Most of the time, I’m positive there has to be a God. In fact, I go to church and Sunday school nearly every week. But sometimes during a bout of insomnia in the middle of the night, I’ll suddenly get the urge to sit bolt upright in bed and blurt out this question:
“How do I know for sure that God exists?”
During his Sunday morning sermons, our pastor often says, “I know that Jesus died for my sins and rose again. I know that my parents are in heaven and I will see them someday.”
My mother’s pastor says with equal conviction, “I have no problem with the Big Bang theory. God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and bang! We’ve got all these stars and galaxies.”
Around the table at our adult Sunday School class are people who seem just as confident about what they believe.
As I listen to these people, I suspect some would be scandalized by my 3 a.m. question. After all, if any of them have ever doubted God’s existence, they certainly aren’t letting on.
Usually I stifle the question myself, and try to get some sleep. By morning, I’m pondering what’s on my to-do-list for the day, or preparing for the next event in my crazy schedule, or surfing the Internet and reading too many articles about the Royal Newlyweds.
Lately, though, I’ve been encountering other people to whom my questioning would not seem the least bit scandalous.
One Friday evening, my husband and I gathered with a group of friends in the coffee shop of our favorite bookstore. In front of one woman sat a foot-high pile of books and magazines – the latest issue of Free Inquiry, and books with titles like God Is Not Great and The God Delusion.
A Facebook friend I can only call “a born-again atheist complete with the proselytizing” shares a steady stream of articles and memes offering “proof” that there is no God. One such meme proclaims, “If you need the threat of eternal torture to be a good person, you’re not a good person.”
Still another friend who self-identifies as atheist complains: “Christian hypocrites. Their support of Trump is directly contradictory to what they CLAIM are the instructions of their invisible Sky Fairy.”
And I have a question for my atheist friends that my pastor, my Sunday School classmates and my mother would most likely approve: “How can you be so sure there isn’t a God?”
Could it be that these questions are what I’m distracting myself from with all the to-do lists, the frantic scheduling, the endless cleaning and the mindless Internet surfing that clutter my life and unquiet my mind?
My spiritual director thinks I may be onto something. And yes, she assures me, it’s okay to question my beliefs. Starting with, do I really believe there is a God? Why or why not?