Why I (Don’t) Believe in God

I don’t really want to write anything about Newtown, Connecticut, given I have no new insight to offer. I don’t need to summarize what you already know about the situation, and I don’t want to offer my opinion on theological debates because it’s all been said ad nauseum. You have your opinion on where God was and what He was doing last Friday, if He even exists. And I have mine.

What I want to talk about, rather, is why I don’t believe in God. And then why I do.

Confused yet? All part of the hook ūüėČ

I don’t believe in God because I can tell you exactly how a benevolent, all-knowing, all-powerful, completely in control God can exist alongside a broken world where terrible things like mass murders of children take place. The truth is, I don’t know how that’s possible.

I don’t believe in God because I can logically explain how it seems I have freedom to make my own choices without limiting God’s power to stop my choices if He doesn’t like them. I can’t understand how that works.

Nor do I believe in God because I can mentally assent to the idea that I don’t have free will but am still somehow responsible for my bad choices. I can’t.

I don’t believe in God because I can intellectually explain why God didn’t stop the Sandy Hook tragedy even though he was in control of the situation. I believe He could have. I see He didn’t.

These theological debates go round and round with no end. And they often keep unbelievers at bay. I once was an atheist who believed if I couldn’t explain God completely with my intellect, He couldn’t exist.

Today I am a whole-hearted Jesus sell-out, but I still can’t answer these questions about free will and pre-destination and¬†sovereignty¬†with much confidence.

I don’t believe in God because I can¬†prove Him in a textbook kind of way.

I believe in God despite that which I can’t know for sure about Him.

I believe in God for one simple reason that trumps intellectual provability.

I believe in God because I have¬†experienced¬†Him. And that experience is proof enough for me that He is exactly who He says He is in the Bible, even if I can’t understand¬†how He can be all those things at once.

A much too simple analogy: I read a book once about fire. The book described it as hot. I went to a science class, and the teacher there told me, yes, fire is hot. We went outside¬†on a frigid day and peered into a bonfire 100 feet away. I felt¬†cold.¬†And the fire didn’t¬†look hot.¬†No matter how many times people told me that fire on that freezing day was actually upwards of 1000 degrees, I just couldn’t fathom it. My senses, my intellect, they all told me otherwise. I couldn’t process how rubbing two cold pieces of wood together could produce a spark of incredible heat. As I drew near the fire, though, I began to feel the heat on my face. I¬†experienced the warmth. My mind still didn’t understand how it was so, but my¬†encounter with the fire trumped my reason at that point. That fire, I¬†knew, was hot. I couldn’t explain how or why, but I didn’t have to in order to believe because my experience was so real.

So it is with God. We will never have all our theological T’s crossed and philosophical I’s dotted. And once we’re ok with that, our hearts open up to experiencing Him.

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14 thoughts on “Why I (Don’t) Believe in God

  1. “I believe in God because I have experienced Him.”

    You do realize that people have just as “real” experiences with other gods that allow them to believe fully. Is personal experience really valid? I imagine that you don’t consider those people who “experience” other gods to be having valid experiences since you can’t both be right.

    • Great thought.

      I almost addressed this, but didn’t want to turn this post into a book ūüôā

      My response is experience can’t be the ONLY factor in assessing God/truth. There is a lot we really can KNOW about God, His character, etc., non-experientially through historical accounts such as the Bible. To be sure, I am not promoting truth as relative. God’s character is concrete, unchanging, and certain. But we can’t know every aspect of His character given our finite brains. What we do experience can only be counted as true if it doesn’t contradict the Bible. I have experienced the God of the Bible many times in my life, and I can say with certainty it was Him and not a demon because it aligns with His character in the Bible.

      As for people who “experience” other Gods, I count their experiences as absolutely real, just not with the real God of the Bible. I believe they are experiencing false Gods – demons. The litmus test is how do their experiences confirm or deny the God of the Bible.

      • The bible is no a “historical account”, but a book written by people who already believed in him. If a car salesman told you this car was the best car ever built, would you trust him immediately? Or would you assume, that there’s a personal bias involved? And not to forget: Dozens of other books tell completely different stories.

        Sorry to be so honest, but to me it seems, that you want to believe in the bible (which is ok), but that leads to the simple problem, that you now tend to view everything with it. If something god happens that seems to fit, it becomes a proof of god. If something happens that doesn’t fit, you forget it quickly, until only the parts that you want to remember remain. To make it short: You’re deluding yourself, which is a pretty common problem with humans. This is why we have science, because there you don’t start by choosing the result you want and then filter everything else out – which is exactly what you’re doing.

    • Bingo. Over thousands of years, people had these experiences – with thousands of different gods. Personal experience is a very, very, very bad way to determine things. Think a little bit, do a little bit of google and you’ll find thousands of ways in which personal experience is wrong, because people are not objective.

