A Letter to Agnostic Agnes (Does God Exist?)

Dear Aunt Agnes,

 I was thrilled to hear that you decided to go back to college to finish your degree.  Congratulations!  That is a very admirable thing to do, especially in your 60s.  I hope uncle Bubba is doing well.  I heard about the accident with the pick-up, but I am glad to hear that he was recovering. 

 Grandpa told me that you took some science classes there at the university, and that the teacher was trying to convince everyone that God does not exist and that anyone who believes in God was ignorant.  Grandpa told me that you were not really sure what to think anymore about it.  Does God exist?  I tell you that He does, and I’ll tell you why I know it.

 First off, take a look at the watch that your sister got you for your birthday.  You see how nice it looks?  You know there are quite a few cogs, springs, and wires inside there that are wound and placed in the perfect place to make your watch work correctly.  Now, did that watch happen by an accident?  Did every small piece just happen to fall together somewhere and land perfectly in the shape of a perfectly functioning watch?  Of course not, that’s obvious.  If something shows obvious design, there must have been someone who designed it to work that way.  Not only that, but there must be somebody to put the thing together in order to make it work.  That’s just common sense, right?

 Now, look at the world around you.  Isn’t it interesting that humans can breathe the air on this planet easily?  Is it not also interesting that the air we breathe out is carbon dioxide, the exact thing that plants “breathe in” to survive?  Look also at the human DNA.  I know you went over the DNA in your science class.  They call it “the human blueprint.”  A blueprint is a design, is it not?  Even your science books admit to that design.  Look at the solar system.  Do you realize that if the earth’s tilt were just a little different, we would freeze to death?  The earth’s rotation is just the right speed, too.  If it were much faster, we would be thrown into the air.  If it were much slower, the gravity would hold us so much that we could hardly move.  Everything in us as humans, on the earth, and in the solar system is designed perfectly for us as humans.  If it is designed perfectly (which it is), who designed it?  A watch cannot happen by accident.  The universe is far more complex, and your teacher expects us to believe that it was an accident?  No, since there is design, there must have been someone who designed it, and that someone is God.

 Another thing to consider is this: if evolution is really the answer to how we got here, how do they explain the morals of humans?  Anywhere you go, in every civilization throughout history, there has been a moral code of some sort.  While there are shades of differences in some of them, some remain the same.  Where has it ever been looked upon as right to murder someone who was completely innocent?  When has kidnapping been viewed as a noble thing?  What about thievery?  There are some things that are wrong, and everyone knows it.

 But let us look at it from another angle.  Suppose a bull gores and kills a man.  This man was completely innocent and did not deserve death.  Do we then take the bull and arrest it, putting it on trial?  Of course not!  That is ridiculous!  Bulls do not have the sense of morals that humans do.  But if a man kills another, it is a different story, right?  If evolution were true, then there would be other animals that have the same moral code within themselves as we do.  This moral code within us is something that we are born with.  When your great-nephew Matthew got cut in front of in line last month, didn’t he tell the other kid cutting was wrong?  How does Matthew know that it was wrong?  If evolution is true, then there is no real right or wrong, but only what someone thinks is good for them.  That Matthew knew it was wrong shows that he has a sense of morals (and we know it didn’t come from his parents).  The fact that humans, and only humans, have morals within themselves shows that it had to come from some place.  If it were evolution, other animals would have it.  Morals have no scientific basis.  Science can not find a “moral gene” or some muscle in your body that controls morals.  It doesn’t exist.  The place it comes from is God!  That is the only explanation for the existence of our morals.

 Another thing you might think about is this: there is a law in science that everything is the result of something else.  Basically, nothing can exist, work, or move without something creating it or moving it.  There is no perpetual motion, because eventually everything slows down and stops working.  Your watch is a good example of this.  It will not work on its own without you winding it, right?  Everything that moves or works has to have someone start it.  What about the planets?  What about the universe?  Since there is no such thing as perpetual motion, the planets had to have been started by something.

 I know that your science teacher probably said that everything started with the “big bang,” right?  But let’s look at the other part of the law I just mentioned.  Nothing can exist without someone making it.  If you start with nothing, you end up with nothing.  You can’t just sit and wait and expect a pizza to show up on your table without someone making it and putting it there, right?  Since matter (stuff) and energy eventually run down, they had to have been created and put into motion at some point.  The big bang is a fun explanation for how everything began if you ignore the fact that there had to have been something to make the “big bang.”  Where did that something come from?  Science, then, is back in the same mess they had before trying to explain where everything came from.  Simply, God made everything and put it into motion.

