Some time ago, I spoke with a young man who expressly did not believe in God.
I am not sure what his reasons were, or if he even had any reasons beyond post-adolescent rebellion and non-conformity. He viewed religion and Jesus, in particular, as simply moral guides -- blue prints for being a decent person.
I feel he is a product of this secular age. The result of the “enlightenment” beginning with the French Revolution, when people threw off the shackles of the church/religion, and began to think freely and for themselves.
Later I reflected that while he couldn’t give any reasons as to why he did not believe in God, could I give any reasons as to why I did believe?
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Giving reasons for the existence of God is an age-old challenge going back to the Greek philosophers and continuing through Thomas Aquinas and the middle ages. A favorite argument then and now is that there must be an unmoved mover.
Simply put: As we see change and deterioration in the world, there must be a reality that is unchanging and unmoved, which began this chain of changing events.
What is even more interesting is the fact that people in the past, present and future will continue to debate the issue: Does God exist?
What is there about the human species that finds this question so important? What is there about us that senses that there must a higher being who created us, one who can complete and fulfill us? Could we say that God implanted in us this need to search for him?
Are we created to seek the transcendent, and find that we are restless until we rest in him (Saint Augustine)?
My own belief in God is based on something more than philosophical reasoning and rational explanation. My belief is a gift of faith. I do not dismiss rational arguments -- after all, faith seeks understanding.
However, the philosophical “Unmoved Mover” would not be enough to inspire me to become a celibate priest and pursue a life of service. The Unmoved Mover could not be enough to move people to lay down their lives as martyrs or to put themselves in a pew Sunday after Sunday.
My own belief rests on what I regard as revelation. God reaches out to us through scripture, through the church, through the lives of holy men and women and speaks to us.
God reveals himself in many and varied ways (Hebrews 1:1), but first, last and always the God of revelation seeks a relationship with us: “I will be your God and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12).
God is so passionate about this relationship with us that he sent Jesus, his only begotten Son, his beloved one. As we listen to Jesus, as we follow him, we are led, by his spirit, to the Father and to one another. Yes, I do believe in God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Rev. Fred Nijem is pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Warner Robins.