The other day I was reading an article on a topic that caught my eye. As I scrolled down through to the end, I saw this paid advertisement.
Being a Christian pastor, this ad caught my attention – Kudos to the copyright editor on that. I was wondering what this paid advertisement was for. I was also wondering how the owner of this ad was able to talk really white and young popular image of Jesus-looking dude into hawking their service or product or enlisting him as a professional commentator for some religious fight on Facebook.
So of course, I clicked on it.
And was directed to a website that had a video. Here’s one of the early slides:
I knew at this point that this was going to be some kind of garbage, using some bad theology, to hawk some product like a vitamin or something and claiming that it was biblical.
But I kept watching – it was like watching a car wreck happen right before your eyes.
Here was another screen shot a few slides later:
When I saw this, I couldn’t help but laugh. And cry at the same time. How many people would be sucked into this? How many people would be sucked into the “proof” and buy whatever it is they are selling for $59.99 or whatever price they could sucker people into paying?
And I also thought a bit more about this. I watched about five minutes of this video, not knowing how long the full video was, but in that five minutes, there was no mention of atheists or shutting them up. It was just a great interest-drawing ad with a terrible sales pitch. Bummer.
But that ad stayed on my mind. What is it about the ad that is so intriguing? I clicked because I just had to see how terrible the service or product was. But others probably click because of what the ad promises – irrefutable proof for an atheist that God exists.
Christians have been trying to prove God’s existence for centuries, and millennia. Thomas Aquinas even his Summa Theological with this in mind. He wrote and “proved” the existence of God through logic and reason.
Yet, I wonder – why? Why is this necessary? Why do we feel the need to prove something that is based on faith? The whole idea of faith is counter to the idea of proof. That doesn’t mean that faith is false. It means it is not verifiable according to scientific methods.
So why are we, the very people who claim faith in God, trying to make God fit into our tests and methods?
Throughout the Bible we see many stories of God rejecting the idea of proving God’s own existence. In the New Testament, Jesus is tested many times and others demand he show a sign of proof that he was the Son of God. And each time, Jesus rejects their attempts knowing something fundamental about his opponents – it wouldn’t matter what he did, they would not accept it as proof. They would come up with excuses for why they would not believe. Some of these opponents even witnessed Jesus doing miracles, and they still demanded more signs. For some people, there are never enough signs and wonders to prove who Jesus or God are.
This is still true today. I hear atheists say – if God would prove that God exists, then I would believe. Except, I don’t believe they are being truthful. What counts as proof? Why that particular proof? Why would an atheist trust a proof of the divine and infinite that could be verified through human observation knowing that human observation is flawed? I don’t know what could possibly convince an atheist with proof. But I also don’t think that faith is solely an intellectual exercise either.
God encounters those that God wants to encounter. And in those encounters, lives are changed. That’s what faith is ultimately about. It’s not about changing someone’s mind, as if we get to choose God. If you are stuck on finding proof that God exists, then you aren’t going to find it. We find only what we want to find – only what we are looking at and for – only what we are capable of believing. Everything else we miss.
Want to make an atheist shut up in 15 seconds? Treat them nice and with respect, like any other human being. Offer them love and grace. Be forgiving. Be a peacemaker. Live out the Sermon on the Mount. Feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned and the widows, cloth those who need clothing, shelter the homeless, care for the sick. Live out your faith and stop seeking out arguments.