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Every so often, someone confronts me demanding proof of God's existence. This is how I normally would reply: You say you are an atheist, have doubts, cannot prove the existence of God. Big deal! Do you really think you are unique or are you trying to shock people?

The real issue is not whether you believe in God or not; the real issue is who or what is controlling your life.

You say, "I'm controlling my own life," and I reply, "Do you know any other good jokes?"

No one lives in isolation. There are forces controlling your life whether you recognize them or not. Some come out of your past and some from the people and events around you. You have to be honest and ask what motivates you, what direction you are going, and which things are helpful and which things are not.

You cannot prove the existence of God, for to do so would make you equal with God, and that is impossible. Scores of people have attempted to describe God and failed, for how can you explain in detail what you do not know or understand? Trying to prove God's existence through the Bible also is futile, since you cannot prove God's existence by the source that identifies Him. Do I believe in the Bible? Absolutely! It is a tremendous repository of God's interaction with mankind, but it never claims to prove the existence of God. So, the real issue is about how you prove there is no God, not the existence of God.

The existence of God is not subject to proof; it is a hypothesis designed to answer some of the questions of life. There is something in our existence that cries out for the unknown. Why is it that every civilization known to man has had some form of religion? Is there more to life than just our existence on earth? Where did we come from? Yes, scientists also have formed hypotheses, but these have fallen short of the God hypothesis.

The doctrine of evolution does not answer all of our questions. Why are there so many big gaps in evolution? If we accept the "Big Bang" theory, where did the stuff come from that composed the Big Bang? What was it in the Big Bang that became life? We may clone life, but we cannot "start" life. Creationism also is not very helpful, for while it recognizes the creativity of God, it tends to ignore the scientific facts of development.

Despite the efforts of various religious people to suggest otherwise, Christianity did not develop out of the Old Testament. Perhaps the concept of God did, but those descriptions are vastly different from what is taught in the New Testament. Christianity began with the resurrection of Jesus! The early disciples recognized that he was a good person able to perform miracles, but they did not equate him with God until he rose from the dead. He had told them this would happen, but when he died, they all (not just Thomas) gathered in confusion until he appeared and asked them to touch his wounds and give him something to eat (proof against being a ghost). From Jesus' resurrection, which was witnessed by hundreds of people and something the Romans were unable to disprove, Christianity spread throughout the known world. It wasn't just focused upon life after death; it focused upon a way of life that embraced both God and a particular lifestyle. Before, the worship of God focused upon keeping various laws; with Jesus, the focus was upon interpersonal relationships and the need to learn how to love all people no matter who they are.

Therefore, Christianity and the belief in God are a matter of faith, which is at the heart of New Testament teaching. Although every civilization has had a religious pathway that people are encouraged to follow, Christians are more specific. Why not make a life commitment to someone who has proven himself to be God-like with the distinct possibility of an afterlife? Too many people have espoused a lifestyle that leads to human destruction if not eternal damnation instead of life. Living on the cutting edge of human experimentation may seem exciting, but it leads downward instead of toward a better life.

Thus, confessing questions about God's existence is not the pathway to destruction; it is opening the door to possibilities, to asking significant questions about life, its purpose, and the future of humanity. People who have questions about God today have joined with the millions of others who also share in this journey throughout human history.

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Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the Fire Department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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