Recently, the Presbyterian Women’s group at Presbyterian Kirk in the Pines honored me as their “2015 Woman of Faith.” I was surprised and truly humbled by their award, but it has led me to ponder once again, who is this God in whom I believe? Today I’d like to share with you an essay I wrote several years ago.
DOES GOD EXIST?
For thousands of years, we humans here on Planet Earth have pondered that question. Is there a supernatural force that existed before all matter and that will still exist after all matter is gone? If so, we must realize we will never fully comprehend a power beyond this natural world in which we live. As finite creatures, we will always be limited in our understanding of an infinite entity. Science may give us more and more answers about our world, but it cannot give us answers to what may lie outside.
We who have grown up within a Judeo/Christian tradition have called this force “God.” Our ancient writings describe a Father God who revealed himself through prophets and ultimately through his son, Jesus Christ, and whose Holy Spirit continues to move among us. These writings are collected in our scripture, the Holy Bible.
But the Bible has contradictory statements about this god. Some passages say God is jealous and vengeful, a god who condemns the unrighteous. Other scriptures affirm God is omnipotent, all powerful but loving—a god of grace and mercy. Can we find truth in stories handed down by word of mouth and later written by humans who were influenced by their cultures and experiences? Perhaps, but many biblical scholars warn us that literal interpretations of scripture can be misleading.
And how did our Bible come to be the way it is today? Church leaders selected which stories to include in the canon. Why did they choose these stories and not others? We also need to remember that what we have now are not the original writings but translations. Do we have accurate texts?
If we agree that ancient writings can not give us a complete picture of God, then can observations of the world around us help us discern the attributes of this god who may exist? Natural laws may indicate a god of supreme intelligence and power but one unmoved by human suffering. On the other hand, laws of nature may also indicate a god who provides beauty and bounty beyond all measure for his creatures but one who allows them to fight over the abundance and destroy the world.
I believe we humans need to step back, take a deep breath, and recognize our limitations in describing a force that might exist beyond the universe. Any of our dogmatic statements about this supernatural being may be erroneous, or at the very least, incomplete. None of us has all the answers.
Does God exist? Perhaps. But if so, then God is more magnificent and more mysterious than any of us can ever imagine.