119. God’s Fool

A couple of weeks ago, a coworker informed me quite seriously that our workplace is haunted.

I laughed and told her I think I’d have noticed by now if the bogeyman, the Slenderman or any other kind of spook were lurking in our workplace.

Later in the evening, the garbage compactor went off by itself.

“See?” said my coworker, smiling nervously. “Nobody’s in that room. How do you explain that?”

“If I were a vengeful spirit,” I replied, “I think I’ve have better things to do than activate garbage compactors.”

The incident made me laugh at the time, but it later made me think seriously about the things we believe. My coworker believes our workplace is haunted. It would be easy for me to scoff at her beliefs, but I happen to believe in an invisible, all-powerful, everlasting God.

What sets apart my beliefs from hers? What’s the difference between faith and superstition?

The answer, of course, is evidence. There’s much more evidence to support the existence of God than there is to suggest dark spirits have taken possession of the garbage compactor in my workplace.

Many people don’t agree. I recently read an article claiming science will someday eliminate the need for God. The theory of intelligent design is frowned upon by many scientists. Naturalistic evolution is the de facto explanation for the origin of human life.

Honestly, both sides offer compelling arguments. No matter what atheists may say, there’s certainly evidence for God. Regardless of what Christians will tell you, there’s certainly evidence for atheism. To quote C.S. Lewis, an atheist who converted reluctantly to Christianity, “Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable; but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.”

In the end, casting one’s lot with one side or the other isn’t just a matter of reason, logic and evidence. It’s a matter of faith, even for atheists.

There are things I don’t understand about the Christian faith, even though I’ve tried. Regardless, I’ve chosen Christianity. Based on the evidence, it makes sense. I speak not only of scientific, archeological and historical evidence, but also of the evidence of changed lives.

Some months ago, I wrote about gangster pastors: men who have been miraculously transformed from violent, drug-addicted criminals into loving husbands, fathers and church leaders. I know these men personally. I’ve heard numerous accounts of miraculous events. Most powerfully, I know many people whose lives are marked by something, a loving graciousness that goes far beyond mere altruism or friendly disposition.

For me, the best evidence is my own life. Ten years ago, I was a selfish, dishonest, insecure jerk. Eight years ago, I turned my life over to Jesus Christ. Today, while I’m not perfect, I’m a much, much better person than I was.

In the eight years I’ve been a Christian, I’ve seen too many answers to prayer, too many transformed lives and too many unbelievable circumstances for me to pretend it’s all just a series of coincidences—just as it’s possible for ten rolls of a die to yield only sixes, but my first guess is that the gambler who rolls ten sixes in a row is probably using a loaded die.

I’m sure some of my readers are nodding their heads and exclaiming, “Yes, yes.” Some of my readers are probably shaking their heads and saying, “This guy’s deluded,” and a few may have stopped reading once I switched topics from the Slenderman to the Christian faith.

Christians are sometimes considered foolish, and that’s fine. Christ’s own family thought he was out of his mind. (To those who believed he was just a Jewish carpenter, some of the things Jesus said and did must have seemed pretty strange.) The Apostle Paul, who wrote nearly half the New Testament, was accused of insanity.

If I’m crazy for being a man of faith, at least I’m in good company. If I’m a fool, at least I have the consolation of being God’s fool.

I’m not quite sure why I decided to compose this blog post. The subjects of faith, atheism and superstition (and the Slenderman) have been on my mind recently, and I suppose I just wanted to share my thoughts.

2 thoughts on “119. God’s Fool

  1. I hope you don’t mind my rambling on about a post you made two years ago as if it were still representative of your beliefs. I’m only doing so because you pointed to it in a much more recent post about divine hiddenness, and it seems as though you’re doubting and questioning your faith lately. I thought I would share my perspective, having gone through a similar period of doubt that led to my deconversion.

    As far as I know, the “theory” of intelligent design doesn’t qualify as a scientific hypothesis, let alone a scientific theory. It hasn’t been demonstrated that intelligent design is falsifiable.

    Semantic quibble: Atheism is not necessarily a position of faith, seeing as the most generic definition of atheism is a mere lack of belief in deities. If you find that the Christian faith is too difficult to hold onto, it is possible to simply let go and embrace neutrality regarding God’s existence. Contrary to popular opinion, this doesn’t just make one agnostic; it also makes one an atheist.

    I can almost guarantee that most religious groups will report numerous examples of adherents undergoing lifestyle changes, many of them “for the better.” If you accept such anecdotes as evidence which adequately supports a religion’s extraordinary claims of universal truth, then you should believe that multiple, contradictory worldviews are simultaneously true. However, the phenomenon of life-changing religious conversions can easily be explained in naturalistic terms, as an effect of ethical and emotional rhetoric on the human psyche. When a sufficiently impressionable person hears a preacher condemn his actions, calling him sinful and worthy of eternal punishment, that person is likely to be so afraid of the ostensible consequences of his behavior that he will change his ways however the preacher says he must to avoid said consequences.

    Answers to prayer would only be comparable to “ten rolls of a die [yielding] only sixes” if no prayers were unanswered, and if the probability of each prayer being answered by chance (within a more or less arbitrary period of time, depending on the specifications made in the prayer) were somewhere around 1/6. Clearly that’s not the case. It appears that you have been slightly blinded by confirmation bias.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. It has been a while, hasn’t it?

      For as long as my faith has been genuine, I have doubted and questioned it. I would doubt and question any worldview I held, including atheism. I think it’s telling that Christianity has, in my case, held up to a decade of scrutiny. I’m no apologist — truth be told, I’m hopeless when it comes to debating anything — yet I’m firmly convinced of orthodox Christianity.

      There are certainly naturalistic explanations for some of the things I find most compelling about the Christian faith: the evidence of changed lives, for example. Can other worldviews change lives for the better? Of course they can. Are changed lives incontrovertible proof of truth in any worldview, including Christianity? Of course they’re not. That does not, however, disqualify their validity as evidence. Supposing changed lives must necessarily prove or disprove all religions is a false dichotomy. Changed lives are evidence, not proof. Changed lives don’t prove the Christian faith, but they support it.

      This is hardly the place for a long, thoughtful debate — and I’m rubbish at debating anyhow, as I mentioned before. I will take a moment to concede that my analogy of ten rolls of a die breaks down. All analogies break down at some point. I wasn’t trying to make definitive comparisons of probability. My analogy was meant to make a simple point: remarkable or miraculous circumstances can be explained by coincidence, but at some point other explanations (such as the existence of the divine) become possibilities worthy of consideration.

      I hope you’re well!

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