This is the first part of a new series I’m calling Blogmatics. It’s an attempt on my part to lay out as best I can in as brief a manner as I can all the theological assumptions behind my blog posts.
Is there any question more fundamental to the human condition?
It begins when we’re children with simple, often easily answerable questions like “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why do I have a belly button?” But as we age the depth and unanswerability of our questions increases.
Why are we here? Why something rather than nothing? Why do bad things happen to good people?
More often than not the search to answer these questions leads to yet another fundamental question.
Does God exist?
Despite the efforts of countless philosophers, theologians, and thinkers of all stripes humanity has yet to definitively prove or disprove the existence of God. Of course, you’ll have demagogues on both sides of the issues that will shout till their blue in the face that their position has been proven right, but they are wrong. They may be personally convinced beyond a doubt, but their position is not objectively and definitively proven.
As Christians, this lack of definitive “proof” need not worry us as much as the fear mongers tell us it should. After all, if we had proof, we would have no faith. There would be no need for it.
But I do have faith.
I believe that God exists.
I believe that God is the God described in the Bible.
How do I know that is true? I don’t. I simply believe.
But that belief is not a groundless whim or an emotional crutch. At least I don’t think so, though obviously many would disagree.
My reasons for believing in God are several, but they begin with Jesus. I am convinced that something happened that first Easter morning. I’ll go into more detail on that particular faith claim when I come to the resurrection in a later post, but suffice it to say I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that his resurrection speaks to a deeper reality than simply what I can see with my eyes..
I believe this, in large part, because I have encountered the resurrected Christ in my own life. Not in the way the disciples did, of course, but through friends, family, and strangers who have shown me the sort of love, grace, compassion, forgiveness, peace, hope, and healing that I see as the ongoing incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth. Could it be ascribed a different source? Of course, and many do so. But to me that sort of life is so wholly other than the human condition, so wholly other than our innate tendencies towards greed, exploitation, selfishness, cruelty, and evil that to me it speaks of something greater, something beyond us that is trying to break through into this life to transform us into better people and the world into a better place.
In other words, first and foremost I believe God exists because I believe I have encountered God in my own life.
I would also ascribe to some level of natural theology, that is to say the idea that the natural world seems to speak to the existence of God. By that I do not mean I believe in a God of the gaps, a God who is nothing more than an explanation of the scientific mysteries we have yet to explain. Rather, I believe with the Psalmist that, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” The intricate symphony that is life and the immense beauty that pervades every corner of the universe would seem to me to be a waste if they had no purpose, no reason for existence.
The universe could very well be devoid of meaning, but to me that seems more unreasonable to believe than the idea that life and beauty have a Creator.
Which leads me to the third leg of the stool on which I rest my belief in the existence of God.
I am convinced that belief in the existence of God is both philosophically tenable and reasonable (the constraints of this post do not allow for a thorough treatment of these philosophical claims, therefore I have tried to link to more extensive explanations where necessary).
Building on my openness to some degree of natural theology, I believe the mere fact that there is something, rather than nothing, and particularly that there is life rather than no life, speaks to a first cause and a necessary being on which all else is contingent. Likewise, as Anselm argued, because we can conceive of “a being than which no greater can be conceived” and because existence is better than non-existence, it seems reasonable to believe that that ultimate being, that God exists.
Additionally, the existence of morality, to me, speaks to the existence of God. That we are not simply animals, that we do posses a sense of morality, requires an explanation for where that morality came from. It seems reasonable to me to think that morality or at the very least the inclination to morality or belief that morality is important, if not necessary, speaks to a God who endowed humanity with the sophisticated sense of morality which we possess, particularly as some elements of that morality invoke forms of self-denial that run counter to the survival of the fittest structure that shapes the animal kingdom.
And finally, if I’m being totally honest, while it would not be the foundation I would build on, at the end of the day, I don’t think Pascal’s wager is a bad bet to make.
Ultimately, though, the existence or non-existence of God, not being provable either way, is something we are left to choose to believe or not
Based on everything I have said in this post, I choose to believe that God exists.
But it is not enough to simply state belief in the existence of God. If we believe God does exist, we have to talk about what the nature of that God is like, at least to the best of our ability.
As a Christian I believe the nature of this God to be Triune.
What does that mean?
Well, that will have to wait until tomorrow.
Grace and peace,
Tomorrow I will be talking about what I believe it means to speak of God as triune and why I think the Trinity is much more than just a theological puzzle. Until then I want to hear from you. Do you believe God exists? If so, why? If not, why not? Let me know in the comments. I’m really looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say.
UPDATE: It turns out you actually need sleep in order to put together coherent thoughts. So part 2 of Blogmatics will arrive Friday instead of today. #keepinitreal #apologies