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The Bible Challenge Christianity 1.1: Is God Real?

January 10, 2021

FREE WRITING

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Christianity 1.1: Is God Real?
 
January 10, 2021
 
            Is there a God? A Higher Power that exists? Are we alone in the universe, or is there something else out there—Someone? This question has plagued people for millenia, especially now, when religion appears to be on the low in American culture, with 22.8 percent of people in the United States being unaffiliated with any religion (“Irreligion in the United States,” 2021). Some claim that humans invented God. Others say there could be a Higher Power, but one that is not involved in human life. Today we will examine simply whether there is a God or not.
            I will begin first by disclosing my biases. I believe that is a very important thing to do, something that many news reporters and book authors never bother to impart upon their readers. I am an Evangelical Christian, one who believes in a God and the Trinity and numerous other things I hope to explain in these essays. I believe, however, that the first piece of the puzzle of Christian beliefs is whether there is a God to believe in or not.
    My first point is about good and evil. What is good? What is evil? Is murder good? Is helping an elderly neighbor mow her lawn evil? Well, the answers to those must be obvious. No, murder is not good, and no, it isn’t evil to help people. But how do we know that? How do we know that murder is evil? That stealing is wrong? That rape is wrong? Well, we have a law that says so. All right, then how do the people who make the law know that murder is evil? What if it’s actually all right to murder? Or what if I want my classmate’s friendship bracelet and it’s actually all right to steal it? How to lawmakers know what is actually right and what is actually wrong?
            Humans have what seems to be a fairly set moral code. Throughout the ages, most governments have had penalties for murdering people, stealing, and usually rape (not always in some circumstances, sadly). However, some thinkers like to claim that morals are relative. I may think that tattoos are wicked, but perhaps you don’t (for the record, I don’t think tattoos are wicked). Relative to me a tattoo might be wrong, but relative to you it isn’t. All right, that makes sense. It’s relative, whether tattoos are wrong or not. But what if we extrapolate this farther. What if I think that stealing is all right, but you don’t. Well, that means I could just steal from you and you would be very upset about it. But if morals are relative, then to me it’s all right, and I’m allowed to break into your house and take your television and your couch and whatever I feel like taking. No, there must be a set code of justice. If morality is relative, is it right to murder? Can I strike my brother down in a fit of rage and get away with it? Of course, I would be arrested. But there needs to be a standard. If one person believes that murder is right and another doesn’t, then there will be problems. We need a set moral code, which is where the law comes in. And yet, how do lawmakers know what is right? What if one lawmaker thinks it is perfectly fine to allow rape and sexual abuse, while another vehemently argues against it? Something needs to make a higher code that states, no, rape is wrong and so is sexual abuse. Murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, adultery is wrong, and so are other things like lying or being greedy.
            The question is, who makes this moral code? It cannot be humans. We are morally imperfect and we tend to be rather partial to our own selves and our little groups within society. As we see, even the lawmakers are not perfect. Have you ever heard of a perfect government? Even our republic in the United States is typically fraught with corruption. Every week I hear of a new politician in some sort of scandal, whether it be embezzling, or having an affair with someone else’s wife, or something else that evidently shows they believe they are not held to the law. Even on the individual scale there is no perfection. Have you ever had a day when you have never done anything bad at all? You haven’t screamed at your sibling or lied or thought mean thoughts? Of course, if morality is relative, I may be the only one who believes doing those things are wrong. Now imagine never doing anything wrong in your life. No human being has lived a perfect life. I certainly haven’t, and if anyone has I invite him or her to mention it. Humans are imperfect. That is a fact. And with imperfect people, we will have imperfect moral codes. One man’s moral code might be completely different from another man’s moral code. Hitler thought it was all right to slaughter Jews, but of course we know that is wrong. But if morality is relative, and we have no higher moral code, then theoretically he was only following his own moral code. This is why humans cannot define good and evil. They are prone to their own biases and hatred. Even a society cannot define a moral code. What was acceptable a hundred years ago is not now. The Romans believed it was all right to send prisoners to fight each other to the death in the arena. Now, of course, we would never dream of doing that. But people in 1910 would never dream of allowing swimmers to sunbathe naked on beaches, as they do in some places in the United States. Society changes. It yoyos back and forth between different moral beliefs and very rarely stays in one place. We cannot trust society to provide us with morality. Cultures are so varying that there is no way to define a set code simply from society. Additionally, society often tells us things that are not true. For example, many people are told or influenced by Hollywood to believe that girls are ugly if they are not white and slender. I, as someone who does not look very white and am not particularly slender, disagree very much with this belief. Simply because society says something does not mean it is true.
            If humans cannot set a moral code, who sets it? The universe? Well, the universe does not have a mind, does it? If it did have a mind, it would have to be God, which proves that there is a higher power. If it does not have a mind, how could it strive to keep law? A moral code created by the universe by pure chance would not hold to goodness, or at least goodness as most people see it. People are naturally selfish. Given the choice between handing your sister the last cookie or eating it yourself, what are you more inclined to do? I would probably eat it myself if I was left to my own moral code. If evolution is true, self-preservation requires us to be naturally selfish. If, supposedly we evolved, we have no reason to believe nature by chance gave us a moral conscience. Why, if we came into being by a number of random DNA mutations and other chance occurrences, would we happen to know that murder is wrong and being faithful to your spouse is right? I suppose one could argue it would be evolutionally advantageous to be good to everyone and so make allies. But what about being good to those who cannot help us? Like the poor? I give more than ten percent of all income I make to charity. It’s not an investment, at least not here on earth. I will never see the people I help with my money. They will never be able to do anything for me. If I were following the laws of nature, I wouldn’t do that; I would only be losing money and it would not aid in my self-preservation. The universe would not give us a knowledge of what is good and what is evil.
            So then, we must conclude, some Higher Power has to give us a moral code. We cannot have a knowledge of what is good and what is not without a Higher Power more perfect than humans deciding it for us. We are fallible and have not been perfect since the Fall. There must be somebody perfect designing morality, or else morality would be whatever anyone defines it. And since we might all have differing versions of morality (sadists would say it’s all right to torture people; vegetarians would say it is wrong to eat meat, and so on) the world would never know what is right. It requires a Higher Being to decide what is right and what is wrong, otherwise we would have chaos, and there would be no right and wrong.
 
