I went to dinner with a friend last night. We were talking about a girl we met recently. We’d been doing an icebreaker and this girl was asked, “If you could live in any time period, when would it be?” She stated that she would like to live 100 years in the future because the world is increasingly becoming a better place. I had just met her and therefore did not engage her in the ridiculousness of that comment. I don’t believe in the “good ole days” and I’m quite content to live in the time where I have been placed. But I definitely do not agree that the world is becoming better. So I mentioned this to my friend, waved my hands and the air and said something to the effect of, that girl is living in her own little fairly tale.
My friend cocks her head and queries, “Yeah she is, but you’re religious.”
“So you’re living in a fairy tale too. We all have our own little fairy tales that we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better.”
This statement might offend some. Others are nodding their heads as they read this and agreeing. I am not offended; having known her for six years, I know she does not intend to hurt my feelings. And having spent countless hours stuck in a hot, African hut with no other entertainment than our conversation, I am well aware of her feelings toward the subject of religion, in general, and God, in particular.
Of course, I adamantly disagree with her. I am a rational, well-informed, well-educated person not given to fanciful thinking or flights of imagination. While I was raised in church, I was never taught to swallow everything that was preached from a pulpit. I was taught to question, research and come to my own conclusions. I don’t believe in God because it “feels good”, because my parents do or because I need to be consoled as to what happens to me after death.
In fact, I believe my friend is playing out her own unhappy fairy tale. The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and Nobel Prize winner puts it this way:
Religion, opium for the people! To those suffering pain, humiliation, illness, and serfdom, it promised a reward in afterlife. And now we are witnessing a transformation. A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death, the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged. The Marxist creed has now been inverted. The true opium of modernity is the belief that there is no God, so that humans are free to do precisely as they please.
So why do I believe in God?
While I don’t have the time or space to delve into the depths of evidence here, I will say that science and religion are not mutually exclusive. I recommend “Challenges From Science” written by John Lennox, an article in Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias and “Objection #3: Evolution Explains Life, so God Isn’t Needed” in A Case for Faith by Lee Strobel.
Paul says in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” God is evidenced in everyday life. What other explanation is there for the origin of life? No one has ever been able to explain it, aside from invoking a creator, or replicate it. Ben Stein’s documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” has some poignant arguments on this topic as well.
Ultimately, though, it is not rational arguments that convince someone that there is a God. All the intellect in the world is not enough. It is an issue of the heart.
Some of my friends from my time in the Peace Corps have wondered to others (and it’s gotten back to me) if I had some sort of religious conversion after coming back. I didn’t- perhaps, it was a reversion since I grew up with a deep faith. But during my early 20’s I decided to live for myself completely, doing what I wanted, when I wanted. While I never stopped believing in God, I blocked out what I knew of Him. I stopped praying and seeking guidance, forgot his demands for obedience. I forgot His love for me. And because of this, I lived in misery.
But He did not forget me, His child. He pursued me relentlessly, gently coaxing me back to a relationship with Him. This is why I believe in God. He is real. I have experienced a personal, loving God who wants to know me. There is no fact, no evidence, and no argument that can replace this. It must be experienced to be believed and it must be asked for to be experienced- God never forces anyone to believe in Him. Jesus says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10.
 McGrath, Alister. “Challenges From Atheism.” Beyond Opinion. Ed. Ravi Zacharias. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007. 32.