Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why I Believe in God

Hey y'all.  Of late I've been having a discussion on Youtube, and yes, I know how the saying about arguing on the internet.  I've attempted to end the discussion though, because Youtube's writing limit makes talking pretty awkward.  That and I don't want to fill up the video maker's comments.  It's always really annoying to look for comments to talk about the video, and then all you see is somebody's argument, y'know?

In any case, this person on Youtube was saying that my beliefs in God were delusional.  I think I sort of missed a little of his point, as he said he wasn't calling me delusional directly.  To be honest, if I'm not "delusional" and God is wrong, then what am I?  What are all the believers, and not only the Christian ones?  Yeah, that's one of the odd things about atheists.  They're very argumentative against Christian thought, and yet don't seem to care too much about debunking other spiritual ideas, when in fact if one is atheist, then spirituality in its entirety has to be offensive, not the existence of just one God.  I just read a little news blurb where someone in a "church of atheism" has their own personal goddess (not the belief of the "church", but the individual quoted).  Then you've got the atheists who hate God, and yet claim not to believe in him.  Kinda pointless to hate things that aren't real.

Anyway, that's a little bit off topic.  This particular blog is meant to answer why I personally believe in God.  I am a rational, an INTP.  I'm supposed to be a thinker, someone who dwells on ideas and points out logical inconsistencies for the fun of it.  This is all true.  However, the very idea that a thinker or a scientist cannot believe in God is in and of itself silly and an idea created historically recently.  Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal were Christians, and Einstein himself was at least theist.  Everyone's favorite pop theologian, C.S. Lewis, a former atheist, joked he was dragged unwillingly through the gates of Heaven.

And that brings me to the basis of my argument with the Youtuber.  Logical thought vs. experimentation.  Both of these items are tools used by scientists of all sorts to come to conclusions and prepare their thoughts.  The atheist I was discussing things with spoke of my beliefs as being illogical based on logical thought, and insisted that no one who is rational would ever believe in God.

See, that's the error in modern scientific thought.  Science is not a great big flying jellyfish of collected knowledge that stings anybody who says something wrong.  Science is in fact a neutral process.  It's the process of observing; the scientist hypothesizes, watches, and draws conclusions from the sidelines, letting his results tell him what to think.  See, science is not a profession.  Everyone does it when they are in a situation they don't understand, because everything that exists can be studied.  If you're an unsocial person at a party observing others to see how to fit in, that's science.  If you are familiar with the weather patterns in your hometown and know about when it will rain and how long, that's science.  If you have a little baby sitting in the sink playing with the faucet to see how it works, that's science.  The purpose of science is to observe, and if you're observing, you're doing science.  It doesn't necessarily have to involve beakers, wind tunnels, or complex math.

That brings us to the scientific process:
1. Observing -- noticing something about the world around you and wondering why/if/how it is.
2. Hypothesizing -- coming up with an explanation that sounds reasonable to justify your observation.
3. Experimentation -- putting your hypothesis to the test by getting more observation or seeing if the result can be replicated.
4. Conclusion -- taking what you've learned and either updating, confirming, or abandoning your hypothesis.  True science means not clinging too hard to the hypothesis in the face of a conflicting result.

You must use the scientific process when referring to God.  You can gain information about God by going to church, observing the behavior of believers, going to God and asking for him to show himself, reading the Bible, etc.  However, there is one principle that absolutely must not be forgotten: God is not nature science.

There are two halves to science.  One is nature science, that is, the observation of things that are more or less constant.  For example, the sky is blue and will continue to be blue if the atmosphere does not change.  Gravity has X amount of power for a mass Y large.  Sodium and chloride become salt.  Two plus two is four in base 10, and it is ten in base 4.  Simply put, when you do something involving nature science, you are probably going to get the same result as the person beside you performing the exact same experiment.  Results only change if input changes.

The other half of science is people science, the more complicated half.  People science is indeed science, such as psychology and sociology prove by observing the behavior of people, but it is by no means constant.  Human behavior not only changes between people, but changes every single time an "experiment" is performed.  For example, if people were nature science, asking the question "what are you doing?" would result in the same answer no matter when you asked or who does the asking.  However, because people are not constant and react individually, as well as not continually stay in the same state when left alone, the question "what are you doing?" will receive a different reply every single time a person is asked.  Also, the answer will depend on the asker, and how well the person being asked knows and likes the person asking.  This is the parallel of sodium and chloride becoming something different based on who is attempting to combine them.