            Another point in favor of a Higher Being is the search for meaning. Humans are constantly searching for meaning, for an identity besides that of a living, conscious creature. Many people never find it, and die in despair, hopeless. Others search in all the wrong places, and yet are never satisfied. Within each one of us is the yearning for the inexplicable more. I see it in every single person I meet who has not met Jesus. I see it in the written pieces of youth, the constant grief of searching for love, acceptance, meaning. It is heartbreaking to me to see so many that are lost, uncertain of why they are placed on this earth and who they really are. Before I was saved, I searched for meaning too. I would cry at night, wondering why I was here, who I was, what I wanted. I have met so many people who are broken, miserable inside because they have no meaning. It is the most empty feeling in the whole world, to not have a purpose, a reason for existing.
            If God is real, the search for meaning makes sense. We have been separated from God, and our search for meaning is searching for Him. That is one thing I notice, a marked difference between myself and other Christians from the rest of the world. True Christians are different from other religions in this way—they have a meaning and a purpose in their lives because they have been reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus Christ (more about that later). Because I know God loves me unconditionally, I can fill the hole for love in my heart. I can stand tall and have confidence knowing that even if my family turns away and my friends leave me and the world strikes me down again and again, God still loves me. I can know that my purpose in life is to serve Him, and I become content with that. I no longer have to persistently pursue evading pleasure like money or human affection to bring me happiness. I am secure in my joy, or “surprised by joy” as C. S. Lewis states.
            On the other hand, if God does not exist, man’s search for meaning is in vain. Then meaning is only what we give ourselves, and as I hope most people will admit, that is not satisfactory. I may say I am a writer, and define myself as so, but ultimate that does not give me joy or happiness in my life. No matter how many books I write, that will not be fulfilling. Without, God, there is no purpose in life; we live and we die and there is nothing. It’s a cold, dark world (people who live in this belief are called nihilists, and often come to an unhappy end). There is nothing to strive for, nothing but money and the miserable pleasures of life. Even giving to charity is not enough to bring fulfillment, not without God. I know; I tried it for many years. What are we searching for, then? If there is no God, why do we search for meaning? If there is no God, we should be content with the material, satisfied with our things and our good deeds and our family and friends. Instead we constantly strive for more. We are always searching for the “next best thing”—drugs, sex, money, power. And yet it never delivers. It never fills us forever. Without God, we are searching in vain. Without God, we have no reason to search at all, and thus we should not feel this sense of emptiness when we do not have Him.
 
