Paul said that he is not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16) Faith is obviously central to spiritual life in Christ.
What is meant by faith, however? Is faith “blind”? Is faith is antithetical to science, and science the opposite of faith? Does faith require the suspension of intellect? Does faith require us to abandon obvious evidence to the contrary? I have not found any of these things to be the case.
Faith does take a leap, but faith is not like jumping out over a yawning chasm. Consider the time in our history that the earth was believed to be flat. The most obvious evidence, what could plainly be seen, suggested that the earth was, indeed flat. There was some evidence to the contrary, but it was much more subtle and more difficult to fathom. It took some confidence and courage in that more subtle, less obvious evidence for the first explorers to sail beyond what was seen and known to prove the truth that the earth was not flat.
That is faith.
Even after the first explorers sailed further than what was previously believed to be the edge of the world and came back to tell of it, I am certain there were unbelievers. Skepticism is a very human reaction to things that are contrary to what we have always assumed and to what we have not ourselves experienced to be true.
Faith in God starts with some expectation that God exists, like the expectation those first explorers had that the earth is not flat. It is not an expectation for which there is no evidence, but God cannot be discovered without sailing beyond the edge of our past experience and knowledge.
I have always found it more unbelievable that the universe always existed without a first cause, without a Creator. Man-made things do not just appear. Buildings have a builder. Computers, farm fields, cities, etc. are designed with intention. It is not a great leap to believe that the world we did not create was designed by intellect greater than us.
Science confirms that the universe is astoundingly complex with complex systems of interrelated function and form. It is so complex that it suggests design. In fact, the complexity is so great that the plausibility of other explanations is a diminishing calculation. (See Darwin’s Doubt) Indeed, it may take more faith to be an atheist.
Yes, it takes faith to believe in a Creator, but that conclusion is consistent with the evidence we can see. The leap from that evidence to belief in a Creator is not as great as some suggest.
Likewise, is there any doubt that humanity is the highest level of “thing” in the universe we know? Is there any rock, animal or other thing that can reason, create, emote, operate and exist plane as human beings? Absent some other intelligence in the universe we have not yet discovered, the answer is clear. If we, who exist at the highest level of existence that we know within the universe, did not create the universe, is it a great leap of faith to believe that there must be a greater being in existence (perhaps outside the universe) who created the universe and us?
The quality of our being that is, perhaps, most exemplary of our unique character in the universe is our level of communication that we have with each other and our level of interaction in the world with each other and everything else. Beavers make dams, but we create cities with complex infrastructure. Dolphins can communicate with other dolphins and even with humans, but humans train dolphins. If there is a being greater than us who created the world that we might call God, would it not be likely that God would communicate with us?
There is much evidence that God exists, though it may not be obvious at first blush. We have the testimonies, written and oral, ancient and modern, from people who maintain that God exists. Connecting with God may take us outside the circle of what we can see and what we have experienced in the past, but we, ourselves, may not have attempted to sail there. That does not mean that God does not exist. A person may even believe in God, like believing the earth is round, but that person may not have ventured out past the edge of personal knowledge and experience to confirm the roundness of the earth (or the existence of God).
It is not that much different than believing that someone exists that I have never met, some one I have read about or someone that other people have told me about. The testimonies of other people give me an expectation that I will be able to communicate with that person, and that person will be able to communicate with me.
If I have that person’s contact information, I have an expectation that person will answer the phone when I call. If I call, and there is no answer, I do not doubt that the person exists. Maybe the person does not answer because he/she does not know me. If I really want to make the connection, I will try again and again.
If a person has no expectation that God exists, she might not even try to communicate. If there is some hope, but no confidence, the attempts to communicate might only be halfhearted, like an explorer who sails far enough to lose sight of land, and then turns to familiar, safe ground.
Having faith means not only having hope, but having some confidence, or at least some courage, to sail as far as the ocean will take me. If the ocean does not take me to land on the other side of my world, am I any worse for the journey?
Faith is not pretending we have reached the shore on the other side of the world or communicated to a person on the other end of the line when we have not. Faith is not fantasy. Faith is not hope supported by an illusion. Faith is not a house of cards. If there is no substance, it is not faith, at least not biblical faith.
The testimonies recorded in the Bible are supported by substance. The substance is God responding in real and concrete ways to faith. If we do not experience God in similar substance, we are fooling ourselves.
In Revelations,the vision John had and the communication to him was this: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20) Jesus is quoted as saying: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
Whether God is knocking on our doors, or we are knocking on God’s door, the testimonies recorded many years ago are that we can have communication with God, and God desires to have communication with us. People throughout history, and people who live today, say the same thing.
Even without the Bible, we have a sense of what love is. Love is not a coercive, one-sided action; love is two-way, unselfish and reciprocal action. It makes the greatest sense to me that a God who has the power to create a universe that is as great and complex as ours would need to maintain some distance from us if He desired our love. If such a God were to appear before us, how could we not believe? We would likely defer to Him, maybe cower and bend to him out of fear and terror, being wholly overwhelmed by His presence.
It makes sense to me that God preserves for us the choice to love Him. He does not knock down our doors because he desires something more than obedience out of fear. He desires to love us and for us to love Him in return.
Maybe you have preconceived ideas about God and where to find Him. Maybe you do not really want to hear what He has to say; you might prefer autonomy over a commitment to love God. Maybe you do not really want Him messing with your life and would rather not know God (unless you want something from him). These and other reasons may explain why a person does not know God. Maybe you simply have not been listening for Him knocking at your door. You might be too busy, preoccupied with your own concerns.
This is not an indictment or a judgment. It is simply part of the human condition. God does not make Himself obvious. We would not have the choice to love Him if He did.
God made us in His image. He made us like Him. He made us to communicate with Him, and He with us. Faith requires some confidence and expectation that He will be there when we set sail, that He will answer when we call on Him, that He will open the door when we knock. God does not require a blind faith, however; there is plenty of evidence that God exists in science, in nature, in common experience; but, perhaps the best evidence is the stories of people who have made the journey, who called on God and who knocked on God’s door and who have encountered God.
For some follow up reading, consider
- Testimonies of Average People Encountering God
- Testimonies of Arabs Encountering God
- Testimonies of Atheists Encountering God
- I am Second videos – Testimonies of famous people
- Testimonies of Muslims Encountering God
- Encounter with a Supernatural God
- Encounters with God
If you have a story you want to share, I would love to hear it. If you have a question someone else might be able to answer, please feel free to ask. If you are still on the shore looking at the ocean, you may be encouraged by the experience of others who have already set sail.
I have also collected testimonies from people from all walks of life and positions in life here: Journeys of Faith