I have been preaching, teaching Bible, involved in Christian schools, and doing mission work overseas for about 45 years now. You might think that, with that track record, my faith was stronger than ever. I am ashamed to admit that I struggle with faith at times. Not just the faith to do great things, but just to believe that God really exists.
I was driving to school the other day and praying. But then I looked out at the bright sun shiny morning and thought, do I really believe there is a God who is a spirit who fills the universe who is listening to my prayer. Not some elderly, white haired Father figure that I picture up in the sky, but a spirit of some sort. Yes, the Bible does give us a picture of God as seated on His throne, the Ancient of Days, with cherubim all around and 4 living creatures (Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4), but then Jesus said that the Father is a spirit who exists everywhere. Now, with the Hubble, we know there are thousands of galaxies out there in an unlimited, continually expanding universe. So God is a spirit who fills that infinite space?
But my mind keeps wandering. I personally believe that the Bible claims that the earth is only about 6,000 years old (my blog article on the age of the earth). Other believers in God (and most atheists) believe the earth is about 5 billion years old. For the sake of argument, let’s say it is 5 billion. But as they say, our God is outside time. He existed in eternity before the creation of the earth 5 billion years ago (or 6,000 in my mind). The Bible claims that we can have great security knowing that: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….” (Deuteronomy 33:27). But wait a minute. You mean to tell me that God existed “backwards” in eternity before He ever created the universe as we know it 5 billion (or 6,000) years ago? What was He doing all that time? Just to tell me that He is outside of time doesn’t help. He existed forever before the “beginning” (Genesis 1-3), before the creation of time as we know it, before the creation of the universe.
So when did He create all those angels who are constantly around Him worshiping Him? How long before the creation of the earth was it when He created them? They are created beings, right? So did God get bored with angels worshiping Him? The angels had freedom of choice, didn’t they? I mean Satan was probably a fallen angel, along with his cohorts. We have no direct teaching on this, but several verses allude to Satan being lifted up in pride in the Garden, a rebellion of angels, and a war in heaven with the bad angels being cast out. Ezekiel 28:16: 16 “By the abundance of your trading
You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. Isaiah 14:1 12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O [a]Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! Revelation 12:7-9: 7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they [a]did not prevail, nor was a place found for [b]them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Did that rebellion of angels cause God to decide to create men instead of more angels and start this great experiment of humans with the ability to choose good or evil?
All I can hear right now is the voice of a Christian sister at my house one night during our small group study. Someone asked a question that asked questions like I am asking, and she had one comment, “That is foolish speculation”. That ended the discussion right there! No one dared to “foolishly speculate” after that! But bear with me. Actually, Paul is my example here. 2 Corinthians 11:16-19 16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! Paul is telling them that they put up with a lot of foolish teaching from the false teachers among them, so at least let him speak “foolishly” to make some points!
Why did God decide at some point in eternity to create this vast universe with humans on only one planet. I know many think there is life other than on the earth, but there is absolutely no proof of that. Some even believe that there was a race of humans before Genesis 1 who were destroyed, along with a previous earth, plants, and animals, but there is no proof of that either. So did God just decide that he wanted to try free will with humans instead of just angels? When asked why God created humans, I always respond with “why did my wife and I have children?” Did we not know that some or all of them might turn against us and what we believe, might become rebellious or drug addicts, might hate us, might blame us for all their faults? Sure we did. But we saw the potential of children choosing to love us, so we took the risk! BTW, it turned out pretty good so far! We are blessed with 3 godly children, mostly due to my wife, not me. So God wanted to love on some humans with the hope they would return His love. Is that it?
