When I was in high school some of my friends strongly challenged my worldview and challenged me with questions like “How do you know your religion is right? Everyone thinks the beliefs that they grew up with are true!”
My own heart had a deep hunger for truth and to believe things really and not just because a family member did.
I needed intellectual proof. I found this in two primary categories. 1) Reason 2) History
Francis Schaeffer’s book He is There and He is not Silent provided me with some serious reasoning. I also spent extended time discussing with my skeptical friends and other people in my life.
I read several books and did a lot of thinking about the Christian Claim of a Real Time-Space event called the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I read a debate between Gary Habermas and Anthony Flew about the Historical and Logical Evidence surrounding the Resurrection Event. I also read The Resurrection Factor by Josh McDowell and read some of Evidence that Demands a Verdict by the same author. It didn’t take long to see that it was very reasonable to believe in the Resurrection of Christ! And if that happened… Well.
But it wasn’t enough. My mind was somewhat satisfied that it was more reasonable to believe in God (and the entire Christian Faith) than not to, but I needed something more.
That something more came in the from of an Encounter with God. I used to demand that He show up and physically show Himself to me. I wanted to see God!
Well, it never happened. I never did see Him. But something else happened. I encountered Him.
Mormons have told me they had a “burning in their bosom.” A close relative told me how they experienced god through buddhism. I have heard many stories. An atheist “evangelist” at a local university challenged me to read Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. I got the book, but soon realized that my encounter was way beyond an “experience.” It was more like an internal “knowing” or “revelation.” The truth is, I have been unable to doubt God’s existence or the Story of Christ since Encountering the Living and True God!
Yes, I said unable.
Now, I know that my encounter doesn’t offer much to someone else, and I don’t expect it to. I suppose it has some value as a testimony that such things might be possible. It could offer hope to a hungry seeker. It is a form of evidence (yes, testimony is a form of evidence).
This is an interesting thing about God. Everyone get’s to see His Creation. Some decide that this is “evidence” of God, others say it is not. The Holy Spirit is in the earth as testimonial evidence to the human heart of God. Some speak of powerful encounters, others remain skeptics.
In the end, everyone gets to look at all the evidence (or refuse to look) and decide whether or not to believe. This is faith. Looking at the evidence and deciding what to believe. In a very real sense being an “atheist” is “faith.” An atheist is having faith in “there is no god” based on whatever “evidence” he or she examined.
We have a choice. All this leads back to the question: What evidence do you require? All of us will die one day and face the answer about any afterlife. It is certainly worth considering what will be there.