            Humans themselves are simply a sign of God. We are very distinct from other creatures. We learn and we are able to have conscious thoughts and desires, based off more than animal instincts. Humans invent, build, and create progress. Two hundred years ago, nobody even imagined a computer, much less the tiny ones called smartphones that we have now. And yet now we have so many more fascinating creations than we had even fifty years ago, when my grandparents would have been using dial phones and sending letters because email had only just been invented. We develop and invent—no other creature on this earth does that. We do not see fish figuring out how to create weapons to fight back against fishermen taking their lives; nor do we see chimps making rope bridges in the jungle to get across trees more efficiently than swinging.
            Why would nature just happen to form creatures with conscious thought, who can communicate and progress throughout the ages? No other creature does this. For the most part, plants and animals have not changed in their behaviors and “technology” in the last five millenia, as far as history goes. Many animals are quite clever; they can learn things, but only in their lifetime. If one teaches a chimp sign language, it is not going to write down how to do it and then pass on the knowledge to the next generation. There is no progress in any creature but the human. Humans are so different from even their closest DNA matches—chimpanzees—that it seems highly unlikely that we would just happen to be so distinct from every other living being on earth.
            It must be, then, because humans were designed in God’s image. That is why we are so different. We are like no other creature because we were specially created to be like One Being. That’s why we have a moral code; that’s why we can understand that there are some things that are right and some that are wrong. Animals don’t have this basic morality. A dog loves its master because its master feeds it and protects it. It doesn’t love its master because it is told “that is what is right.” I love my sister because I know that is the right thing to do. She does absolutely nothing for me; in fact, oftentimes she is mean to me. But that is what makes me different from a dog, because I do things not always because they will benefit me, but because they’re right. Humans have a higher being, because they are shades of God.
 
