We sat down to talk and he just fueled his jets and hit the “nitro” button in the conversation by throwing as many “science is better than theology” arguments at me as he could. After a few minutes, I had to interrupt and slow the rockets down a little.
“I’m not here to argue with you, man. I’m just a pastor trying to hear what you have to say. If I disagree with a few of your points about science, don’t get me wrong… I just see things differently than you do.” I went on, “Besides, I don’t have to prove God exists, anymore than you have to prove that He doesn’t. God believes in you, whether you believe in him or not.”
“Well, what do you think about suffering? Why does God allow so many people to die of starvation or diseases?”
“Suffering is bad and I don’t think God likes it.” I said.
“Well, what about the big bang theory? You know Carl Sagan was right when he discovered the big bang.” he replied.
“Why do so many Christian people hate homosexuals and make life so hard for them?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe some Christians have personal bigotry and hatred issues toward those that aren’t like them… sort of like some atheists feel about Christians. Why do some atheists hate on Christians so much for believing other ways of faith?”
“Good point,” he said. “But why do Christians think they are right, and everyone else is wrong?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t like it either. Don’t atheists do the same thing?” I responded.
The jet fuel was beginning to wear off in his defensiveness and we began to see that we had more things in common than previously thought. He asked me about all the wars that were started by so called Christians in the past, and we talked about the spending of so much money on consumerism and greed by so called Christians. We went on for 90 minutes together and ended up deciding that some things are bigger than our little minds to figure out.
I kind of wrapped things up by saying, “You know what? For you to declare that you’re an atheist means that you have to have more faith than I do.” “What does that mean?” he responded. “Well,” I said, “Neither one of us can see God, taste him, touch him, feel him, hear him… but your faith (or belief in scientific reasoning) has to be greater than mine because I base all my understanding about God on the book that he wrote over the course of 1500 years with 30 some authors. You are basing your faith reasoning on so much more complexity than that… and even on things that haven’t been discovered yet. You have to have more faith than I do to disprove God.”
“I never thought of it like that.” he said.
“I haven’t either, but let’s meet up again sometime to talk about it.” and we wished each other well, shook hands and said goodbye.
We had talked about a lot of other things too, like his upbringing, his educational background, his parents’ style of discipline and his former church experiences, none of which were very positive for him. It stands to reason that a guy like this who came through so many confusing situations in his history is going to have a certain view of the church, God, Christians and the world perspective in which he lives. I have other paradigms through which I see the world. Who is right? Who is wrong?
When the “Bridge is out” in your faith, where do you turn? What do you reach for in seeking answers, in seeking comfort, in seeking something to believe in?
What kind of ways are you trying to prove that God exists, or doesn’t? Do you have to prove it? What compels you to live that way you do? I’d like to know your thoughts.