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Because we are thoroughly modern people, we have many reasons why God
can’t exist. Evolutionists have their interminable army of monkeys,
typing away in the bell jar devoid of time, generating the next edition
of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Astronomers have their echoes of the big
bang. Moralists have history on their side: the evil that people have
done to one another in God’s name for millennia. Educators have their
doctrine of separation of church and state. The world’s great thinkers
have their philosophy, and the uneducated have their ignorance.

One wonders if — like people of faith — those of unfaith, too, are
comforted by their beliefs? Is the evolutionist happy, or proud that he
has developed such a complex and personally unassailable defense against
God? Is there comfort in knowing that the monkeys will eventually type a
coherent sentence, given their eternal efforts? Does the physicist
marvel at the beauty of those calculations leading up to the instant
before time that set off the big bang? Do moralists feel superior for
never having taken sides? Do educators consider Columbine their crowning
glory: evidence that children can be educated in an atmosphere devoid of
moral guidance? Do philosophers sleep more soundly, knowing that God is
dead?

But for most of us, these magnificent crutches — developed at such
cost by our society — are of little or no use to us in our individual
encounters with God. We know, of course, that He can’t really exist;
everyone we believe and trust tells us so: the media, our schools, our
government, even our friends. Yet He often makes His appearances when we
are least prepared to use these finer arguments against His existence.
He picks the times when we are alone; when the big game is over, the
party music has faded. After last call at the neighborhood bar. On the
long drive home. Sometimes, simply when we have suffered great loss; or
experienced moments of exquisite joy. Yes, when we slip away from the
heelbeat of the secular world’s army of skeptics, indulge our souls a
moment’s silence from the numbing sameness of television, forget about
our job, our friends; that is when God often shows up.

It’s not at all fair of God. He knows that we don’t really understand
all the intricacies of evolutionary theory, that we haven’t counted the
chromosomes, that really all we can remember is that everything came
from a big explosion of nothing. God knows that if He confronted us in
school, politicians and educators would flock to our aid, with the ACLU
and Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists firmly in hand. Or
perhaps he simply avoids schools because they have become too dangerous.

Likewise, He rarely seems to stray into the universities. Perhaps He
has learned that debate about politically incorrect subjects is
unwelcome among the world’s academics. And in the world of tenured
dogma, surely few things are less wholesome to career advancement than
ideas the size of God (unless, of course, you are downsizing or
reengineering Him).

And so — despite our investment in education and science — the cost
we pay to maintain our army of skeptics and thought police — we
frequently find ourselves alone and defenseless when God finally comes
to visit. “If only,” we think, “I had paid more attention in biology, or
physics, or read a few more of the world’s great books, surely I would
dismiss Him?” But in the end, most of us are reduced to Scrooge’s
defense against the ghost of his deceased business partner, Jacob
Morley, in Dickens’ Christmas Carol: “You may be an undigested bit of
beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an under-done
potato.” And in our weakness and unbelief, God speaks to us. Perhaps He
has a task to be done, a friend who needs our company, a child who
without our gift will have no Christmas or birthday present.

Like Scrooge, we know what we see or feel; yet we struggle to find
room for the Pre-existent One, who transcends time and space, to exist
in our busy little lives. Too much is at stake: Our money. Our time. Our
plans. We have, after all, only one life. We came from nothing. We are
headed nowhere. What does it matter what we do while we are here? When
we die, it’s over. That, in a nutshell, is our modern secular faith. Yet
still pervading it, moving about within it — is God, gently nudging us,
like an insistent friend. “Come away with me. Let’s have some fun today.
Let me show you the sunset I just made. …”

The institutional church, oddly enough, has its own problems with
God’s existence. Unable, for obvious reasons, to deny God’s existence,
many churches have adopted the bureaucratic model — adding a few
ecclesiastical twists. Scholars develop unending theological
limitations, making it more difficult for God to intervene in human
affairs. Such research is important, for it provides the necessary
comfort that keeps millions of churchgoers coming back, week after week.
Administrative rituals known only to ecclesiastical insiders are applied
to limit God’s exposure to the Sunday visitors. And failing that, there
is always tradition, a land where, as everyone knows, “We’ve never done
it that way before.” While if pressed today’s church will concede God’s
existence, they are not overly concerned with His escape from the
bureaucratic straightjacket they’ve fitted Him with — at least not
until the current generation of caretakers retires. Still, God does
manage to make an occasional appearance in churches here and there, but
by and large many churches and religions do offer at least a modicum of
protection from God, with the benefit that they are accessible to the
average man or woman.

Which is all well and good for many of us, who are content to live
lives we can see, watching the sand slip through the hourglass, while
working to pay for the latest gadgets advertisers tell us we need. We
reply, “Fine! Great!” to the question, “How you doing?” hoping against
hope that the next big trendline breakthrough in the Dow Industrials
will expand to fill the emptiness we feel inside at night. “God can’t
exist,” we repeat like counting sheep as we drift off to sleep, silently
reassuring ourselves in the midst of our hopes and fears, with our many
modern indisputable proofs. Mercifully, sleep finally comes. We no
longer remember the little girl without the present, our friend has
buried his hurt under yet one more layer of silence, and God slips away
to watch the tomorrow’s sunrise with somebody else. We awake to another
day, one step closer to eternity, one step further from God.

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