By Dave Hood
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”—Thomas Aquinas
Does God exist? Many believe in a God who is “Supreme Being.” This God is all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting. Many believe in a God who is the “Great Creator”of humankind and the cosmos. Many believe in a God who whispers to the conscience of man, guiding his moral choices, forgiving sin, and other transgressions. Many believe in a God who is a personal friend—He listens to our fears, anxieties, misfortunes, provides advice in times of trouble, and answers our prayers. Many believe in a God who intervenes in human affairs, performs miracles, and answers prophesies.
Many theologians, philosophers, and scientists believe in the “Divine Command theory,” which states that God created humankind with a conscience, which enables human beings to know what is right and wrong. In other words, the voice of conscience is rooted in God the Creator. Certainly all the Pope’s of the Catholic church believe this is true. Theologian C. S. Lewis also supported this view, writing in “Mere Christianity” that God created human beings with a sense of right and wrong or good and evil. St. Augustine, the influential fourth century philosopher, whose beliefs had a significant impact on Christianity believed this, and also believed that God created human beings with free will, and so morality was a personal choice. Scientist Francis Collins in “The Language of God” also believes that moral law is a strong argument in favor of the existence of God.
I can see that evil lurks in the hearts and minds of some men. Just the other day, I read how a stranger was stabbed to death on the street for a pack of cigarettes. Another stalked a disabled man in a dark park then kicked, punched him to death. Read some history, you will discover how men vent rage, hatred, and contempt. Dictators rid themselves of the enemy through torture, extermination, genocide. Read about the wicked deeds committed by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Bin Laden, you will quickly learn that these men were evil incarnate. Now extremists terrorize civilians all over the world—in the name of religion. The evil of 9/ll is a perfect example. Nations go to war, drop bombs on the Innocent, in the name of “collateral damage.” Twice, the Americans have bombed Iraq for their so-called just causes. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why does evil exist?
For many people, life is filled with pain, suffering, and despair. A child starves to death in African, with the dirt, squalor, and flies, every minute of the day. A frail child, woman, man dies of cancer, alone in bed, somewhere in the world, each second of the day.Somewhere, each day, someone takes their own life, by suicide, to obliterate the mental pain and misery. How can an omnipotent, loving God allow so much suffering?
There are many religions, each claiming to know the truth. All religions have their own moral code, and each faith claims to know the path to enlightenment or eternal life. With so many religions, how do we know which religion is right? Can they all be right?
The Atheists don’t believe in God. They use logic to tell us that God doesn’t exist. They will argue, without doubt, that God is just a myth, created to answer all those questions that cannot be answered in this life. For instance, does the soul live on after death? They also suggest that God is a delusion, existing only in scripture as myth. God has been created to sooth man’s fears of death, answer questions of the unknown, cope with the possibility of nothingness in the afterlife.
I am not an Atheist, but an Agnostic. I tend to believe that if God exists, this supreme power is beyond our comprehension. We cannot accurately describe God because because we have never seen Him. And so any description is just imaginative thinking. Though I believe in the possibility of God, I don’t believe in a personal God—a supreme power who answers my prayers and guides my life. No God has every answered my prayers or provided advice or a direction.
I tend to support the view of Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States, who believed in deism. Deists believe that God exists and created the cosmos, but takes no active part in the affairs of men. Deists also believe in the following:
- They reject religions based on books that claim to contain the revealed word of God.
- They reject religious dogma and demagogy.
- They are skeptical of reports of miracles, prophecies and religious “mysteries”.
- They believe that God gave humans the ability to reason.
One of the big doubts I have about God has to do with suffering. If you look around, you see that so much of humanity suffers. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why does He allow so much unspeakable pain and suffering? Perhaps God has created humankind with free will. Perhaps God teaches us through suffering to be compassionate. I’m not sure. The other doubt I have has to do with evil. In my view, evil lurks in the hearts and minds of some men. Why would an ominipotent, loving God create human beings who are evil? The answer of free will doesn’t answer my question fully.
Despite my doubts that God exists, I also believe that God might exist. First, I accept the view that some “first cause” created the “big bang,” which resulted in the birth of an ever expanding cosmos. The question that has always troubled me is: Who created God? Secondly, I support the view of “intelligent design,” because the universe seems to have been created by some “supreme power” with of incomprehensible intelligence. Based on the balance of probabilities, it seems more likely to me that an omniscient, omnipotent God created the universe than it evolving by chaos or chance into its present state. Some scientists argue that the present universe has evolved from a state of chaos.
Many argue that to believe in God one must take a leap of faith, ignore logic, reason, facts of history. This doesn’t seem logical to me. It seems rather illogical, almost delusional. Sam Harris, author of “The End of Faith” wrote: “The faith of religion is belief on insufficient evidence.” Like Harris, I believe in reason and logic—and skepticism. The truth is that we cannot prove the existence or nonexistence of God. We can only construct arguments based on the balance of probabilities—but this not proof. To believe in God requires a leap of faith–without fact. To not believe is to embrace what science has to say about randomness and chaos. Yet, I support the view that we should respect all religions and all views of faith–believers, Atheists, Agnostics, and Secular humanists.
Like most of humanity, I am a spiritual seeker who desires answers to my questions of faith. The need for spirituality is part of my DNA. As well, I am aware that spirituality improves a person’s happiness and well-being. In recent years, I have studied Buddhism–the Four Noble Truths and Eight fold Path to Enlightenment. There is much I like about Buddhism, but I will not accept the view that “God does not exist.” Nor do I believe in “Nirvana” or rebirth. There is not proof.
I am a skeptic who requires proof, and so my doubt prevents me from embracing any particular faith or stating without doubt that God exists. Whether God exists or not is a mystery. None of us really knows for sure if God exists. Atheists cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that God does not exist. Religions cannot prove beyond doubt that God exists, and must take a leap of faith. And so I remain an Agnostic, a person who is not sure. In other words, I cannot know whether God exists or not. And yet, when I think of the order and complexity of the cosmos and humanity, I tend to believe that some supreme being, beyond my comprehension, exists within the cosmos. But I have no absolute proof. And so, I remain a wishful thinker who is skeptical.