Why do I believe in God?

In short, it takes less faith.

Yeah, like I can open with that and then have a chance to keep it short. I grew up in First Southern Baptist Church of Phoenix Arizona. Ben and I met in 2nd grade and saw each other in sunday school and VBS over the next 3-4 years. Our grade level got severely cliquish and by 6th or 7th grade had effectively driven off anyone that didn't fit into the Barbie world. Ben went to the baptidome (North Phoenix Baptist Church) I went to church alone. 100-200 youth in weekly attendance, and Jason Corely is the only person that would talk to me. Oh most of them would be polite, they couldn't be cool if they were picking on John's little brother, and later Melissa's older brother, but I can't recall any of them ever taking an interest in me. Everything I heard, saw, or was allowed to do was strictly controlled by my parents. I went to a private Christian school for most of my elementary years (2nd - 7th grade) and was given a thorough grounding in Christian science, basic evolutionary theory (focused on flaws in the theory) Up to this point my faith had been handed to me and I accepted like I did my clothes and the food I was given.

Public school, wow what a difference. Nobody cared about learning, not even most of the teachers. Sure we had a couple of teachers in high school that tried hard but for the most part they were clocking in and getting paid... anyway. In seventh grade I had already learned all the math I would learn throughout high school. The next five years (8th - 12th) were review. This meant I didn't really have to try. I hooked up with Ben again in Algebra 3-4 honors (our freshmen year) and he introduced me to Role Playing Games (D&D, Paranoia, Star Wars, GURPS, Marvel Super Heroes...) and strategy gaming (Risk, Castle Risk, Supremacy, Axis & Allies, Shogun, Talisman,...). Well I flunked Algebra 4 and started taking cake walk classes. With no homework I could waste my hours away playing games.

U.S. Navy 1992-1996. I spent four years enlisted in the United States Navy. I went to services in boot camp, more to get away from the company and have a chance to just sit and be undisturbed than any desire to be in church. From 1992-1995 I spent most of my time in the Western Pacific fleet not necessarily getting away from God, but explaining him away. I wrote God off as a tool invented by men to control the masses. In the back of my head and in my heart, he was still there waiting for me. A push here a tug there, just enough to keep reminding me that He was real.

My family gets together for July 4th and in 1994 decided to have a big old family reunion. The Navy canceled my leave and sent me to sea. While underway I put in for Christmas leave (six months in advance) that was canceled a week prior to my departure, to send me to sea again. This pattern went on until Christmas 1995 when they didn't cancel, but they also had trouble approving it. It took until Jan 7th 1996 for them to approve the leave. When they asked if I still wanted I said yes (I had nearly 2 months of leave time on the books). I came home and on January 10th I met Pamela Brinkman (now Gustafson). She had been home in PA on Christmas break. She was Heather Burkett's (now Vanderlinden-ish) roommate. Jan 8th I went to Ben's house, he was at Heather's apartment, Jan 9th.. same deal Jan 10th I said skip it and went to the apt. He was at his house, but Pam had come home the night before and answered the door. While I drove to Ben's place, she called Heather and arranged a double date. It took FAR too much to happen for that all to be coincidence. We dated for the next month, and her close relationship with God reminded me how far I had drifted over the last few years. Back in Japan I wrote letters and came to the realization that I was lukewarm (Ben can explain) and needed to decide one way or another to be for or against God. Moments later a friend of mine came by finishing up his time as barracks watch. He wasn't sure why he stopped by, it was 2200, he was tired and had a wife and kids to get to. I had been hanging out with him and his family periodically and knew he was a faithful Christian. He asked what I was doing, I told him what computer game I was playing (Civ I think) and he said ok, and turned to leave. (nudge from somewhere inside and I was curious if he believed the bible or was just going through the motions to keep his kids in line. ) Since I was distracted by the game I asked the question that popped into my head without regard to the answer or reaction it might get. “Do you believe everything in the bible?”

Well that brought him to a screeching halt, he turned around and said something to the effect of we're going to be talking awhile tonight aren't we. He sat down and we talked read the bible and prayed until around 1 in the morning. There were literally hundreds of people who stood barracks watch, including me. The night I decide I need to get serious about God, and he's got a prayer warrior literally guarding the barracks I sleep in.

I said I believe in God because it takes less faith, and I should explain. Ask a non-believer where life came from and you get various answers, usually something about amino acids, lightning and primordial soup. If you get an honest answer out of a scientist they'll tell you “we really don't know” They have ideas, but all of their experiments end in utter failure. The day they manage to make anything like spontaneous life creation occur they'll be all over the news claiming they've discovered the origins of life. Pagan Faith step one, believe that life can spontaneously occur from non-living chemicals in random dispersions, when controlled experiments by lifelong scientists can't duplicate anything like what would have to happened thousands to millions of times. I don't have that much faith. Repeated failed experiments tell me that something doesn't happen or isn't likely to.

Throughout recorded history animals keep disappearing into extinction, we have fewer and fewer species almost every year. If animals were evolving then where are the new species. Apart from dog and cat breeding to create different looking animals, I haven't heard of any newly developed species or sub-species. They find new fossils of creatures long since extinct, and claim they show the evolutionary development of various species. Where are those developments now? I find it much easier to believe that God created all the species on the planet, and our lack of care for his works led to the extinction of many of them.

The most basic proof of God’s existence is simply what He has made. “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that [unbelievers] are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). “The heavens declare the glory of God / And the firmament sheweth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). If you walked through a field and found a laptop, you would not assume that it appeared there in some random collision of events, no you would assume someone built it, bought it and left it there. The same applies to the world. The human body alone (skip all the rest of creation for now) is more complex than stacks of super computers. It self repairs, self replicates, learns. Additionally cells within the human body work together in a designed fashion. Exchanging chemicals and electricity to pass information and change properties. Even a cursory study of cellular biology (assuming you get over the headaches) will give a whole new level of respect for the complexity of the human machine. Even so we are a small part of the ecosystem God built for us, then balanced on the head of pin called earth spinning and rotating around a Star ripping through a galaxy in a universe populated with hundreds of galaxies. I've seen people get tied up with “why doesn't the bible say this, or talk about stars etc” It boils down to this for me. The bible is a book about how to get to heaven, not how the heavens work.

In summary you have two choices. Believe God is who He says He is, and did what He said He did, as demonstrated in the complexity and majesty of His creation. Or believe that a complex structure ranging from sub atomic stability to intergalactic space with spontaneous life, came into being and perfect balance by some supreme random chance. And this happened in a universe in which the rules of physics are in such delicate balance that the slightest change in any of a hundred constants would wipe out the existence of or possibility for life. Even the balance of rotational forces at work keeping the solar system in it's path are staggering. Move or remove one planet and the whole thing is likely to fly apart within a few hundred years. Nope given all the ways that things can go wrong, it's obvious to me that God must be holding things together. I haven't found anything else that remotely explains everything that can be observed in nature.


-Joe Gustafson