I was born to Christian parents. I went to the same church for the first twenty-three years of my life. It’s natural that I’d follow in their footsteps. I believed from a young age. As a young teen, I began reading the Bible for myself, and spending time in prayer. Bolstered by my parent’s faith, I began my own relationship with God. I saw rapid change in my life, as I learned to listen to and obey God.
I was confident in the validity of my faith. As part of my home-school studies, I loved to study ‘proofs’ of God’s existence, especially materials that spoke out against the theory of Evolution. Truthfully, I thought that everyone from the scientists to the ‘poor public school kids’ who believed in Evolution were deluded, maybe stupid.
At age twenty, I enrolled in a local conservative Bible college. In my second year, during a course called ‘Faith and Science,’ I read a book called The Lost World of Genesis One, which espoused the view that as 21st century, scientific minded people, we couldn’t read Genesis one literally, as the Hebrews would have. The creation story was actually a response to the Babylonian creation myth, and didn’t truly mean a literal seven days of creation.
It was frightfully logical. I dove into study, and realized that whether I believed in the young earth creationism of my youth, or that the earth evolved under God’s direction, I could find equally convincing evidence for my ideas.
Was The Lost World correct? And if so, what else couldn’t be read literally?
My protective bubble shattered. I was shattered, and very angry. I began to view knowledge with cynicism, and discount whatever people said about the Bible or God. After all, however convincing, there was probably an equally good argument against it. They might be lying. I wanted to talk about my doubts, but when I did I’d only become angry and cry.
One day a professor suggested that God sometimes causes evil to accomplish his purposes. Causes evil? Didn’t that make him evil? I lay in bed that night, broken and in tears. What would I do? Could I believe in anything anymore?
It’s occurred to me that this is the part where I’m supposed to say, “And so I became an atheist.” Many stories do end like that: “I had questions, and no one could give me convincing evidence, so I ceased to believe.” I sympathize, but that’s not how it ended for me.
Lying in my tears and snot, I asked myself, “Do I believe that God is good?”
“Yes. I do believe that God is good.”
I fell asleep.
My questions weren’t resolved. In fact, on the question of Creation, I simply had to suspend judgment. I had no more energy to expend on it. Is God good? This has been resolved through time.
I’ve seen his faithfulness in the midst of a horrible job and the depression that resulted. I saw his provision when I lost that job and went without a job for over two months. I managed to find enough money to pay all my bills–actually, partially because of an injury while doing casual work. I see how he’s orchestrated my life, brought good from bad events, and led me to a fulfilling purpose to drive me from day to day.
But mostly, I experience his love, forgiveness, friendship and fatherly guidance on a daily basis.
Can I argue from philosophy? Certainly. I still love to study how to defend my faith. I can tell you the logical reasons why I need a god in my life, how without God neither I nor you have inherent value, how without God we must base our lives on the ‘firm foundation of unyielding despair’ (Bertrand Russell).
Does that cement my faith? No.
It is the simultaneously tenuous and bulletproof foundation of God’s love in my life that I build upon. My story cannot be proved, nor disproved. It is only mine. But I hope it will encourage you to probe your own ideas, and seek a firm foundation.