Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Difficulty of Faith

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul tells his readers that unbelievers are "without excuse (1:20)." They have no reason not to believe in God or to have saving faith in Christ. When I was a Christian, I used to believe this strongly. Gradually though, I became less and less convinced of the strength of the arguments for faith and God. Moreover, I encountered many powerful arguments not to believe:

-evidence for evolution: if it's true, there isn't a need for a creator God. If it's not true, why is there many strong lines of evidence for it? Would God deceive us? Why give people a strong reason for disbelief if their souls hang in the balance?
-evidence for the antiquity of the the Earth vis a vis biblical deductions of the Earth's age
-the inability to reason against homosexuality. Period.
-the incoherence of Heaven: i.e., if there will be no sin in Heaven, why couldn't God have made it such that humans would not sin on Earth in the beginning?
-the incoherence of early Genesis: talking snakes with no mention of Satan, an omniscient God playing dumb and calling out to man: "where are you?"
-the unbelievability of the book of Job
-the problem of Hell
-the problem of suffering
-the barbarism of God in the Old Testament
-free will and moral responsibility. If I lack free will due to physical necessity or divine sovereignty, how can I be held accountable for my sins? Or how can biblical statements asserting that we do have free will be reconciled with a seemingly deterministic Universe?
-the powerful arguments against traditional authorship for many biblical documents: it appears that letters such as 2 Peter may be forgeries.
-the problem of denominations: which Christianity is the true one: Catholicism? Protestantism? Or some other? How can we know?

I could go on. Suffice to say it seems that God has given man many powerful excuses, or reasons, not to believe. I've read many of the Christian responses to these arguments and I find them to be unpersuasive. I want to believe, but I can't do it anymore, and I haven't been able to for some time even after much reading, contemplation, prayer, etc. How then can God judge me? Why give so many reasons to reject Christianity if our eternal well being is on the line? "Just believe!" some might say. Well, why not just believe in the abominable snowman? I have just as many compelling reasons to believe in him as I do in God: none. It seems to me much easier to propose that Christianity is false.

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