At a glance, arguments against the existence of God can seem pretty final. But like a newspaper story that only scratches the surface of a matter, digging a little deeper is necessary for anyone to understand the truth about anything in life.
The question isn't really "why believe?" but "what is the truth?" If it's "true" that God exists and created everything, that's a pretty relevant piece of information to have!
From what we (Mimi and Pierre) know and have learned about life, people, science and nature, to us it all adds up to 'man was created by a God who loves'.
Yes, some common observations seem not to support that conclusion, for example:
- Why would a loving God even create people who could sin or hurt each other?
- Why would God allow innocent people to suffer?
- Most Christians seem no different from non-Christians, and sometimes they're even more harsh than the average person.
- Hasn't science proven that we've evolved by random chance?
- Lots of stuff recorded in the Bible is either not believable or suggests God is mean.
- Why doesn't God just heal Mimi?
We've honestly wrestled with all of these questions. Pierre, especially, spent several agnostic years, trying to figure out how and why the world and people work the way that they do. After searching through all kinds of philosophy and religions, Pierre found logically and morally satisfying answers to all of his questions only in the Christian view point. Here are some of the answers he found:
Why would a loving God even create people who could sin or hurt each other?
The bottom line is free will. True love can only be given by a being that is free to give or to withhold their love. If someone is truly free to love you, they are also truly free to hurt you. Apparently God did not want "Obedience Robots" whom He controlled; He wanted free, independent beings who could love. He felt that important enough to take the chance of evil and suffering.
Why is there so much suffering, especially by innocent people?
This is the unavoidable consequence of free beings if/when even just one of them chooses to be selfish. Yes, that means innocent people suffer in this life, but ultimately, everyone will be either be compensated for their suffering or for their evil. Like in the story, children sometimes go through difficult experiences that their parents could prevent, but the parents let their child go through the experience, knowing that ultimately, their child is safe and will be better for the experience in the end.
Why are some Christians so harsh or so obviously irrational?
It often seems that people claiming to be Christians have simply adopted their own, preferred interpretation of Christianity and, as a result, their character is nothing like the character of Jesus portrayed in the Bible. Other Christians may hold and communicate very confusing, incomplete versions of Christianity that are observably not true and not worth believing.
Sadly, selfish and irrational Christians are one of the most convincing arguments against the truth of Christianity. But just like the existence of many self-serving politicians doesn't mean that the principle of government is invalid, so many self-serving Christians doesn't mean that Christianity isn't true. People who want to truly understand if Christianity need to look into it for themselves and then decide what is true or not.
Hasn't science proven that we've evolved by random chance?
Not at all. None of the processes claimed to be part of evolution has ever fully been observed. Scientists look at short term process (tens of years of observation) and then project back in time, tens of thousands and even millions or billions of years, to make guesses about what happened in the past.
In forensic science, guessing about past events without stating the limitations and assumptions, even if 'based' on valid scientific principles observed in the short term, is called "Junk Science" and has led to many people being convicted of crimes they didn't commit. The stakes are arguably higher when science affects whether or not people believe in God!
In reality, the question of origins cannot be addressed by science in any objective, reliable way.
Some stuff in the Bible is not believable:
Science can only study what is reproducible in nature. In other words, science looks at processes that happen again and again, that we can observe and study until we understand it. If God exists and created the natural world, He can do one-off things (miracles), if He cared to. So miracles in the Bible, and even some events many people today have observed, may defy the principles of the natural world yet not be inconsistent with science.
The vast majority of information in the Bible has been repeatedly confirmed through other validated, historical documents and archaeological findings. Manuscripts of the Bible known to have been written as much as 1000 years apart demonstrate only very minor, insubstantial differences have been introduced despite thousands of hand-written copies produced. The different books in the Bible were written by 40 different people over 1500 years and they all tell a consistent story. If the history of the Bible is unimpeached, perhaps the miracles and origin story, relayed by the same authors, are true as well?
Some stuff in the Bible proves that God is mean:
Yes, at first glance, many of God's actions and words in the Bible appear to be those of a tyrant. But that perspective may be tainted a bit by some modern rhetoric that punishment is always evil or that anger is always unjust. Shouldn't we be angry when evil people do evil things? And shouldn't our governments punish evil? It seems like people should find the God of the Bible more unbelievable if He didn't take responsibility to punish people who were evil.
As for problems like people burning in hell forever, supposedly under the supervision of the Devil, that seems more a teaching used by some Christians to scare people into being what they consider "good". My personal reading of the Bible leads me to understand that the outcome of the ultimate punishment is "eternal", not the punishment itself.
Why doesn't God just heal Mimi?
Most of the people in history whom we consider to be "great" people went through some kind of very difficult trial in their life from which, in theory, a loving God could have spared them. In many ways, their suffering prepared them for the greater challenges in their lives.
In this world, a certain kind of suffering produces a stronger character. Parent's want to see their children grow (with as little suffering as possible, of course) but some suffering is bound to happen and we have to make the best of it. Mimi believes God could heal her, but if He doesn't, she knows there's a reason and is ok if she doesn't fully understand it all.