My Merry-go-round Of Skepticism

When I was about five, I saw Jesus. I literally saw him, on the roof of my house. And then I grew up.

So much happened between that moment and the time I turned 16. Full of rage on the inside and emotionally shut down on the outside, there was no way I was going to believe some fairy tale of a Savior watching over me. And a God who loves me? Give me a break.

I was a natural skeptic – or maybe the world made me this way. I needed to know the why behind everything, and I simply had to understand before I could believe. That was my first problem with Christianity. Nevertheless, when a friend asked if I wanted to read the bible with her, I agreed. Within days, the gospels fueled my skepticism.

In Matthew 21:1-17, we see two seemingly boring instances of prophesies fulfilled. First, Jesus asks for a donkey and a colt to be brought to him for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In this way, the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled. Second, the crowd praises Jesus, “Hosanna Son of David!” after which the pharisees point out that children are praising Him as well. Jesus responds by pointing out that this event fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 8:2.

Is it just me, or does it sound a little too easy?

Can’t we all see the reason for the donkey and the colt and the kids’ praises just a few verses above? Jesus (having read the scriptures) specifically asks for a donkey and a colt, and the kids are simply imitating their parents. Why would Jesus fulfill these two prophesies in such a way that they no longer seem like God-ordained, supernatural, out-of-this-world type of events?

Maybe it’s because truth does not worry over reputation, and Jesus is not afraid of our skepticism. Some of us seek proof that God is real, and then limit ourselves by thinking His existence can only be proven by supernatural means. I questioned Jesus’ authority in the same way. Knowing the natural course of events leading up to the fulfilled prophecy negated, in my mind, Divine involvement.

This quickly became my second problem with Christianity: If I could logically trace the cause and effect, then it was just a fact, and so it was not God, and it was not Jesus.  But, if it happened supernaturally, then that was a sign. Then I could believe.

Notice I started with it must make sense to me, and now I’m at it must not be naturally traceable. Let’s keep going.

I then had a dilemma in my twenties, when I heard God’s voice tell me to pray against all odds for a young man’s life despite a confident doctor’s call for time of death. The young man is now not only alive – he has exceeded doctor’s expectations. I knew what had happened that night was definitely not “normal”. It was supernatural. I wondered if that was a fluke, a coincidence. My third problem was that I wanted this sign, a supernatural event, to be proven in order for me to fully believe in God. Like me, I imagine many of us want His involvement to be scientifically evident. This problem is actually an error in our own thinking.

Science, by definition, is finding something to be true or false based on repetitive observation. The supernatural, also by definition, is “attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding”. We cannot look for supernatural events to provide scientific evidence of God.

As humans, we go round and round trying to find an answer where there is none. 

My journey went a little like this…

  • My first problem: I need to know why. I must understand. It must make sense.
  • My second problem: If I can logically trace the cause and effect, it disproves God’s involvement. I need a supernatural sign. Only then will I believe.
  • My third problem: I got a sign, but I need proof in order to believe it was really God.

In the most general terms, a life could be spent looking for a logical explanation to believe, then using that explanation as an excuse to demand an inexplicable sign, only to turn back around and ask for a proof, or explanation (again), of that inexplicable sign.

If you are in the same place I was, going around in circles seeking truth but not really open to it, I pray that your skepticism of God turns into confidence in God.  For me, this happened when I changed my perspective and stopped demanding answers of Him. Instead, I began to search for God with honesty, and without a pre-determined intent.

I now believe in God, and in Jesus Christ, not because I “know”, not because I got a supernatural sign, and not because I have any sort of proof.  In short, I stopped trying to do the impossible – finding the science in God’s work – and instead searched for God’s work in science. After all, He created science, not the other way around. I have a whole world’s worth of evidence to come to the inevitable conclusion: There simply has to be someone beyond our known, natural world bringing such beautiful complexity together.

I’ll wrap up with Matthew 21:23-27. In this passage, the pharisees who “knew it all” questioned Jesus’ authority. Jesus then asked them to judge the baptism of John the Baptist as having heavenly or human origin. They came to no conclusion. Like us, they struggled intellectually with the question of spiritual vs natural. Jesus’ Response to their over-intellectualized confusion? “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

As a little girl, I believed. I lost that belief when I tucked my heart away in anger and mistrust. That’s when my merry-go-round of intellectual skepticism began, and I didn’t get off until I brought my heart back out again.

Romans 10:10

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

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