At the end of the last post, I suggested how the gap between people that believe in God and those who don’t is actually quite small – bear with me, all will be explained…
I first became aware of this one evening while running the Tough Question’s Forum in which believers and non-believers (for use of a better word) discussed issues of evil, death, existence, etc. It started when a sceptic in the group challenged a believer who accused them of being irrational. The discussion continued and I wandered off in my thoughts, pondering whether the person was making an irrational claim in the light of the evidence that had been presented. As I thought about each person’s argument, I suddenly arrived at a ‘Eureka!’ moment: I began to see that both were being quite rational in their thinking. The only difference being that the believer’s rationality was informed by a weightier factor: their previous experience of having met and engaged with God.
As I have thought about this over the years, it seems to me that sceptics and believers do exercise rational thinking in their debates. Indeed, both make excellent arguments to support what they truly believe. The sceptic arguing in ways to support the belief that the Divine does not exist, while the believer making the case that God is real and involved with creation. Common to both of these positions is the issue of what the individual has experienced.
The sceptic who has not (or at least, not yet) experienced God, reasons out of the experience of not having had an encounter with the Divine, while the believer reasons out of what they hold to be their experience of God. The rational flux that occurs in the middle is not as important as the issue of ‘experience’ which determines how people approach the evidence in front of them and form their arguments and the positions they adopt. Of course, the thing that actually separates them is the issue of God’s ‘revelation’, which affects the way that each person thinks and acts. People who have encountered God (in whatever way this has occurred) are likely to think and act differently from those who have had no ‘revelation’. Indeed, it must be considered that should the sceptic, at a later date, experience some ‘revelation’ of God, his or her position could change in an instant! In the same way that some Christians come to reject their faith later on if changing circumstances or something causes them to question the authenticity of what they once experienced.
In short, the gap between believers and sceptics is not huge – however, it is dependant on how the person understands the world and whether their experience of this includes a realisation of the spiritual realm and possibility of a godly encounter.