“Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)
As a teenager, being taught the questionable theories of the Big Bang and Darwin’s Evolution in school, I began to question the existence of God. Until then, I had assumed that there must be a God, for instinctively I understood that this hugely complex and vibrant design system that is our universe must have the hand of a Master Designer behind it. Much later, I read Paul’s letter to the Romans expressing these very thoughts.
The nature of the universe and all creation plainly testifies to the hand of the Creator – as any child or right thinking adult can see. But then I learnt from ‘experts’ and authority figures (senior school teachers) that life first arose by accident from chaos. Life grew increasingly more complex as the result of more and more fortuitous accidents. Order from chaos with no external agency. How very improbable! I found this very unscientific theory fascinating and embraced it wholeheartedly.
How did they know that God had no hand in ‘creation’? “Well, we cannot see God, so it is unscientific to believe in Him.” What evidence did we have that Big Bang and Evolution were true? “Many scientists seem to think so.” Trusting in the so-called scientific consensus backed by very little evidence sounded a bit like blind faith to me, but I wished to have modern, not outmoded views, so I went along with it.
I wondered about the implications of these theories in my own life. No God –meant I could live for my own pleasure and give no thought to afterlife. Of course I did not want to do anything particularly bad, but I could be my own god, ‘be free’ and have no worry about a future Day of Judgment. Wonderful!
Yet, something stopped me in my tracks. I had in my life, adults who held hugely different perspectives on faith. My mother, for example, took her Christian faith seriously. Many family members were nominally Christian and went to church, but had their own personal codes about right and wrong, sometimes coloured by Christian teaching, but more often determined by personal convenience. Some others were culturally Christian, holding to a Christianity of weddings, baptisms, funerals and Christmas– God was never on their hearts or lips. Still others, like my father, did not believe in God and felt it was hypocritical to attend church. Then we had friends and neighbours who practised other religions.
As I considered the lives of the people around me, I realised that there was definitely something different about people like my mother who were solidly Christian. Their whole lives were characterised by hope and an inward assurance. They had the same troubles as everyone else, but they responded differently. They were willing to love and serve and forgive. They were peaceful in the midst of difficult circumstances because they believed that God watched over their ways and would keep them.
In contrast, the lives of people who lived for themselves or by their own rules seemed superficial and chaotic. Despite worldly success, their lives seemed purposeless and empty, lacking in something (or Someone). They seemed to drift about about aimlessly without a firm anchor – a bit like orphans – in this world.
So, as practical minded teenager, I decided to give God another chance.