· If god really wanted me to believe in him, he would have provided more evidence.
However, I have tried to argue in this book that He has proved it! Paul argued that the evidence is so compelling that we are “without excuse” if we reject it:
· For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20; ESV)
Of course, the skeptic disputes that humanity is so utterly blind to the evidences of God. However, we tend to be quite bulimic. The bulimic teen is convinced that she is fat, even though she is continually told that she is not.
We are surrounded by the evidences of God but refuse to see it. As a seven-year-old, I was exposed to the Lord’s Prayer in public school. Consequently, when I would get into bed at night, I would clasp my hands together and pray it in Jesus’ name. Astonishingly, many incredible things happened for this seven-year-old. However, once I turned eight, I learned that I was Jewish and that Jews didn’t do that kind of thing. Therefore, I quit praying entirely. I had placed my ethnicity above what I knew about God, reaping disastrous consequences!
The experimental evidence that humanity is in denial about unwanted knowledge is rampant. In a New York Times 2007 article, “Denial Makes the World Go Round,” Benedict Carey, by virtue of the overwhelming evidence, concludes:
· Everyone is in denial about something; just try denying it and watch friends make a list. For Freud, denial was a defense against external realities that threaten the ego, and many psychologists today would argue that it can be a protective defense in the face of unbearable news, like a cancer diagnosis.
· “The closer you look, the more clearly you see that denial is part of the uneasy bargain we strike to be social creatures,” said Michael McCullough, a psychologist at the University of Miami and the author of the coming book “Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct.” “We really do want to be moral people, but the fact is that we cut corners to get individual advantage, and we rely on the room that denial gives us to get by, to wiggle out of speeding tickets, and to forgive others for doing the same.” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/health/research/20deni.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Within the world of clinical psychology, these observations are extensive and perhaps most apparent in the field of addiction:
· The concept of denial calibrates widely shared ideas about language with the clinical regimen that characterizes mainstream American addiction treatment. Since the 1930s, denial has stood at the ideological center of the field and has enjoyed a wide range of professional adherents across otherwise distinctive theoretical orientations. As in so many contemporary addiction treatment programs, the professionals I studied believed that addicts are—by definition—unable to clearly see themselves. By extension, they also believed that addicts are unable to speak about themselves and their problems authoritatively. https://ssa.uchicago.edu/research-journal-many-faces-denial
Psychologist Shelley Taylor writes that denial does not just apply to the addict but to humanity as a whole:
· As we have seen, people are positively biased in their assessments of themselves and of their ability to control what goes on around them, as well as in their views of the future. The widespread existence of these biases and the ease with which they can be documented suggests that they are normal. (Positive Illusions, 46)
Taylor adds that:
· On virtually every point on which normal people show enhanced self-regard, illusions of control, and unrealistic visions of the future, depressed people fail to show the same biases. (214)
However, she observes that once the depression lifts, “normal” people return to denial and other forms of self-deception.
Psychologist Harold Sacheim also had argued that self-deceptions are normal and even “profitable”:
· Through distortion, I may enhance my self-image, not because at heart I am insecure about my worth but because no matter how much I am convinced of my value, believing that I am better is pleasurable. Such self-deceptions may prove to be efficient in constructing or consolidating a solid and perhaps even “healthy” identity.
Perhaps denying the evidence for God might also be “pleasurable.” God not only interferes with our autonomy, awareness of Him also brings disruptive guilt feelings.
Psychologist Roy Baumeister has extensively researched the relationship between high self-esteem and performance. He concludes:
· There are now ample data on our population showing that, if anything, Americans tend to overrate and overvalue ourselves. In plain terms, the average American thinks he’s above average. Even the categories of people about whom our society is most concerned do not show any broad deficiency in self esteem. African Americans, for example, routinely score higher on self-esteem measures than do European-Americans.
In other words, we have a great capacity to believe those things that make us feel good and to deny those realities that threaten our self-esteem and autonomy. This also pertains to the evidence for God, as even the skeptics have admitted:
· We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs . . . in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated commitment to materialism. . . . we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. (Lewontin, Richard, Review of The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. In New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.)
· Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic. (Todd, Scott C., "A View from Kansas on the Evolution Debates," Nature (vol. 401. September 30, 1999), p. 423.)
The resistance to the evidence of God is well documented, but what can explain it? Jesus taught that God’s existence is very threatening:
· And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
We cannot allow the truth about who we really are to be exposed. True is painful, as the Book of Proverbs point out:
· Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof. (Proverbs 1:20-25)
Why do we refuse to listen to wisdom’s rebuke? Because it humbles us, revealing our true identity and conduct! However, true wisdom must begin its work by correcting us, the lens through which we see everything else.
Admittedly, even we Christians can become insensitive to the evidences around us. As a result, we too cry out to God, “Why don’t You strengthen my faith? Reveal yourself to me in a miraculous manner!”
Interestingly, we are in good company. Surrounded by Jesus’ miracles, even His disciples asked Him to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). When John the Baptist was languishing in prison, racked with doubts, he asked his disciples to go to Jesus to ascertain if He really was the Messiah (Mat. 11).
Their problem wasn’t that hadn’t been granted sufficient reasons to believe. John had seen the Spirit descend upon Jesus. He had identified Him as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The Apostles had seen hundred, even thousands of Jesus’ miracles, and yet they still doubted. What then was their problem?
I think that we too are calloused. Therefore, the problem is not one of evidence but how we integrate it into our daily lives. Because of our callousness, the Bible instructs us to not forget what God has done for us. The Psalmist explained that it wasn’t that Israel didn’t have enough evidence of God’s mercy. Instead, they had forgotten:
· They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan. He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. (Psalm 78:10-13)
I find that I too must mentally rehearse what God has done for me and even the evidences for my faith. It has been out of these many rehearsals that this book was born.