But Why?

Posted: March 25, 2012 in Life, living, religion
Tags: , , , , ,


Someone once asked me why I believe in God.   There was a slight tone of disbelief and maybe a hint of derision swirling around with the query as it sailed through the air to my ears.   Still, it was a honest curiosity from a guy who, while he didn’t believe in God, certainly believed enough in me to trust that I would answer without giving one of the usual predictable responses one usually receives:

“Because the Bible said so”

“Because none of this reality could exist without God”

I hesitated, trying to find the right imagery and logical links.

“Well I know you can’t prove His existence to anyone”.  I figured we should start out that way – it seemed important to begin where we both agree.   My daughter has taught me about the necessity of context and frankly, a by-product of my ADHD is that I often get excited when relating something, assuming that the hearer has already processed everything that I’ve done.

Anyway, he nodded.

“He has proven His existence to me.   You have to understand that what constitutes evidence to me is not easily transferable to anyone else.   I don’t even try to explain my faith to anyone else – and I certainly don’t feel the need to try and convince anyone.”  The irony of that statement waved its hands in my face, grinning with raised eyebrows, frantically trying to get my attention.  I ignored it.  Some call this obstinate ignorance.

“How so?” he asked.

I love honest questions.   Honest questions make the world go around.  Curiosity begets answers, and answers raise more questions, which feeds curiosity which in turn provokes even more questions.   This is how illumination happens.  This is how people struggle toward discussion, delight and understanding.  This is how wars end, how people eventually agree, how enemies learn to coexist.   This is how marriages are saved.

I told him.

“My sister was very little when she went into a coma.  It was spontaneous and we have no idea how it happened.  I remember my dad carrying her out to the car, limp in his arms.  She was about three years old.”

He listened, and watched as the canvas in my mind slowly brought that memory into focus.

“As the days went by, my parents talked openly about her.   They mentioned that the doctors said there was a few minutes when she had stopped breathing and so therefore she might not come out of it, and that even if she did, there was a high probability that she would have severe brain damage.  She wouldn’t be the same, they said.   I saw my parents’ eyes dim at this news.   Their worry thickened the air.”

I continued.  “I was fourteen and had recently begun attending a small church’s youth group.   My own mind reeling with worry and helplessness, I hopped on my bike and pedaled on down to a night time service.  It was the only thing I knew at the time to do. “

My mind completed the picture.  I recalled the warmth of that little church, with its wooden pews and big windows.   There was something comfortable about the place – enhanced by the handful of hanging light fixtures that sent a warm glow over the twenty or thirty people who were there.   I arrived, a little late as usual and made my way to one of the pews in the middle of the left side, and sat.

“When the spot in the service arrived where requests for prayer were invited, I stood up.   I explained her hopeless situation to them.  Their looks of sympathy almost undid me.   I asked ‘could you please pray for her?’   and the pastor smiled and said ‘let’s pray together’.  And we did.”

“I didn’t feel much different, you understand.   There were no bolts of lightening, no sudden intuition even that God heard us.   But….I did feel a warmth, like I’d done a good thing.”

I stopped, caught up in the memory.    “So what happened?” asked my friend.

“Well, it was about a day later when my parents told us that she woke up from the coma.   The hospital had called them, and so we all scrambled to get ready to head down to the hospital.   They wanted her to stay for observation for a few days.  I went up to see her every day.  We talked and I laughed and I gave her piggy-back rides on my shoulder.   It was good.”

“So….?”  he asked.

“So it turned out that she had no brain damage.   She was fine.   And today she’s holding down an intense job.  She’s one of the brightest people I know.”

He nodded.  “I respect that.  You believe in God because of that.”

I nodded.  “Yeah, but not just that.  That’s just the clearest memory I have – the one that stands out the most.   There have been so many instances in my life where it seemed glaringly evident – to me – that He exists and takes an interest in us.  In me.  One or more too many coincidences, over and over.”

“So what about those who suffer horrifically through life before dying a lonely death?  He doesn’t care for them?”

Another honest question.   “Although I believe in Him and love HIm, I can’t be His apologist.  I have no idea why such people go through such harshness.  Any attempts to offer up any kind of an explanation would be disingenuous.  It would be presumptuous to pretend that I know why He does and doesn’t do the things He does.  I can’t even say that He has His reasons, because once again that would be presuming knowledge that I don’t have.”

He liked that.   He didn’t stop being an atheist that day, and I had no expectation that he would.

