It was Benjamin Franklin who once famously said “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” In a similar vein, there are two things which can be said to be certain when it comes to God – to know him requires faith, and faith implies the possibility of doubt. In other words, however deep our faith, doubts are things we all have to deal with.
Doubt provokes questions. It is what encouraged the second year pupil at Gracemount High School to put up his hand and ask, “If God made us, who made God?” It is what prompted the sceptical father of Jamie Haith, (leader of Student Alpha), to ask his son, “Were there polar bears on the Ark, and if so, how did they get there?” It is what provokes populist writers like Richard Dawkins to ask,“Why does God need to exist at all?”
However spurious, ridiculous, or even hostile these questions might be, they reflect a popular scepticism we will all have heard expressed by friends, family members, colleagues or neighbours – that the existence of God is increasingly unlikely, and he is either an irrelevance or more likely a bit of a nuisance. In other words, if he does exist, they doubt that he is a force for good at all.
In January 2012 we are planning a series of Sunday morning themes which will challenge these views head-on. Our Aim will be to suggest that God exists, that He is very relevant, and that He is a force for good in a very needy world. The series will look at the question – “Is there a God, and, if so, can he be trusted with my health, my possessions, and even my life?”
There is a famous saying among us Christians that “Even if we do not have all the answers ourselves, we do know someone who does”. As followers of Jesus, Christians believe that in him we find the clearest expression of God’s truth revealed. Jesus himself famously promised, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 18.31,32). Our questions, therefore, will be aimed at Jesus in person –
- “What would Jesus say to Richard Dawkins?”
- “What would Jesus say about banking?”
- “What would Jesus say about health and healing?”
- “What would Jesus say about life after death?”
As I said, we all struggle with doubts, so here is a chance to face up to them. And we all know people who are sceptical about what we believe, so here is a chance to invite them along to hear for themselves. You could then invite them to lunch afterwards, or arrange to meet up for a coffee during the week, and continue the conversation.
In the meantime, I wish you the blessing of Gods loving and very real presence throughout Advent, Christmas, and the New Year to come.
Richard Dawkins, of course has made a name for himself as the champion of the ideological movement known as ‘the New Atheism’, particularly with his best known book entitled ‘The God Delusion’. This in turn has provoked a number of books written in response, my favourite being ‘The Dawkins Delusion’, by Alistair McGrath. It also produced a satirical play, which was staged during this summer’s Edinburgh Festival, entitled ‘Does Richard Dawkins Exist?’