Children seem to naturally have an easy time believing in God. It’s the adults that have it tough!
Even people that can remember having faith as a child can find it more difficult as they get into their teenage years and especially when they become fully grown and fully responsible adults.
There are many reasons why this is so. Some would like to suggest that as we become older and wiser we realise that He simply doesn’t exist; that our belief was a childish fantasy – like Santa and the Tooth Fairy.
I will beg to differ. Children don’t know God exists, they feel He exists. And when they… when we get older, that feeling gets buried.
What buries this feeling?
This comes in several forms. Firstly there is the education we receive. At school many of us are taught that far from being moulded by God and endowed with a soul, humans are nothing more than sophisticated monkeys. Rather than understanding that humans are special and have a unique role different from animals, we learn that, "we ain’t nothin’ but mammals" and should therefore act accordingly. Never mind being confused about the existence of God, this is enough to make us doubt the existence of ourselves! And don’t think I’m exaggerating; you can actually buy books which explain that your sense of being a person is just an illusion. Now, if we aren’t even intellectually sure that we are here, how can we expect to believe that God is?
Secondly, we see a world where frequently religion and religious people are portrayed in a bad light. Sometimes the portrayal is sadly, very accurate. From the tortures of the inquisition to the merciless self immolation of suicide bombers, religion has a lot to answer for. In a world where some believers in God behave with ruthless evil, it is not too surprising that any thinking person would think very carefully before they throw in their lot with the believers. Certainly not those kind anyway!
Thirdly, we experience a world where we get knocks. Life hurts and it doesn’t always seem to be that fair. Whether we experience difficulties that others seem not to, or we see people suffering that we love, the world can often seem like a ship without a captain. If this is what we saw, then it is not too surprising that the idea of a loving all-powerful God seems distant to us.
And if that was just that then this would be the end of the story. You wouldn’t believe and you wouldn’t care. But, if you’re still reading this, you do care. And that is a problem. We feel, somewhere buried down there in our souls, a sense that God does exist. Despite the education we may have received from school, college or society. Despite the wickedness of some religious people. Despite the appearance that life just isn’t fair. Despite this, the feeling is still there.
This I believe is the source of our confusion. A mismatch between our feelings on the one hand and our experience on the other.
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