But maybe, together, we shed a little light.  I like to think so.

  1. wolfshades says:

    Side note: this memory was driven by a viewing of an excellent new show entitled “Touch”. It’s not religious, or at least not overtly so. It’s about a little boy and his dad. The boy have never spoken aloud – not because he can’t, but because he has an agenda, and chooses to speak in other ways. In short, he sees patterns in everything, which he interprets mathematically. His is not a passive gift though – he feels the need to bring closure for those in pain, and so he sends out numbers to his father, who in turn attempts to interpret them.

    The premise is less exciting than it first appears. But trust me – if you’ve never seen it you’re in for a treat.

    One other note: while the series contains a threaded singular plot, each episode contains its own satisfying plot. So if you’ve never seen it from the start (we’re about two episode into it now), you won’t be lost.


  2. Jack says:

    I think it’s great to talk to people about our experience with God. And I guess that’s the “power of our testimony” rather than talking about theory and philosophy. Not that it’s bad to talk philosophy if you want to – it can even be fun – but you have to have a lot of time to do that and it can get a little futile and unsatisfactory.

    After talking about experience, you can always encourage people to seek their own with God too, whereas if you only talk theory I don’t think it motivates them to try anything. Nice work WS


    • wolfshades says:

      Thanks Jack. I don’t know – as I get older, I become more aware of the paucity of stuff that I know for sure – especially about God. Seems to me that was Job’s sin – presuming He could explain God’s motivations for doing anything. I see a lot of religious folk arguing intensely about the “fact of God’s existence”, where they’ve crossed the line that says: “science is proven by fact, and God is proven by faith”. So many of us try to offer facts to prove Him – an exercise in futility if ever there was one.

      I don’t even worry too much about trying (or in my case even wanting) to motivate anyone to believe in Him. I offer my own experience, and then let the chips fall where they will. : )

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Jack!


  3. I want to comment, but then I think I’m so tired that I don’t want to start a long thread…and then I realize I can’t walk away too long from commenting on your post (the power of Wolfie!).

    I believe — of course I do. But, I have never felt comfortable believing that “He’s” there for us in times of trouble — as if somehow “He” being almighty and such, couldn’t have prevented it to begin with. Naah, instead of giving him credit when things go right so I don’t have to blame him when things go wrong, I just give him credit for making this amazing thing called life. But I don’t think “He” is up there deciding when he will intervene, when he won’t, who he’ll save, and who gets hurt.

    The God I believe in made this magnificent life-thing and has let it be. It explains the question so much better — why some suffer and some don’t. Because God isn’t sitting around watching from above playing games with us. It’s kinda like God made us and moved onward…somewhat like a parent would. Loves us, may be extremely concerned about us, but letting us make our mistakes and fumbles and well as enjoying our progress and joys.

    But if anyone ever wonders if there is a “higher being” or something bigger than us — all you have to do is take in a deep breath. Look at a flower — hear the cry of a baby…I know, it’s all so cliche, but call “HIM” whatever you want, but that is an artist, that is a genius, that who created all of this is magnificent… that’s what I thank him for.

    (great post boo. great post!)


    • wolfshades says:

      I tend to lean the same direction as you on this one, Carmen. I’m of the belief that we’re made in His image which means……we have capabilities to do wonderful and amazing things. Which we do – all of us – atheist, agnostic, believer, whatever. i think His DNA flows through all of us, allowing us to exercise feats of high intelligence and great creativity. While there was a time when I would look for 21st century answers in a first (and pre-first) century book, it finally dawned on me that our minds are quite capable of making decisions and figuring out a lot of stuff on our own – which is how we were built. I could go on and on about this, but that would require another blog.

      Anyway, this new (to me) way of thinking about things allowed me the pleasure to become curious and open to many others of different faiths, and of different or no beliefs. There is value in so many outside of the tiny circle of friends I used to hang with. And, while I hate to use clichés to describe myself, I can think of no other way to put it than that I consider myself “spiritual but not religious”.

      So glad you stopped by to read and comment, Carmen!


  4. Abe's Blog says:

    This is a great explanation of why you believe! In honest and open discussions of faith, we learn much and teach much.


    • wolfshades says:

      You said it, Abe. There is a way of thinking and behaving that kind of describes what it’s about, when people stop following a prescribed set of rules and dogma, and are brutally honest as they can be about everything. I call it “truth-telling”.


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