Wednesday, December 18, 2013

O Come, All Ye Faithless

Advent raises the question of God. As much as the culture tries to drown out the spiritual in a holiday cacophony of commercialism and sentimentality, the Deity peeks around every corner during December.

As a pastor I talk about God a lot during every season of the year. I pray to God, teach about God, preach about God, and write about God. I am more aware of God than I am of myself. I am more certain of God's existence than I am of my own human existence.

I know that statement sounds strange to many ears. God is a problem for increasing numbers of people. Atheism is on the rise in America. It is the fastest growing category in religious surveys.  So I see Advent as a time to raise the God question.

In an age when people doubt God, how can I be so certain of God? The answer is personal experience. I know that experience can be deceptive. There are hallucinations, deceptions and delusions. Atheist Richard Dawkins entitled his best-selling book The God Delusion. He thinks religion is a sign of mental impairment.

When I have the opportunity to discuss God with atheists (which I love to do!) some will compare belief in God to belief in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. They see the idea as a childish notion that any sensible person outgrows in adolescence. I used to believe that also.

I grew up in church and went through Confirmation at the age of 13. But by the time I entered college I was a confirmed atheist. I know the atheist mindset by personal experience. In fact I reexamined my religious beliefs just a few years ago. I revisited my undergraduate atheism, just to make sure that I was not in fact deluded in my faith.

Atheism is a very attractive and consistent philosophy. But I don’t buy it. It does not ring true to experience. I am a theist and a Christian because of my awareness of God and Christ. The atheist arguments are impressive, but you can’t argue with experience.

I understand that experience is fallible. People believe a lot of strange things based on their experiences. I know the dangers of basing one’s life on subjective experiences. But there is also a danger in dismissing experience.

God is a confirmable hypothesis. Anyone can know that God is real. In fact I would say that everyone already knows God is real at some level of awareness. I wrote in a previous blog about uncovering the soul (Soul Searching) – discovering one’s true nature as immortal soul. When one perceives soul, God appears.

The soul is the doorway to the Divine. When one enters the sanctuary of the human soul one steps into eternity. God is waiting for us there. We don’t have to “believe” anything. (That comes later.) All it takes is the courage to suspend one’s disbelief and see for ourselves. If we persevere in the discovery of our own true nature, we will incidentally bump into God. Even an atheist can do it.

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