A lengthy discussion broke out in the comments section of my post from September 20. Makeshift Renegade, who turns out to be a friend from child- and teenagehood, defended agnosticism; I defended Christian theism. I found that Makeshift’s comments were respectful and thoughtful, though we disagree concerning something fundamental. Yet I was troubled because I wasn’t sure he would say that I was likewise respectful and thoughtful concerning his position. This signaled that I should think a little bit harder about how I present myself, and the gospel, in conversations like these.
So first I reminded myself: I was not argued into the faith, so why would I act as if others could be? While I think it is valuable to debate the existence of God, I am questioning whether the tone of my particular debate gives sufficient honor to the one I’m seeking to honor.
Also, I decided that I want to rethink my view of conscience. The rest of this post gives my second thoughts on this issue:
In my comments, I advanced the belief that people are directed to God through nature. It’s not that I believe people are directed to a thorough knowledge of God, but to a certain confrontation with the creator nevertheless. Makeshift claimed, on the other hand, that he doesn’t at all resonate with this argument. He argued that nature is neutral on the idea of God, since nature could be explained other ways that are equally appealing to him philosophically.
All of this got me thinking. I take it as an article of faith (kind of a pun) that creation testifies to its creator. It’s a biblical concept, it’s reasonable, and (here I go again) it "makes sense of it all." So is my friend consciously resisting this reality? Is he lying? Is he not in touch with himself? How do we receive the testimony of one who looks at the world with all its beauty, complexity, and longings and says concerning God, “Maybe, maybe not”?
Another way of stating this is that I’ve often wondered whether certain questions are really “good” or “honest” questions, because I’ve wondered if people who question God’s existence are actually being honest with themselves. If one believes that such questions cannot be honest questions, then you are quickly committed to taking a hard edged approach to anyone who claims disbelief.
Yet while the Bible does state that conscience directs us to God, at the same time it teaches that the light of conscience can become dim… perhaps even extinguished? The reasons for this can be personal or societal. Not to mention that the bare idea of God is not necessarily attractive until combined with a vision of his glory and a taste of his mercy. All this means, practically, that many are not living with a strong awareness of God. While some may be shaking their fist at God, some may be simply shaking their head.
(As an aside, let me say that this cuts both ways. While I believe that people can question God in either an honest or dishonest way, I also believe that belief in God can also be argued in intellectually honest and dishonest ways.)
So, speaking of honesty, I owe that same honesty to others. So that is why I write this post – to confess that these are issues I am thinking through, and I hope that my testimony to my creator is not a bad witness to his character.