 Something else to consider is this little experiment.  Imagine the most horrifying, scary monster possible.  Think of all the horrible features you could give it, both in looks and in powers and attitude.  Now, what did you think of in that monster that you had not either read about, seen, or heard before?  Everything we can think of is based on something that we have experienced or sensed before, right?  I know in your philosophy class, they told you that there is no such thing as a new or truly original thought.  They are correct.  No matter how hard you try, you cannot think of anything new beyond that which you have sensed or experienced.

 What does that mean?  Have you noticed that all cultures and civilizations all have worship to a higher being?  The Indians have the “great spirit,” the Muslims have “Allah,” the Greeks and Romans had a large group of mythological gods.  There is an inner desire to find God.  Have you ever wondered why so many people are looking for their purpose in life?  If we came from evolution, there is no purpose in life.  But isn’t just about everyone yearning to find a purpose?  Something beyond themselves?

 Putting the two of those together, how could anyone, let alone all the cultures on earth, have a concept of a higher being beyond themselves if one did not exist?  Remember, man is only capable of imagining that which they have sensed or experienced.  Since man has a conception of the idea of God, the only explanation is that somewhere along the line, God interacted with man.  Since man has a concept of God, God must exist.

 If your science teacher is anything like the teacher I had at John A. Logan College a decade ago, he likely used pain and suffering as his “ace in the hole” against God existing.  The thing is, that does not really prove anything.  The teacher liked to say “if God is all-loving, why does evil exist?”  Let me ask you a question, Agnes.  Do you love your son Junior?  I know you do.  That is why you let him make his own decisions (although I still think you should kick him out of the house; he is 35 now).  God is the same way.  He loves us all, and because of that, He lets us make our own decisions.  People can choose to murder, rob banks, kidnap, drive drunk, and all other kinds of things.  But when they do, does that show God as uncaring?  No!  If Junior robbed a bank, does that show that you don’t love him?  Of course not!  Evil exists because of choices that people make to do those things that are evil.

 What about the innocent people who are hurt?  They didn’t do anything wrong, right?  How can we say God cares when innocent people get hurt all the time?  It is a fact that the choices we make affect us and other people as well.  You can’t say that it not true.  If you and the rest of the ladies up there stopped going to McDonald’s every morning, they might go out of business.  Something that you do can affect other people.  It can have good effects (like when you helped that homeless man get some food) or it can have bad effects (like when someone chooses to drive drunk and kills someone).  It is all because of choices that we make.  If someone chooses to do something wrong, evil exists, and innocent people might get hurt because of it.

 I know that it breaks your heart when a baby is born with some kind of problem.  Was it the baby’s fault that it had the problem?  Of course not.  But, you have seen parents who smoke and drink while the baby is growing in the womb.  Those things do affect the baby.  Also, there may be things that one of our ancestors did that caused there to be a problem with us.  Sometimes, it takes multiple generations for these things to manifest themselves, and we never know exactly where they come from.  But it all comes down to people and the choices they make.

 Agnes, I know you are busy with finals coming up, so I’ll go ahead and end this letter here.  I hope I have given you some things to think about.  Let me know what I can do to help in the future.  Give uncle Bubba my regards.  Tell Junior to get back to work. 

 Bye,

 Brad

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The Angels Pecked on Me?

One of the most fun things to hear is a child reciting song lyrics, because you know that inevitably they will have misunderstood some of the lines.  And honestly, which one of us hasn’t ever misunderstood the words of one song or another?

In the 70’s there was a song called “Drift Away,” and when I was a kid, I thought the guy was saying, “Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.”  It took a long time before I realized it said “Give me the beat, boys.”  One of the most famous examples is Credence Clearwater Revivals’ “Bad Moon Rising.”  You know the line, “there’s a bathroom on the right,” except it actually says, “there’s a bad moon on the rise.”

This misunderstanding of song lyrics isn’t confined to popular music.  I knew a little boy who was scared of angels because of the song which said, “the angels pecked on me from heaven’s open door.”  Some people have wondered why we sing “peas, perfect peas.”  Others question “Who is Father Along, and why will he know all about it?”  The list of misheard hymn lyrics is actually quite extensive.

When children misunderstand things, it is cute.  When adults misunderstand things, it’s not.

If you are married, then you have had this discussion:  “I told you ___________.”  “Wait.  I thought you meant ____________.”

I guarantee that the response from your spouse wasn’t, “Awww, that’s so cute that you misunderstood.”  Many times, the response is “No, I said this,” or some other such thing that shows they don’t find your misunderstanding cute, humorous, or anything remotely like it.

There are so many areas in which we need to work harder to understand.

Most importantly, we need to work harder to understand God’s word.  Most of the religious division in the world comes from people misunderstanding parts of God’s word—sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes it is just because they don’t bother to try.  But wouldn’t it be great if the religious division disappeared and we all began to unite with a proper understanding of God’s word?

