I believe God exists. I watch daily as people around the world try to discredit, demean, mock, or otherwise try to dissuade others from believing in God. It almost seems to be fashionable for people to renounce their religion. I have listened to a lot of what is said. I don't agree with it though, and so I offer my explanation of why I still believe in God despite the arguments to the contrary.
"Bad Things Happen"
Some people choose not to believe in God because bad things happen in this life. They view pain, suffering, and evil as proof that God does not exist. The question often is "Why would God allow such things to happen? If He loved us, wouldn't He do good things for us?" The inherent premise in all of this is that pain, suffering, and evil is somehow a bad thing to experience in life. I fully believe though that God exists, that He loves us, and that our experiencing pain, suffering, and evil are part of our path to become like Him.
In life, we can readily see how we have to work to have strength. Our muscles only grow and increase when they are used and meet resistance. I believe God has all power, which, ultimately, means that I believe that He has overcome all resistance, including the resistance associated with pain, suffering and evil. If, for analogy sake, God was viewed as the "World's Greatest Athlete", then anyone that sought to become like Him would have to experience the resistance associated with running fast and far, with lifting weights, with jumping, with heat, with cold, with swimming, etc. Only in passing through and overcoming the resistance can the strength and power be gained, and yes, the resistance training needs to be an almost daily occurrence in our lives.
I believe I existed before I came to this life, and I believe that I chose to come to this earth. I came here for the purpose of increasing in strength, power, wisdom, and in growing to become more like God. My main work in becoming like Him is to grow spiritually, to face, encounter, and conquer spiritual resistance, resistance such as doubt, disappointment, depression, darkness, fear, etc. By doing so I can increase in spiritual stature and become more like God, until I am able to gain the strength and ability to have all power. Power comes through overcoming the pain, suffering, and evil in the world and does not come through living a life free of pain and suffering. A life devoid of bad leaves me with no progression, no growth, and no ability to become like God.
Since God loves us though, He allows us to experience and pass through all that this world has to offer so that we can become the person we ultimately desire to be. I love my children, and I readily encourage them to exercise, to work, and to overcome challenges along the way, because I know that by doing so, their life will be much better. Just like in climbing Mount Everest, we can give up at any point and stop progressing. For me though, I want to make it all the way. I did not come here just to give up and enjoy the view from a base camp. I came to climb, progress, and improve and to become like God. To gain power, grow, and progress, I have to overcome resistance, and so I appreciate that God loves me enough to allow me to embark on a journey filled with trials so that I can gain the strength necessary to reach the top of Mount Everest. To me, pain, suffering, evil, and other trials evidence the fact that there is a purpose to life and with that purpose, a God that exists. So, despite the existence of pain, suffering, and darkness, I still believe in God.
"I'm Happy Without God"
Many people state that their life is fine without God. They view those who believe in God as needing a crutch or as being weaker, or they simply view themselves as having all that is necessary to be happy. Many view themselves as good, and thus push away the need for God in their lives. I see all of us as having good attributes though, and I view God as the way for us to hold onto and expand the good about ourselves.
I believe that anyone can be happy in life by adhering to and following principles of good, and many people follow good principles without believing in God. Going back to the Mt. Everest example though, many people feel happy and content at a base camp and lose sight of the purpose of their travels, or the purpose of their life.
I lived in Taiwan for two years as a missionary, and I daily spent time visiting homes of the people that lived there. Most of the Taiwanese people were very industrious, hardworking, and dedicated to improving their life and the lives of their children, and I spent a significant amount of time among people with these attributes. However, at one point I served in the countryside among people who said that they were happy and content, but they struggled daily to get enough food to eat, to have health, or to pay their bills, and many of them simply sat on their couches in front of their televisions, day after day, week after week. When I would visit their homes they were so absorbed in their television programs that I could not even maintain a simple conversation with them.
