College Chaplain Reflection – August 27, 2015

August 26, 2015

What reasons can I have for believing in God?

I promised in my last article that we would consider some of our reasons for believing in God. Now the obvious difficulty is that we can’t immediately see God in the way we can observe the things around us. This might be a difficulty but it isn’t a problem. We constantly speak of ideas such as love and free will that we can’t see. We do so because they explain so much of what we can see. Our search for God follows a similar path. Although we can’t directly see God it is possible to find him behind those things that we can.

Just take a moment to consider the world around us as we see it. Behind things as they stand are their respective causes. For instance, I was running late the other morning because I kept hitting the snooze button. Now continue to follow that nagging question -‘But why?’ and we will find a prior cause; I kept hitting snooze because I was tired. And behind that a chain of further causes; I was tired because I stayed up late watching the Ashes test which I wanted to watch because it was Clarke’s last test because he had decided to retire because his form had slipped because he had back trouble and so on.

It’s a silly example but we can use it to help illustrate an important point; everything we observe has its cause in something other than itself. It is what we call contingent; it is dependent or conditional upon something else. At the foundation of everything therefore there must be something that has always been, that is unconditional and itself has no cause, otherwise we simply have an infinite chain going on and on for ever. However, such a chain gets us no further in making sense of the world. There is no link in it that can offer us a solid and final explanation for the existence of what we see; the question is simply deferred. To make sense of the nature of reality as it is presented to us, there must be behind it something that depends on nothing else and acts as the First Cause of all there is. And in that First Cause we recognise God.

We can follow similar lines of inquiry in terms of other phenomena we observe. The fact that everything that we can see at some stage didn’t exist points us to a Being that always has, because something can’t come from nothing. The fact that there is an observable order to things points us to a Mind that has ordered it, because order can’t simply emerge from chaos by chance. The fact that we have a clear sense of -‘right’ and -‘wrong’ as real concepts and not just as constructs of our own imagination points to a higher Will that directs our own. The fact that we understand each of our own lives as having a definite purpose points us to a Final End that gives meaning to all. There are other paths we might take, each beginning with the fact of what we see around us. Taken together we begin to see a picture that we find harder and harder to ignore; that at the end of every path we find God waiting for us.

A new question is then presented to us. If the truth of his existence is so clear, why is it so often hard to find him? In part, we are so easily distracted by things we can see that the God behind them is often hidden to our sight. Alternatively our difficulty might lie in this; the realisation that there is a God demands a response on our part. Quite frankly, we aren’t always ready to meet him. We find ourselves inclined to try and hide ourselves from his sight. However, all we really manage to accomplish is to obscure our own vision.- –