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.” 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?