Why do I believe?

Here is a question other people ask me, and I also have asked myself: why do I believe in God - why do I believe in the Bible, why do I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior?

Some people think they know why Christians have their beliefs. One such reason that is given is that faith is something learned in childhood from your parents, and the reason people believe is just that they kept the ideas of their parents. That, however, is for most Christians not the reason why they believe. Firstly, many people that were brought up in a Christian family and had a Christian education, went to sunday school, etc., still became atheist later in their lives. Secondly, many Christians were not raised in a Christian family, but became a Christian later in their live, at an age when they were already a grown-up. For both groups of people, I know several people - both friends and relatives. No, the Christian faith is not just something you inherit from your parents - for every person, there is a time in his or her live that he or she makes a choice. Even while I obtained a Christian education (and I am my parents very thankfull for that), I was very incertain about the Christian faith - even the existence of God, as a teenager. Still, at a certain moment, I knew God existed, and that I wanted to be part of those people that belonged to him. So, why was this so?

Was it because of the miracles experienced? I do have experienced Gods own involvement in this world - healings upon prayer, people's lives changed, Gods guidance with difficult decisions, things that happened that would be too coincidental to be just pure chance, and more. Still, most of these things happened years after I first became a Christian, and while they confirm my faith and make it stronger, they were not the cause of it in the first place. And then, I know from my work what is a mathematical proof, and what I experienced and saw is not a mathematical proof for Gods existence - although nowadays I know for sure he exists, and these experiences have taken away most of the doubts I still had for many years.

So, what was it then? I must have been sixteen or seventeen years old, and I was riding on my bicicle from home to school or back, when suddenly the realization came that God existed. Before that, I had been struggeling with the question whether he existed, whether the Christian faith was true or not, for a long time. To these question, the answer was simple: God who had let himself found by me. In the end, faith is not something we acquire by just getting all the facts straight - the final conclusion of scientific research to the big question of life, but something given by God to us - if you want to have it. If one tries to find God earnestly, I believe he will let him known to us. I believe this because I experienced it myself - and because I know of so many people, one of them I am married with, that experienced the same thing.

Is that all? If you are not a Christian, I doubt that I can convince you just by reasoning of Gods existence and his love - also for you. I can tell you stories what happened in my life, and I can point to stories that other people tell, or that are reported in the Bible. I can point out that I find the idea that the world with its people, animals and plants just came out of nothing by sheer chance highly unconvincible , and that the existence of a creative superbeing (even one that perhaps used the gradual change of species as part in his creation) is much more likely. (I want to write later something about evolution theory.) The arguments and the stories may make people interesting in the Christian faith - and if they try to find God, I believe he will let himself known.

Hans Bodlaender, March 11, 1999.

Up - Home page - Email: hansb@cs.uu.nl.