I am encountering more and more folks who have rejected, not only God, but even the possibility that there might be something that is beyond what their senses can experience. I have talked with a number of these atheists, mostly online, over the past 8 years or so, have listened to their explanations, have tried to understand their reasoning, and evaluated my own beliefs. But to no avail.
Atheism remains to me a hollow and deceptive philosophy that glorifies mankind and our achievements; that has no purpose for life other than what the individual chooses to give themselves; and has no hope beyond this life. This is not to say that all atheists are raving madmen seeking to overthrow all that is good. In reality, most of the atheists I have encountered are every bit as ‘moral’ as most ‘Christians’. You would not generally be able to tell them apart if they did not tell you that they had rejected the idea of God.
But this is not really a condemnation of atheism as it is an explanation of why I find it lacking and continue to believe in God, in spite of the best efforts of many atheists, some very reasonable and patient, and a few quite belligerent and hateful.
While there are many reasons I might give for my position, the two that are most significant to me are reasonableness and experience. The universe just makes more sense to me with there being a creator, and my life makes more sense with it having a purpose and hope beyond what I choose to assign to it. I realize that just because it makes sense to me does not make it right. And I realize that others appear to be just as comfortable on the other side of the debate. But that doesn’t change the fact that no matter how hard I look at it, God just makes more sense to me than the no God option.
More important to me is my own experience with God; at least I am convinced that that is what it is. I cannot remember a time in my life when I have not been ‘in church’. My parents lugged me off to Sunday school, Training Union, worship services, VBS and everything else that the church offered for whatever age I happened to be. As a nine year old I was even baptized and joined the church, becoming a ‘Christian’.
But it was not until I was a young man that all of that became more to me than simply a ritual that was performed in a certain way at a certain time. It was then, as an 18 year old high school graduate, that I actually encountered God and came away from the encounter changed, with a commitment to God, and a desire to know him better.
While I cannot prove to you that God exists, any more than my atheist acquaintances can prove his non-existence, I am convinced that he does. For me to reject the existence, and presence, of God would be intellectually dishonest; I would have to lie to myself, and I don’t think I could live with that. No matter how I tackle the subject I always come back to the conclusion that there is a creator, who has a purpose for his creation, and that purpose includes me.
I will readily acknowledge that there is much evil in the world we live in. And that much of that evil is perpetuated in the name of religion; although one need not look to far to find examples of atheists doing the same thing. But I am not trying to defend religion here, which is all to often a substitute for a personal relationship with our creator. Religion can be useful if it leads you into a personal understanding and walk with God. But all to often the structure, dogma and practice of a religion, is the end of the journey rather than a guide to a life with God.
My religious experience has indeed shaped how I view my experience with God. But I try very hard to keep the former from becoming a substitute for the latter. I am totally convinced of God’s reality and presence. And my hearts desire is to know him and to be what he created me to be.