Belief in God is not Possible until we are Ready to Believe

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded...

I have come to the conclusion that those who don’t believe in God don’t want to believe in God. There is nothing that a believer in God can say or do to change their mind for it must be accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the depths of those who doubt or deny His existence.

A couple of quick stories to illustrate my point.

When I was in college as a philosophy and English major, I did not believe in God or at least I denied that I did. I was a fallen away protestant and vehement in my belief. On a bus trip to NYC from Boston I was seated next to a priest. I had on several occasions tried to get the reading light to come on so that I could read and not be bothered by conversing with him. It seemed to be useless and so the priest began a conversation with me concerning faith and God. He was amiable and I thought I was holding my own in arguments for or against the belief in God. At one point I said to the priest, “If God really exists, why not just create a miracle and cause this light to come on so that I can read?” No sooner had I spoken these words than the light flashed on. The priest said that he doubted that I would take this as a sign that God existed and he was right. I immediately began to rationalize the event by telling him that it must certainly be a short circuit in the light or a loose wire. We continued to speak and the kind old priest had a wry smile on his face as he continued to tell me that I just couldn’t accept the fact that God had answered my request. I then, in an act of defiance, said to the priest that if that were the case, he had my permission to now turn the light off. And quick as that, the light went off. But I went back to my theories of loose wires and such. We left each other’s company amiably but with him jovially saying that God was trying to get me to know that He truly exists and that He wants me to come back to Him. It was of no use. I wasn’t ready.

My second story actually happened about a year or so earlier while I was in my college dorm room sleeping. In the dream, the room was as visible and real to me as it was when I was awake; I could see everything and indeed, I’m sure I could have picked up a book and read from it. The oddest thing however was that my dog of 17 years was sitting at the foot of my bed. He moved his mouth and my cognition of what he was attempting to do was to say goodbye. As I wondered at this in my dream, I awoke from it by a loud knock on the dorm room door. It was a phone call for me. Still wiping the sleep from my eyes, I went to the phone booth in the hall and picked up the phone only to hear my mother tell me that my dog from childhood had just been put to sleep. She just wanted me to know because I was very fond of him as we practically grew up together. Now the first thought that quickly ran through my mind was that God granted this gift to me because I could not be home to say my goodbyes. But as usual, I could not allow myself to hold to such nonsense. I went back to thinking that it was just an extraordinary coincidence.

Those are my personal stories and they revolve around minor or what we might call “silly” miracles or “signs”. But they illustrate our reluctance to change our minds when our hearts are far from accepting what our senses and our intellect are telling us.

My thought is that one need not try to evangelize or convert an atheist or an agnostic. All you can do is resist them in many of their preconceived notions. You can point out the utilitarian outlook of atheism as an affront to human dignity but they will not believe you or if they do they will not care and they may even endorse the idea.

God does speak to us but often we don’t allow our hearts to hear and God will not violate His gift to us of free will.


Conversing with Atheists about God is Difficult at Best

I must admit that I have little interest in debates between atheists and those who adhere to a belief in God. Primarily it is because in my limited exposure to atheists or agnostics (which I profess was a position held in my youth) I find most of them to be almost gleeful in their disparagement of those who believe. For most the sole adherence to science, as if it was an indisputable truth to be believed without question, is an axiom written in stone. Most harbor an equal disdain for anyone who has the nerve to question the validity of some scientific ‘fact’ to which they find absolute. Believers are usually belittled as unenlightened, superstitious Cretans that undermine and inhibit their utopian vision for life. I’m sorry that we make your life so miserable. But believe it or not we do not wish to destroy science and reason. In fact faith and reason are inextricably linked to faiths such as mine: Catholic. By the way, did you know that it was a Catholic, Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître, who first came up with the big bang theory?

The atheist’s unhappiness and almost frenzied defense of a meaningless existence leads me to have some sympathy for them primarily because they seem to have developed into an anti-religion of sorts: peopled by  1) arrogant and rebellious youth who want to think themselves smarter than anyone else 2) those who have suffered loss or pain and cannot accept that a loving God could allow evil to exist or 3) embittered people who disdain the lives of those who seem so much more happy and fulfilled than are they.

I am not as smart as any of the atheists because I am one of those who believe in God, so bear with my unintelligent remarks or humor me: it might be a good laugh for those of the enlightened class who hold the highest ranking positions of intelligent thought. After all an oaf like me will never see the inside of an ivory walled institution of higher learning which should disqualify me from even voicing an opinion at all: though I will for humor’s sake.

The following are questions, observations and ponderings of one of the regular schleps that don’t know any better:

However, isn’t it true that science itself has no basis as a discipline unless it is founded upon the mysterious foundation of intelligence? If the universe has no intelligibility then our beloved science could not even exist: it would be an unintelligible hodgepodge of chaotic happenings without any hope of replicating an event in a lab or even within a mathematical model. Does an intelligent universe with mathematical rules point toward an intelligent creation or can intelligence be simply a random circumstance that we were fortunate enough to be privy to?

