The Case for God
I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this
I must believe.
At the online On Faith forum run by Newsweek and The Washington Post, Karen Armostrong asked the panelists: What makes the best 'case for God' to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?
1) The message of scripture?
2) The scientific evidence for an Intelligent Designer?
3) The 'words' that God has 'spoken' - Torah, Jesus, the Qur'an?
4) A compassionate lifestyle?
5) Personal, subjective experience?
Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright answers very succinctly, "Beauty, Justice and above all Jesus" referring to a case he makes more broadly in his book Simply Christian (and elsewhere).
Emerging Church guru and pastor Brian McLaren ranks a compassionate lifestyle highest saying in part,
Many good-hearted people are seeking God but don't want to add to the ranks of the religious and bigoted, the religious and violent, the religious and elitist, and so on. So affiliating with faith in God means they need to find people who embody a compassionate lifestyle.He ends by noting how science plays into faith for many in writing,
I've often found this is helpful for people who have already taken a step of faith, more as confirmation than as persuasion, but I know that for many, until they can remove intellectual or evidential obstacles to faith, they don't want to make a commitment to believe.His full response is here: Wisdom and Compassion. All the panelists responses are here: The Case for God.
I think that one can not be reasoned all the way into the Good News of Jesus Christ. But that is no excuse for leaving our God given reason out of it, or checking our brains at the door to the church. Faith is rational, as it must be. And the rational answers to objections to the faith, help us set aside the potential or apparent problems and so be open to the experience of the divine. These objections include the actions of Christians who don't act Christ like. They also include the apparent disconnect between our experience of suffering and our teaching that God is all powerful and all good. These objections have good cases to be made as to why they are apparent problems and not real proof that God cann not exist.
Every atheist and agnostic I have questioned on this has times when they have experienced something "other" that fits with what believers refer to as the Spirit of God. That feeling may come in a cathedral or a grove of trees or in many places one would not usually consider holy. But this experience of the supernatural is something common to all people around the world.
Once our rational objections have been set aside by a solid case made against those obstacles to faith, God makes a case for God's own self within the human heart. That's my take (in this brief setting anyway). What's yours?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
we would not be able to believe.