When I was 16, I was going through a period of depression. Many nights, I searched for a God who did not speak to me in prayer. My heart was angry and I felt abandoned, disconnected and forgotten from God. My violent heart, sought. It knocked on doors. It asked but was not given. For good reasoning, I gave up on God at that point. At this point in my life I was an angry, shut down person. Frustrated with society, religion and the “truths” that were in front me. On a cold Wednesday night, in the midst of a broken whirlwind inside, the Jesus of my now journey, met me in my anger, spoke into my violent and said “follow me, and, I will bring you peace.” And, while this following has not been easy, when I walk in this way, this Truth, this life, I know a little more peace each day.
When I think about Atheism, it comes across the same way to me as suicide. Anyone who has experienced serious suffering, doesn’t question why someone would commit suicide. Anyone, who looks out their front window, anyone who watches the nightly news, shouldn’t doubt how someone could disbelieve in God. When my Atheist friends tell me their beliefs about God, I see why they would. When our view of God is, described by Christian Smith, a Therapeutic, Deistic, God, it’s not hard to believe in why someone disbelieves in God. If God created the Universe, and, watched above while things fell apart down here, I would disbelieve too. That’s not a good God.
Conceptually, how can anyone believe in God? If God is an infinite being, how can I understand him? I can understand him only on my terms, within my own social constructs, within my own experiences. I can only grasp God within the confines of my own understanding, within my own imagination. The infinite cannot be understood by the finite. Yet, I feel like I must try. I must try for the sake of love, for the sake of justice, for the sake of peace.
The question cannot be whether or not God exists. Nothing can disprove God, just like nothing can prove God. No amount of reason can lead me to a specific answer. For if it did I wouldn’t need faith, I would have certainty. The real question now becomes “If I follow this God, what type of person does this God produce?”
The great Christian Mystic Karl Rahner said this about Christianity in the future “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.” If I am going to continue to follow Jesus, like he asked me too, I must learn to rely on my experiences of him. I must learn to truth the Jesus of my journey. My journey is filled with great doubt of God, because, of experiences of mine that I cannot place him in. However, it is the compassion of the experiences that allow me to move within these doubts to better questions, and, experience greater transformation within him.
Atheists cannot be seen as enemies for Christians. Christians cannot have any enemies. Yet, we’re really good at creating them. We need to learn from Atheists. Anyone who is a true doubter, has the capacity to be a great teacher. For anyone who is truly doubting, is truly seeking. And, what does Jesus call us to do? To seek, to knock, to ask. While the answer we may conclude with may be different, that capacity to doubt, to seek, to ask, to knock, is a beautiful thing. There is too much ambiguity in life, too much suffering, too much information for us to have pat answers. If we are content dismissing the ambiguity, the suffering and information, and, do our best to not sin in this life so we can escape earth to get to heaven, then what good was Jesus message of heaven on earth? Is it about us getting into heaven or about getting heaven into us?
There is a story about a time when Friedrich Nietzsche went to a party where Christians were. After the party ended, a woman came up to him and began talking with him. He told her about how he doesn’t understand them. He told her that they were as anxious and depressed as she was, the only difference was that he didn’t have a God to save him. What were they being saved from?