We need to work harder to understand our spouses—what they think, what they are saying, what they mean, what they need.  A large number of the arguments between spouses are because they weren’t on the same page [aka didn’t understand where the other was coming from].  Wouldn’t it be great if the arguments in your marriage began to disappear?

We are going to misunderstand things from time to time.  Let’s do our best to make sure that it isn’t for lack of trying.

Panic Cleaning

The phone rings.  You pick it up.  After a few minutes of conversation with the person on the other end of the line, you hear the words, “I’ll be over in a few minutes.”

That’s when panic sets in.

As soon as you’re off the phone, there is a mad rush.  You’re giving orders to the kids to clean up their mess, running around trying to make the house look presentable.  In the midst of all that, you’re silently hoping that the impending visitor gets stuck in a bit of traffic to give you a few more minutes.  You’re in a mad dash to get things in order…

To make things like they should have been the whole time.

There may be some people who have never experienced this phenomenon known as “the cleaning panic.”  And if you are one of them, I say, “Just wait until you have kids.”  For the rest of us, this event happens…well, let’s just say it happens from time to time.

But after the latest “cleaning panic,” I got to thinking.  This is the way a lot of people live their whole lives.  They don’t take care of anything until the last minute.  They have turned procrastination into an art. 

You know these kind of people:

  • They wait until the gas tank is empty before filling up.
  • They wait until the milk is gone and the kids crying because they can’t have their cereal before they decide to run to the store.
  • They wait until someone is on their way over before they clean the house (and don’t look in the bedrooms!).
  • They wait until two minutes before the doctor appointment to leave their house (and then they wonder why they have to spend so much time in the waiting room).

What makes this lifestyle so common?  We are saturated with a culture that says, “Enjoy life now, pay later.”  Credit cards are perhaps the biggest example of this. 

But there is one thing that everyone needs to realize.

Some visitors don’t call first.

Death doesn’t call first.  If you’re old enough to read this, then I bet you can name a lot of people who died unexpectedly.  Had they known death was coming, they might have done a “cleaning panic” of their life.  They might have made their life right with God.  The might have made peace with those who they had been at odds with.  They might have tried to tell their family about the importance of becoming a Christian.

In short, to make things like they should have been the whole time.

One of the best bumper stickers I have ever seen read this way: Those who plan to repent at the 11th hour usually die at 10:30.

Make your life right today, because you don’t know when your last minute will be.

Make it Personal through Prayer

Yesterday, it was suggested that the first step in making your relationship with Jesus more personal was to study the Scriptures.  Today comes step two: making your relationship personal through prayer.

Studying is great for accumulating knowledge and building understanding, but it isn’t enough.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).

If we want to continue getting wisdom (the ability to apply knowledge personally), we must pray to God and ask for it!

Why, though?  Isn’t studying the Bible enough?

The answer to that question is NO.

Please understand, I am not saying that God will give us some knowledge that is not found in scripture, but he will give us better understanding and wisdom on how that knowledge applies to us.  The most intelligent person on the planet is still not even on the same playing field as God is.  God knows and understands infinitely more than us.  For like the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9).

Praying for wisdom goes hand-in-hand with studying God’s word.  The more you know about Jesus, the more personal your relationship will become with Him.  The more you understand about Jesus—His motives, His teachings, His life—the closer you will grow to Him.

While praying for wisdom is all well and good, there are more reasons to make it personal through prayer.  We are to be in constant contact with God.  Pray without Ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Going through difficulties with someone makes the relationship closer.

When you have a problem with something, who do you turn to?  Who do you tell it to?  A friend, right?  Whether it is your spouse or a friend you’ve known for a while, telling someone your troubles, problems, and concerns always seems to make things better.  This is especially when you have someone who understands what you’re going through.

Why are so many people willing to tell their troubles to a friend, but not to God?

Shouldn’t God be the first one we turn to with our problems and cares?  After all, he’s the only one who can actually do anything for every problem we have!

Constant contact makes for a closer relationship.

Imagine you met someone one time fifteen years ago, and then never heard from them again.  Then out of the blue one day, that person came up to you and said, “Remember me?  I’m John, your really close friend!”  Odds are pretty good that you would not agree with his assessment of your friendship.  After all, a friend—a really good friend—is one who you get to know, and who you talk to on a regular basis.

The same thing is true with God.  The more you talk to him (and listen to what he says to you through his word), the better friend you will have.  As the old saying goes, “To have a friend, you must first be a friend.”

Are you willing to say to God, “I’m sorry for not keeping in touch better”?  Why not start today to build up that relationship with Him.  Be in constant conversation with God.