For years, I studied and debated arguments for and against different religious and spiritual beliefs such as the belief in a Supernatural Creator and the belief in Jesus Christ as Divine. I’ve summarized my conclusions from all this in the following posts:
I believe this intellectual side to belief is very important. Without good reason, people might believe almost anything. Furthermore, I think it is difficult to be passionate about a faith perspective if part of you doesn’t really believe it.
On the other hand, I know that the real reasons for my Christian beliefs are not intellectual. In fact, I’ve certainly met many smart people who believe differently. Their arguments might be as good as mine. In the end, reason only yields uncertainty and agnosticism.
Given this, I believe the real reasons why I believe all are psychological in nature. Increasingly, it is obvious to me that I am limited. Of course, my body and life clearly are limited in what they can do; for example, I will die someday. In my daily life now, though, I also clearly am limited. I lack security. I always seem to long for more and more. No matter how well my life goes, ultimately, I feel deeply incomplete.
There seem to be two basic ways to explain my limitations. First, I may be somehow out of sync in the universe. Consistent with this, as Shakespeare wrote through Macbeth, perhaps life is “a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Second, perhaps my sense of incompleteness points to needs capable of being met by an outside Source. This option makes more sense to me.
As far as I can tell, whenever there is a need that exists in the universe, there is a mechanism for meeting that need. People thirst, but there is water. People hunger, but there is food. Men want sex, but there are women. Women want sex, but there are men. If people experience a longing for Something more, doesn’t that suggest that Something more exists?
But, of all the religious and spiritual beliefs that exist, why the Christian belief system? Perhaps God exists in some form, but why believe that Jesus was Divine? Again, to me, if I search out different ways to meet my needs for security, attachment, and completeness, the Christian story seems most fulfilling. In this story – more than any other (that I know of anyway) – there is a sense that there is a perfect Being passionate about being intimate with me to the point of great sacrifice. When I am really honest with myself, this is what I seek: “to know, even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).”
Or, as Timothy Keller wrote in “The Prodigal God:”
“In the beginning of the book of Genesis we learn the reason why all people feel like exiles, like we aren’t really home. We are told that we were created to live in the garden of God. That was the world we were built for, a place in which there was no parting from love, no decay or disease. It was all these things because it was life before the face of God, in his presence. . . The Bible says that we have been wandering spiritual exiles ever since. That is, we have been living in a world that no longer fits our deepest longings. Though we long for bodies that ‘run and are not weary,’ we have become subject to disease, aging, and death. Though we need love that lasts, all our relationships are subject to the inevitable entropy of time, and they crumble in our hands. Even people who stay true to us die and leave us, or we die and leave them. Though we long to make a difference in the world through our work, we experience endless frustration. We never fully realize our hopes and dreams. We may work hard to re-create the home that we have lost, but, says the Bible, it only exists in the presence of the heavenly father from which we have fled.”
Perhaps I am wrong about all of this. As I said, the best reasoning still leaves uncertainty. At some level, I think every honest and introspective person has to acknowledge some degree of agnosticism. All I can say is that this is what makes most sense to me and, if forced to choose between fear and hope, I’ll choose hope every time.