Too many people think of God as a nature science.  They think that doing process A will result in finding God, or somehow forcing him to say something.  Thing is, God is a person.  And how do you, as a person, enjoy being treated like a machine?  Either a machine that delivers presents, or a machine that zaps those you dislike and poke you too much?  People have emotions, personality, likes, and dislikes.  God might be a being who is far more complex than we are, but that doesn't stop him from being a person.  It's like saying someone's not a person simply because they're different from you.

And so, like a person, God has emotions.  He doesn't want to be treated like a Sunday obligation, or as a jolly Santa Claus who, so long as we get what we want, is joyously celebrated, and then is abandoned when we don't get it.  Like pagans of old who abandoned the gods who did not bring rain.  However, the existence of God does not hinge on whether or not he does what we want him to do.  The pagans fell into this notion, and so too do the atheists.  They say "where is your God?" when something we don't like happens, as though God only exists if he does our will.  It never occurs to them (and some believers, admittedly), that God, as a person, has his own existence and choices apart from our desires.  Controlling God is a lot like trying to control your neighbor.  Can you get the person who lives the next door over to do what you want every time you ask him?  No.  Why then would you expect the same of a being far greater than a human?

My point is, we are not born understanding God.  Like other things, we must understand God by the scientific process, even if we don't call it the scientific process.  We come up with a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, and if we are wise, allow the results of the experiment to affect our hypothesis without holding on to our hypothesis in the face of contrary evidence.

When I was debating the existence of God with the Youtuber, -- let's call him Evan -- the way he spoke made it continually clear that he was stuck on the second step of the scientific process, with no intention of going forward.  He had made his observations over his lifetime, and then continually persisted in saying that it's not logical for God to exist.  He says it's nonsensical, and that I am not being scientific simply because I insist that God does exist.

However, I am ahead of him.  I live in the third step of the scientific process, when it comes to God.  That is, experimentation.  Atheists and agnostics can live on the edge, allowing only what they face in day to day life to determine whether or not they believe.  Thing is, when you are just living every day, how often do you go to a lab?  That is, how often do you put yourself into a place where you are learning, pressing into God and seeking to learn of his existence?  How often do you try to discover things?  It's true that every life, no matter how boring, is a process of gaining information.  However, you have to read books, speak to people, and go to different places to really learn about life.  \\\  People who live in one place are often called sheltered or inexperienced, aren't they?

Thus, if you just drive on in life, doing whatever without getting outside your comfort zone, chances are there are many lessons you aren't going to learn, comparatively.  In the same vein, by not investigating spiritual phenomenon, you insure that you cannot scientifically make conclusions on the matter.

Being that God is not nature science, you have to study him in a more psychological way, as in "why does this person do what he does?"  It's like when you're studying a love relationship, you can't put that in a lab.  You have to just watch.

So, why do I believe in God, if I am so rational?  Because God is real.  What experiences have led me to believe this?  Various things.

For one, I've been changed for the better.  I was raised a Christian, but it didn't particularly click with me until high school.  One day I was just walking on campus, and I thought to myself that if I were going to be a Christian, then I may as well act like it.  The weird part about that is that I changed then.  Not at that exact moment, but I found myself the next day able to be more considerate, and care more about others.  It was suddenly far easier, and my heart felt softer.  T'was weird.  Also, when I was once someone who really annoyed me that I was thinking about, and then God was like, "I love her too."  Instantly I realize he was right, and I suddenly didn't dislike her anymore, with all annoyance in me erased.  Granted, some of this annoyance has popped up from time to time because presumably I have to learn to force it away on my own, but since the message of God is still there, I'm not tempted to linger on those thoughts for long.

God does this for a lot of people.  People who would ordinarily done their own thing go out of their way to help others.  There's Mother Teresa, who traveled the world to help the disadvantaged.  There's an organization in South Korea to accept unwanted infants.  Churches are involved in eliminating the sex slave trade.  The Guinness family of the beer company sent many missionaries to China, and are personally responsible for much work done in the city of Dublin, by doing repairs to St. Patrick's Cathedral, building apartments, and providing education and healthcare to many that lived in appalling conditions.  See, anyone who really knows God and his heart for others will want to do good.  It's not by any means an obligation.  It's just something we want.

Yes, God has spoken to me from time to time, in many ways.  Sometimes with a voice, sometimes through the Bible, and sometimes through other people.  You might ask how I know this is God.  Well, part of it is that God says stuff that is contrary to my own opinion.  It's definitely not something I myself would have chosen to say, and to this day I still partially have an opinion that I know God doesn't like.  It's a personal matter, but yeah.