            And yet, we cannot see God! That is the greatest point many people bring up against Him. “I cannot see him, he must not be there!” Well, we cannot see many things—gravity, wind, love, justice, and other intangible subjects. But we see the effects of these things. When a man and a woman love each other, we know that because they will pledge their lives to each other in a wedding. Wind makes the leaves blow off the trees. Gravity is something we learn very early on when we trip as babies and fall for the first time.
            We can see the effects of God, even if we cannot see Him. Many people say, “no, God has not worked in my life. He cannot exist.” My answer to that, and not to sound rude, but “have you looked?” Sometimes people are unwilling to see the effects of God. I do not say this because I am some sort of perfect person who always knows God does great things. I myself doubted many times the existence of God, before I became a Christian.
            To be sure, I grew up in a Christian family. At a very young age I accepted Jesus as my Savior. However, as I grew into my early teens my faith was dead. I didn’t pray, I didn’t read my Bible, and I spent more time judging non-Christians for how they dressed than considering my own faith and whether I was close to God. I didn’t really believe He cared about me, in my heart of hearts. I stopped praying because I felt like he didn’t answer me. I would pray and beg for things. But I never thought I would receive them. I would pray for my mother to love me (in my angsty middle school years) and I would pray to be more beautiful and for the boy I liked to care about me, and yet nothing would happen. So I stopped, because I believed God didn’t care.
    When my uncle became very sick, I began to pray again, out of obligation to the family and genuine concern that he would die. I asked God to save him—he had a wife and children who loved him so much. I didn’t want him to die. And yet, despite all of my prayers and my family’s prayers, he died of cancer, only in his early forties.
    That very same year my mother’s 21-year-old cousin died, too. We had been praying for him to come to Jesus, because he was still recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. For a time it looked like God had been answering prayers, that he was getting better. But then he was shot during a drug deal gone bad, his life snuffed out when he was just starting it.
    That year I decided prayer didn’t work. That if God really cared about me he would have answered my and my family’s prayers. So I stopped praying. I stopped reading my Bible (like I had been reading it much to begin with). I pretty much shut God out. After all, He wasn’t really working in my life so far as I could see. How could He really exist then?
That was when I was around thirteen. When I was fourteen I was hit with even worse misfortune. That winter I found a cyst on my back. Now, I found out later those can go one of two ways. Usually (and luckily that was what I had) they’re harmless, just a lump that needs to get removed and drained. However, in some circumstances they can be cancerous. My mom didn’t really tell me that part when she took me to the surgeon to have it removed, probably because of my uncle’s recent death.
    I had the cyst removed, and it looked like I was on the road to recovery. Then, just two weeks after the surgeon (who was pretty much a butcher) took it off, the wound got infected and I had to go to the ER, where luckily it burst before they had to cut it open to let the puss out. All I can say is I’m not squeamish about gore after that entire experience. The surgeon blew off my mother’s concerns and told me that it would probably heal on its own after a few weeks (never mind the hole in my back was big enough to fit a fist in). Well, the wound didn’t get better. It would close, but then it would open again when it got infected. I had to go on antibiotics at one point so it wouldn’t get too bad. My mother had to clean it out and pack it with gauze every other day, and she hates anything related to blood. At one point it got infected so bad I was running a fever and my mother was worried she would have to take me to the ER again.
    All through this I was pretty silent. I didn’t complain. But inside I was seething at God. How could you let this happen? I would ask. This isn’t fair. Why me? I’ve always been so healthy. I wasn’t able to run or bend over or really do anything but lie in bed or walk around (but not very far or the wound would bleed more). I gained weight because I wasn’t active anymore, and my self-confidence plummeted, especially when I had to get a wound vac because the puss was so bad it needed to get sucked out. I hated the stares of pity people would give me at church when they saw me lugging that machine around, tubes going up my shirt into my back. I hated it when they prayed for me. It’s not working! I would protest inside. Your prayers aren’t doing anything, God doesn’t care about me. He won’t even listen to me when I pray, why would he listen to you?
    And then, finally, I was able to find a surgeon who could do the right procedure on my back to close the wound up properly, to avoid more infection. I had to go on three weeks of antibiotics to ensure it didn’t burst open again, but I made it through. Even so, I blamed God for six months of misery. Six months of pretty much just lying in bed. That was the closest I ever came to becoming an atheist. I didn’t think God was out there. If he was, he would have helped me.
But as the next month or so passed, and I was getting ready to go on a missions trip (why I went in that time of my faith I’ll never know), I realized I was being very unfair to God. First of all, at that time in my life I was doing things I should’ve have. I harbored a lot of hate towards people I should have loved, and I was living in sin, with wrong thoughts and behaviors. I had pretty much rejected God, maybe not consciously, but I was living like I had. Second of all, I was closing my eyes to what He had done for me. Finding that surgeon and being able to get a surgery on the calendar so quickly was a miracle. I know that now…most people would have had to wait months because of how in demand that surgeon was for his skill. I got in in only two weeks. God did heal me. He healed me through the surgeon’s hands.
