Why do you believe in God?
Curious question, isn’t it? The answer to this one inquiry determines your entire worldview. Depending on how persuasive your answer, it determines where you come from, how you live, and where you’re going. It’s not a question to toy around with because the answer carries far too much weight.
If a loved one had contracted a potentially fatal illness, and you had to make a choice of which doctor to take them to, you wouldn’t look at a doctor and say, “This feels right.” That wouldn’t suffice for you. You might take suggestions from friends and family or even look up reviews, but ultimately you would probably check out the hospital’s record, the doctor’s history, and even talk to the doctors themselves to find out if they’d be able to render the optimum services.
I think the initial question contains far more drastic implications than the previous situation. I really like the way C. S. Lewis phrases it, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
This question often reminds me of a different question that I’ll hopefully have to face soon.
“Good morning sir” says the professor.
“Good morning! Thank you so much for this opportunity.” I reply.
“Your very welcome young chap. Let’s get started, shall we?”
“So tell me, why do you want to be a doctor?”
“Umm…ah…I want to help people?”
I don’t think so buddy. For a pre-med major, being a doctor is the logical destination. However I find that the rationale is often overlooked in my pursuit of reaching that destination.
I think what makes such life-defining inquiries so difficult is the fact that they force you to take the evidences that you see around you, map them in your mind, then make a decision; a commitment. The frightening part of this mapping process is the idea that the evidences may not fit with what you’ve always thought. What then becomes of a life when purpose has been snuffed out of it? But flip the coin and you’ll see the other possible outcome. As you internalize all the evidences, somehow they all seem to add up to an unmistakable conclusion. Then watch as a fire roars to life within you.
Being surrounded by scientists as I’m doing my research internship here in Seattle, it was only a matter of time until the answer to that initial question was required of me. It’s something that I’ve just always known. I knew that my goal was to believe in God, but I never thought to examine the rationale for such a far-reaching decision.
That night, in my apartment, as I faced the objections against…my friend, I was sorely ashamed that I could not reply with a convincing rebuttal. For a scientist, accustomed to measurable quantities and tangible data, it cannot and, frankly, will never suffice for me to say,
“I can just feel His presence near me. It just feels right” or “I just know it because of all the good things He’s done for me.”
“Then what about the bad, huh? What rational explanation can you give me about the bad?!”
So from that night, I have been venturing on a quest. A journey to discover, for myself, what the answer to this question will mean to me. To internalize the evidences I see around me and make a commitment. To be able to do what Christ, through Peter, demands of us: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Whether you are an aspiring doctor, dentist, researcher, pharmacist, or health care personnel – as long as you are involved with the sciences – you will not be immune to the factual basis of your answer to this question. And if you’re not involved with the sciences, you may not necessarily have to face the question as often, but you will. And you must.
As Jesus rose up from his daily prayer, he walks over to his disciples and asks them, “Who say the people that I am?” They all quickly reply with all sorts of ideologies. This is the easy part. Then he asks a more piercing question, “What about you? Who do you say I am?” You see what Jesus is doing here? He knows that it’s not enough to neutrally view the evidences around you. You must come to a decision. And to withstand the condemnation of man, Jesus knew they would have to come to a decision.
Look around you. It only takes a quick glance to see the pain on people’s faces, desperately yearning to believe in a loving God. They only need a nudge to fall into the warm, illuminating and revitalizing light of faith. But can I really offer this nudge if I am not convinced myself?
So I invite you to join me on this quest. I warn you that it may not be as easy as it first appears. “If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about” (Mere Christianity, Lewis).
Nevertheless, I’d say it is a journey well worth the risk. For out of the answer formulated you will gain a roaring fire within your bones and a firmly grounded commitment.