I thought about these people a lot, and it seemed to me that they were content with their lives and their poor state because they had no vision of their potential as humans. In other words, they felt they were happy because they did not understand or believe that there was more to life, that there was fulfillment in learning, studying, growing, progressing, and becoming something more than they were at the time. I saw that their contentment with life caused them to be complacent in matters that could have seriously improved their physical state of existence.
I see a lot of similarities in spiritual matters. Many can be happy and content with their physical state if they have enough food, money, and time to enjoy what this world has to offer. However, simply having enough food to eat and enough money to play with does not mean that there isn't more to life. There is an entire universe of spiritual matters left untouched by the complacency caused by a comfortable life. With Mt. Everest, it would be similar to having a nice, warm, and fun hotel at a base camp. Staying inside the hotel would bring physical comfort and happiness to many people, but it would never bring the fulfillment or exhilaration possible by finishing the climb and reaching the top.
When we leave God out of our lives, we simply confine ourselves to a comfortable oasis along the path of our progression. It may be a happy place for a time, but the only place to find lasting, eternal happiness is by reaching the destination that God has in store for us. Thus, I constantly work to improve and continue to follow God's path as I know it is the path to an eternal, lasting happiness, one that I can enjoy together with my family. I choose to keep God a part of my life so that I can continue progressing and improving.
Currently, a big push away from God and religion seems to stem from science offering alternative views (from that of religion) about life or offering explanations of things that used to be deemed supernatural. Frankly, I'm honestly amazed at the amount of faith we place in science as many of us accept the latest and greatest study or scientific pronouncement as infallible truth, even though a new study will come out in a few years showing missing pieces of prior studies or the scientific pronouncement will later be rejected and replaced with a new one.
Science certainly has its place in our lives and has helped us understand and reach higher levels. Science, however, despite our best efforts, remains full of holes still not understood, theories, and speculation as humans simply do not understand everything about life or the Universe. So, while I accept many things that science has to offer, I do not rely on it as my ultimate source of truth.
If I were to accept science as my only source of truth, I would be blocking my view to an entire Universes of life yet untouched by science. I would also be placing my entire trust in the understanding of humans simply because they have a degree and performed a study. Not to be critical of my fellow humans, but by simply looking around and reviewing a few posts on Facebook I can readily see that I could quickly be led astray by following the understanding alone of my fellow humans.
Consider for a moment the Universes untouched by science. Life itself is a large Universe left unexplored. For example, where did we come from? Were we simply a new being created at conception? Science would say yes, but it has zero proof of that. At death, is our life over, or does it continue on somewhere else? Science would say our life is over, but only because humans haven't yet invented a machine to see into or explore other potentials. Finally, what gives life to something? Since science can actually see that life exists, it is seeking to understand what gives life to something, but it doesn't know yet. Even though science is looking for what creates life, it rejects the notion of a Universe associated with spirits.
I could go into details pointing out the assumptions and potential errors that exist in many things such as evolution, carbon dating, statistical analysis, global warming, etc. I'm not saying that these things are necessarily false or wrong, but they are laden with factors that have to, ironically and to the dismay of people who reject faith, be accepted on faith for the time being. If those faith based assumptions are proven wrong at any point, then the entire theory may have to change to address the new evidence. This is, of course, the scientific method, but it is a method that requires faith to accept the theories and conclusions as infallible truth. Rather than taking the scientific study of the day as infallible truth, I analyze the parts for things that can be proven and things that are part of the "theory", or the conclusion, that is drawn or inferred from what is known. To me, recognizing the limits of science causes us to progress further as it inspires us to continue seeking to understand that which we don't know, but when we simply accept science as infallible truth, it places limits on what we are willing to believe, search for, or strive to understand.
However, even if things such as evolution are widely accepted for the time being, it doesn't change my belief in God or in the fact that I am a child of God. Nor does it change my belief in a life before this one or a life after this one. To me, the greatest proof of the existence of a spirit is our children. They come with varied personalities far outside the realm of what their DNA or their environment alone give them. In other words, they come with spirits, spirits from a world that existed long before our world, and spirits that are the children of God. The spirit gives life, personality, and joy to our existence and transcends the current boundaries of science.