    After that I turned my life around. I realized He was there, and throughout my life and others He was listening, and He was working. One night I spoke to Him, and I told him of my grief and my pain, and that night I just cried. I cried until I fell asleep, and yet I woke up with a peace beyond my understanding. Nothing I did could have brought that peace. After that day I wasn’t afraid of anything, not doctors or their probes, nor anything on this earth. I wasn’t afraid, and I had a strong desire to become closer to God. I realized only He could have brought that serenity.
    Maybe some of you are still skeptical. It might have been by coincidence. I might be extrapolating too much. And anyway, why is this in an essay about proving God’s existence? Well, because, I’m talking about the effects of God. After I truly turned my life towards him, I found peace. Somehow, miraculously, I was able to wipe away the trauma of those last six months and now I remember them only as an experience that strengthened my faith. I was able to give my life wholeheartedly for another purpose, and begin the battle against sin in my life. And it’s not only my life that has seen the effects of God. I can speak of so many other reasons that show He exists, and I will.
    My little brother, for example. I am the firstborn in my family, and then my twin boy-girl siblings, and my little sister and finally, my littlest brother. My brother and I always wanted a brother. We prayed and prayed for one when we were very little. Well, when my mom was pregnant with my youngest sister, she had a dream. She dreamt that she was getting an ultrasound, and the nurse told her it was a boy, and she felt that God wanted to name him a specific name and middle name (concealed for privacy reasons). Well, naturally, she was shocked when the baby was born, and it was a girl! She was sure God had be showing her it would be a boy. So, she told my dad they had to have another baby. When they were pregnant with my littlest brother, my other brother and I prayed in earnest that he would be a boy. Not that I don’t love my sisters, but I wanted another boy in the family. And, before my mom found out she was having a boy, she had the same dream. She was getting an ultrasound, the nurse told her it was a boy, and God told her to name him a specific name and middle name. And when actually she had the ultrasound, it all happened as it did in the dream, and now my littlest brother is named the name she dreamt.
    I could speak of more. My grandmother’s eyesight continued failing in her youth and early twenties, and it seemed she would be wearing high prescription glasses for the rest of her life. She prayed, and instantly her vision leveled off and now she sees distance better than I do.
    My abuela was put in jail and kept in solitary confinement when she was fifteen for refusing to support the socialist regime in Cuba when Fidel Castro came to power. She prayed unceasingly for two years to be released. Her captors taunted her, telling her she would be in jail for the rest of her life, that she would never escape. She kept telling them, “no, I will be in the United States some day and then I will be free.” And, lo and behold, after two years of prayer she was unexpectedly released. She was able to escape to Spain, and from there to the United States, where she met my abuelo.
    My abuelo is another story of God’s effects. He came to the United States from Puerto Rico at thirteen and was alone since that age here, working to achieve the American Dream. However, in his later teens he became an alcoholic and spent a lot of his time engaged in unhealthy behaviors. He says he was going down a dark path when he met Jesus, then attending a Spanish-speaking church and meeting my grandmother. He never expected to be able to have a wife and family, but when he met God he was able to have that and more. Now he doesn’t touch alcohol, and he is happily retired living a life of joy because of what God has done.
    I could speak of my brother’s healing. My younger brother, when he was about four or five, came down with a very bad gut bacteria (I think it was salmonella, but I was too young to remember well). The numbers of the bacteria in his body kept getting higher and higher. The doctors were very worried about him, and he had to go through a lot of blood tests and probing because they were afraid he could have some sort of chronic disease. My mother prayed over him. Not a week later his symptoms stopped and his numbers went back to normal. He’s probably the healthiest kid I know now—you would never know he was fighting that for more than a year when he was little.
    I could speak of my youth pastor, who like my abuelo was engaged in abusive behavior and was an alcoholic in his early twenties. He was so far from God…and yet, when he drew closer, he began to change. He turned away from his alcoholism and he was freed from his addiction. He never wanted alcohol again. And not a few months after this, after praying for a wife to love and cherish, he met the girl of his dreams and they are now happily married with a baby girl on the way.
    Or I could talk about the missions trip. I needed money to go on a missions trip, but I did not have enough. I prayed to God, asking him to provide the money for me to go. That very same week a random woman at our church who I didn’t know very well gave me a hundred dollars to put towards the trip. I almost cried.
And then I could speak of the man on our missions trip who slipped in the shower and nearly broke his back. He was in agony that evening, and he was afraid he would have to fly home because he wouldn’t be able to do the heavy work we needed to mix concrete and build the pastor’s house. Our team laid hands on him and prayed. That very night his pain was gone and he worked hard for the rest of the trip.
    These and many other stories I could tell of the effects God has. If God does not exist, how could these come to be? How could prayer be so effective if we are praying to nothing? Now, that may be a lot of coincidence, you might say, or tell me I am lying to you (which I assure you, I am not). But just by seeing these alone, and my own experiences with how God has changed my life, I am willing to believe that there is a God out there. I don’t need to see Him. I feel Him, and I see His works.
    In conclusion, I don’t see how, with the logical evidence, a God could not exist. My own experience seeing the effects and power of a God is enough to convince me, whatever my readers may think. I only ask for an open mind and a realization that sometimes the Unseen still exists.
 
