#whyIbelieve: Arielle

I like to think of different worldviews as different pairs of glasses—my worldview, then, is the lens I wear which shapes the way I view the world, and ultimately shapes how I act.  For instance, if I believed that aliens secretly controlled American government, I would probably want to study xenology, and I would have quite a different mindset when going to the polls to vote. 

A professor once told me that every person’s worldview requires a leap of faith.  If I believe there is a God, I am putting faith in that idea, since his existence cannot be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.  If I believe there is no God, I am putting faith in that idea as well, since his lack of existence cannot be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.  And so on.

If every worldview requires a leap of faith, I want to choose the one that requires the smallest leap possible.  If only one worldview can be true (which I will address later), the one with the smallest leap is probably the true one.  The size of the gap, if you will, is determined by the amount of proof there is for the particular worldview. 

I believe that there is a God—the Judeo-Christian God of Scripture—and that there is enough evidence and human experience to prove his existence, enough to make my leap more of a baby step.  While I could spend hours and possibly days talking about the reasons why I believe in God (the trustworthiness of Scripture, my own experience, scientific proof, cultural anthropology, etc.), I will focus now on just one.

“How could a good God allow evil?”  This is one of the most pressing and painful questions of our generation.  The argument goes like this.  If the God of the Bible is completely good, he would not allow evil.  If the God of the Bible is completely powerful, he would put a stop to evil.  So either God is not good, or he is not powerful. 

Or…there is no God.

For many people, the reality of evil is enough to squelch their belief in God, or at least the God of the Bible…leaving them with either no God, or a God who is disconnected from the universe he created.  However, for me the presence of evil actually strengthens and grounds my belief in God—and a good God at that.  Here are some reasons why:

1. In an age of moral relativism, many people live by the phrase “That may be true for you, but not for me.”  With regard to religion, this sounds something like, “It’s cool if you believe in God, but I don’t.”  We glorify tolerance and acceptance of all belief systems and lifestyles, in an effort to repair the evil that has been done throughout history to the marginalized and mistreated in America and the world at large.  But I would argue that relativism poses three problems:

First, the phrase, “There is no absolute truth” contradicts itself…because that phrase is an absolute truth.  The person who makes this claim believes that there is no absolute truth, absolutely. 

Second, moral relativism breaks the law of non-contradiction: something cannot be both true and untrue at the same time.  Sure, some moral decisions are grayer than others.  For example, is it inappropriate to be late to a meeting, or is that practice culturally subjective?  But when it comes to truth, there is no gray area.  Either my roommate is cooking in our kitchen right now, or she isn’t (spoiler alert: she is—no matter how badly I wished she wasn’t, so we can watch the movie we’re about to start).  To put this in context, there cannot be both a God and no God at the same time. 

Third, as I touched on, at the very core of relativism and tolerance (repairing the mistakes of our past) lies a moral compass.  We want to fight against evil.  But if everything is relative, how can we say for certain that anything is truly evil?  Where did we even get the idea of right and wrong?  I would argue that if people have an inherent sense of what is evil or wrong, there had to be some standard of good by which we measured what is bad.  So who are morals determined by… the powerful?  No, because we only like to say the powerful should make laws when the people in power are good.  Culture?  No, because different cultures have different ideas of what is right and wrong.  The individual?  As we have already seen, no, because these days everyone decides what is right for him or her.  One option remains: moral law comes from a Law Giver

Morality is grounded in a holy, unchangeable God whose commands reflect his character.  We are grieved by death because death was a consequence of human sin.  We are enraged by child abuse because we reflect the image of a God who is enraged by it.  We feel remorse when we lie, cheat, or steal because God has commanded us not to, and regardless of our religion, somewhere deep down we know this is not the best way to live.  In sum: I believe in God because however much we may say that some things are wrong for me but not for you, we know that certain things are absolutely wrong, because we subconsciously have a measure of what is absolutely right.

2. On the flip side, and probably more importantly, good things lead me to believe in God.  It comes naturally for humans to find things beautiful.  We take photos, make post-cards, and stand in breathless awe of a sunset; a mountain range; a night sky; a flower; a newborn child.  These evoke feelings that are oftentimes inexplicable.  But WHY?  If our lives are meaningless, if we are just matter and molecules, if there is no God, then beautiful things are void of meaning and we should just laugh at the awestruck reactions they bring.  I’ve heard the reactions to beauty explained away by science—that we have evolved and been conditioned into reacting certain ways for reasons X, Y, or Z.  And my response to that is this: even if that’s true, even if I respond to beauty because a certain sight or smell triggers some neural impulse which does something in my brain’s pleasure center—then how does that disprove God’s existence?  Somehow when science gives a name to some thing or some process, we immediately disassociate it with God.  I would argue that we have merely given a name to something that God has designed.  But I digress. 

We love beauty.  We love hope.  We love redemption and happy endings.  To illustrate this point, I will conclude with the words of C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory.

“In speaking of this desire for our own far off country [heaven, in this context], which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

Ari is currently working towards her M.A. in Communication Studies while also being a Teaching Associate. Her ultimate goal is to teach college students how to be good communicators, so that they will have flourishing relationship in their personal and professional lives. Check out more of Ari’s writing @ beingmindfull.blogspot.com

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