Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's about Choice

"Do you believe in God?"
"Yes" I replied, uncertain of where this conversation was going.

Why. It's quite the question.

An old Scoutmaster once told of a philosophy professor gave his class the final exam. It was five pages for each student, and they could write on the front and back if they needed. The only question on the exam was "Why?" Students wrote furiously, most filling up at least four of the pages with explanations, paradigms and similes. The only student to get a 100% on the final only wrote two words: "Why not?"

It's a fine argument for a classroom, but I really don't want my belief in a higher power to be based on a lack of reasons against it. That might be because I can think of a lot of good-sounding reasons in response to "Why not?" But then how do I proceed to answer this question, which seems to begging for an answer at the bottom of the instant messaging window, when I struggle answering it inside my own head, let alone actually having to articulate that to someone else?

"Because I choose to" I finally responded. It's the most honest answer I could have given.

A quick search shows that one definition of the word faith is "2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." (The American Heritage College Dictionary - Fourth Edition)

Someone once compared God to a brick wall. All the bricks are made up of the things God does. One thousand years ago, God caused the sun to shine, rain to fall, plants to grow, and plagues when we misbehaved. It was a very big brick wall. Today we know about gravity, the water cycle, photosynthesis, and bacteria and viruses. There are a whole host of things God used to do that He has lately outsourced to science. Maybe He's gotten lazy in His old age, or maybe He has another universe that He likes better than ours, so He decided to let science take over. And by now most of the bricks God has left for His wall are the extremely far away unknowns of space and the extremely small sub-atomic particles - not much of a wall at all.

It's because of this that I'm leery of explaining something by saying "because of God." Someday there could be a scientific explanation for that miracle, and I don't want that scientific explanation to make the event any less miraculous. Instead I believe that God is responsible for everything and that somehow He manages to get everything to work out His way while still providing a scientifically valid reason.

So I choose to believe in God. There is no proof that he has a beard or that he even exists. It is through my faith in his existence that I will list as a reason should any paperwork be required.