Ever since the 18th Century European Enlightenment and the rise of the Age of Science, those who believe in God have been put to the test by non-believers who demand some kind of proof that God exists. This has become standard fare in the debates between faith and reason, with believers having to explain on what basis their belief in God rests. Believers often argue that ultimately God wants us to accept Him on faith and in love, not on scientifically verifiable evidence. Faith in God is after all the ultimate sign of love given freely, not a reaction to what has been done for us, but an action of the will in which we respond in love to the Creator of the universe who exits beyond all proofs. The argument says God so respects human free will that He does nothing to force belief in Him; God has created us in love and invites us to love Him in return, but leaves the choice up to us.
This argument has often brought derision on believers from the non-believers – a price that we have to pay for choosing to believe in God. And many believers would say that their faith is in fact based in personal experience, and so is based in fact. Christianity for example is based in the claim of a number of witnesses who say that Jesus did rise from the dead. We believe not only God, but also His chosen witnesses, the Apostles and the Church.
As a person who once considered himself an atheist, I find the criticisms of atheism regarding religion often to be valid and reasonable objections. I sympathize with their incredulity as they really do have a different worldview than believers. The gap between the two perspectives is not easily bridged as both begin with different assumptions and are reinforced by differing experiences.
I also must admit that one of the most humorous things I ever read poking fun at believers was written by Douglas Adams in his THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. This book is (in my opinion) a hilarious mix of science fiction and ultimate questions. (Hilarious if you can appreciate the totally twisted, whacky bizarreness of the story). In it there is the Babel fish described as “the oddest thing in the universe.” The Babel fish when place in the ear enables you to understand the speech of any language in the universe. Here is what Adams wrote about the amazing characteristic of the Babel fish:
“Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-boggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God.
‘The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
‘”But,’ says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
‘”Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.”
God is not a proposition that can be proven or disproven by logic or evidence or the scientific method. But faith in God certainly is subject to human critical thinking and to rational discourse. “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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1Peter 3:15-16).