But just the idea that He existed in eternity and decided to create man at some point 5 billion (or 6,000) years ago blows my mind. Do I really believe that? And He knew that He would give them freedom of choice, free will, and good or bad choices to choose from! And He knew they would choose the bad. And He knew He was a just God who would have to punish them when they chose bad. So He gave them this idyllic, perfect Garden with a tree in it that they were not allowed to eat from. But He knew they would eat from it, and that He would have to kick them out of the Garden. He knew that all their descendants after them would sin also. Romans 5:12 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. But He created man anyway, and set them up for the fall. Of course, the only other option would be to create robots with no freedom of choice, and apparently He didn’t want that. Did anyone besides me watch the movies, The Stepford Wives (1972) and The Stepford Children (1987)? Husbands have this secret process of transforming their imperfect wives into perfect robot like replicas, and in the follow up movie, the parents transform their children into perfect robot like replicas. God could have done that! If you are bored, read the Wikipedia summary of the plots of those 2 movies. As weird as all that sounds, did Hitler not try to do that with his “master Aryan race”, breeding a superior race and eliminating all weak or inferior races or imperfect humans? Of course, Darwin actually proposed this as a result of his conclusions about the evolution of man. He observed in The Descent of Man that “the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world”. To him, the natural and logical conclusion of his survival of the strong would and should be the extermination of the weak. He considered the Negro race to be inferior. He also considered women to be inferior to men intellectually, although he didn’t suggest exterminating women, thank goodness! Are we headed that way also? Did you read the article about Iceland proudly boasting that they had eliminated all Down Syndrome children being born? “Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.” I guess if you think abortion is ok, and I don’t, then you might think this is perfectly ok. My son and his wife just adopted a sweet, 3 year old Down Syndrome girl who has been a blessing to them and their 4 “normal” boys. I’m glad the child’s mother wasn’t one of the Iceland mothers who would have aborted her!
Wow, I think I got off track! God didn’t want to create perfect robots. The fall left us with a cursed earth with disease, deformed babies, tornadoes, etc. It even left us with evil men and women making evil choices that hurt others. But out of all that, God knew that good could come from evil and suffering, so He allowed evil and suffering. And if it just doesn’t seem as if any good can possibly come from evil and suffering, He prepared an eternal place of bliss for His children where an entire life of suffering on earth will seem but a brief moment of pain. Paul said, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Anticipating the fall of man, God had to plan on what to do after man would fall. Would He just doom them all to extermination, as He was about to do with the flood before He saw the righteousness of one man, Noah? Would he give mankind a chance, but then if they got too evil, just exterminate the human race? Would He come up with a system of works where if you did more good than evil that He would give you eternal life? Apparently the just nature of God would not allow Him to do that even if He wanted to. Assuming God loves his created humans, what plan can He come up with that would allow Him to be both just and merciful and would enable Him to receive fallen sinners into eternal bliss with Him? Now read what Peter wrote about that: 1 Peter 1:18-20 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with [a]corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was [b]manifest in these last times for you. Peter tells us that God decided that He would become flesh in a God-man called His Son in the distant future, and that He would allow evil men to kill His Son in order to redeem and forgive fallen sinners if they would put their trust in His Son. They would not have to earn salvation but instead would be saved by grace even though salvation was conditional and would require active, working faith. They would not be required to be obey every command perfectly or have some net good works over bad works record. Now why would the death of His Son satisfy His requirement that would allow Him to be just and the justifier of those who have faith? Romans 3:26 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. I can’t answer that. It’s not like we met with God and came up a plan that would satisfy both parties, us and God. God had to come up with a plan that would satisfy Him and His wrath. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not [d]imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. To think that God came up with this plan to save fallen man before He even created the earth and man is amazing.
So now we have the belief in a God who fills the universe but who also comes up with this amazing plan to save fallen man before He even creates man! If I struggled with belief in the existence of God, am I going to struggle even more with this plan? Back to our original question on the existence of God. Here are my final thoughts on my doubt. The alternative to believing in God is far less believable than believing in God. Paul said in Romans 1:20 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse. I look at His creation and see order and design that is simply not possible by random chance as the atheists claim. The “Intelligent Design” advocates will point to many examples of design, but my favorite example is the periodic table. That example has stuck with me more than any other. Every one of the 100+ successive element in the table increases the number of protons in its nucleus by +1 (with an equal number of electrons in the outer shells). Then based on the number of electrons in the outer shells, the elements can be arranged in rows and columns with very specific common properties. Now, if the universe began with an explosion of a few elements only (scientists still debate which elements that think that was), then how in the world by random chance would the periodic table evolve into the design I have pointed out? There must be an intelligence that designed that periodic table. I might not want to believe there is a God, but the periodic table itself forces me to believe there is an intelligence that designed the universe. That example alone would force me to believe in an intelligence that created the universe. I don’t know if Paul in Romans 1:20 had the periodic table in mind since the periodic table was not discovered till the 18th century, but the example surely applies to what Paul said. We could give many more examples of intelligent design.
