How I handle doubts about God

From time to time it happens. I begin to really doubt the existence of God. That might sound taboo coming from a pastor, but honestly there are times when the existence of God just seems crazy. And that’s ok.  Having faith in an unseen, all-powerful being, in a world that screams “believe what you see” and “it’s all about me”, can sometimes take some work.  So what do I do when I start to doubt the very Being I committed my life to? Well, I start by drinking heavily… no, no, no, I’m just kidding. I actually start by asking myself three fundamental questions about existence.

1.  Why is there something rather than nothing?

Our universe is built out of matter—physical stuff—but where did the physical stuff come from?  Matter doesn’t just pop into existence, nor does it exist eternally.  Even famous atheist Richard Dawkins admits we currently don’t know where the matter for the origins of our universe came from. But his best guess is that maybe some intelligent aliens created our universe (http://youtu.be/abugiGHOHg0). That answer of course only pushes the question back to the universe of the aliens: How did they come to exist?  When I think about such things, it makes much more sense to me that something outside and wholly unlike matter created matter. Something that was self- existent, eternal, and immaterial.  Something that was intelligent with the ability to create. Something like God. Richard Dawkins would say, to posit God as creator of our universe is just lazy thinking—like coming up with any answer because you can’t take the time to think of anything better. But God is only a lazy answer if God does not actually exist, and if there are no other reasons to believe in God. But there are at least two other good reasons to believe God exists.

2.  How did life begin?

Now even if the universe did just pop into existence one day, there is still the nagging question, how did life begin?  Because for most of the Darwinian Evolutionary story there isn’t life at all, just lots of things made up of different chemicals. When it comes to the question of how did life begin, even Harvard biologist, Andrew Knoll is honest enough to say “The short answer is we don’t really know how life originated on this planet.”[1]  Now I will be the first to say that there is a difference between what is true, and what could be true but is currently unknown given our limitations. In other words it could be the case that what is true is that life began without God, but we currently lack the technology to explain how that happened. I understand that is possible, but it doesn’t seem highly probable. In the same way, something like matter does not come from nothing, so it seems unlikely that one kind of something (chemicals) would produce a fundamentally different kind of something (life).  But it would make perfect sense for something different, like God (who is himself a living being) to produce something similar to himself (more life). 

3.  What is the purpose of life?

I will be the first to admit that the way my mind answers this last question is the least rational of the three questions. But there is something inside me that hungers for purpose and significance. And when I think about a world in which there is no God, then there is not a lot of room for purpose or significance. In a world without God the most significant thing I could do with my existence is to please me. And truth be told, I have tried that, and yes, there are still times I fall back into that, but every time I do it’s terrible. I am terrible at living for me, because half the time I don’t even know what I want, let alone what will make my life truly significant.  I am terrible at writing the story of my life.  On the other hand, when I live as if God exists (namely the God and Father of Jesus), and when I seek him to determine my purpose and significance, trusting that both those things truly come only from him… well, it’s crazy, but that’s when I actually find myself pleased.

I have asked myself these three questions many times, and I imagine I’ll ask them again. But every time doubt in my Creator arises they have served as the initial roads that lead me back to belief.

In the future I’ll talk about how the bible and personal experience can also serve as two roads which can take one from doubt to belief.

What about you, what are your doubts about faith or God? How do you handle them?

8 thoughts on “How I handle doubts about God

  1. The answers to both 1 and 3 are “Why do you assume that is a valid question?”

    The answer to 2 is that it is wrong to make an argument from ignorance.

  2. NotAScientist – Thanks for the comments. I think #1 is valid as proven by the fact Dawkins and others are also asking the question and trying to solve it. Plus like # 3 it is a question that seems natural for all humans to ask. As for #2 i see allowing God to be answer, as being more open minded to all possibilities. How do you see it?

  3. I’ll be honest, initially it was scary to see “doubts about God” and “Im a pastor” in the same paragraph however after reading I was quickly reminded of how many times the enemy tries to get us to take our eyes off of Jesus. I am reminded by this to take every though captive which clearly you do through reminding yourself of truth.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I love that God invites us to ask questions, and if were willing leads us to truth.

  4. You can watch that full, unedited clip from Expelled where Dawkins answers a particular question about whether there is ANYTHING one might call “intelligent design” that is possible. The possibility he comes up with, after being badgered with this question, is that aliens created life and seeded it on our planet.
    He did not, as the clip suggests, come right out and say he believes life was seeded here by aliens. The video is misleadingly edited.
    He said nothing about the aliens coming from another universe. There are tiers of misrepresentation here.

    But to answer the questions in order:
    1. NotAScientist is right to ask why the question is a valid one. “A Universe from Nothing” by Lawrence Krauss deals with that question. “Nothing” is not as simple as you might think, and has its own existential crisis: can nothing exist? Is “nothingness” stable? Is it possible?
    Equally, Krauss asks whether we really have something. Consider this picture (http://allallt.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/zero-sum.png). The universe may well be an imbalance is “nothing”.

    2. It’s true that we don’t know. But “we don’t know” is distinctly different from “we have no idea”. In fact, we have a lot of ideas. I’m not sure why you insist on “gas”, there would have been solids and liquids and plasmas as well. The question you’re asking is a question of chemistry, not of biology. In fact, it is part of the hypothetical chemical discipline called “abiogenesis”. Feel free to Google it. Under that title are some of the ideas that we have. The best one seems to be from Dr Jack Szostak (doesn’t seem to be that famous, I blame his lack of charisma. But he’s a great scientist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqPGOhXoprU).

    3. Moot question. The fact that we can ask that, or want to ask that doesn’t mean there is an answer. Sorry, but even catastrophic failure to answer that doesn’t mean God exists to give you the answer you want.
    So, start with “is there a purpose to life?” And be willing, perhaps, to accept the answer “no”.

    1. Allallt- wow, thanks for the comprehensive comment. Sorry for the edited Expelled video, I originally was going to link the full conversation between Dawkin’s and Lawrence’s on the topic of Something From Nothing http://youtu.be/YUe0_4rdj0U. I just thought few people would watch a 2 hour video. Ill be honest it’s hard for me buy Lawrence’s redefinition of nothing. To me it seems his redefinition of nothing is forced due to his presupposition of an exclusively material universe. I would like to ask Lawrence, “what evidence would he need to see to be open to immaterial substances (or an immaterial being) in or outside the universe?” Do you know if he writes or speak about that somewhere?

      As for the possibility that there is no purpose in the world, I am open to that possibility, but honestly at this point in my life it is at best just a logical possibility, because it is really hard for me to discount the many purposeful and significant experiences I have had with God through following Jesus. I don’t believe experience should be the only reason for belief, but I don’t believe it shouldn’t be discounted either.

      1. I read ‘A Universe from Nothing’ about a year ago, so it’s not fresh in my mind. But I can say that Krauss’ use of the word “nothing” is supported by evidence. The philosophical nothing used to establish the ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ question is a nothing which is lacking in evidence. His point is that when you try to find or create “nothing” you always have something.
        As for what might convince Him of the existence of immaterial things without material roots or causes, I don’t know where he expands on that. He touches on it in the book. But, lets be serious; there is a statement you claim to know the truth of, it’s on you to present the evidence.

        As for purpose, I am very happy for you to discover your own purpose. That is yours.

  5. Allallt- I just picked up a copy of ‘A Universe from Nothing’. Thanks for the recommend. In the post i also changed “gases” to “chemicals”, thanks for calling me on that:)

Comments are closed.