You and I know that, the belief in the existence of God is not down to how many times he has showed up in his physical form or how often we have been able to communicate with him. The belief in God is down to a summation of various events, lessons and experiences that have led to the maintenance of the notion that there is a God after all. This however, does not take away the rather sad fact that there are many of us who have grown to believe that God exists, not out of our own freewill but because of circumstances. The trouble is not in the process through which one gets to believe that God exists but in the eventual refusal to actually validate the existence of God to oneself. Many of us believers have grown up believing God exists and we even appear to pray to him unaware that we are simply following in the footsteps of others and we are not exactly curving out our own reasons for belief.
It is all well and good that many of us believers have been blessed to grow up in God-fearing families with our parents teaching us the values of believing in and praying to God. However, it would be more beneficial if we made the personal realization and discovery that God does exists having set aside all traditional or enforced beliefs handed down to us from authorities and families.
Very many people claim to believe in God having been pushed by circumstances, history, acquaintances, the environment, troubles, hearsay and all sorts of reasons. Very few have actually taken the time to conceptualize and create a basis for their belief in God. If I believe in God because my father is a Church elder, then I may as well be regarded a non-believer because after all, my belief is channeled through and is dependant upon my father. In the event that he is no more or for some reason unavailable to keep holding my hand, my belief will be shaken or even shattered without a doubt. However, if my belief in God emerges from conclusions I have personally drawn and observations I have made on my own, my faith will probably be rock solid. True, my faith may and will often be put to test but the chances that I can weather the storm are higher if my faith is founded on principles that I personally visualize and not on principles that someone else set up for me.
It is my hope that believers in the existence of God (irrespective of their faiths i.e, Muslims, Orthodox, Protestants, Born Agains e.t.c) begin to have belief in God and defend their positions based on personal conclusions. Each person does have the ability to analyse the question of God’s existence on their own; after all, I believe God did not create us with powerful minds just to have these minds believe without questioning. Having belief that is independently rooted in some other people or authority can be very dangerous especially since others are succesptible to changing goal posts or even twisting issues to suit their own needs. This probably explains why some people use faith based arguments to front their desire for terrorism and other inhuman activities carried out in the name of God. Aside from the fact that it tarnishes one’s faith in the eyes of the rest of the world, it also creates a huge problem for such a believer in case they were asked to present a logical and well thought out argument for their belief in God. They would start scampering around looking for arguments previously presented by other people and this lends credence to the argument that they probably believe in a God they do not even know personally.
I may not be able provide physical evidence that God exists or to offer some sort of script documenting the conversations me and my God have had, however, I know well enough not to use my emotions and sentiments when arguing or debating with atheists. Besides, when I stand on my two feet and say I believe in the existence of God, I offer my argument based on what I have personally experienced or what I think is my reason for belief. I do not offer arguments based on what some other person or authority says. Every once in a while I may reference or quote someone else but overall, I offer my argument based on my own conclusion and not someone else’s conclusion on my behalf. This principle, I imagine, is what belief in God should be founded on because only then shall we be able to talk to atheists with level-headedness and only then shall we appreciate and cherish our own belief in God.
One of the problems that atheists tend to have with us believers (and I totally understand them here) is that many believers tend to argue as if we own exclusive rights to the deity that is God. Maybe we do, because after all, we are the custodians of the argument for the existence of God, are we not? However, many a time, our arguments are half baked, botched and extremely shallow. Sometimes I see or hear my fellow believers offering arguments to atheists and I almost hide my face in shame. We as believers are fond of making submissions with the anticipation that the other person should (must) understand and agree with our stand point right away and without much question. And this probably explains why atheists are quick to claim that many of us believers are arrogant, perpetually in denial and somewhat aloof. Many times, this degenerates into a worthless argument …
…more often than not, we even end up exchancing words that tend to feel like (and in many cases turn into) actual blows
When holding an argument with an atheist, instead of conceding that we may be short on valid arguments at certain moments, we as believers instead go ahead to explode into a series of uncoordinated responses that often lead one to conclude that maybe, after all, the believer’s arguments are unworthy of audience.
I have had the honour of debating and arguing with several atheists about the question of the existence of God but one thing that I have noticed over time is that the more you present a calm, collected and well articulated argument, the better your chances of putting your point across (if any). I may not be able to make the atheist convert and start believing in the existence of God but I will give them reason to agree that maybe even as a believer, my thinking cap is not lost or misplaced. True, I am often offended that my God is being belittled and treated as some illusion but I understand that if someone does not believe in my God, they are likely to use the most demeaning words – that I know and try not to kill anyone over it. Therefore the chances that I will lose my temper are minimal because the key to holding a logical argument or debate is to allow oneself to understand the other person’s argument no matter how divergent their views may seem.
Over the years, there have been fundamental issues raised by both the atheists and theists pertaining to the question of the existence of God. And it is these fundamental issues that have given rise to continued debate between the atheists and theists. However on more occasions than I can remember, I have come across an atheist and a believer failing to respect each other and instead have their argument degenerate into some kind of argument about who is sharper or more intelligent than the other…
…its almost as if they are trying to see whose brain is more superior.
I therefore have two simple appeals to make to believers. The first and probably most important is that you ought to believe in God not because your parents pushed you to or because you studied in a school that was run by believers and so the belief in God was taught to you by teachers. Belief in God is supposed to be felt, experienced and lived voluntarily and not taught or enforced. It may be true that freethinking calls for one to be inclined to forms one’s own opinions rather than depend upon authority, especially about social and religious issues; exhibiting boldness of speculation. However I believe this should work for the believer as well. The traditional freethinker will probably question my application of freethinking to the belief in God but I am insistent that the two can and should be married together because only then will believers start to be more logical and in turn benefit from their belief in God.
My second and final appeal is that when we are arguing with atheists or even doing the bare minimums of spreading the word, let us desist from condemning the non-believers. Let us try to keep calm heads and offer arguments with level headedness. That way, not only shall we attempt to live by example, we shall also end up appearing organised and well grounded in our belief (never mind the fact that we may have our own personal doubts and insufficiencies). Do not lose your temper as you talk about or put up a case for your belief in God …
…If you do not get a grip on your anger and temper, you could wind up turning into a savage warrior.
I end this letter with a quote from one of my favourite playwrights of all time; a namesake as well – George Bernard Shaw
The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it
George Bernard Shaw
Chew on that fellow theists; otherwise, God Bless all of you.
Yours in belief;
The talkative Rocker