Debating the existence of God
God exists by two falls to a submission, or so the Monty Python boys told us all those years ago. An idea that sounds silly, as does a lot of Python, but is no sillier than determining the existence of God by debate. Which is why the conversation on the radio this morning was pointless.
BBC Radio Leeds Sunday Morning programme features a short debate between a leading humanist and a leading Christian academic, the usual sort of thing, talking about Richard Dawkins’ statement that religion is of no moral value. Both agreed that we should have a proper debate on this. I disagree.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
It is by God’s Spirit that we succeed, not by the fighting for it Monty Python style, or by forcing people to believe, or even by our ability to debate. God will not be proven by my ability to debate, nor will God cease to exist if my rhetoric skills are weak. It doesn’t depend on me, or on Richard Dawkins, or even on Monty Python.
I spent a lot of time in 2012 looking at the Bible, in particular St Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. Recently at Holy Trinity Huddersfield we’ve had a series of sermons on the First Epistle of John. What Colossians and 1 John have in common is that they were written to combat a heresy that was springing up amongst the early Christians. What they both also have in common is that neither states explicitly what that heresy was. (Biblical scholars believe that heresy was an early form of Gnosticism, but that is beyond the scope of a sort blog.) Neither Paul not John suggested that we should determine the outcome by having a debate with the Gnostics. In both cases they rather proclaimed who Jesus is, and what he accomplished.
The existence of God is not going to be determined on evidence in debate any more than if people wrestled for it. But God’s people talking bout what God has done for them and acting like people who are passing on the love of God to others will make a whole lot of difference, maybe not in a global or national way, but in the lives of the people they meet.