Even the question seems absurd to those that already know Him. I half-apologize for asking the question because I know that to those that have long walked with Him, the question carries within it a certain kind of hubris (arrogance). How can it even be asked? He is everywhere and involved in everything, and every molecule in the universe holds His special signature. And yet we should not be so bold as a people of faith to disregard the struggles of the earnest seeker as they grapple with things that might be obvious to us, but a violent battle for them. It’s too easy to forget the paths that took us from faithless to fidelity.
For some of us, we had that special blessing of having been born into a Christian family and so from the time we could understand the words we’ve had God-talk in our ears. We have always been pleasantly engaged with the presence of the Deity. For others, at least, He has always been in the ornamentation of our lives in the songs of the Holydays, publicly recognized religious observances, our friends with a religious orientation, or even the general presence of Judeo-Christian ethics that so powerfully pervades our culture, if inconsistently so. Then there are those that have not had such privileges and so the entire line of reasoning seems to be stated in a foreign language. What are you people even talking about? Are you all crazy? You say you see things I don’t see at all. You all seem to be hearing something where there is no voice. You are just praying into the air. There is nothing there; just silence. The universe is an accident of matter in the void. There is no meaning. Death waits.
That is a much more difficult kind of person to talk theology with (theology just being the study of God either through the Bible or philosophy). We seem to lack a common language through which we can communicate. Polite discussions readily breakdown into angry debates or muted silence. Religious people get defensive and begin to attack non-religious people themselves; non-religious people often feel that there is some kind of trick in the entire discussion or that they are being asked to check their brain at the door. Really neither of these extremes is very helpful.
If we take revelation (the Bible) seriously, we see that the vast majority of bad people within it were if anything, deeply religious. We also see some of the most important figures of the most excellent faith came from either irreligious or questionable moral backgrounds so that the entire mode of insulting the unbeliever becomes immediately off limits within the scope of Christian practice. Doesn’t it say in regard to dealing with those that disagree with us, “deal with every one with gentleness and respect, hoping that God will bring them to a knowledge of the truth.”? That might be a difficult burden to bear but it does not seem to be Christian optional.
As to the antitheists or the merely un-religious, the common claims of the absence of intellectually credible Christian thought seem fragile when compared to the commanding history of philosophy, science, and religion that seems to be the very foundation of the most recognized aspects of Western intellectual culture. Not that Western is to be inherently prized above Eastern or Southern or Northern, but as non-theism (the belief that there is no God) seems to be a particularly Western infatuation it is best to focus on that way of thinking. Theism (the belief in a God) is intellectually defensible. More than that, it is philosophically defensible. More than even that, to the vast majority of the people in the world through out all ages of human history, it seems vastly superior to any non-theistic interpretation of who and what we are and our place in the universe, if not to our understanding of the universe itself. This, of course, does not make it true, but it might lead one to think that the chorus of voices so intent on singing the song of an indefensible faith have not seriously studied their music. Had the faith of the faithful been as weak as men claim, it would long ago have been lost in the dust of history; as it is our engagement with God seems more vibrant than ever, and this in the intellectual and not merely the spiritual ways of thinking.