This week Ken Ham and Bill Nye told us their versions of the origin of the universe. Just another Tuesday night in America. I didn’t watch, but it was probably like most of the presidential debates I’ve seen…two people with a lot invested in demonstrating to the average American that they are, in fact, more right than the other guy. Unfortunately, as with presidential debates, both sides accomplish little towards their goal. Minds have been made up; or at least made up that they do not want to be on the wrong side of what is becoming popular opinion. We are fools to think that the modern debate is dialog. It is marketing.
Yet the market for God-denying, or at least God-ignoring, is becoming an easy sell. Recent statistics show that the largest percentage of millienials are “unaffiliated” (33%) in terms of faith. Read any progressive blog or news aggregate and you will discover why. The new heroes of science and technology provide a very compelling narrative…and some great quotes: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson. Hard to argue with the laws of thermodynamics, right? Without those, I wouldn’t have a job!
Combine this with a generation of church scandals, the failure of the religious right, petty theological arguments, the rise of terrorism tied to religious extremism, and total ignorance of how to respond to the LGBT community, and it’s no wonder why rejecting God makes so much sense. After all, God is just a construct of the human imagination in order to maintain a patriarchal society, alleviate the fear of the unknown, and keep the masses poor and ignorant so the rich can continue to rule the world. Why on earth would any self-respecting, intelligent, modern person in 21st century America continue to hold on to these ridiculous beliefs about God?
I mean, really.
When I was five years old I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I remember where I was sitting on our vintage 1970’s living room couch with my mom and dad. I remember the feeling of peace and security of being included. Years later, I was preparing to go to college and I had an internal conversation. Was I going to continue pursuing God or make my own way? Perhaps unusual for an eighteen year old, but I was quite sure that my own way was pretty miserable. For the past twenty-two years I have been working that decision out amidst marriage to a wonderful woman, with three children, in the engineering profession, all while leading communities of other Jesus followers.
Why do I still believe in God? The older I get, the more I understand my place in the world can be easily filled with my own short-sighted ideas and grasping at self-preservation. It is human nature to believe that I make my own meaning and survive as any animal might. But things that appear true today often turn out to be false tomorrow. And what seems guaranteed today is often tragically lost tomorrow. God is everything we have hoped for and longed to be, but failed to deliver as master of our fate and captain of our soul. His story is ancient and modern all at once. Ironically, God is more concerned with our future than our origin. His story is filled with ridiculous ideas like love, grace, mercy, restoration, sacrifice and ultimately the most absurd idea of all – resurrection. It is these ideas that have been pushed aside because they are uncomfortable, old-fashioned, or illogical. However, they are at the heart of God’s good news to the world. We may be star-dust, but we are Loved.
So I will continue to pursue this God and his mysterious plan for the redemption of mankind, the heavens and earth. I recognize that it may no longer be a popular path. In the near future, it may cost me more than I can imagine. Sometimes I live like a functional atheist. But hopefully more often than not, I’m a believer.