Also, keep in mind that God has a voice.  It's not technically audible all the time, but it is a voice in the sense that you can tell it from others.  Let me ask you, can you tell your friend's voice from your other friend's voice?  Certainly.  They sound differently, and when you know someone pretty well their voice in a crowd is often unmistakeable.  God's the same way, only you sense his voice with different "organs", so to speak.

If you want to know something God has told me, he once said for me to go into accounting.  And you know what?  I like it!  It's useful to what I'd like to do in the business realm in the future, and I've learned that the government double-taxes salaries.  It's ridiculous fun to learn this stuff.

I have been healed, yes.  God healed my eye strain.  This may seem silly, but I'm a writer and too many of my classes are online, so not being able to handle the computer for long periods of time would put a serious cramp in my style.  The person who laid his hands on me has also seen many more healings, including the healing of a severely arthritic woman in South America.

You might ask the obvious question why more healings seem to take place in foreign lands rather than America.  I don't believe I have enough information to really answer this question, but there are two things to keep in mind here: miracles that happen in America aren't often talked about, and here we're all supposed to be "logical atheists", not bound to ancient legends of gods and spirits and things because that's what "backwards" people do.  It's one reason I like Asia better than Europe.  European thought is quick to shun mysticism, but Asia has remembered its spiritual history.  And apparently South America has managed to do the same.

Granted, Asian mysticism is often dangerous, but it's at least a channel for Asians to see and understand the spirit realm.  Just because a spiritual person isn't a Christian doesn't mean they can't at least discover principles of how the spirit realm works.  You mess in the spiritual, you tend to learn things.  Thus, all theists are potentially on a further stage of the scientific process than most atheists, simply due to the fact that they're willing to experiment.  One does not learn by attempting to deny, but instead one learns by going forward to test the hypothesis in question.  Asian mystics might be confused and hassled by what they find, but at least they will find something.

I read once (forgive me for not remembering who wrote this -- it was either C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton) that to really know Christianity, you have to be close enough to see its details, and to know how it really works, or alternatively, as "distant as a Confucian" to be able to look at it with a completely neutral eye.  People in the middle, who have some idea of God and yet no idea of the details, can likely be swept away by their first impressions.  They never "zoom out" to get the scope of Christianity's place in history, or "zoom in" to find out why so many people do indeed believe.  Often people see the middle ground as a safe place, not too extreme in either direction.  They don't realize that they run the risk of being wishy-washy.

I could talk some more.  I could mention the demons I've seen, or the time God got me a sandwich, or the times he's stopped the rain for me.  But I'll wrap this up.  The main reason I believe in God is that the pressure is off of me.  When I was younger, I would cry in bed because I was such a horrible person, and that I should give up on Christianity so that people wouldn't think Christians are like me.  This idea, however, is the exact opposite of how Christianity works.  Us broken people are supposed to be drawn to Jesus, and we don't have to fix ourselves before we do -- it's rather like saying a toy should fix itself before it goes to the repair shop.

Human beings don't have to be perfect to come before God.  That's the entire point of Jesus' ministry, to find the weak and the immoral and let them know they don't have to be slaves to their own lifestyles.  We don't have to be ashamed of ourselves and think ourselves unworthy to have anything good.  God loves us anyway.

It's sort of cliche to just say that God loves us, though, and for many years it never really hit me in the heart where it mattered.  It took years for me to be able to understand and accept this message, and now that I can look back on the past several years, years which I feared I wasted, have all been pointing me forward to a destiny all along.  It all makes sense now.  I don't have to be afraid of my past.  I'm forgiven, and even though I strove and feared that I was going to turn out to have and be nothing, my fate, entirely without my own input, has been going forward without a hitch.

Granted, God isn't going to do everything for me; life isn't like a roller coaster that goes on one set path with absolutely no input from the rider.  There's lessons I have to learn on my own, and life doesn't come about just by sitting around and doing nothing.  At the same time, God's just doing another miracle by making all that "wasted time" have value.

To be sure, I'm still on the experimentation step of the scientific process with God, but what kind of God would he be if he were easy to figure out?  People are complex beings, so I'll just have to continue going forward and learning more.  I might be "stuck in the past" of believing in spirits, but at least I'm not stuck on a faulty hypothesis.

No comments:

Post a Comment