Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wanting To Believe

 1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God. . . .” —   Psalm 14:1 (NASB95)

Thomas Nagel, an atheist who authored a popular introduction to philosophy titled What Does It All Mean? wrote: "I want atheism to be true … It isn't just that I don't believe in God, and, naturally, hope that I'm right about my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."  –  Jim Spiegel, "Unreasonable Doubt," Christianity Today (2-10-11)

I will not for a moment ascribe to every unbeliever the sentiments of Thomas Nagel.  That would be both unfair, and simply erroneous.  But I do think that there is something in his statement that resonates deeply with both believers and unbelievers.  It has everything to do with what we want to be true.

I’m not saying that truth depends on what we want.  Truth is truth regardless what we might want.  If God exists, He exists outside our desire either way.  Wanting it to be so, one way or the other, doesn’t make it so.  But believing that something is true has a lot to do with whether we want it to be true or not.

There are many passages in the Bible that tell us that we should, even must, believe in God or believe in Jesus.  There is a lot of evidence presented to persuade us that there are things about God and His Son that we should believe.  But believing is always a choice.  I don’t think we talk enough about this aspect of faith.  To believe in Jesus is a choice we make, a conscious decision to accept as true what the Bible teaches about God’s Son.

A strong component of such a decision relates to our wanting the evidence to be true.  There are some who have been so persuaded, so compelled by the evidence that they would say they believed even when they didn’t want to do so.  I would not dare conclude such people are dishonest.  I do think that they might not realize that what compelling evidence does is not simply force us into a spot where we can’t choose any other option, but it creates in us the desire for the very things about which we have been convinced.

I want there to be God.  I want Jesus, the Son of God, to have lived, died and risen again.  I want the sacrifice for sin to be real, for salvation to be real, for eternal life to be true.  And so I believe.  I make no excuses.  I want these things.  I believe them.  That’s my choice.