No Need to Believe

"The end of god-worship discloses itself at the moment when it becomes optional."

Christians are afraid of science. Most won't actually admit that, but there is an undeniable mistrust of scientific discovery within Christian communities (there's also an unfortunate ostracism that occurs when Christians venture into scientific fields and don't condemn the work done there).

photo credit: Kaptain Kobold via photopin cc
For many, it boils down to evolution. Christians seem to think that, number one, all scientists support evolution and, number two, that they want to prove that the world doesn't need God. Because that's essentially what Charles Darwin did--he developed a cosmogony, or origin theory of the universe, that didn't require the efficacy of a deity. As highly improbable as the big bang is, it's ultimately not impossible. Thus, as far as the natural laws that govern our world are concerned, God is optional. And with this, I find it hard to disagree; we don't need to believe in God.

Such are the accusations leveled at Christianity by the new atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. They argue that man only needed myth and religion to explain the world before reason and science could do the job. In their minds, science has replaced man's need for religion. The late Christopher Hitchens went even further and charged that religion has been complicit in fooling people for centuries. That despite their relative piety, religious folk have enjoyed the benefits of holding the masses hostage to their ignorance.

But the days of ignorance are over. Now we understand orbits and gravity, so we no longer have to believe that God literally holds the world in the palm of his anthropomorphic hand. We understand bacteria and viruses, so we can administer penicillin instead of waiting on divine healing. From the micro to the macro, natural laws have been discovered that have explained nearly all of the unexplainable things that previously could have only been attributed to God, myth, and miracle.

So why believe in God? Was he just a fabrication of our desperate desire to understand an irrational world? Was he the biggest pill we've ever swallowed to console our fear of death? Or have we simply needed to believe in something to medicate our lack of purpose?

Those aren't bad questions; they're just not helpful. To see what I mean, try asking those questions of a loved one. Why does my wife love me? Does she have reasons like how many times I buy her flowers, or how often I take out the garbage? If she did, I might question her love. Not because doing those things wouldn't make her love me more, but because true love transcends reason. Most people in love can't really explain it. They can only say, "I love you because I do."

Faith is no different. It's not something you need; it's something you have. Which isn't to say that it's blind or ignorant. To the contrary, faith takes stock of the evidence. The difference is, faith is willing to make the conclusions that reason isn't. It can see God at work where reason can only ascribe coincidence and caprice. Faith has hope. Reason has accidents.

Everyone has reasons to believe in something, and I imagine we all feel a need to understand our purpose in this life. But faith with reasons is just reason masquerading as faith. It's a circular attempt to make our religious choices bulletproof. So instead of warring with scientists as those rebelling against God, we should be celebrating the incredibly intricate world our creator has designed through complex natural laws. Because if we need reasons to believe, we may not truly believe at all.

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