Good Questions: Are there good reasons to believe in God?

Reflections from Dr. Howell

What case could we make that there really is a God? How did everything come to be, and with such mind-boggling beauty? The delicate order of the universe, and of you as you’re reading: can this really have evolved by chance? Why do we have this intense sense of right and wrong? And how could people have evolved with such maddening cravings for purpose and transcendence – especially in the Christian version of religion, where “survival of the fittest” is dumped in favor of Jesus, the weak one who suffered terribly and left behind a community partial to the weak, the nobodies, the despised? Why are even the wealthiest riddled with a sense that it’s never enough? C.S. Lewis, an ex-atheist who came to faith, wondered: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

But for every Lewis or Francis Collins or other brilliant skeptic who was converted from unbelief to deep belief, there are a dozen former believers who will never ask again, “Are… you… up… there?” Besides, if there’s a God, you’d think God would have fixed our brains and the world so that we’d have no choice but to be sure God is reality.

In fact, it’s the opposite. Stephen Hawking, the genius physicist, in his bestselling The Theory of Everything, laid out his airtight proof that everything can be explained without resorting to some higher being. My hunch is that God loved reading The Theory of Everything – and that’s because, if there’s a God, that God is Love, or so we want to believe. God is comfortable with our being able to explain everything without God. Love is like that. There’s no compulsion. You can walk away. You don’t have to believe.

I have a dear friend, the best-read man I’ve ever known, who has zero hostility to religion. He simply shrugs and says he’s “tone-deaf” to religion – reminding me of Charles Darwin, from a pious family and married to a deeply spiritual woman, who described himself as “colour-blind” when it comes to faith and God. If there’s a God, a God who might truly be God, so not one thing among other things, not a limited person like all other persons, but the creator and enveloper and future of all the things and persons, such a God isn’t threatened or enraged by the tone-deaf or colour-blind, or those who exited church after not getting what they wanted from God, or those who’ve never heard about God, or have only heard about God from manipulative, petty, mean people. God made them all, knowing the possibilities.

In our next installment, I’ll ask What does it mean to “believe”?