This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, May 29, 2020:
In a long post on Instagram, Jon Steingard, the lead singer in the Canadian Christian rock band Hawk Nelson, said on Tuesday: “After growing up in a Christian home … I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.” But he added, “I want to be open. I want to be transparent with you all — and also open to having my heart changed in the future.”
He raised the issue of God and evil in the world: “There were things that just didn’t make sense to me. If God is all loving, and all powerful, why is there evil in the world? Can he not do anything about it? Does he choose not to?”
Although he claimed that he didn’t want to start a debate, he said that he is “open to the idea that God is there. I’d prefer it if he was. I suspect if he is there, he is very different than what I was taught. I know my parents pray that God reveals himself to me. If he’s there, I hope he does.”
So do a myriad of believers who have had the same questions. For some, such as Marilyn Adamson, the blogger behind EveryStudent.com, the truth of God’s existence lies in the evidence in the physical world. For her, the complexity of the planet points to Him. The Earth’s size, she says, “is perfect … if Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.” There is just “the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.”
There is the miracle of water, of the human eye, of the human brain.
As this is being written, the world’s fastest computer is the Summit, or OLCF-4, developed by IBM for use at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It is capable of 200 petaFLOPS (one petaflop is a quadrillion — one thousand trillion) of floating point calculations per second. In contrast, the human is brain is one order of magnitude faster, operating at one exaFLOP, equivalent to a quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.
Writes Adamson, the brain “filters out all relatively unimportant [data]” allowing humans “to focus and operate effectively in the world.… There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.”
There are universal laws, which imply a lawgiver. As physicist Paul Davies says, “To be a scientist, you had to have faith that the universe is governed by dependable, immutable, absolute, universal, mathematical laws.” How else could NASA send men to the moon, much less get them back?
Adamson explains that at one time in her life she was an atheist, not just a doubter:
I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that?
When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people … to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded.
To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.
And then she uncovered part of the answer to Steingard’s question:
I didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue.
I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and He keeps the question of His existence squarely before us.
It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, “Ok, You win…”
It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.
Edward Martin, professor of theology at Liberty University, contributed to The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics on the same topic: the problem of evil. He wrote:
God uses evil, suffering, and disorder to drive us to Himself. If He gave only good, we would be self-satisfied. If He had given immediate death when we sinned, He would be just. That He gives us partial goodness and partial suffering forms the texture of hope that, in the future, He will in fact make all things right in a final consummation and restoration.
He will continue to work on us, like a persistent sculptor working the metal with hard blows and constant lighter corrections, to help us become worthy of happiness if we receive Him and submit to His plan.
On most occasions, it seems, we do not know why our good God allows certain evils. But we know Someone Who knows these things, and we can therefore trust Him to make good on His promise that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).
This is the answer Steingard is seeking. He may not presently believe in God, but God most certainly believes in him.