Why I still believe even when I don’t? Every time I think about it, and I think about it often, the answer to that question comes down to three things: 1) The beginning, 2) Jesus and 3) The main point of the biblical narrative connects with my story.
Interestingly enough, and this is where things get complicated, my only real point of reference for these things is the Bible yet I also tend to think that there are many problems with the Bible. Not with the Bible in and of itself. It is certainly an interesting collection of writings and there is no disputing its influence over the centuries. The problem is how we come to it and what we do with it. It’s been used and abused. It’s been used to abuse. It’s been used and continues to be used to divide. It’s also been used to promote peace, bring hope and demonstrate love. It tells a story. It also claims to be divinely inspired and this is where we can run into problems. Is it to be taken as inspiration and as a sort of guide for our own story, or is it to be taken as authority? This is not the question I’m considering today!
The beginning. Origins. We all like a good backstory. Whether it’s finding out the origins of our favourite comic book superhero or a prequel to our favourite movie trilogy or book series. We like to find out what came before. We like to know what lead to this or that. What happened. What is the story that shaped this person or caused this event. When we meet new people we soon begin to ask questions about their past, where they were born, where they studied, what they did before starting this new job. We want to know these things because they give context and help us understand the bigger picture.
For me, continued belief in the existence of God is tied to the origin of our existence, of life, of this world and the universe around us. Where have we come from? Why are we here?
I’ve tried to conceive of the world without a relational and intentional guiding force and I’ve tried to understand it from a purely scientific point of vue. While I’ve grown in my appreciation of what the sciences teach us about the world and universe we live in, I still can’t get comfortable with the idea that all of this would be the result of random chance. We need science to help us understand our world because the Bible is not adequate in answering all our questions nor does it try to do so. Something caused the world to be. Something caused the Big Bang. There were elements present and something caused them to appear. How did they appear? What and where did they come from? As much as we can learn from science regarding the origins of the universe, we still hit a wall at some point and are left with unknowns. The same is true when we claim that God is the origin. There are still questions left unanswered. If God, where was this God before and what was he/she/it doing? Does this God have a beginning?
Personally, I find it less perplexing to ask « where did God come from » than I do imagining a universe that just happened. What I mean is that regardless of how we approach the question of origins, we can’t escape being left with unanswered questions. All we can do is choose which of those questions we are more comfortable with. Which ones seem to make more sense in the bigger picture.
« In the beginning God created » makes sense to me. It makes more sense than the alternative even though it creates its very own set of unanswered and problematic questions. I’m certainly not discounting science and what it helps us understand about how the universe works, continues to take shape, shift and move. I prefer scratching my head thinking about when and how it is that God came along than I do thinking about when and how energy and matter came into the picture without any help.
Acknowledging that a God is behind the origins of the universe also helps understand our deeply rooted relational DNA as well as humanity’s drivenness to understand where it has come from. I will touch on this a bit more when elaborating on reasons two and three of why I still believe even when I don’t.
To summarize. Does God exist? I do not know but I believe so, among other things, on the basis that I find it difficult to conceive of the universe having come to exist outside of the intentional action and purpose of a God.
To be continued ….