I’ve been agonising about this post for many months now. Thanks to Larry’s preaching up a storm (on John 9) last Sunday, I think I’ve finally found the words!
I did not grow up in a particularly religious family. We did go to church every so often for Easter or Christmas, and I also attended a catholic high school for 3 years. In other words, I was exposed to religion before coming to faith, but I did not buy it. I have no idea why one day the Christian narrative suddenly made sense… There was no lightbulb/fiery bush moment for me, just a penny dropping one day.
The apostle Peter wrote that we should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us. So here is my attempt at explaining the basis for my faith. This is not a proof.
Proof is a word which in English has several different meanings. And in its most rigorous sense you only get it in pure mathematics. Starting with a set of axioms, using an agreed system of logic coming to a conclusion. But you do not get that anywhere else outside of pure mathematics. Not even in the natural sciences. — Prof John Lennox (mathematician, Oxford University)
Scientists gather evidence and compute the probability of a hypothesis being correct given the evidence. As more evidence is collected and evaluated, our level of certainty (or doubt) in a hypothesis is updated accordingly.
After coming to faith, I looked for a church. A friend brought me to a pentecostal church that gathered on the campus of my university. It was a small congregation of very passionate believers. I did not understand the half of what was going on in that gathering, but I had a sense of peace. I had no idea what a pentecostal church even was to be honest. The people of that community were imperfect but real, loving and genuinely welcoming. Believers talked of things like miracles, speaking in tongues and the resurrection. I still don’t know all that much about how these things work, but one thing I do know, is that my life has never been the same!
Much of the evidence/events that underpin my faith could be dismissed as simple coincidences or confirmation bias. At some point however, too many “coincidences” become an untenable hypothesis and the most logical explanation is that there is a God. I think my life story is highly highly improbable without God.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish. — David Hume
So… I don’t know a great many things about God, life, the universe and everything (or how 42 happens to be the answer really). One thing I do know, is that the evidence for God’s benevolence and presence in my life is overwhelming. This is where my hope lies.