In my prior post I told of my conversation with Melanie the agnostic, and how she’d gotten a bit miffed at me for something I’d said.
Spiritual conversation is an imperfect art for me, I admit.
Melanie’s main claim was that her lack of belief in God was not her fault. Philosophers call this “inculpable nonbelief” — that is, non-belief for which a person is not responsible.
But I wonder whether there is such a thing as this “no-fault” unbelief. Well, maybe so, for persons who’ve never even heard of a Creator-God or the message of Jesus Christ.*
But in Melanie’s case I was struggling to sympathize. She has as much access to the full revelation of God as anyone. Maybe more. After all, she has the advantage of a Christian upbringing.
I said to her that the one thing the God of the Bible doesn’t provide (or rarely provides) is proof.
You can’t make God perform miracles to prove himself. He’s not a genie in a lamp.
But what God will provide and always provides are clues. Signs. The philosophical phrase is “signals of transcendence.”
Included here are traditional methods of revelation such as the beauty and order of nature (Romans 1), the obligations felt by conscience (Romans 2); the Incarnation,** Scripture and the Church.
These items are supplemented in our lives by smallish clues of God’s presence such as answered prayer, healings, acts of kindness from others, provision of food and shelter, and the hundred little happy coincidences that seem to occur when our hearts are soft and open to God.
Someone has said, “The more I pray, the more coincidences happen.”
Melanie looked at me skeptically. She shook her head. No. Not good enough. All these things can be explained away, she insisted.
“But if God proved himself to you,” I said, “you’d be forced to believe. Melanie, this isn’t merely about intellectual belief. God desires a love relationship with us. Love cannot be forced.”
“Then what am I supposed to do?” she asked desperately. She was nearly in tears. “I can’t make myself believe.”
* * *
In my next post: The conclusion of the conversation.
* “No-fault” unbelief: Keep in mind, however, that Paul says in Romans 1:20 that God’s revelation in nature is available to all, so that they are “without excuse.”
**Incarnation is the theological term for God-in-the-flesh: Jesus Christ.
Photo courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.