Pastor's Blog

Over 30 years ago, hard questions about life led me to serious doubts about Christianity and I almost abandoned the faith.  How could a good and all-powerful God stand by and allow (or worse, cause) children to be born deformed?  How could He allow horrible illnesses that afflict and kill children?  How could He stand by and allow the abuse of children, sexually and otherwise?  How could He allow the death of innocent people in floods and hurricanes and earthquakes? 

I didn’t find the answers provided by Christians satisfactory.  Each answer raised more questions.  So, I pursued belief in a world without God – the purely material world proposed by science.

If there is only matter – randomly organized chemicals – and no soul or spirit, no such thing as mind;  if we’re just animals that do what our biology dictates – and if that is the case with EVERYTHING in our world – how can there be any such thing as tragedy?  The most that can be said of any event is that stuff happens.

Natural catastrophes happen.  If you die in a flood, your death is no more (and no less) tragic than that of any ant, rat, or dog, that perished in the same event.  Matter is matter, life is life, species are species.

In a purely material world, parasites, viruses, and bacteria are living things trying to survive, just as you are.  Everything must eat and viruses feed on you and me.  Side effects of their efforts can be fatal.  So what?  The virus survived and you didn’t.  What makes you so significant that your death is a tragedy?  Would the death of the virus be a tragedy?  Matter is matter, life is life.  Stuff happens.

In a purely material world, unusual DNA linkage may produce a snake with two heads or a child without arms or legs.  It is what biology dictated.  Stuff happens.

In a purely material world, everything, including sexual attraction, is controlled by inherited genetics.  There is nothing else!  Some are born attracted to the opposite sex, some to the same sex, and some, apparently, to young children (or even animals).  These are biologically pre-determined responses.  We do what our biology tells us to do.  And stuff happens.  Why is this tragic?

Tragedy involves injustice or unfairness.  How can things following natural processes be unfair?  Nature isn’t right or wrong.  It just is.  What sense is there in demanding that nature be other than what it is?

Why be morally outraged about anything?  Nature is what it is.  Stuff happens.  Accept it and move on.  Eat your next meal.  Enjoy the next mating season.  Pass on your genetic code.  Tomorrow you die.  That is all that life is about for every species.

This way of atheistic thinking made good sense to me.  I found a few atheists who proposed these views, but, was surprised to discover that most felt it too cold and calloused – even downright inhumane.  I proposed it to one atheist friend who shot back caustically that I was an evil human being! 

I began to suspect that atheists were trying to have their cake and eat it too – insisting that materialistic values are inhumane in a materialistic universe and preferring religious values instead.  Perhaps that indicated that the universe is more than matter.  Perhaps, underneath it all, at the root of everything, God really did exist. 

I didn’t turn back to Christianity because it answered all my questions. 
I turned back because atheists didn’t answer my questions.  And because atheists themselves, without trying, seemed to be subtly hinting at the existence of God.
I turned back because providence pushed me to a new thought:  that uncertainty – not having all the answers – is a component of faith, not a lack of it. 

Life is full of difficult questions and experiences.  Being able to explain those difficulties doesn’t help many people anyway.  Suffering with them through those difficulties is often all that is necessary.

And I can believe the ancient witnesses about the resurrection of Jesus without having answers for all of the hard questions of life.

 

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