Last Friday’s Brown and White contained a rare treat for the Lehigh campus – a thoughtful article dealing with belief in God. Jimmy Bromfield provided a great service by bringing this important issue to our attention. And this issue is important to us all. Those who actively practice an organized religion are daily conscious of God’s centrality to their lives, and those who do not, find it equally important that they be free to abstain from religious activities. For everyone, what we believe about God determines how we approach all other aspects of life.
In light of this, Mr. Bromfield’s main point is very well taken. His desire to promote in each of us an examination of our beliefs places him in a long line of prestigious thinkers. Beginning with the serpent in the Garden of Eden and continuing with Moses, the prophets, Socrates, the other philosophers, and culminating in Jesus Christ, man continually has been challenged to examine his beliefs and behavior in light of what he sees around him. This has been true of the best Christian thinkers as well, most notably the leaders of the Reformation. Only insecure and small minds take unthinking refuge in dogma.
It is our contention, however, that such an examination leads to a belief in God. The excellent questions raised: Why belief in Jesus Christ should be more reasonable than belief in David Koresh; Why should Christianity not be replaced 2,000 years from now; Why people develop stronger faith as adversity sets in – these all intrinsically point to God as the agent behind life and history. The real issue is not the religion called Christianity, but the faithful worship of one ultimate God, and this has been unbroken since Adam. For these many thousands of years people have examined life and the universe, and have concluded that the only way to make sense out of it all is to accept the reality of God who created and sustains us. Furthermore, they have concluded that the Bible faithfully represents the truth about God and the universe. Everyone must draw his own conclusions, of course, but over time most people have found that Ra, Zeus, and David Koresh failed this critical truth test. Although at times a minority religion, worship of the God of the Bible is the only religion that has survived the whole of man’s existence on earth. “Why do people believe in this entity commonly known as God?” Not because they are too ignorant to think of other alternatives, but because to many people, believing in God makes the most sense.
This brings us to the heart of the matter as presented by Mr. Bromfield – that belief in something is morally neutral unless one considers opposing viewpoints to be wrong. In other words, he is saying that you may believe what you want, as long as you believe that what you deny is true as well. Put in that light it becomes clear that this position is untenable – it collapses of its own weight. For example, I happen to believe that there really is a God. If he is consistent with his own position, Mr. Bromfield should accept that I am “just as correct” as he. But he gave away his argument by stating his view that “God is a fictitious security blanket.” Well, either there is a God or there isn’t. We both cannot be right!
God is not like taste in ice cream. One person may like vanilla and another prefer chocolate, for their tastes differ. Rather, God is a weightier subject, like whether the earth circles the sun, or vice versa. This is not a matter of taste, but of fact, and the astronauts who head into space trust that only the correct opinion was used to calculate their course. Likewise, the reality of God is a matter of fact (or fiction), and belief in God is a matter of life-and-death significance.
Indeed, it is important periodically to examine our beliefs. Mine have changed and developed over time, and I wish the same were true for everyone. I find, however, that sometimes belief in God is not given a fair trial, especially in a university setting. Occasionally I even find students who have never read more than a few small portions of the Bible! Even if one ultimately chooses not to believe in God, at least it must be admitted that the Bible provides a cogent explanation for life as it really is. Mankind’s moral impulse, his spiritual hunger, his longing for relationships, his sense of eternity – even the evil in the world all make sense from a Biblical perspective.
Ultimately, we all sense the reality of God. In spite of our brave talk, we do not create ourselves and we cannot even sustain ourselves. Death is the final demonstration that all along it was God who gave us life. If someone could overcome death, that would make denial of God’s existence credible. However, the only one who did overcome death was the greatest proof that God is behind all things.
By C. David Green, M.Div.
Campus Minister for Reformed Student Fellowship
James A. Femister, Ph.D.
Class of ’81
Ruth Feaver Green
Class of ’80
Brown and White
October 6, 1998