Some time ago, I wrote this essay outlining the rational basis for a belief in God. And while the late notorious atheist Antony Flew (whose recent death came just days before my precious wife’s) found similar reasons adequate to change his mind about God’s existence, I have more recently reconsidered the basis for my belief. It is not, in the end, those “reasons for belief” that give rise to my theism. Nor is it the testimony of the Bible. My approach to belief, as I explained in the earlier post in this series, is along the path of Natural Theology. As I whittle away at my own lifelong assumptions, shedding presuppositionalist and, for the moment, my own a priori thinking, I have arrived at a somewhat surprising basis for my personal belief.
I am a believer in God, first and foremost, because I choose to be.
I have not abandoned those reasons for belief. I still value the rational approach of the Thomists (the Natural Theology espoused by Thomas Aquinas), but I recognize that my belief does not begin there. Nor can it logically stem from the Presuppositional approach favored by many Christians (who claim that belief must begin with the presupposition of divine revelation contained in the Scriptures), a view which I completely reject. My belief in God must, at its inception, be a matter of choice. I believe in God because I wish to.
Belief does not end with a choice. Those who choose to believe can (and likely will, in my view) find ample confirmation of that choice, a stream of rational and experiential evidences more than suffice to validate belief. And though my faith is bolstered and reinforced by observation, reasoned consideration, spiritual experience, etc., my faith begins with this simple admission: I believe in God because I choose to believe in God.
Each of us faces this choice. In this most important of existential questions, every human being has the same set of options: God, or no God. Some will claim the convenient “middle ground” of agnosticism. But the agnostic merely acknowledges that we cannot know, a fact with which thinking theists and atheists alike will all agree. And that is why we are confronted with a choice. We cannot, at the outset, know. We all choose. The agnostic chooses to live his life as if there is no God, or as if there is. No one can evade this choosing. We all line up on one side or the other, and we do so as a matter of choice.
And this choice will color all subsequent observations and experiences, predisposing the theist to see evidence for God’s existence everywhere he looks, while predisposing the atheist to see none.
So my theism, at its outset, is a preference. I prefer to believe that this cosmos has ultimate meaning. I prefer to think that my existence is intended, that it has purpose and profound significance. I prefer to believe that human life is something more than a very brief flash in the pan of accidental cosmic existence. I prefer to think that there will be a meaningful consummation of human history. I prefer to believe in one to whom I owe my very existence, even with the personal accountability implicit in such a choice. I prefer to live my days in a constant search for that ultimate reality, for transcendent truth, as opposed to shrugging off the possibility and abandoning such a search. (My search, by the way, has been more than sufficiently rewarded!)
All of which leads to this question: why would anyone choose not to believe these things?