Do you ever question God’s existence? Or question your faith in God? Is it normal to question God’s existence? Is it a sin?
Sure I do.
But this is where all my work looking into Christian defenses and reasons for faith comes to my aide. I used to question more, and when I’m in an emotional blitz brought on by trouble or trial or depression, I still do. But my Reason now overwhelms these moods, and it gets easier and easier the more I’ve studied and the older I get. For example, at the moment a mood blitz suggests, “where is God?…” I then immediately move to the logical end point of the question which is, “if God doesn’t feel there, it must be because God doesn’t exist.” Ah, but that would mean that atheism is true.
RULING OUT ATHEISM
But I’ve already looked into atheism and it’s a dreary philosophy that comes up DOA when asked to explain Moral Order, biological complexity, the origin of life, the origin of the universe, the origin of consciousness. I know the answers to those questions, on atheism, I’ve read its greatest defenders. And the explanations reduce down to appeals to luck or superstition or ‘chance’. Which is another way of saying miracle. And finally, atheism fails to explain Jesus.
So when I question God, I immediately jump to my options. I’ve already ruled out atheism. I haven’t ruled it out because I’m clearly biased now as a long term believer. I haven’t ruled it out because I want to stay in a wishful-thinking bubble which is easy when things are going well. I haven’t ruled it out because my career depends on it being false. No, I really think atheism is bankrupt. I don’t think Atheism is a close 2nd, a super powerful competitor to Theism in the philosophy department. It’s not like just give it half a chance, one chink in my armor and I’ll fall back onto Atheism which is licking at my heels. Nope. I don’t think it holds water, and no amount of questioning God can plug it’s holes.
Now, that doesn’t mean I think atheists are irrational. I understand their reasons well enough. I’m sympathetic even. I’m saying it doesn’t answer the real questions for me. That’s why CS Lewis called it a “boy’s philosophy” – even though he was an atheist himself for more than 30 years. He meant that it treated important questions in a juvenile way: like a toddler who can’t see his parents and thinks they’ve therefore disappeared. That’s why peekaboo works with them. This is the level of the argument: I can’t see God, he must not exist. Rather than being the enlightened position, Lewis thought it was the superficial one.
A BACKUP PLAN
So being a left brained type, the mood blitz causing me to question God’s existence runs into facts. Into arguments. Much as I might WANT God to not exist when I feel like sinning or when following Jesus is too hard, I’ve reasoned my way into a corner! Now, because I think Theism answers big questions so well, I can’t slide into atheism. I’m utterly unimpressed with materialism.
Now, if Christianity was false, what would I default to? I don’t know, I find myself saying, maybe Deism is right – there’s a moral, clock maker God who wound it all up and lets it all go and I’m still at the mercy of atoms? But then I say, how can suffering make me let go of Jesus when he shows me a God who suffers? That’s where the slide usually stops for me. I can’t be a Christian because the world’s unfair? Or evil? Or indifferent to my suffering? But the Christ behind Christianity is calling out to me from a cross!! Jesus is saying God is here in suffering!! How can my plight cancel a God who himself experienced my plight? He joins me where I am… and at that point my faith and reason come together again.
IS IT A SIN TO DOUBT?
Now, is all this open questioning and wondering a sin? I hope not!! I experience doubt all the time. But I think that knowing doubt is key to why my faith is strong. If I didn’t let the questions roll into my heart and if I didn’t deal with them there, in all their potency – I would have a weaker faith, and a more fragile relationship with Jesus, one that could be easily upset by trouble. Because I would keep the questions and the doubts drowned out as much as I could, trying an “ignore” strategy. And also because I think God will be mad if I question. That might work, until I finally couldn’t ignore the mental flack, and it might just overwhelm me and drown my faith altogether.
I’ve chosen an “approach” strategy instead.
CONSISTENCY IN QUESTIONING
The key is consistency in questioning. Not questioning until we find the answer that makes us feel good. Not questioning only until we’ve exposed that rat’s nest in our brain openly to the world. Not questioning until we’ve risked upsetting the people we deemed paragons. No, I mean brutal questioning that eventually is willing to turn its seeking intensity on everything, even itself… Until we arrive at the truth.
This means a little doubt may lead a man out of the Church, a little more, may lead him back in – my rendition of a Francis Bacon gem. His actual words: “A little knowledge makes men atheists; but a more thorough acquaintance with the sciences brings them back again to religion.”