I recommend you watch Lee Strobel’s DVD “Case for a Creator”. He points out dozens of laws of nature and formulas, such as the “Universal Gravitational Constant”, that must all be present exactly as they are on earth for life to exist on earth. They can’t vary at all and life still exist. They must all be present and not just most of them. When you look at the formulas for those laws, it blows your mind that there is a formula that dictates the laws, and that there are these “constants” (i.e. specific numbers, not variable) that are built into these laws by God. We finally got smart enough to discover a lot of them during the “scientific revolution”, and continue to discover new ones. Then it blows your mind that dozens of these laws could all come together on one planet in the universe, allowing life to exist. The odds of that happening by chance are staggering. It is more credible to believe in a designer of the universe than to believe these laws came together by chance. Why are there mathematical and scientific laws and formulas that govern the universe if it is all by random chance? Again, I am forced to believe that God exists because the alternative is so unbelievable. So much so that now many scientists have come up with the idea of multiple universes created by nature in a “universe generator”. The thought is that would help reduce the odds of it happening by chance! Seriously?
My next example would be the design of the human body and the principle of “irreducible complexity”. Behe gives the following definition of irreducible complexity: By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning (Darwin’s Black Box: The Biological Challenge to Evolution, p. 39). A car must have all the parts of the engine for the engine to work smoothly. The human body must have all the parts of the different systems (nervous, muscular, endocrine, respiratory, etc.) working together for the human body to function. When God made the first. man, He built his body with all these systems and parts, full grown. Before each human is born, he/she already has the DNA and RNA to form all the unique parts in each person, and then over the 9 months of pregnancy the parts are formed. Psalm 130:15,16 15 My [h]frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. If atheistic macro-evolution happened (which would include evolution of a species to another species and not just minor changes within a species), then you would never have a few parts of the body evolve on a partially formed but inoperative body that would live long enough to allow more parts to be added when it takes all the parts at one time for the human body to live! If that makes sense! It’s either all the parts added at one time or not at all! God did put them all in the first man! So the design of the human body would another example of intelligent design.
Ok, this article is already long! I struggle to believe in a spirit God who fills the universe, but I see no plausible alternative. Maybe that is why some atheists are suggesting that aliens might have created everything (Richard Dawkins suggested this possibility although he said that the idea of a God creating everything was impossible). Wow! So where did the aliens come from? Who created them or were they eternal? An interesting cult is the Raelians. Raëlians believe that life on earth—as well as many religions of the world—was the work of extraterrestrial influence. They believe these were scientists and that ancient people saw them as “gods” and gave the name “Elohim”. Supposedly the aliens landed and invited the cult founder Claude Rael into their spaceship. They explained to him that it was them, the aliens, who cloned Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden, and that they have directed the history of man all along by sending more clones. The aliens told him they thought man was now able to communicate with them since we are starting to clone. So they want Rael to raise money and build a building for them to come back in a few years and meet with our scientists. Read Wikipedia for more of their beliefs and practices. Can you believe there are about 40,000 members worldwide? They do believe in intelligent design, but that the aliens are the designers! Reminds you of thre old staying, “if you don’t believe in something, you will believe in anything”.
So I close this article with the saying, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Hebrews 11:6 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. I do believe “that He is” even though I struggle. I hope and do believe that He will accept my imperfect, struggling, weak faith. I think a loving Father would do that. Jesus talked about the faith of a mustard seed would move mountains. I hope that is true since it seems that all I have is a tiny bit of faith compared to some of the great giants of faith, like Abraham. I truly hope this article resonates with some of you who struggle as I do. Or that it gives you some material to use when you are teaching others. Pray for me that I can speak boldly about my faith in God instead of talking about my struggles to believe in God.