Welcome to the Forum Bluecolour. Thank you for sharing your story, and for your open-mindedness.
'Hello, my names Bluecolour and I'm a Christian'
Why do i believe in God?
I think that the more fundamental question to ask is not "why," but "what:" What
, specifically, do you believe? Make a list of your top ten truth-claims, things that have to be so out in reality in order for your concept of Christianity to be valid. Then: what
is the evidence--for and against--that relates to your truth-claims? Try to focus on the most crucial
elements of your Christianity, the things that, if shown to be false, would send the whole edifice tumbling down like a Jenga tower. Why do this? Because, if you want to know if your hypothesis is accurate or not, the thing you have to do is make it vulnerable to testing
. If your beliefs are accurate, reality will leave them unscathed. If not, well, then you'll know. "That which can be destroyed by the truth should be."
Take the theory of evolution, for example. It's incredibly
vulnerable to facts. Fossil bunnies in the Cambrian, a fossil dinosaur with a saddle and a human rider, different species having wholly unique genetic codes rather than traceable lines of common descent that match the evolutionary trees derived from fossils and morphology--any one of those things turns up in reality, and KAPOW! SPLAT! Back to the drawing board. The great strength of evolutionary theory is that despite the many and various ways it could be falsified, observable reality continues to validate its predictions and leave its vulnerabilities to falsification untouched. Or take atheism. Just one
real god or goddess comes along, and atheism is false, period.
An angel or a djinn or a faerie would do the job just about as well.
So, if the validity of your beliefs requires
something like "Jesus lived as a man on Earth and was resurrected bodily from death on the third day after his crucifixion" or "The Cosmos was created thousands of years ago rather than billions, as described in the Book of Genesis," then include that in your list. "God is a Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" may or may not be "required" for Christianity to be true (depends on who you ask), but it's not testable, even by believers, otherwise there would be unanimous agreement among them. So, that wouldn't go into your list. Don't pick something which, if falsified, you could just shrug off. "Well, OK, Jesus might not have resurrected physically and miraculously, but there was something in his presence and person that awakened in the hearts of the disciples afterwards, and turned them from cowards into champions for Christ."
What happened next is that i met what some men call 'the uncommon Christian'. A roommate in my fourth year i wont mention his name. He was very interested by my ideas and my views on life. His of course were very different from mine and so we hardly ever agreed on anything. The point though was that he listened, he reasoned and he rebutted. He found my ideas fascinating and listened much in the way that one listens to a child. At first of course i found this extremely frustrating. This was my life, my doctrine after all; they were the questions that had made me what i was and yet sometimes he would just laugh and shake his head.
Others had refused my questions because it shook their beliefs, but that never bothered him.
He didn't shrug them off either; I would watch him handle the statements, reason through them carefully, and yet even when he had no answers you would never see the slightest hint of doubt in him. This may not be so amazing to you but to someone who had lived his entire life filled with questions and doubts, i can looking back understand why i was so drawn to him.
Our ability to analyze your experiences with this person are naturally quite limited. From your description, I tentatively note two things: 1) The appeal of this man and his beliefs seems to center on his charisma and "way of being," the way he smiles, shakes his head, laughs, etc., his assurance, serenity, and so on. 2) He does not appear to have actually provided answers
1) I have known people who said the same kinds of things about Hindu gurus they have met. The guru seems to know them deeply on first sight, to have a "presence" that stands out from other people, and so on. I have read about Ayahuasca shamans with the same kind of presence and seemingly superhuman perceptiveness when it comes to people. I don't know of any religion or spiritual tradition that can't point to "holy" men and women with the kind of stand-out "spirituality" you describe here. It could be that people who spend years practicing meditative contemplation get good
at it, and this gives them a degree of serenity that people who don't do the practice don't have. Or perhaps some people are just talented at being "spiritual" or "enlightened" (having deep serenity, charisma, an aura of knowing, and so on) the same way some people are talented at composing music (e.g. Mozart) or mathematics (Einstein, Stephen Hawking) to degrees that, in a previous age, could easily have been thought of as supernatural.
