Saturday, November 21, 2015

I believe God exists

I believe in God. Ultimately, this belief is a choice, but I have also had too much experience of God in my life, too many synchronicities, too many times I have had answers given dramatically and at just the right time and place to want to deny it. I believe in God because I feel him when I pray. It is not like talking to an "imaginary friend" as some have characterized prayer. It isn't a feeling of talking to myself, or the ceiling or the sky. I have felt the presence of God. I know a lot of people who put their faith in humans (humanism), or "science," who seem to think that if you can't prove the existence of God, then God doesn't exist. Well, better minds than mine have put forth ontological, cosmological, teleological, and other logical and moral arguments for God's existence. There are those who assume an intellectual superiority for their atheism, but I don't think you can accuse Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, and the many others of being ninnies. Many intellectual giants have argued for the existence of God.

Now I can kind of understand why people don't believe in God, but I think it's a point of view that is very limited. God's existence can't be proven by science? There is so much that can't be proven by science, so much that IS that can't be explained by science. You tell me, when did time begin, and when will it end? When you get to the end of the universe, what is there? To me, these questions are just completely mind boggling. You want to believe in the Big Bang and evolution? Well, that's fine, but it certainly doesn't preclude the existence of God, because the question still remains where did all that stuff come from in the first place? All the matter and energy in the universe just popped into existence from NOWHERE? Personally, I don't need any philosopher's elaborate argument to see this. The existence of the universe, of life, of anything is something that no scientist can adequately explain. I understand that this does not in any way prove the existence of God. What it does do, though, is knock "science" off its pedestal. In fact, much what is explained by "science" has to be taken on faith. So many things in science are preceded by the term "theory of." Whenever you see that term, it means that this is an explanation that somebody came up with for how or why things are the way they are based on their interpretation of events, but it cannot be proven. Science is great as science, but as a god it has clay feet.

I would not laugh at anyone who chooses to be an atheist. That is their choice. But it must be recognized as a choice, as a faith in itself, rather than a foregone conclusion, and there is nothing that makes it an intellectually superior choice.

I think that one problem atheists have is mixing up the existence of God with religion. The two are really quite separate, as is proven by the existence of so many religions in the history of man's existence. You want to argue with religion, I can understand that. That is a subject that is full of mud pits and thorns. I have honestly encountered God in many ways in the course of my life. I feel called to Christianity, but not without a million questions. For some reason, even though I have allowed the questions to drive me away from it, I keep getting called back to it. I am not going to say I have it all figured out. I am not going to say that my doubts and questions have all been stilled. Far from it. But since I was a very young child, living in a completely non-religious household, Christianity has called to me, and it has never stopped, so I have to honor that call. When I find all the answers to all the questions, I will write a book on it, but in the meantime, decades into the journey, I am still seeking to learn everything I can about this faith that calls me. I have said before that perhaps it is impossible for we mere humans to know The Truth, and I will not argue against anyone who takes this position. Honestly, I cannot tell you exactly where I will end up on the spectrum of belief. But I will end up on the spectrum itself. It is, to me, completely logical. It potentially holds answers to the unanswerable questions, and even if it doesn't, it is certainly no more fantastic than the Questions Which Must Exist. It is no more difficult to believe in a source from which everything came into existence, than it is to believe that everything just appeared from nowhere.

And in the meantime, although I know harm has been done in the name of religion, I personally am not doing harm. Well, perhaps I am. If the harshest tenets of the Christian faith are true, I may be doing harm by not shaking you by the shoulders and warning you about them. But I have a great, huge faith in God. I think God is entirely capable of communicating to you what he wants you to know. I am here to tell you that there was not ever in my entire life anyone who "shared the gospel" with me. Never. God called me all on his own. And although I will admit to having gone through a judgmental phase on my Christian journey, in the end I find in the teachings of Jesus a call to love, and to do so without fear, without counting the cost of that love. Lord knows I have learned the emotional cost of love, in the loss of my daughter, in all the sorrows of my children that pierce my own heart, as well as the material cost in the lifestyle I chose from the beginning, which was to do with less in order to be able to give more to those I love. God always has more to give than we do, whether money or love.

If you want to be intellectually honest about your faith, or lack of it, I think you have to be willing to give up your assumptions. I will agree that I cannot prove the existence of God, and hey, you might be right. One day I might die and drift into nothingness, but if so, I am not going to care. Maybe you should be willing to give up the notion that you can possibly "know" that God does not exist. Just logically, it is impossible to prove a negative. Personally, I think the highest intelligence exists in the humility of knowing the limitations of our knowledge. So open it up. Just be willing to say, "God if you are real, show me." Who knows? You might be surprised. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dear Anonymous

Well, Anonymous, I will start this open letter to you now, and see how far I get. For other readers, while I receive a lot of anonymous comments, Anonymous, with a capital A, is a particular person who has sent me a number of comments identifiable partially by the way they are written with a kind of an accent, like a brogue almost, and partially by the content, which is never, ever nice.

