. We need Godly peope who do Godly things to outweigh those that do evil. In ths way we lift the whole human race up just a little, the more that lift the higher it goes - reaching up to heaven. Satan is dragging us down, lets fight back and raise the whole world up to God.
I made a page on my www with many of the proofs. You can see it here heavensmessengers.org/ go to the link middle top entitled - inherit eternal life.
There’s other problems such as souls etc proved there too. Hope it helps.
I assume (at my own risk) that since this is the first question you listed it is the one weighing most heavily on your mind.
It’s a good question. In fact it’s probably the one question for which both believer and non-believer must formulate an answer. And not just any answer but an answer lacking “concrete” foundations. It’s truly a “living” question in that, in spite of a concrete answer, it must be answered in order to live life with substance (meaning, value, purpose etc.).
The Problem of Evil (suffering, death, taxes, etc) is universal. Let’s put it into a scenario:
We have a young girl with terminal cancer. On one side of the bed sits the believer and on the other the non-believer. The non-believer, overcome with empathy and compassion for young girl’s suffering, asks the believer: “What do you have to say about this? How could this happen?” The believer of course has an answer for the suffering, about the meaning of suffering, it’s purpose, it’s efficacy in the economy of salvation, etc (You’ve heard some of these from previous posts). The believer then turns the question to the non-believer: “So what say you?” …“Shall you tell her, ‘tough luck kid, that’s life…that’s nature for you’ ?”
Ultimately both parties must have an answer with substance. Both parties face the same problem. They each must live with the answer. Whether it’s the Problem of Evil, or Love, or Truth or Beauty…we have to find an answer to live with. An answer that will effect the quality of the problems as they are lived. So you must decide which is the best answer.
You are in my prayers
In God’s peace,
PS: As to your other questions I can recommend some good books if you’re interested.
Hey Lorrie, I highly recommend reading Dinesh Dzousa’s “What’s so great about Christianity”. He uses atheists’ arguments and science to show that God (not necessarily the Christian God) does indeed exist. He later goes on to explain why indeed the Christian God (The Holy Trinity) is the one and only true God.
I can send you the audio book or pdf if you have trouble getting it.
No problem, I was in the same boat as you. I said sure from a religious/theological/philosophical argument you can prove the existence of God, but what about physical scientific proof and Dinesh does just that, he uses science to prove to the unbeliever that God does exists.
I have some other websites as well if you want them, but the book is the best place to start, it takes all the arguements made by prominent atheists like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc. and attacks them head on, using their own scientific logic to prove the existence of God.
You can also check out his debates, Dawkins and Harris are afraid to debate him, even though he has challenged them many times and even allowed them to choose the venue like major atheist organizations or university clubs.