We listened carefully to the discussion, knowing that intellectuals can use verbal manipulation to gain points or confuse. At the end of the debate, we agreed that both men made some understandable points. And people need that kind of recognition to humbly listen to each other. Bottom line, we all have beliefs upon which to base our faith. However, not all beliefs are facts.
Belief Systems: Christians and Atheists
Christians have faith in God for those still unanswerable questions in science; atheists have faith that the pursuit of science will eventually answer those questions. Christians have an answer for the beginning of all life; atheists are still searching for that answer. Many atheists think that Christians cop out with a “God of the Gaps” who sets things in motion and only reappears to create miracles when nothing else is explainable. Many Christians believe that God is much more personal and involved than that.
People become Christians or atheists for a variety of reasons. Intellectual snobs and hard-headed hypocrites have often influenced other individual’s belief systems. We all have notions of some kind of a god–capricious Greek gods, demanding, judging, hateful gods, warrior gods, animal gods, distant gods, etc. I realize that some atheists have left behind a notion of God that I, too, would abandon.
The most difficult part of listening to the atheist’s beliefs about God regarded the nature of Jesus Christ. He was very pointed in ridiculing a pitiful weak God who could create a universe and then “let himself” be tortured and crucified. That kind of God doesn’t make rational sense. I was saddened by the description, yet my heart was filled with the enormity of the God who loves me and whom I worship. Then I remembered 1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Truth and Light
I believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh to help correct the misunderstandings about the nature of God and his kingdom. He came as Truth and Light to speak truth to all people. The New Testament is filled with Jesus’ parables regarding the nature of God’s kingdom. The God who spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1, John 1:1-5) also cares to search for one lost sheep, a lost coin, or a runaway son (Luke 15). The God who allows himself to reap the full consequences of evil and die at the hands of his creatures, has never been found in a tomb. He lives to provide humans with the way to be with him eternally. His kingdom doesn’t come from searching with a microscope or a telescope (although those might speak of him), “because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).
I’ll admit, I puzzle at the complexity of the universe and I can’t fathom many answers. I still love learning and discovering and have a lot of respect for a God who is much greater than my mind. I am thrilled with a God who is so intimate and powerful that he can reside within all who adore him (John 14:15-18)– a God who says we are his friends (John 15:14, 15).
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
1. What are some reasons that people may choose to become Christians or atheists?
2. Do you believe that a Christian can also be a rational person?
Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.
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