I'm sorry, but I've always wanted to pose this question, and this seems like a perfect oportunity: How can a seriously intelligent person, who spend there (almost) entire life in pursuit of serious logical inquiry, simply turn it off to follow the tenets of a given religion. Not that I don't believe in Jesus Christ, but as an historical figure, of which there is so much rigorous data to contradict the mythology of religion. (...)That is a good question; I will try to answer it as good as I can.
Partly, I believe that logic reasoning does not get one everywhere. There are things in the world that one cannot establish exactly. And even this fact - that one cannot know everything by reasoning - is something that one can actually obtain by using scientific facts. One of these is quantum mechanics: these tell us that it is actually impossible to know both the speed as the place of specific small particles. In addition, it learns that not everything that happens is the result of deterministic processes. Secondly, in mathematics, there is Goedels theorem. This German mathematician proved about 60 years ago that there are mathematical statements that are true, but that can never be proven. Thus, there are things that, while we cannot give a complete scientific proof for the truth, still are true. Another question that logic cannot solve, although I also cannot see how religion solves it, is the answer to the (perhaps stupid sounding, but entirely serious) question: why is there something instead of nothing? Why does anyhow something exist? A universe that does not exist would not have any of the contradictions and questions of ours, but still, one thing is sure: there is something instead of nothing.
That kind of reasoning does, of course, not yet make someone a Christian, or a member of another religion. Still, just doing logical reasoning, I find the atheist view of the world rather unconvincing. The idea that all that is, planets, stars, physical laws, atoms, the different species just are there by chance without a God looks incredible to me. Concerning evolution theory, I believe that God created the different species by using gradual changes - thus, I wouldn't call myself a creationist. Recently, someone told me that the famous physist Stephen Hawking said that the fact that the world's physical laws indeed work and that the universe became as it is after the Big Bang was such a small probability that one could assume that something, call it God, was involved. (This is only a second hand quote, btw.)
I am not aware of the rigourous data that contradict my religious views. It is, by the way, an unfortunate misconception that one necessarily needs to believe a number of scientific facts, e.g., about the creation in 7 times 24 hours, etc., to be a Christian. While I want to respect orthodox Christians with these kind of views, I think that the main point of Christianity is not a scientific model of how the world was created, but the point is that ones relationship with our Creator can be restored by accepting Jesus as our savior and guide.
However, apart from all the scientific reasoning, there is the non-scientific side. Nobody so far asked me the same kind of question, but then why I married and love my wife. And actually, love and friendship are things that in the deep sense, cannot be explained with logic. Sure, my wife has many excellent qualities, but it would be rather illogical to assume that there are not other people with the same kind of qualities. So, the real reason of love is something that cannot be explained, I think. With religion, this is the same. I believe in God, and at times, there are so many things I do not understand. I do not understand why God allows that hundreds of thousands of people are driven away from their homes, and there are so many other things I do not understand of God. And still, I believe.
Finally, there are the `experiences'. Things happened, like people healed upon prayer, a miracle: a pastor that spoke Rumanian while he couldn't speak that language, changes in the life of me and my wife that we could only attribute to God, and more. None of these would serve as a rigourous proof of the existence of God, but they do serve as things that strengthened my faith.
I hope this answers somehow your question. By the way, thanks for asking it - it always is good to occasionally answer such a kind of question, also to oneselves.
Hans Bodlaender, April 14, 1999