Monday, September 13, 2010

Belief and Unbelief

Hi, I'm Charlie, a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

In my daily program work, I've been reading and answering questions about the first three steps. It's been bringing up some really interesting and, I think, important stuff for me. Here's a "balance sheet" I had to create, listing all the reasons I could think of for believing in God and all the reasons I could think of for not believing in God. I think it was a really good exercise, and I'm still thinking about these things a couple of weeks later...

I believe in God because of my own personal experiences with God. I have especially fond memories of 2002-2005, the early years of my coming into the light with my other addiction. I have never experienced so much light and hope. I experienced God in many profound, personal experiences… In prayer and meditation, in reading scripture, in listening to music and reading books. I also experienced God through God’s people… my sisters and brothers in Christ who loved me and listened to me and helped me. I experienced grace as I told my story and time after time found acceptance, forgiveness and affirmation. I was overwhelmed with God’s love. All of the fear of God was gone. Just the gratitude and acceptance remained.

ometimes I don’t believe in God because I don’t feel God’s presence in my life. I still am tempted by things that I wish would be long behind me. If I felt God’s presence in my home of California, surrounded by loving friends who really knew me and my family, it’s harder to feel God in “the wilderness,” wondering when I’ll really feel close to someone. I'm really missing my good friends from California. I thought God led us to move away from that community and church, but I have severe doubts about it sometimes now.

I believe in God because so many reasonable, faithful, intelligent, trustworthy women and men do. They convince me again and again with their words and, more importantly, with their lives.

Sometimes I doubt God because so many rational, kind, thoughtful, moral people are agnostics or atheists. Many have left the faith. I spent a season not too long ago journeying with three people who had left my evangelical or Christian faith for agnosticism or atheism: Julia Sweeney, in her one-woman show “Letting Go of God,” David Bazan’s album “Curse Your Branches” and Bart Ehrman’s “God’s Problem.” As I read, watched and listened to their words, I grew more and more convinced that they just might be right.

I believe in God for the “big reasons”: I believe there has to be some kind of “first cause.” I believe there has to be some kind of intelligent designer. I believe there is something greater than us out there. I believe there has to be some “true north,” some ultimate moral compass that all people acknowledge.

I see that every “big reason” I have for believing in God can be explained away philosophically. I think that’s why faith is so important. At some point I have to take a leap of faith. It’s not all going to make sense.

I believe in God because of what I see in God’s absence: hatred, fear, addiction, all our character defects and individuals and groups.

Sometimes I doubt God’s existence because I see the ugliness that religion and religious people have brought into this world. Religion is not exempt from evil. And I see good in people who have no belief in God. This doesn’t cause me to seriously doubt though. If God is real, then his goodness can come through anyone, whether they believe or not.

I believe in God because of the grandeur of nature on a large scale: oceans, mountains, plains, the Grand Canyon. I believe in God because of the intricacy of nature on a small scale: cells, atoms, insects and amoebas.

Sometimes I doubt the existence of God precisely because of nature. Evolution and billions of years of erosion, etc. really can account for just about everything I see.

I believe in God because I see God’s image in so many people – and because so many of those people look nothing like me. Every tribe, every tongue, every nation giving glory to God in their own beautifully diverse ways.

Sometimes I don’t believe in God because of the diversity of belief in God. Surely if God were real, he/she/it could be more clear in its revelation.

I believe in God because I’ve heard so many miracle stories. Hell, I've experienced and told those miracle stories!

Sometimes I don’t believe in God because those miracle stories turn out to be lies. And any supposed miracle can be a coincidence.

I believe in God because I’ve experienced God in a crazy collection of letters, prophetic writings, songs, histories, stories written by dozens of people over thousands of years and preserved for millennia.

Sometimes I doubt God’s existence because the Holy Scriptures are basically a jumbled mess. Are we Christians imposing a metanarrative on the text?

I believe in God because something deep inside me knows God is there.

I always thought I had been given the spiritual gift of faith: that no matter what, I would have a deep down, bedrock belief in God. Then I started to doubt. It was scary. I lost that assurance. Feelings aren’t fact.

I believe in God because I want God to be true so badly. It’s like God is too good NOT to be true. The bible teaches that each person has “eternity in our heart,” set there by God, to lead us to Him. I see that in my own life and countless others.

As I say to my sponsor every day after reading my writing to her: The End.


Naaman Hills said...

I thank God you believe in God. Since God has put eternity into our hearts wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude that we were designed to live forever? Yet, this raises another question. Why do we die?

Naaman Hills

Charlie O. Edinburgh said...

Hey Naaman,

Thanks for the comment! I appreciate your input... Your last question is compelling. I think we die as a result of sin. But that's a really short answer. I think you must have some kind of an idea you want to share, so go for it!

Naaman Hills said...

Charlie, go to and join email list so that we can talk more. I would love share that idea if you give me a chance.

Naaman Hills