I was asked today why I believe in a God that I cannot see. It’s a very good question! I’d like to think that I have an ‘evidence-based faith’, using what I can see (both within and without the Bible) to support the existence of God, who I cannot see. However, God has asked us to believe in him, even though the evidence of his existence is not enough to convince everybody. In this way, those who believe in God bring him pleasure (Heb 11:6).
When you think about it, we believe in quite a few things that we can’t actually see (with the naked eye), like wind, and bacteria. We believe in them because we can see clearly the impact that they make on other things. It is the same with God: I believe that he exists because of what I can see around me. (Now these examples only go so far, because wind and bacteria can be proven by scientific experiment, and God cannot – but I hope they are meaningful analogies.)
There is plenty of evidence in the physical world that points to the existence of a creator. For example, the universe seemed to know we were coming: conditions on earth are just right for human life. In his book the ‘Goldilocks Enigma’, Dr Paul Davies considers various possibilities for this conundrum and concludes that a multiverse, or creator god are the most likely explanations. If I had to choose between those two, a creator god is more plausible for me! Some also see evidence for God in the plant and animal world, citing irreducible complexity as a confounder of evolution. As a biologist, I can see both sides of the evolution debate, and am quite willing to accept that the world is considerably older than biblical timelines would have us believe, and a large degree of macroevolution is evident.
Whilst there is some evidence in the physical world that points me towards a belief in God, I am more convinced by evidence in the Bible. Fulfilled Bible prophecy is very important to my faith. Nebuchadnezzar’s image is on the face of it convincing. If we could prove that it was written before the events, it would be a slam-dunk. But many years have passed, and I can’t find a way to prove that the prophecy was written before the events unfolded (although the Dead Sea Scrolls are fairly convincing). I find the Bible prophecies about Israel returning to her land such as Jer16:14-15 (which was fulfilled in 1948) the most convincing in terms of fulfilled prophecy. Here, because the events occurred in relatively recent history, it’s easy to show that the prophecies were written beforehand, and that there were plenty of people around before the events who predicted them based on interpretations of these prophecies. There’s other Biblical evidence that I find convincing too, for example, the public health value of the Law of Moses, the consistency of message through the Bible despite many authors over many years, and a ‘ring of truth’, with many very flawed heroes (and one unflawed one)!
A challenging question arising from this is why doesn’t God make it more obvious that he exists? Where’s the loudspeaker from heaven proclaiming God’s authority (this did actually happen – admittedly a long time ago – see Matt 3:17)? This is difficult to answer, but it seems that if God made it obvious that he exists, there would be no room for faith, which is being ‘sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see’ (Heb 11:1). And God wants us to have faith in him; it brings him pleasure (Heb 11:6).
In summary, I cannot prove to you there is a God, but on the balance of probabilities I believe in God. My faith is not 100%; it wavers with my good days and bad days. But I try to walk more by faith and less by sight (2Cor 5:7), whilst retaining what I hope is a rational faith that is informed by evidence. Believing in God gives me an enormous sense of perspective, hope and happiness, and it’s amazing to think that my belief in God brings him pleasure.