Speaking of atheists being defensive, in my twenties I knew they’re were two reasons why I couldn’t take Christianity seriously. One was how many Christians said ignorant and hateful things about evolution. The other was the problem of evil, which I took as enough of a reason that God doesn’t make sense that I didn’t go further. Having made it through Confirmation, I knew theists made excuses for God’s responsibility for evil, that He somehow has to allow evil in order to allow free will. Strangely I can see something in between our all being finger puppets and the amount of evil we have in the real world. Why can’t God? Likewise any thoughts I had about how God might be compatible with science didn’t go very far. If His own people don’t care about that, why should I?
None of that was on my mind when I started praying again in my thirties. I needed help. Why not sees what happens? I knew I was sincere that if God was listening, I wanted to have Him teach me. Then came this road-to-Damascus experience 18 years ago. Then came this gradually more effective prayer life.
I’m not sure when those two objections of mine fell away, but at some point after experiencing God, I had two easy answers to those objections. Christians who say ignorant and hateful things about evolution aren’t following God, but idolizing the Bible. God isn’t responsible for evil. God would have people live lives of love and truth, not hatred, indifference, and falseness. Then any natural tragedy, like death or hurricanes, has biological and physical reasons, not things over which God has power.
Those seem so natural to me now that I believe in a God who has limitations. I can’t remember my twenties perfectly, but I don’t remember these solutions coming to me then, even for a moment. I always blamed God for creationists. If He wanted to fix them, why didn’t He? For evil, it was even worse. I couldn’t imagine God in His traditional meaning subjecting people to this world, not to build character in people, not because His hands are tied, not at all.
Yet all it took was some experience with God, and I was suddenly saying that everyone has the wrong God, theists and atheists both. I think atheists make powerful arguments, as with the link above. Anyone who thinks the Bible came from God should go to an atheist site that lists all the objections there are to Bible verses and decide for yourself about the Bible. It amazes me that theists try to defend the perfect God of tradition against all objections. Yet apologists argue as well as they can. For many it’s good enough, not for me.
But I’ve experienced God. He’s convinced me that neither the ignorant nor hypocrites are His people. I came to define God as the one who answers when I pray, “God help me!” No serious person likes that. I don’t know why. I like functional definitions. Science taught me it’s not always possible to look past that. But people want to look past that. I’m sure the current battle between atheists and traditionalists will go on a long time. I’m not sure why. No words on this subject will end poverty or end strife. I’m not sure what more words on this subject can do. I was stuck in my twenties, with no role models through whom to believe in a God who made sense. The eventual solutions I found are not clever, yet I couldn’t see them. God is whoever and whatever He is. Seeing it that way solves some problems. It creates more problems for people who want to know God better than that. People haven’t even gotten to that yet. So many can only see atheism or tradition. There is more than that.