Posted 22 Feb 2013
I have just been reading about the life of Thomas Aquinas, sent to me as an article regularly by BibleGateway (BibleGateway@e.biblegateway.com). He wrote extensively & compiled his Summa Theologica, which was the most comprehensive treatise on theology ever written (at that time, in the late 13th Century.)
What grabbed my attention was the assertion that Aquinas proved the existence of God with his “Five Ways”, a sequence of logical thought progression… I was intrigued by that, so I looked up the “Five Ways” on Google; it proved to be an interesting read.
Then I noticed 4 articles down the list on Google an atheist article entitled, “Refuting the five ways of Aquinas” (Source: http://patas.co/articles/opinion/refuting-the-five-ways-of-aquinas/)
Although the arguments against Aquinas seem not very well constructed (a bit like this sentence!) I took the point that for every logical argument FOR God’s existence, there is an equal logical argument AGAINST God’s existence.
I think there will always be arguments for & against the existence of God. We quote from astronomy, cosmology, evolution, logical reason, quantum physics, etc, etc, & use these mental frameworks to bolster our own beliefs; to uphold the positions we have already adopted, either in support of our assertion that God exists, or, using exactly the same evidence (!) in support of our assertion that God does not exist!
For me, the only logical conclusion is that logical argument is INCAPABLE of proving God’s existence in either direction. It seems to me that logical reasoning & logical rationalism is a “tool” incapable of actually shedding any light on the subject of God’s existence or non-existence. As I have explained in other blogs, I believe that we human beings are bound into a temporal, physical cosmos, with physical cause & effect, & therefore can not use observable data from within that cosmos to assert anything about a being who may or may not dwell outside that cosmos.
We can tie ourselves up in knots by trying to find evidence either for or against the existence of God. The pursuit of either seems to be never-ending, & there appears to be no single piece of irrefutable evidence either way. As a Christian I am left to wonder if perhaps that is exactly what God intended!
”For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”
Jesus the Christ shed some light on the whole subject of how to approach (the kingdom of) God, in Luke 18:15-17 (NLT), which says, ‘15 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. 16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” ‘
Jesus himself says that we need to approach the kingdom of God as a child. And that unless we do, we will not enter it.
What does that mean?
I think he was saying that our adult thinking, which seems to always require evidence & proof before we are prepared to enter into something, is simply UNABLE to help us to enter the kingdom of God. I don’t think Jesus was saying it is wrong to have a questioning mind. Questions are good! I don’t think Jesus was saying that critical thinking doesn’t have some value in certain situations. As anyone who has children, or works with children will know, children ask a LOT of questions! Would Jesus have been cross with the many questions he would have been asked by children (& adults alike) – No, I think not. The Bible doesn’t show Jesus ever getting angry with anyone who had genuine questions for him.
Atheists & the search
I’m not trying to “bash” atheists in my blog writings. All of our questions from ANY viewpoint or stance, are really our attempts to try to uncover the truth, to discover what is REAL & what is RELIABLE. So an atheists’ questions are as important & invaluable in uncovering the truth about the universe as anyone elses. An atheist is a person who has simply not found enough compelling evidence to switch from not believing in God to the reverse position. If that is you, then simply be happy in your current assertions. But please, do make sure you have weighed up all the alternative positions. Please don’t let someone else’s thoughts bias your own thinking: examine the arguments for yourself. Find your own position, don’t just adopt someone else’s.
That said, I pray to my God that you will find that the atheist position is not really the “end game position” but is, in fact, the “starting position”… obviously we are all atheists before we believe in God! I hope you will come to see that what you are looking for (THE answer) is not found in unbelief at all. I pray that you will find the lasting peace, security & hope we all want. We just have to be honest in our own hearts & minds, about that search. But, of course, I believe you will only really find that answer & position, in Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but pray to my God, that you will find the lasting peace, lasting hope & eternal meaning that we all seek.
The limited scope of logic & reason
When it comes to the kingdom of God (& therefore God & His existence) I do believe that Jesus was asserting that logic & reason was incapable of catapulting us from unbelief into belief. I think Jesus was alluding to the position that any amount of logical thinking, reasoning, & the adult’s need for proof before agreement & adoption of an alternative lifestyle, would be UTTERLY incapable of taking us from unbelief in God to belief in God. I think that is why it is impossible to “prove”, either way, using logical & reason, that God either exists or does not.
What then is required?
Two quotes from Bible commentaries are useful here, please note, I have put the key words (as I perceive them!) in upper case letters, to draw your attention to them:
‘In these words Jesus was stating that a person must come to Him in HUMILITY in order to enter the kingdom. Children come with EXPECTATION and EXCITEMENT. They come realizing that they are NOT SUFFICIENT in themselves. They DEPEND totally on others. If these same attitudes are not present in adults, they can never enter into the kingdom.’
(Source: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.)
‘Jesus explained that little children have the kind of faith and trust needed to enter the Kingdom of God. Anyone of any age who exhibits their kind of faith and trust is PROMISED access to Jesus and to the Kingdom. Children represent the essence of discipleship, coming to Jesus in humility and receiving his blessing as a GIFT. Unless we can completely TRUST in God, we will never get into the Kingdom of God.’
(Source: Life Application New Testament Commentary.)
There are some great points about the attitude we need to have, if we want to enter into the kingdom of God. And it seems to depend on attitude more than anything else.
Taking these points, it seems we need HUMILITY in order to enter the kingdom of God. Pride & arrogance will not get us there. Pride is exhibited in believing that we can do it ourselves. Self-help books are, by definition, reliant on me: my efforts to improve myself; my efforts to “fix” myself. Jesus explains that we simply are not able to work our way back to a perfect, unsoiled, spotless condition.
