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In the distant past, people thought of gods as physical beings that looked like humans. Roman and Greek gods were humans with superpowers of one kind or another. Some people today still view God as a human with human emotions and desires. Experiences in life can weaken or destroy that kind of faith. When someone rejects faith in God because of a tragedy in life, the root cause of that rejection is a flawed concept of what God is.
Faith or lack of faith in God can determine the foundation of our lives. The question that we must ask is, “What is the foundation (faith) on which I base my life?” For my father, who was an atheist, the foundation of his life was education. His father was a minister, and that faith did not appeal to him as a way to build his life. Instead, he pursued the highest level of education possible, achieving a Ph.D. in philosophy at Columbia University under one of the leading educators in his field. Then he became a full professor at Indiana University (Bloomington) and was recognized as one of the top experts in his field.
After a long career with numerous awards and recognitions, my father retired. Did all of these achievements and recognitions provide a foundation for him? A regular activity for my father was to engage in a cocktail hour. He dealt with the stress and frustration of his work by drinking. My father was not socially active. He went to social affairs only because he had to, and alcohol was the foundation, the lubricant which enabled him to function socially.
Shortly after his retirement, he developed leukemia. Going through the brutal treatments available at that time was tragic and agonizing to watch. The end of his life was a constant battle to survive, and the treatments eventually killed him. Death was the ultimate tragedy because he died without hope of anything better.
The other problem with my father's faith was what his foundation did to my mother and my two brothers. My mother was forced to become the social director of the family. Social events were her life, and achieving recognition from her peers was her foundation. After my father died, she became the leader of the retirement center where she lived. She commanded the respect of everyone there, including the management and staff. This became her foundation, and her faith was that it would continue. When she suffered a stroke and was moved to the care center, she was not even allowed to eat with her peers, much less play a role in the retirement center's social events. She was so mortified and miserable in her new situation that I had to move her 200 miles from the retirement center to a facility near me. She was miserable there as well.
My parents had a dependence on alcohol as a foundation for life and a faith that it would make everything else function normally. This rubbed off on the rest of the family. Like many people in today's world, the adverse effects destroyed not only my father's foundation but that of my mother and brothers as well. Faith or lack of faith in God will determine the course of your life.
One facet of faith is that we frequently share it within families. When a family member rejects the faith of the others, that creates conflict. My parents strongly emphasized education as the foundation on which to build one's life. They viewed religion as irrational nonsense that enslaved and restricted humans. At every opportunity, my parents ridiculed religious faith. Hypocrisy, racism, violence, war, and waste provided a constant barrage of good reasons for them to reject faith in God. By the time I was eight years old, I regurgitated my parent's faith and took a lead role in atheism. That is how faith works in our lives.
In junior high, I had a science teacher named Wayne Gross, who made it clear that he believed that there was academic evidence that God exists, and the Bible is true. In high school, I had a great interest and some aptitude in science. In addition to that, I became infatuated with an attractive young lady who was one of the top students in my high school class.
I did not have any moral values because my parents taught me that educated people realize that life is “survival of the fittest.” The moral guidance I received was, “Make sure you come out number one.” I found that this attractive young lady was morally uncompromising, and she based her morality on the Bible. To get her to compromise her morality, I wanted to show her that faith in God and the Bible was educationally absurd.
I set out to prove to this girl, and to Mr. Gross, that educated people who read the Bible would not believe anything in it. Mr. Gross encouraged me to start with Genesis 1. I had stolen a Bible from a motel (there were no Bibles in my parent's library), and I started reading it and researching the words in the original manuscripts to prove it wrong.
As I read the Bible and understood its message, looking at the scientific evidence, I started rejecting everything my parents, my peers, and the religious experts of the day told me. In doing that, I began to understand that everything they had said about God and the Bible was wrong. Education was leading me to a new faith, and my parents did not handle my efforts well. They denigrated the faith of Mr. Gross, my girlfriend, and myself.
How faith works in our lives determines the direction we take. Several years later, I was faced with what to do with a child who was born blind, mentally challenged, and with both cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. This polarized my faith and my parent's faith. My father used a parallel example of buying a car and finding it was defective. “What do you do?” he asked. “You take it back and demand a refund.” I did not do that, and I am glad. Timothy's faith has been a blessing to many people.
How we handle evidence and what we do with it leads us to faith and becomes the foundation that impacts our lives. Faith has a role in science, religion, and the practical day-to-day living of our lives. I have shared my journey of how I left my family's atheistic faith and grew a faith in God from the scientific evidence and the Bible. I hope that you will examine the evidence for God and allow your faith to grow. Faith, whether Christian or atheist, is the foundation on which you build your life.
As you consider what you will place your faith in, consider the following things. You have two choices about the cosmos. Either it has always existed, or it had a beginning. As an atheist, I believed that matter/energy was eternal. I thought that it might go through change, but there was no beginning. The Bible clearly stated there was a beginning to space, time, and matter/energy. As I learned about the laws of thermodynamics, it became increasingly apparent that matter/energy could not be eternal. Today, quantum mechanics and relativity have added new evidence that there was a beginning. That idea is now scientifically accepted.
If there was a beginning, it had to be caused. We can say that we do not know enough to understand the cause. However, the deeper we go into the quantum world, the more obvious it is that the creation started from a cause outside of space and time. God is a causer outside of space and time. He created them. The fact that there are purpose and design in the cosmos eliminates chance as a causer. We have a large volume of material on this, which you can find on our websites.
Consider where your faith will take you. Where did my father's faith in education take him? Did it make him happy, secure, and fulfilled? Examine your faith. Does it give you a reason to live, a purpose in existing? Does your faith allow you to deal with the problems that life brings to us all?
All of us know people who have tried to base their lives on the alternatives to faith in God. Does making a lot of money lead to a meaningful life? Does becoming a political leader bring joy, contentment, and peace? Do recreational drugs fulfill us as humans?
I have had a lot of adversity in my life. My history includes having a child with multiple handicaps, losing my wife to death, not having much money, and having physical problems and pain. I have struggled and wept and wondered why. Despite all of that, I have had a good and enjoyable life. Does your faith foundation enable you to deal with life's problems?
Now I am nearing the end of my life, but it is only the end of my physical existence. My faith allows me to be confident that something better lies ahead. I have hope and peace with the fact that I will die. I see that I have had a purpose in living and my feeble existence turned out to leave the world a better place than I found it. That is because I have been able to share my faith with others and enable them to find joy in living.
Jesus makes a promise to those who choose to build their lives on faith in God:
Come unto me, all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, emphasis added)
Do not listen to religionists or secular philosophers or the pleasure peddlers of our world. They will give you an unproven faith that does not work. Examine your faith and build it by learning and growing in your understanding of God.
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Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.