Saturday, October 4, 2008

Often Asked Questions

After looking at how evidence points toward the Bible being a true and Historically accurate document, I'd like to maybe use the next few posts to answer some tough questions that many people ask at one time or another.
Let's get right down to it and discuss a few of the major ones that many people ask. So, Who created God if He really does exist? What was God doing before He created the world? Why doesn't He show himself so more people would believe? Why don't more people believe- if He is real?
Are these some of the questions you've ever asked yourself, or someone else? Have you ever wondered these things? I have too. I know I will never know all the answers, and I also know that not all of the answers that are out there will necessarily change one's mind. It's not a person's mind Christ is trying to change any how- but the heart. Sometimes though, it's much easier on an intellectual level to get to the heart. That's what I hope I can accomplish every time I discuss Christ with anyone. Let's begin with the first question- Who made God?
The simple answer is that no one did. God has always existed. Everything we see around us had a beginning somewhere- from the homes we live in, a tree in the yard, clouds, rain, oceans. Each had a beginning. God had no beginning, so He didn't need to be made. Now for those who don't believe in God, many believe that the universe has always been- even in the Big Bang theory, something must have been around to create the bang. Now no one has witnessed the big bang, but we have had scientific observation that the actual energy of the universe has remained constant. No one has witnessed energy coming into or leaving existence. If energy is uncreated and eternal, it has always existed- which would make the question of who created the universe a meaningless question. As meaningless as asking who created God, since He too would have always existed. If the universe is not eternal however, it needed a cause, or if it has always existed, it needs no cause because it has always existed.I know this sounds really goofy and like a circular argument- but there are things that we just have never known about the universe. Even when scientists think they have all the answers, something comes up to blow their latest theory out of the water. This doesn't mean that scientists give up on trying- they still have faith that something will be known about our universe- to where it started and how. Likewise, there are certain things that we don't know about God, but many still have faith that someday their questions will be answered, that we need not give up on the idea that God exists, just because we don't know all about where He came from and when. I know that may not be much of an answer- so lets add on to that. God is greater than our minds can conceive. That is, if nothing can be greater, then nothing or no one could have created Him because that would mean something even more great would have created God. 17th century philosopher, Descartes pointed out that the very idea of God could only come from God, because we couldn't conceive of a God is God didn't give us the ability to do so.On the other side of this, is to try and understand nothingness. The first president of Princeton University, Jonathon Edwards, described it this way, "Nothingness is what sleeping rocks dream of". That is, we can not conceive nothingness. The fact of existance makes us consider everything there is and where it came from, and this ultimately leads us to God. We can't conceive of nothingness or nonexistence. The highest thing we can cconceive is God. Even if one doesn't believe in God, one knows there is something much greater than himself which exists, working in the whole scheme of things. Because we exist, we know that we can't exist unless something or someone brought us into existance.
So how come He doesn't show Himself more clearly if He does exist? Many people would like a miraculous event in order to believe in God. Many people of every age would like to see tangible proof of His existence. To those who would prefer a miracle in order to believe, I have to say that the Bible says do not put the Lord your God to the test. God has never had to resort to performing miracles just so people will believe. He does do miraculous things, but never just to satisfy our curiosity. He's not some guy in the sky performing magic tricks.If someone wants a miracle as proof of His existence, one only need to look at the story of the first Christmas- the birth of Jesus Christ. The Son of God, born of a virgin (see my earlier post if you missed this). He was the Son of God- but born in a smelly stable among not just ordinary people, but among camels and sheep and cows! Now, you'd think if a person invented God, and had this wild idea of a Son of God coming to earth as a human child, you'd expect that child to have pretty ideal conditions, such as being born in a palace among nobles and personal staff, with couriers traveling the country side proclaiming the birth of the new King. Think also that the Jews of the time were expecting a Mighty Messiah- a King surrounded by the armies of heaven, to bring an immediate end to the bondage and persecution and suffering of their fellow Jews. You'd think that if someone created this story, the Messiah would be born in a royal household. As C.S. Lewis said, "The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this."When God became Man, He gave the world a perfect means to invite humanity back into a relationship with Himself. God has always let humankind choose freely to believe or not to believe. He has never coerced or ordered anyone to believe in Himself. He chooses the "foolish things" of the world- such as being born in a stable and laid sleeping in an animal trough, instead of being born into Royal comforts. He doesn't show Himself clearly simply because of His love for us. Because He wants us to be free to choose to love Him. He has shown us through coming to us in human form through Christ rather than showing us through coercive means of power which would have us fearfully showing worship to Him. Through faith or faithlessness, we have been freely able to accept His offer of a relationship with Him.
So, what was He doing before He created the world? Augustine, the 5th century Christian teacher answers this- God didn't have any time on His hands because time began with creation. Before creation, time didn't exist. The creation of the world didn't happen in time, it happened in a creation of time. Since God is eternal, the only thing before time was eternity. Some people may think that He was bored, therefore He created us. This seems logical to our finite minds, our imperfect selves, but since God is perfection and infinite, boredom is not even logical for God. An infinite creator such as God could always find interesting things to do- but we finite humans do become bored when we run out of ideas for things to do. One last point here- since Christians believe in the Triune nature of God- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as One, God could never have been lonely before He created humans- He always had some part of Himself to keep Himself company! In perfect understanding and companionship, with His three Natures, He could never be bored or lonely. - I will explain more of the trinity in future posts.
Now. lastly for this post, why don't more people believe in God if He's real? Contrary to what our society teaches, just because something is not the most popular opinion doesn't make it false. We have been taught that if something isn't popular, it can't be true. Truth, however, often runs counter to popular beliefs and opinion. Remember there was a theory a long time ago when people actually thought the earth was flat, and if they sailed too far in one direction, they'd fall off the edge of the earth? To many people before flight was possible, the earth seemed flat, and no one had ever seen the curverature of the earth through pictures or by flying high up in an airplane or a rocket. To most people, what seemed true, what they saw (flatness) was true. We know that this is not the truth- we know the earth is round. (Side note here, the first books of the Bible talk about the roundness of the earth- centuries before science proved it). Some people's refusal to believe in God is almost always based on the notion that He exists. Many of these are moral arguments, which may seem to these folks to be intellectual. Many great Christians have, before becoming a Christian, faced almost an agony- only because intellectually, they knew there is a God, but morally, they are unwilling to surrender to the demands of Christianity. (Even Christians who have been Christian for a long time have a struggle with this). Many of these folks have found that the Truth of God is more important than moral objections. Some people get almost furious and venomous in their arguments that God doesn't exist. This is because it's a representation of rebellion against God. I once heard a atheistic scientist say that even though he has seen more evidence that points to creation than to evolution, he can Not and will Not bring himself to believe in God. This is a willingness to remain in rebellion to God, even though he has seen evidence of God. Many people can't see themselves, or bring themselves to the point where they bring on the death of their own willfulness. Rebellion is much easier, especially in this day where a prominent scientist would be ostracized in the scientific world if he professed a belief in God. It's much the same for many people. The thought of being made fun of, losing friends, family or employment because of a profession of Christian faith, it is much more tempting to just "go with the flow" and keep your popularity. We must try and break this willful rebellion, and God gives us a lifetime in which to complete this- by His Grace.
Next post, we'll look at some more of these often asked questions. Until then, think about this, Is it really too hard to believe that we were created to know God, to return His love and have a relationship with Him? If you have turned away from Him, what have you replaced Him with? If you have believed you never have known Him, can you think of things which are unexplainable- which may just point to Him in a way you've never noticed before?

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