Works Cited
 
Irreligion in the United States. (2021, January 4). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_the_United_States#:~:text=The%20Pew%20Religious%20Landscape%20survey,atheist%20and%205%25%20being%20agnostic.
 
Lewis, C. S. (1952). Mere Christianity. HarperCollins Publishers.
 
Mcdowell, J., & McDowell, S. (1977). More Than a Carpenter. Tyndale House Publishers.
 
Samples, K. R. (2010, January 18). How Can I believe in a God I Can’t See? Reasons.org.
https://reasons.org/explore/publications/reasons-newsletter/read/reasons-newsletter/2010/01/18/how-can-i-believe-in-a-god-i-can't-see.
 
Samples, K. R. (2018, December 18). God’s Existence Best Explains Life’s Most Profound Realities. Reasons.org. https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/reflections/read/reflections/2018/12/25/god-s-existence-best-explains-life-s-most-profound-realities.
 
This is part of a series I am starting for those who might have questions or doubts on Christianity. If anyone has any questions, please mention in the comments and I will see if I can answer them! (I'm not a pastor, but I will try my best!)
Also, I would absolutely recommend checking out some of the books in the Works Cited area, especially Mere Christianity and More than a Carpenter, as both of them are very helpful for those curious or skeptical about Christianity!
Love you all!

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9 Comments
  • anemoia (#words)

    WOW. i just searched up this series and clicked on yours. what a powerful story. i confess i skimmed, but i felt so much just from that. one question, not exactly related to your piece: how are you and Abigail Faith and the others organizing this series? like, title-wise?


    4 months ago
  • anonymous_123 [Child of God]

    Btw this might get taken down my did just recently I think because of my footnotes I’m not too sure. So be careful!


    4 months ago
  • Blue Jay

    Your piece is very long and thought out. I am an atheist, and you haven't changed my mind, but I will say that you did a nice job. This was a long, well thought out essay. Anyways nice job and good research. If this wasn't a teen writing website I would have thought that a philosopher wrote this or something. Anyways nice job and have a nice day :)


    4 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    this just gives me so much hope and joy... i wish everyone could read this. wow. beautiful writing :) like almost flora kane said, i can see this growing into a book! <3


    4 months ago
  • almost flora kane

    this is gorgeously written and inspiringly vulnerable. thank you for sharing this with this community. i have been struggling on and off with my faith for the past few weeks, and reading this has helped me remember more of the blessings God has given me through those He has given you. i can see something amazing coming from this piece and your ideas of a series, and i wouldn't be surprised if you had an incredible book forming at your fingertips:)


    4 months ago
  • anonymous_123 [Child of God]

    yes amen! Me and other people (grammar I know but i don't care right now lol) are doing a challenge and this would work perfectly for it! That's if you would like to write basically the same information for the next 6 days about the same thing or just use this one piece for it you decide. Your probs really confused right now so here is where you understand what I'm talking about lol I apoligize this is such short notice! I literally created this a day ago lol! Anyway, if you read my footnotes in the piece I wrote called the bible challenge you will see all the information! Any further questions, comment below! <3


    4 months ago
  • RedWriter

    God used you and your message to make me realize I had been running from Him off the straight and narrow - and to return me to it by His Grace. Thank you for your testimony and faithfulness to His Word.


    4 months ago
  • ~rain~

    Oh my goodness. This is beautiful. Like, you need to share this story with the whole world someday. I'm a Christian as well. And to be honest, one of the only things I can rely on is the Bible. I love this. When I started reading this piece I immediately thought, "Oh, this'll be good." I was wrong. This isn't good. It's so much more than good. This is inspiration for literally the whole world. For Christians and any other person who needs hope. The questions you asked at the beginning really made me think. Your story makes me want to tell mine. Thank you so much for sharing this!!! <3


    4 months ago
  • Abigail Faith

    Wow!! Incredible!!!!!!!!! :D


    4 months ago