      • @sight66 – yes, essentially, any spiritual experience with a god not described by the Bible is an act of deception carried out by demons. Satan is the father of lies, deceiving people into believing they’ve experienced other gods in order to keep them from discovering the One True God.

        @Atomic Mutant – I respect your perspective and once held it myself. With all due respect, the Bible is extremely historically accurate. I invite you to read scientific inquiries into the historical reliability of the Bible like The Case For the Bible. The Bible is 66 books written over a period of 1500 years by 50+ different authors on 3 different continents, yet the over-arching theme of God coming to rescue humanity is dominant throughout. The process of transcribing over the years was so particular that 95+% of the content among the earliest copies is identical, and the 5-% where there are discrepancies are not concerning major theological issues. Not to mention men would never CHOOSE to write the Bible, a book describing the embarrassingly major faults of prestigious kings and leaders through the centuries. These reasons, and more, are why the Bible is hands-down the most trustworthy spiritual book humans have today. Combine these kinds of facts with the fact that my personal experience has always and only confirmed the God of the Bible, and He is simply undeniable.

      • As I already said, you believe what you want to believe, nothing more. There is nothing “undeniable”, just something you want to be true very much. This is obviously the reason why you want to believe in bible maximalism, too (but, of course, nowadays, a strict minimalism is also no longer valid). That just doesn’t make it true, sorry. And of course people CHOOSE to write the bible, as people did write bad things about other people, which makes the bible as trustworthy as any other spiritual book on the market – not at all. And that’s not even considering that the god of the bible is a horrible monster…

        • Friend, my story of faith is one of someone who was SET on not believing in any god. I never wanted to be a Christian, and I had zero faith in anything except science. I argued Christians into the ground, much like yourself. Life got too hard. At rock bottom, I told God, “If You exist, You’re going to have to get me through this; I can’t.” And He did. I experienced a divine rescue. That opened my heart to considering the Bible MIGHT be true – I didn’t buy it blindly. Research into the historical reliability of the Bible as well as outside sources about the life and death of Christ convinced me the Bible is legit. Upon reading it myself, I came to realize it was describing the God I was experiencing in my own life. (You can read more of my conversion story beginning with this post: https://kellylevatino.com/2012/03/02/spiritual-legacy-i-once-was-lost/)

          As for choosing to write the Bible, if I were king and someone circulated stories about how I committed adultery and murdered people, I would murder that someone. If the king was dead at the time of the stories being circulated, his children would murder that someone. Can you imagine the wrath someone would incur if they started circulating letters in the mid-East about Bin Laden’s non-public dark side? No one over there would dare defame him for fear of their life.

          Again, I invite you to look into the historical reliability of the Bible versus other spiritual books. I think you’ll be surprised to find how trustworthy it really is.

          • Yes, religions tends to do that, grabbing people when they are emotionally and mentally vulnerable – which is a point against it: If it was true, people would not need some form of weakness to see it’s alleged truth. But, if you ask me (ok, you didn’t and probably will not), that’s nothing more than fleeing from reality. Starting out as a non-believer doesn’t make you more wise or clever, you’re still as vulnerable to wishful thinking as everyone else.

            And if you were a king mentioned in the bible, then a) you would not be king, but only a little chieftain who got promoted in a story posthumously and b) you would not have been alive when the text was written. Some stories would have started when you were still alive, but the finished result would only be written done many, many, many years after your death – just look at the whole Jesus story, where the remaining (contradicting, both with themselves as with actual history) texts were written long after his death.

            And you’re a little bit too late for that, as I started out as catholic, read the bible, was active in church, etc. I know the book, don’t worry, and I know enough about it and history to be pretty sure that it’s not a good historic account. We could argue about its worth as a spiritual book (not much, imho), but historically it’s only as accurate as you can expect from a book that contains stories that are sometimes loosely based on real people. But perhaps it would be interesting to see your evidence, why don’t you write an article about all the historic details the bible contains and all these “outside sources” about Jesus?

  2. Hey Kelly, Loved this latest post and also read the comments. I am praying for your wisdom in answering these people. Wow….I wouldn’t want to. But God will give you jus the right words!

    Love, Karter

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Atomic Mutant said: As I already said, you believe what you want to believe, nothing more. There is nothing ‚Äúundeniable‚ÄĚ, just something you want to be true very much

    If this is true, then what he or she believes is simply what he or she wants to believe, nothing more, just something he or she wants to be true. If that is the case why bother to argue with Kelly Levatino at all? No one can claim any truth because what we believe is only what we want to believe. We’re all deluded, science included. No one starts with just the facts. Everyone brings presuppositions to the data. The fact that I believe my reason can make sense of the data is a presupposition that I cannot prove or disprove.

    If Atomic Mutant wants to argue the data, he or she will have to give up the notion that there is nothing “undeniable.” We all require something undeniable or there is no way to argue, no way to debate what is true, no truth at all.

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