(If you are just joining this discussion, you can read part one here.)
Another thing that atheists say often is that religion relies on a “blind faith” and a lack of questioning and skepticism.
I have to laugh when I read that. Let me repeat, I was raised by my mother to distrust and avoid religion. Anytime I had a question about Christianity, I was given a half-answer and told that was the best she could do because it doesn’t make sense to her.
When God spoke to my heart, you can be darn sure He was met with a great deal of skepticism. I thought that God has spoken to me, but I did not believe in God. I wanted to, but I had years of doubt planted in my mind by both my upbringing and my years of studying science.
I did make the effort to earnestly seek God out with an open heart and open mind, but I was full of skepticism and doubts.
Even as I saw God working in my life and had prayers answered, sometimes instantly, I still wrote it off as a possible coincidence.
There comes a point when one can no longer deny the truth and can no longer dismiss the divine as a mere coincidence. Once I committed my life to Jesus, it was for keeps. I know He is there. He has done things in my life that removed all doubt as to His existence. That is why I have faith. It is not a blind faith rooted in ignorance and lack of reason. It is a faith rooted in truth and knowledge, that I stand by even when my emotions betray me.
Whether or not God is real is not based on how I feel on any given day. On those days when I wake up feeling like my life sucks and God does not rush in with His tingly cosmic love to warm and comfort me during my self-centered conniptions, I have to rely on my faith. As I grow as a Christian and God’s answers for my life no longer come to me as instantly or as clearly as they did when I was first seeking, I have to rely on my faith. Those times when I think I might have a better or more exciting life if I ignored what God wants me to do and did things my way, I rely on my faith in God’s plan. That faith was forged through experience that God’s plans really do work out better than my own.
Let me put it another way, we all rely on our faith when our emotions betray us. There are some morning that I wake up and cannot stand to be around my husband. I don’t mean that he is some kind of jerk – actually my husband is the best husband any woman could wish for. I mean that I am in such a bad mood that all he has to do is breath the same air I do and I am ready to go off on him. In those moments, I have to rely on my faith that no matter how I feel at that moment, I really love my husband.
Sometimes we go through a period of a couple days where we really don’t seem to connect for whatever reason. I rely on my faith in our love during those times, too. Even two people as madly in love as my husband and I are have times when their thoughts and emotions are deceptive. In those times, it is faith that keeps us grounded.
That is what is meant by faith – clinging to something more concrete and steadfast than our emotions.
I don’t expect my personal experiences to serve as proof to anyone else that God does exist, but I also find it irritating when my beliefs are dismissed as “blind faith” and I am accused of lacking the intellectual capacity to question what I am told.
That brings me to another thing that atheists say that is untrue or otherwise irritating: that religion discourages people to think for themselves. I totally disagree. I have always been encouraged to prayerfully reflect on whatever I am told or taught even by the pastors in our church.
Men are fallible, but that fact does not take away anything from the existence or character of God. There are plenty of bad teachings out there and I do not doubt that there are religious leaders that don’t want to be questioned, but that is not required, or even desired, by God. God does not ask us to put our faith in men, but in Him alone.
My husband and I regularly discuss what is taught at our church. We do not accept that the teachings there will always be correct without question.
I have put a tremendous deal of time and thought into my beliefs, which is why I find it extremely irritating when my beliefs are summarily dismissed as the product of blind faith and an absence of questioning.
That is no more convincing than it would be for me to claim that atheists don’t believe in God because they have blind faith in what they were taught, they have not really questioned what other atheists say, or they somehow lack the intellectual capacity to realize that they are wrong. Whether or not I think that is true does not make it a convincing argument.
In part three, I will discuss that famous line that just won’t die, “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”