Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Relational Aspect of Christian Belief--or How I Can Know There Very Probably Is No God

According to Christian theists, it's not enough merely to believe that God exists. To believe that certain arguments are correct which show that God probably exists. For even the demons believe--and they shudder! One must seek and enter into a salvific relationship with Him (or rather, be drawn into such a relationship by God). That's the whole point. God is not an abstract philosophical concept--He is a Person. Thus we can see that theistic belief is indeed intellectual and relational in nature, and the relational aspect is even more important.

But many nonbelievers, including those who wish that God would exist, struggle with finding any of the arguments for God's existence persuasive and/or find arguments against God's existence persuasive. In that event, theists often implore nonbelievers to seek God out as a Person. Stop treating the debate over the existence of God as an academic exercise. Go to Him and He will reveal Himself. Seek, and ye shall find, as it is written in scripture (Matt 7:7).

But I have sought earnestly, and thoroughly, and I have not found. And it's been years. I've poured over my Bible. I've sought answers in Christian apologetics. I've prayed. I prayed throughout my gradual, agonizing deconversion, where my assurance of immortality and Divine love and protection were lost. I prayed for more faith. I prayed for understanding. I prayed for guidance. I said "I believe--help me with my unbelief!" as the father of the child with the unclean spirit once cried to Jesus. I prayed for forgiveness. But I was met only with silence.

I've even prayed as recently as this week--years after my deconversion. Though not always to just any Christian conception of God--I pray to Whatever or Whoever may be out there, so as not to privilege any one religion. And yet I am met with only more silence.

Not to mention the prayers on my behalf that have certainly come my way.

I continue to read the blogs of the smartest Christian apologists and books by their brightest scholars (right now, I'm reading Jesus and the Eyewitnesses) and yet I continue to remain unconvinced. Whereas books like On the Historicity of Jesus seem to only entrench my skepticism.

In all honesty, I am afraid of dying and fear that I may have a terminal illness as I speak (though unconfirmed). The nihilism that was left in the wake of my deconversion has consumed my life to the point of depression. So I have every cognitive motivation to embrace Christian theism again.

I'm not the only one. Other believers like Justin Schieber have experienced the cognitive abandonment that I've just described. And of course, the argument from Divine Hiddeness captures the spirit of what I'm relating in my life experiences.

This is how can I be near certain that there is no omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God. And why I wonder why I even bother continuing to debate the arguments for and against the existence of God. Because such a God would not have abandoned me. And because such a God would not continually ignore my sincere and genuine desire for His presence in my life. Especially with the threat of Hell looming if I do not repent (or, I guess I should say, re-repent).

So far as I can see, my life is a refutation of Christian belief. There is no more debate for me. The only response I can imagine a Christian making is that God, 'in the end', will come to save me before I die, in some unknown time and in some unknown way. But from my perspective, this is incredibly unlikely (though a remote possibility that I hope is true). Most likely, I will die an unbeliever. I've seen essentially all of the arguments and I've prayed all of the prayers. It is finished.

 Another recourse is to deny my lived experiences and claim that I'm really 'in rebellion' against God. But that does not comport well with the extensive evidence from my life I've just discussed. And any pretense to the contrary is theological assumption or simply begging the question. Or maybe I will be blamed for not finding arguments for Gods existence convincing. But believer, I can no more choose what arguments I find convincing than you can. And regardless, that is only the intellectual aspect. I am talking about the relational aspect.

(Which raises the question, why should a relationship rest on finding any particular argument convincing? What other kind of personal relationship is potentially subject  to that type of refutation?)

If nothing else, let it be said that I was a seeker of truth. And I will continue to read on and debate these issues. And maybe the believer will end up being correct, and their God will come to save me in the 11th hour. But I suspect my experiences have been the way they have been because the arguments against arguments God's existence are correct. So I'm not holding my breath.


  1. Bryan, I came across your blog here and felt compelled to drop a note here. It sounds like you have heard all the arguments and then some. I’m not going to add another.

    I just wanted to say as I read your current experience of God’s silence that I couldn’t help but think how incredible it is that really the only Person that could truly identify with your current struggles is Jesus Himself. According to Mark, Jesus died in despair, doubting. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).

    He looked up into the sky, cried out to His Father and saw only darkness, heard only silence, and then He died.

    I share this just to say in this time of silence and doubt, you are maybe closer to Jesus than when you believed.

    Will pray for you my friend, Justin

    “When God becomes man in Jesus of Nazareth, he not only enters into the finitude of man, but in his death on the cross also enters into the situation of man’s godforsakenness. In Jesus he does not die the natural death of a finite being, but the violent death of the criminal on the cross, the death of complete abandonment by God. The suffering in the passion of Jesus is abandonment, rejection by God, his Father. God does not become a religion, so that man participates in him by corresponding religious thoughts and feelings. God does not become a law, so that man participates in him through obedience to a law. God does not become an ideal, so that man achieves community with him through constant striving. He humbles himself and takes upon himself the eternal death of the godless and the godforsaken, so that all the godless and the godforsaken can experience communion with him.” -Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God, 276

    1. I appreciate those sentiments Justin, thank you.

  2. Make the most of the time you have, because it is the only time you have.

    And let's hope that your time is long and fulfilling.