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Dealing With "God" In A post Modern World

Until we assume the existence of an all-mighty, all-wise and all-loving God, human life and existence has no meaning, except, of course, that which we put into it. This is why the Bible’s record of the beginning and essence of man starts with ‘God’ (Genesis 1:1).

The concept of God means that I accept that there is one who is ‘the supreme or ultimate reality: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe’ (Merriam-Webster dictionary).

The God concept is perhaps the most difficult concept for the postmodern individual to embrace. I am not sure of the exact reason. May be, it is a generational rebellion against times past when certain imperfect human institutions, organizations and individuals controlled or manipulated other individuals and groups using the name of God and religion. Perhaps, it is a euphoric reactionary tendency from a technologically advanced 21st century man who feels that he now has the answers for which he previously relied on God. Or it may be due to our dominant relativist culture that asserts its own way and dares another to question it.

Whatever the reason for the reluctance of the postmodern man to accept the existence and the relevance of a loving and caring God, it is clear that the hearty embrace of God demands total surrender to such a God. It appears to me that it is this surrender of self to another, especially, to one who is invisible and uncontrollable, that is most unacceptable to postmodern man.

The acceptance of God is based on belief. But, then too, atheism is a belief system. ‘The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd… It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him’ (Hebrews 11: 1, 2, 6; Message).

If an individual rejects the existence of God or refuses to surrender to Him even when there is a general belief that he may exist, it is a decision that the individual makes. There is as much reason to believe in, and surrender to, God as there is not to believe in Him. When all is said and done, it is our rationalization or simple trust that makes all the difference.

Atheism is as much a belief system as it is an intellectual process. It is a belief system because someone chose not to believe in the existence of God whom he has not yet seen. It is not conclusive that He does not exist, but his perceptions lead him to accept that God does not in all likelihood exist. It is his faith that at the end of time, if there be any such time, that he will be vindicated. He has neither conclusively proven that God does not exist nor that He does exist. He chooses to lean more towards the idea that God does not exist. It takes a kind of faith to do this. It takes as much effort for the atheist to ignore the promptings of his spirit being as it takes the Christian person to ignore circumstances or philosophies that tend to question his faith.

Atheism is also an intellectual exercise. There is hardly any individual that was born an atheist. Individuals become atheists after they weigh the pros and cons for a belief in the existence of God. Most times, they are individuals who have experienced intense pain or disappointment or loss of dear ones. Or may be, they placed faith in God at an earlier phase of their lives, but were terribly let down by fallible human beings or institutions, even individuals and organizations that claim to represent God. Other times, they became exposed to different forms of reasoning and philosophies that questioned in straightforward manner their previous belief system, and prevailed, intellectually at least. The result, in any case, is a mental process that commits to that which makes most sense to his rational mind. ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 23: 7).

What about the agnostic? The agnostic is someone who has been so bombarded with doctrine (such as science, religion, humanism etc) to a degree that he is helpless about which to embrace. He thinks that by not committing to any one doctrine or belief, he is free from it all. The agnostic hopes that by not thinking or talking about Him, God will just go away and leave him alone. He would have neither a troubled conscience nor a loving God. So, by his indecision, the agnostic has made a decision, unfortunately. His choice is in favor of all other doctrines but God. He claims to be an open minded fellow in as much as it concerns other doctrines. But he chooses to be a skeptic in relation to the God concept.

What about the Christian? He does not understand everything there is to know about God, but he does believe. The Christian’s life isn’t perfect, but he endeavors to live by a simple injunction: ‘Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! (Proverbs 3: 5-8, Message).

It is this ‘simple’ faith that defines Christianity. Christ’ call is a call to believe: ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me’ (John 14: 1). Notice, he said, ‘do not let your heart be troubled’. Faith is a heart issue. To believe in God, we listen to our heart, deep down. The ‘heart’ here represents the innermost part or central essence of our being. It is in there that one accepts or rejects God. ‘With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!" Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help." (Romans 10: 10- 13 Message) In this context, Pascal was right, ‘the heart has its reasons which reason knows not of’.

So, then, may I invite you to practice believing? It is possible, even easy, for anyone to believe, including the agnostic, the atheist, or the Christian. It is individual faith and state of the heart that matter. The atheist or agnostic could become a believer if the decision is made to trust, and in the same token, a believer could become so activity or church focused that he unintentionally stops believing. ‘How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling.’ (Romans 9: 30-32) A sobering and humbling thought in deed.