Romans 3:23 (NLT) states, ‘For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.’
No matter how hard we try, WE can not undo our wrong-doing. Of course, an atheist may not believe in their own wrong-doing. But if we are truly honest with ourselves, we can all look back on a less-than-perfect past performance in our own lives. No matter how small the error, we have all done wrong.
In the commentary quote above, the words NOT SUFFICIENT & DEPEND (or dependent) stand out: because the wise person realises that they are simply not able to repair their own damaged lives, no matter how hard they try. We try to fix ourselves with bigger & better jobs, cars, houses, & other “stuff”, but none of it brings real, lasting contentment. To the atheist: simple denial of your condition does not change it, however hard you try to think yourself into a better state of being. It is very frustrating, I know, but the truth is we are incapable of fixing ourselves, & the only person who can repair our damaged, broken lives is the person you don’t want to believe in: Jesus the Christ. That is the truth. And I simply want to point you in that direction, because Jesus loves you, no matter what you may have done in your past. It is love that wins us back to Jesus from the atheistic starting position we all begin with.
EXPECTATION and EXCITEMENT, these are two very notable characteristics of children!
And I think Jesus wants us (adults) to have the same child-like expectancy & excitement when we want to encounter God. In truth, I think we all have needs & from the believers side of the fence, I can tell you that all our needs can be met & are met, when we chose to believe in Jesus the Christ. Atheists have needs, just like everyone else, but unlike a Christian, those needs can not be met if you “growl” & “bite” the loving hand of Jesus which is constantly extended to you, & in which all your deepest needs are met.
The kingdom of God is PROMISED & is a GIFT, freely given to anyone & everyone who wants it.
TRUST is required: the simple, uncomplicated trust of a child.
It is not a problem to God that we have tons of questions, He welcomes our questions. Indeed, our curiosity & questioning minds have carried us forward into technical advances & devising new break-throughs which benefit us all. God knows, questions are useful tools for us!
But… if our questions stand in the way of us believing in God, or getting to know God, then just how useful are those questions? As adults, we often say that we will only believe in God & Jesus if He proves Himself to us; if He appears to us: thereby asserting that “seeing is believing.” But it isn’t! We see yet still we refuse to believe. The same evidence put forward by an atheist to assert that God does not exist (quoting from the sciences, logical thoughts, micro-biology, etc) can be used by a Christian to assert the exact opposite: that because of that evidence God does exist!
Coming back to the two articles I read at the beginning of this blog, it seems to me that we can always find supporting arguments for our positions. It isn’t hard to find them. But in the end we have to ask ourselves what we REALLY want?…
Do we want to shake off the worries & concerns of our own past performance?
Do we want to exceed our own experiences?
Do we want to be content?
Do we want to be truly confident?
Do we want to be excited by the future instead of fearing or dreading it?
Lifting up my eyes
I don’t know about you, but I have found that all the reasoning, logic, rational thought, sciences, etc that I have studied have not brought that result. However, I can report that when I focus my attention on the love & nature of Jesus the Christ, then contentment comes my way.
When I lift my eyes up from my problems & look to Jesus, then those problems shrink to their real size, & my Saviour, & his kingdom become more “real” than the problems. That is not denial of my situation: the problems do exist! It’s just that God can & does go to work on them with me, & together, we will solve each & every one of them.
I’m living proof that God can “speak” to anyone, & bring them into his kingdom. I am the lowest & the least likely of people to have become a Christian, yet here I am! Talk about having doubts – that’s me! Talk about trying to hang on to science, astronomy, philosophy, any other comforting mental cushion – that’s me! But none of that man-made stuff has ever really, truly brought me comfort, peace, confidence or excitement about my past, present & future.
But Jesus the Christ, in his infinite patience, kindness & love, is coaxing me onwards, ever more gradually forwards, into His kingdom. He is SO patient with my doubting, uncertain, quivering-like-a-jelly faith! He is so patient when I run away from anything I don’t like the look of! He is so kind & loving & encouraging. God “jumps for joy” at my least, tiny, hesitant step of faith, like the proud Father in heaven He really is!
If God is like that to me, then He can be just like that & more so, to you.
What do we truly believe?
In the end I believe we all face the BIG question: what do I truly believe. I have come to realise that belief is a choice, rather than a response to any evidence that we might put forward. I hope I’ve shown that all so-called evidence can be viewed in either way: as “proof” for, or against the existence of God. In the end, what is required is a step of faith: if you want to believe in Jesus, then it is only a matter of asserting that you choose to believe in Him.
For me, on the “having already decided to believe in Jesus” side of the fence, I can report that everything changes, & improves, once you do make that choice. Yes, your problems remain, but there is peace, contentment, & power to overcome, which we did not have before that decision.
I think Jesus showed intense & searing wisdom when He said, ‘For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.’ That statement effectively strips away all the logical arguments, all the adult “Show-me-proof-before-I’ll-belive” attitudes.
For me, Jesus & the Bible are both Real & Reliable.
All that is really required is simply a desire to believe. God answers our deepest, most endearing, most urgent questions… but only if we choose to approach Him in a child’s humility & with a child’s faith. Will you put your faith in this amazing Saviour Jesus the Christ?
Here’s an interesting article I just found focussing on what it might mean to have Faith like a little child. It’s well worth a read.
“What did Jesus mean by ‘Faith like a little child’? Dawkins on curiosity.”
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