Mystery of Unbelief
Individual belief in the existence of God, the reality of God as the Creator of All Things, and his influence on our value system and behavior are a subjective matter. That is to say, the matter of belief, a complex subject in itself, is dependent upon and intrinsic to the individual in ways that are often undiscoverable to others and to themselves. Subjectivity and self-consciousness are related. Both are mysterious qualities of human experience.
Many parents or mentors are baffled when their young people drift away from Christian belief, sometimes openly avowing agnosticism or even atheism. “Where did we go wrong?” they ask. Many adult Christians who taught young people in Sunday School classes or supervised youth groups in their churches are startled by the attrition. Desertion of Christian beliefs and values as young people progress from middle school to high school and eventually to college is of increasing concern to parents and church leaders.
Since 1970 there has been a startling growth in people identifying themselves as “nones,” or “religiously unaffiliated.” By one metric the “nones” now account for 20% of the population, up from 5% in the past several decades. Not all of the “nones” would self-categorize as atheists. One phrase heard with increasing frequency from the “nones” is “organized religion.” The term is often an expression of disapproval.
Many researchers are discovering purported reasons for unbelief. Justification for unbelief falls along a wide spectrum: Many people, regardless of their age, claim their religious experience is irrelevant, boring, uninteresting, unhelpful, or irrational. Objectively, this evaluation may not be reasonable. Subjectively, however, such appraisals need no defense because personal opinions, preferences, feelings, or desires rule, especially in our day when individualism and being ourselves is a highly valued personal characteristic.
Reasons to Believe founder and president, Dr. Hugh Ross, in a recent ministry letter touched upon a comment offered by one of his volunteers—his young teenaged grandson recently announced that he did not believe in God because “there was no evidence.” That young person’s statement might be categorized as a subjective rather than an objective utterance. The objective truth of God’s existence remains. Although no one has evidence for the existence of God by actually seeing him, there are logical evidences for the existence of God. For example, the Kalam Cosmological Argument popularized by William Lane Craig points to the existence of God.
More persuasive evidences of God exist in the characteristics of the universe itself—a universe created by God. Hugh Ross’s organization presents explicit evidential reasons for believing in God. Offering evidence of God’s work in the creation is a hallmark of the Reasons to Believe ministry. Ross’s most recent volume, Always Be Ready, (2018, RTB Press), fulfills the exhortation of I Peter 3:15, “…Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess (NET).
Hugh Ross has written many apologetic volumes citing the unique characteristics of our physical universe as evidence of the Creator’s work, and by extension, evidence of the Creator’s existence. In his most recent volume, Always Be Ready, Ross stresses our Christian responsibility to be ready to defend our faith and present reasons for it. He devotes only one chapter to formal scientific content with the disclaimer, “The book…barely (if at all) resembles any of the other books I’ve written to date. Only one chapter, the one that follows this one, provides scientific content readers have come to expect from me. Still, even this content comes to you in an unusually simplified, summarized form.”
Ross follows with a “simplified, summarized” chapter of eleven pages in which he devotes his skills to outlining some of the arguments he elaborates upon in hundreds of pages in his older volumes. These are the topics he summarizes: (1) cosmic origin and features (2) fine tuning evidence (3) life’s origin and advance, and (4) humanity’s origin. It is our prayer that detailed study of the topics listed above may provide spiritual truth seekers evidence of God’s existence and of his works in Creation. In this way we may replace subjective disbelief with objective belief in the God of Creation.