In addition, I do not equate our increased knowledge of this world with less of a need to believe in God. Simply because humans are understanding more and more does not mean that I have less and less of a need to believe in God. I believe in God because I believe in the eternal nature of life. I fully believe that death is not the end, and that birth was not the beginning. I fully believe that my actions in this life will directly impact the course of my life through eternity, and I want to live in a way that brings about eternal happiness, both for me and for my family. All of the understanding in the world pales in comparison to all of the potentials associated with eternal life. Science might be able to tell me some things that make me happy today, but it falls far short of telling me how these same things affect my eternal destiny.
So yes, I fully accept a far more optimistic view of this world than science would ever allow me to believe. I have no doubt that this life is but a stop on our eternal journey, and I have no doubt that God is in charge of and directing this eternal journey. Science seeks to understand what we can see or readily experience, but God helps me to understand and accept all of the truths that transcend sight, smell, and touch. When current science conflicts with the teachings of God, I can simply be patient and wait for a new discovery that alters the scientific teaching, or I can understand that science is discussing the nature of today without considering the impacts to eternity. One day, I believe that I can know and understand all of the ways of God as God operates based on a system of laws and principles in place. Certainly, we may be able to understand some of those laws and principles in this life, but simply because I can understand and apply a law, this does not mean that I suddenly no longer need God. Instead, I can be grateful for the things He allows me to know, and continue working to understand all of the things that I don't know.
To discover something though, we have to believe that it is possible or that it even exists. For example, the Wright brothers believed it was possible to fly, something that many well meaning people, even educated people, of their time would mock and say is impossible. If their religion had told them for hundreds of years that one day people would invent a flying machine, such religion likely would have been mocked and scorned as it would have been outside the known realm of possibilities. But, the Wright brothers believed, and they succeeded. Their faith in something still unseen led them to the discovery of something greater, something that expanded and lifted the human race.
However, the current trend seems to reject faith as a part of science. People so readily mock and demean others who believe or accept principles that science cannot yet test, verify, or prove. When the faith element of science is removed, so too is our access to the universes yet unexplored by science. We have to believe first before we gain access to those universes, and there is no better place to turn to understand what we should seek for and study than to God Himself, as He is omnipotent and knows all truth. God gives us the inspiration and knowledge necessary to continue to reach and climb, and rejecting that causes us to stay grounded and never learn to soar. In other words, rejecting faith is rejecting progression.
Another example comes from the Dean of American Astronomy late in the nineteenth century. As told by Marcia Bartusiak, "Simon Newcomb, the dean of American astronomy in the late nineteenth century, remarked at an observatory dedication in 1887 that ‘so far as astronomy is concerned … we do appear to be fast approaching the limits of our knowledge. … The result is that the work which really occupies the attention of the astronomer is less the discovery of new things than the elaboration of those already known.’" (Marcia Bartusiak, The Day We Found the Universe (2009), xv). When this remark was made, astronomers could only see the stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy and had yet to discover any other galaxies. (Bartusiak, xii). Now, astronomers can see more galaxies than stars in our own galaxy, even though at one time they thought they were getting close to seeing all stars in the sky.
From what I see, we want so much to be able to explain and understand our existence that we prematurely jump to conclusions, and the science community pushes to have us accept those conclusions as infallible or as the limits of what is possible. Take the Big Bang for example. That theory has been pushed for a fair amount of time, but just recently I saw that some scientific scholars have proposed a new model for how our Universe was created, and the Big Bang was not a part of it. I always smile at the notion and belief that we can watch the sky with powerful telescopes for a very short length of time (compared to that of the existence of the Universe) and suddenly know with certainty how the Universe was created. Even if the Big Bang did occur, many questions remain unanswered, such as what caused it, how was so much matter concentrated in one point, are we at risk for another big bang taking place in our neck of the Universe? With evolution as another example, even if our bodies were formed that way, why does that reduce the miracle of life? In my mind, it takes more faith to believe that our bodies magically evolved and formed through the winds of change to produce my eyes with their sense of sight, my ears with their sense of hearing, my nose with its sense of smell, my cells with their ability to fight disease and infection, than it does to believe simply that a far more powerful and advanced being created us as His child. Maybe His method of creation was using the evolutionary process, but maybe it wasn't. Maybe evolution is simply a scientific theory, or, in other words, a faith based pronouncement made in an attempt to explain where we came from and how we were created.