Is it also not true that in every age scientists felt that they had divined the secrets of some previously unknown phenomena just to see those theories overturned and replaced by their descendants? Am I to postulate that in this age things are different?  Or, have we reached the final truths? Or are we at the very brink of ultimate knowledge? If we are so much smarter than everyone who ever lived before us, can we foresee with any certainty that a glorious day will dawn when science will finally understand all things perfectly and no mysteries remain unsolved? For the atheists I have known had no taste for mystery, unless it was in the context of a completely intelligible event (in their estimation) that science will one day uncover.

Will we understand how the bombardier beetle came into existence (the scientific postulation for this is pretty weak from the answers I have read) or more fundamentally how does an organism develop sex organs with egg cells and sperm cells from a mass of single cell amoeba who might have banded together in a body of sorts? When these first sexual organisms evolved there must have been many billions of them morphed all in unison or how else could they find one another and create new little mutants of the sexual order? Had the first male organisms develop in the Pacific and the first female organisms develop in the Atlantic would they be able to find one another? I guess they are smarter than we give them credit. And since life is evolving by the law of the survival of the fittest, why didn’t all the lower forms evolve into the higher forms? Even the first 1 cell life forms still exist. How can that be? Further, if it is all about survival, why don’t some of the higher life forms devolve back into simpler forms of life when under stress instead of adding more complicated solutions to their quest for survival? Wouldn’t that make more sense to climb back into the ocean rather than evolve wings and take to the air? Maybe we will devolve back into apes someday if the banana trees start overpopulating the planet. Evolution is an accepted principle but devolution does not seem to be: I wonder why not.

To superstitious persons such as me, it seems that some kind of intelligence moved creation history along in a most intelligent way. I may be foolish but it seems that completely stupid creatures can do some incredibly complex, intelligent things: building nests, keeping their nests cleared of feces etc. This in my view is what you call instinct (a change in their genetics). But to us uninformed it seems more like a stupid animal acting in an intelligent and unexplained way. It remains a mystery to me and it only magnifies the mystery that is God in His creation. Many more mysteries exist in every science one can imagine. Are all these mysteries going to unfold before our god-like minds or will they continue to persist throughout all the ages?

And no, I am not a strict creationist. I only believe that God’s hand is everywhere present in shaping it. In fact it adds greatly to His Mystery that by His grace and His will one animal species might develop into a completely different species of animal or plant. If I see a building I know that a architect built it. When I read a novel, I know that a writer penned it. If I see a computer, I know that electronic engineers designed it. But when the simplest forms of life are viewed, which no brilliant scientist can replicate, the obvious question is: who is the designer – who is the architect – who is the author? The same holds true for us little people when we behold the wonders of the cosmos. How great thou art.

I for one accept mystery as a fact of life and would not like to live in a world devoid of mystery; especially the divine mystery of God which allows me to feel awe struck every time I look upon his wonders, whether of this world or out of this world: from the subatomic to the massive quasars and black holes. It is uplifting to live in a world and a universe that creates so much awe and wonder in the human heart and mind.

The fact that we creatures of stardust, as Carl Sagan loved to call us, have the ability to think and reason, feel joy and sorrow, love and be loved is a mystery to me. To know ourselves and have cognizance of existence itself is either a fantastic dreamscape or a mystery: it’s like saying a rock can come to know itself and its surroundings and has aspirations for a better and more fulfilling life in a few million years but that it is not a mystery how this came to be. How awesome is the gift of consciousness and more so, a reasoned consciousness!

For atheists to say they have no need of answers to mysteries so deep is to live in a vacuum of numbers, theorems and postulations without truly living and experiencing the best of human life. Such a life would render me a person without hope. Mankind becomes nothing more than another animal or created object. It is a purely utilitarian view of man’s worth. Is it no wonder that Marx, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and all the major ideological leaders who murdered 100’s of millions of people were atheists who happened to hold utilitarian views of mankind? They were going to make ‘life better’. For society should be more in keeping with their enlightened personal ideology and the rest of mankind should be forced to adhere to a life that they are just too stupid to appreciate or understand. Elitists always have a solution for the rest of us though we never asked them for one.  Abortion, euthanasia, forced work camps all come from utilitarian views of humankind and sadly it makes them more beast-like than human.

Speaking only for my unenlightened superstitious self, I would prefer to continue to live a life with purpose than to spend my time criticizing people for living good, wholesome, productive lives while fostering family values and instilling hope and love in everyone they can. Where does empathy, sympathy, and love reside? It was built into the fabric of a man’s beating heart and that is what the mystery of a firm faith in God excels in fostering. There are many reasons for faith but first you must come to desire it and seek it. I cannot give it to you like a book containing the Pythagorean Theorem so that you might analyze it. Some will find the need of God’s mystery screaming from their heart and others will not. I only pray that the emptiness of these persons might someday be filled with more than scientific models that explain how an existence that came from non existence can spontaneously happen without a creator.

That’s why I find it hard to discuss God with atheists. I’m far too shallow, happy and amazed at the wonders of this life to understand them at all.