2) The fact that you're here asking why you believe in God seems like pretty good evidence to me that, whatever "rebuttals" your roommate offered between the smiles, the knowing head-shakes, and so on, do not constitute a body of evidence and logic sufficient to convince you of the validity of Christianity. Otherwise, you'd be coming here with that
, instead of what an amazing person your roommate was.
Aside: I gotta come right out and say that this roommate story trips one of my skeptic alarms. It's not uncommon for us atheists to get various "just-so stories" featuring characters who have no names or locations in space and time, but whose stories "prove" Christianity. There's the college professor who would issue a rant against God and faith to his class, finishing up by holding up a wine glass and saying, "If there's a God, when I drop this glass, it won't break!" This continued until one day, there was a Christian in his class who prayed, and when he dropped it, the glass bounced off his foot and skittered across the floor, remaining intact. CHECKMATE, atheists! Or the one about the underground church service in Soviet Russia. The congregation was in the middle of their worship service when Russian soldiers busted in, machine guns at the ready. Their leader said, "Anyone who is willing to renounce belief in Christ may go. Those who refuse will be shot." Some did, and the soldiers released them. "Anyone else?" The remainder of the congregation stayed, silent. Then the soldiers put down their weapons. "Now that the hypocrites are gone, may we join you?"
Given how pivotal this person has been in your life, and how close you apparently were to him, it seems a bit odd that you speak of him without a name, and in the past tense. In today's internet-connected world, it is not difficult to remain in contact with someone, and odds are good they can be Googled or looked up on Facebook even if you have lost contact. Do you still have a relationship with this person? Is there any chance he could be persuaded to join this Forum?
I began to look closer at his life, i noticed the way he spoke to others and the way they moved around him. I began to hear about the things he did, the way he seemed to know things he shouldn't. I grew curious, i wanted to see for myself and when i didn't i grew cynical.
I was his roommate remember, i saw his flaws, he was no less human than i was. And yet, hunched over my laptop in the middle of the night and hearing him snore, i still couldn't tell myself that there was nothing there different about him.
This is all too vague for people who weren't there (i.e., us) to do anything with. What, specifically, did he know that he "shouldn't." Even you, who were there, can only say that he "seemed" to know things a human being shouldn't have been able to, not that he demonstrably did
. People can do some pretty freaking amazing things:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6XUVjK9W4o
The examples there are physical, but I can also point to things like Mozart churning out Classical music when he was six years old, or "Rain Man" type savants. For a very on-point demonstration of how it's possible for someone to "know things they shouldn't" and seem like they have supernatural insight and powers, watch this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT3izBQfh5M
Part of it I'm sure was his assurance in his beliefs. He handled all atheistic conversation the way one might discuss a good book or movie: interesting, enlightening perhaps but ultimately fiction. Suggest otherwise to him and he would begin to have this smile as if you were seriously suggesting that trees were made out of candy-canes and the rain from lemon-drops.
When it comes to the question of how accurate a belief is, a person's assurance
in their beliefs is irrelevant. The question that matters is, what is the basis
for their beliefs; what evidence
do they have that their beliefs correspond to reality. The "con" in "con man" is an abbreviation for "confidence." A person can go a long way toward convincing others to believe what they want them to just by exhibiting over-the-top levels of confidence. I'm not necessarily saying this person is a con man (I don't know him), but that seems to be his general technique: to act as if atheist arguments are saying that trees are made of candy canes, give a knowing smile and the like, while...managing somehow not to actually answer
them in any evidential or logical manner.
One time a bunch of us followed him out somewhere and something happened then that completely changed my life. It was as if i all of a sudden had this revelation of who i was standing next to.
And who were you standing next to?
I still have questions and i still have doubts, but despite everything i seem sure, you could say inside myself, that God is.
OK, but do you have any reason to think that God is outside yourself,
out there, in external reality? I don't doubt that people can have, or even deliberately generate, the experience of a "god" or "spirit" or other presence inside themselves. I have several books that include techniques for experiencing, and even deliberately creating
gods and goddesses. I haven't yet taken the time to go through the process myself, but in reading the techniques, I don't doubt that they work--for generating the inner experience of a deity.