Now, I'm not saying that I reject all of the scientific studies that have been performed or the things that have been discovered. Take global warming for example. I am very comfortable that we can measure the earth's average temperature, that we can get a good estimate of the CO2 produced by humans, and that we can run the statistics and show correlation between the two. However, I am far from certain that we have appropriately analyzed all of the possibilities to understand what is really taking place. Maybe instead of passing laws to reduce CO2 emissions we need to be focused on finding ways to survive a summer season of the sun. Maybe instead of stopping mining activities we need to increase them to stockpile the materials necessary to survive a hotter earth. I don't profess to know the right answer, and I don't reject global warming claims outright, but I certainly don't believe that we have yet exhausted studying all of the variables contributing to or causing the changes that science has tracked for this last century or so. But, if the earth truly is warming, maybe we need to turn to God to be saved, rather than relying on our limited understanding. The point though is simply that there is a lot we (including me) do not know, and that we shouldn't mock or demean others who don't share the same faith or views (whether in science, God, or otherwise) that we share, as we are all working to understand life and what is taking place around us.
Instead of mocking and demeaning the role of faith in our lives, I believe we are all better off in the long run by letting people act on faith as their faith may lead to the discovery of something that was rejected before or that was never considered by others because it conflicted with the popular science of the day. If an Einstein believed that climate change was caused by an increase in say, an influx of bacteria in the earth's soil, he would devote his life to proving his faith based assumption. If he found nothing, current global warming science would not be hurt but might become become more credible. If he found something though, people could then work to figure out ways to minimize or remove those side effects. Either way, by allowing people to try and disprove the current conclusions, the world improves and moves a step forward. Demeaning, belittling, and mocking only keep us in the known and observable realms though as it dissuades other from acting on their beliefs, and there is still so much to learn, explore, and discover that the world is a much better place by encouraging people to find what they believe in. And, if we allow humans to find God, so much good could come through the efforts along the way.
So, I certainly do not reject what science has learned, but I am cautious about accepting conclusions drawn or inferred from an observation, especially when they are used to deny the existence of universes yet unexplored, as we are constantly seeking to fully understand all of the variables that affect any given observation. However, I also fully believe that God knows all things, and that He desires me to progress and become like Him - in knowledge, power, wisdom and glory. The facts I learn along the way will aid me in this process of becoming like Him, but they will never replace my faith in Him or my adherence to His teachings, since He knows how all of the variables interact to produce the grand symphony of life, in the past, present, and eternal future.
In short, I am a man of faith, working to reach new universes yet untouched by most of humanity (by their own choice). Yes, I unabashedly believe in the divine potential of all humans, and yes, I will work to achieve that potential, whether or not others want to join me along the way. So, despite the hostility of the science community to the contrary, I still believe in God.
I am confident that God lives. I have seen His influence throughout my life and the lives of others. I am saddened by the bad things that happen, I experience doubt, confusion, and darkness at times. Yet, I have also experienced happiness, understanding, and light. Based on my experiences, I have chosen to pursue a path that leads to eternal happiness, understanding, and light, and I have no desire to embrace the darkness that comes with this world. Of course, I would love it if you join me on that path, but I don't expect everyone to as life provides many an oasis of security, at least for a time. However, I do ask for more understanding and less demeaning of those who choose to acknowledge that they live by faith and who choose to believe in God. In short, I hope that by explaining why I believe in God, we can all become better and more understanding of each other, and that by doing so, we can reach new levels of progression, together, as brothers and sisters in humanity and in life.