The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why I believe in God

When I was in college, there was time where a missionary to a Muslim country (I forget which one) came and spoke to my floor. It was a fairly informal event. It mostly involved us sitting around in one of the suites and talking, rather than an actual lecture. I was there because I've always found Islam to be fascinating on a interpersonal level as its followers are generally more willing to die for their beliefs than any others. When I asked what causes their beliefs to run so deep he responded by asking me why I believed what I do. Before a segue into my answer, I'll say that eventually he said that very devout Muslims will get together and work themselves up about their beliefs, and basically it is very powerful group think that drives them.

But as for my answer, it was an interesting question because mostly when thinking about why I believe what I believe I'd thought of it in terms of apologetic arguments. However, a belief on those types of arguments is really only going to run so deep. So why do I personally believe in the God of the Bible, regardless of what anyone else might think or say? It is absolutely not because the the 2nd law of Thermodynamics says that the universe must have been created. Arguments like that could never lead me to a belief so strong that I would be willing to die for it. The real reasons that I believe what I believe almost exclusively come from experiential knowledge.

The reason that I had not thought through my beliefs from this perspective is because though these reasons for my belief hold a lot of weight for me they do not hold a lot of weight for anyone else. But the fact that they might not be persuasive does not mean that they are not worth sharing. So here is why I believe in the God of the Bible.

The number one reason is that I know God. I talk to Him, and some times He talks back. I experience His presence on a somewhat regular basis. And for these reason I believe that I know God.

So what do I mean specifically when I say I experience His presence? It's hard to explain as it is a unique experience for me. One way that I've heard it put is that it feels like the room is full of warm jello, and I can somewhat relate to that. You could also say that it is somewhat like being on drugs. I have not done any recreational drugs, but I have been on opiate based pain killers. The neat thing about those for me is that although they don't deaden the pain at all, they alter my mood in such a way that I simply don't care. When on those pills (I forget which one it was exactly) I was unable to feel any stress, and just in general felt really good, and more than a little drowsy. It's also somewhat like they way I feel after a morning run and a cup of coffee. Runners high mixed with caffeine makes me feel very good, and active and ready to take on whatever the work day may throw at me.

Experiencing God's presence is somewhat like those things but not the same. It also involves feelings of both intense longing and fulfillment at the same time. When singing the worship song with the chorus “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” I can truly sing the lines with complete sincerity when experiencing God's presence.

I'm sure that someone of an Atheist mind set would read this and simply think that I'm imparting meaning to some sort of chemical reaction going on in my body. And although this is possible, it does not a good fit for the facts. The fact is that the other feelings that I have described come from predictable things, such as running, or taking drugs. But the presence of God has come to me when I'm active, meditating, tired, wide awake, in groups, or by myself, and ultimately I think you would have a pretty hard time explaining what triggered this chemical response in every single situation.

So then what do I mean when I say that God speaks to me? Me speaking to Him is no great mystery, it's just me thinking thoughts that I intend to be heard, or literally speaking out loud with the faith that God hears me. But what of God speaking to me? There are two ways God speaks to me. One is directly to my mind, and the other is through other people. God speaking directly to my mind is tricky because there is a constant conversation going on up there that happens on and between multiple layers of consciousness. So how do I know if a thought came from God or from my subconscious? Or do I even know for sure. Sometimes I just get an impression, not even words, that may or may not be from God. It's tricky for me if I am being honest. Some of the reasons that I believe that I get thought from God is that the thoughts tend to be startling. It's similar to an epiphany, but distinctly feels as though it has not come from my own mind. I admit that neither of these are daily, or even weekly events in my life, but they do happen.

When God speaks to me through other people it is almost always after being prayed for. After being prayed for, the person praying at times has told me that they felt God wanted them to say something to me. Sometimes what follows does nothing for me and leaves me wondering if they really heard something from God or not. But there have been other times where what the person said has had a similar effect on me as if I had just been hit by a truck. And this has come from people who I know, who are not professional motivational speakers or anything like that.

As with the other things, if you come at this from an atheist perspective, you certainly could explain this all away. It's possible that I'm placing undue importance on things people say due to the circumstances, and although I've had people give messages from God about things that I had not asked them to pray for, their words have been generic enough that you could attribute them to an extremely well done cold read. I don't think that this is the best explanation though, because the people doing this are not pro's, and at times are doing things in a way that are too risky. For example there was one time where I was at a conference, and during the worship portion, a person came up onto the balcony and specifically walked up to me through a crowd of people and asked if he could pray for me without hearing any prayer request. I said yes, and after he was done praying he told me that I needed to trust God about where I was. He said that God was saying that He had already affirmed that where I was was where He wanted me to be and that I needed to have faith and trust Him instead of perpetually doubting and asking. This had a very strong effect on me. I was also the only person that this guy prayed for on the balcony of that church. So could this have been done with a cold read? Maybe, the message was fairly generic and was one that could apply to many young Christians. But the fact is that this guy came right to me unasked and gave me a message that would not have applied to me for the rest of my time at college.

The final reason that I believe in God is because of the supernatural. There have been several events that I have been to where I supernatural events took place. Some of them I only observed in others, some I didn't personally observe things but heard things from other people there who I knew, and in one case I experienced a small supernatural event myself. I come from a more charismatic background within the church and there have been times when I've seen things that are just weird. For example, outside of church events I have never seen something like 30% of a crowd effected so that they are unable to stand or sit up right, are actually lying on the ground in most cases, and are uncontrollably laughing or crying perpetually for periods of ½ hour to 1 hour. I also know a lot of people who have been to such events that have found them very off putting, but either way this does not seem natural. Then there was one multi-night event I was at but I missed one night. One of the other people in our group came back to the hotel and said that there were people in the isles that could not walk correctly. They appeared to be walking against oncoming water as they approached the stage. These events always correlate with a very strong sense of the presence of God. Lastly there was an event that I was at where there were lots of people falling on the floor laughing or weeping. I asked one of the people with the conference to pray for me, and while he was praying for me I felt a sharp push to my chest. It was not the guy praying because his hand was on my head, I had my eyes open, and although I was certainly pushed backwards, I could not tell you where exactly I was pushed from other than that it was in the chest region. If it had been the guy praying or someone else I would have felt their hands on me, but I didn't feel any hands. After being pushed I stumbled backwards. The man praying told me to not do that be to allow myself to fall. There was another person behind me to catch me. Sure enough it happened a second time, and this time I didn't step backwards to keep upright but let myself fall.

My sister had the same thing happen to her, with the exception that when I was on the ground I stayed there till I no longer felt that God was doing something, but could have gotten up any time I wanted. My sister on the other hand said that she felt a great weight on her and could not get up. And also if I recall correctly she cried while I was not overcome with either tears or laughter.

This is why I believe in God. The supernatural argument might seem like it should be the most persuasive, but for me it is not. For me it is in feeling the presence of God that most moves me. And for that reason, because through His presence I know Him, my faith in God will not be shaken.  

1 comment:

  1. "I feel like I'm fallin',
    Spinnin' on a wheel,
    It always stops beside a Name,
    a Presence I can feel...
    I... believe in Love."

    - "God Part II", U2