And I guess that is the first thing I would like to address with you, Anonymous. You obviously believe yourself to be a Christian. Do you believe this is how Christians should address others? In your last comment you asked if I was going to be honest this time. As far as I can see, if I have a problem, it is being TOO honest, too often. If something passes through my mind, it is likely to find its way out of my mouth or onto a piece of paper or computer screen somewhere. Faith for me has been a mighty, huge, gargantuan struggle, and in the last few years that struggle has largely made itself onto the internet for all to see (although I have from time to time gone back and deleted some of it I will admit). I have not only struggled with my faith, I have fallen down, strayed off the path, and wandered through a dozen wildernesses, and those wanderings have all been documented in one way or another as well. I'm a writer by nature, and feel this compulsion to write my thoughts down and share them. This can be hazardous, because what I think today may not be what I think tomorrow, or even later today. I wish that was not true. I wish I had a firm and forever grasp on the Truth, but my mind is always running, asking questions.

So this can be a problem, and I don't think I have in any way tried to hide it. I don't think I have ever been dishonest about it.

But is your response the Christian one? I'm going to tell you, in addition to having a restless intellect myself, not a single one of my family members or close friends are Christians. Not a one. Those I am closest to are actually raving atheists. So if my own mind was not a problem enough, I live with people who challenge my faith regularly, who tell me how stupid the Bible is (without much knowledge of it to be sure, but the Bible is a challenging book, and some of what they say are things I have thought myself). These are people I love. There are some people I love who are Christians of course, but they are not people I would actually consider friends, because except for Facebook conversations (which are great to be sure), I don't see these people outside of church, and/or they are people who live far away.

A couple of weeks ago in church, Jacqui, our worship leader, said that if we sense in us a separation from God we should look inside and see if we can identify the cause of it. So I did, and I found the cause. It is simply that I want to be loved. And I also want to be thought well of, which is actually a separate thing from being loved, because honestly the people who love me don't stop loving me because of my faith or lack of it. But they do respect me a little less.

So that, Anonymous, is my greatest sin. You send your snarky, nasty missives about how I am a hypocrite or whatever because of this or that, but you totally and completely miss the point. Some of what you say is, as far as I'm concerned, your very own legalistic interpretation of Scriptures and situations I would completely disagree with. Some of it, like the astrology and Pluto, I would agree with you. But do you think God called you to send me nasty messages about these things? I can answer that question. NO. He did not.

If you were really listening to God, you might say, hey, Sharon, I'm glad that you are doing well with this part of your walk, and how is that going? Is there anything I can do to assist you on your journey, or perhaps discuss your understanding of this or that particular thing? If you were REALLY listening to God he might have suggested that you invite me to coffee, or to church, or to a conference you are going to attend, that you offer friendship and fellowship, which are the things I need way more than I need your condemnation for things you don't really know about, because although you seem to be someone who might have an acquaintance with my family, I know for certain you are not someone who knows me.

It is completely unnecessary for you to quote Scripture to me, by the way. I know Scripture. I have devoured it voraciously over a period of over forty years now. So don't bother to quote to me Scriptures about enemies in our own household, or about being double minded, or about the results of backsliding. I know them all. And just based on them, I might just say, well, if this stuff is true then I am cooked, so I might as well just give it up and follow that other brightly colored path. But it has been more than 52 years since I first felt that desire to know Jesus, and more than 40 years since I actually met him, and despite all my wanderings the reason I keep coming back is because he keeps calling me. And if he is calling me, who are you to question it? He not only calls me, but your original attack was over my kids living together unmarried in my home, and I think he pretty well showed up for me there. Your solution I am sure would be to kick everybody out in a storm of condemnation, but that was not what I heard God telling me. My response was, "I have placed it in God's hands, and I trust he is able to deal with it if he thinks it needs to be dealt with." And he vindicated my trust in him dramatically, which means what? That he loves me, whether you do or not, and that he loves my children, and also that I actually DID hear his voice over the clamoring of others.

I also know that Peter, having walked with Jesus, denied him three times. But what did Jesus have to say about that?

So, Anonymous, my suggestion to you is that you spend some time in prayer, and get to know God's voice a little better, because it appears you have been missing it in favor of anger and condemnation, and I mean really vicious anger. Not sure where that comes from, but I'll tell you it would be far more likely to drive me away than draw me closer to God, which is a test in itself of its validity.

I'm not going to tell you that my faith is iron strong and that I stand solidly. Do you want to help me stand, or do you want to knock me over? That is the question.

Meanwhile, I of course have to refer you to Matthew 7:1-5. And here is a nice song for you. Not Scripture, but kind of my theme song.

I'd like to know who you are, but perhaps it's best I don't. Not knowing, perhaps it is possible yet that we can be friends. Based on your behavior, I honestly think less highly of you and your faith than you do of me or my faith. But perhaps we can pray for each other.

God bless us both.