We ate lunch with a friend of ours who pastors a church in a nearby county. Silver already told him a couple weeks ago about our unbelief, so the pressure was off. Although he still considered us friends, his perspective about us and our belief was condescending and demeaning. In his mind, our atheism made sense because the god we believed in before wasn’t the true god, wasn’t his god. He wouldn’t listen to us at all. Most of what he said frustrated me, but one suggestion he had was legitimate.
“Your analogy of comparing your belief in Santa to your belief in God isn’t valid. You have no evidence to believe in Santa, none whatsoever. But you have plenty of evidence to believe in God. Put the shelf back up guys.”
What he means by evidence is that which can’t be obviously explained away. What he means by a shelf is a place to put that which doesn’t make sense with our current paradigm. So, I’ve decided to go ahead and list the “real miracles” that I’ve experienced in my life that I can’t explain away. Not because I’ll believe in God again because of it, but to just allow myself to be intellectually honest. There are still many things I don’t know or understand.
The God Shelf
- My wrists hurt for years. Frequent playing of piano and nonstop computer typing in college caused carpal-tunnel-like sharp pain that prevented me from my everyday tasks and freely worshipping God via music. One day, my friend prayed for me. As she was praying, I felt warmth throughout my wrists and the pain was instantly gone. I’ve never had to wear the wrist guards since then.
- Silver’s little sister (she was 3) refused to talk to me. Ever. She would run away from me for months; I didn’t even know she could talk. One evening, Silver and I prayed for his family. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would set his little sister free. We visited his family the next day, and it was like a switch went off in his sister. She would not stop talking to me and took me by the hand to show me her room, toys, and all her cool places where she plays.
- Knowledge I felt God gave me about others that I wouldn’t otherwise know, including strangers. Vivid dreams that have revealed direction or instruction to me while I sleep.
- Praying for a man whose knee was in chronic pain, and as we were praying he was healed and could jump around — the first time in ages.
- My charismatic experiences: Example: An “anointed” man touched me and a force that “felt” beyond myself (I had no conscious control, regardless), threw me to the ground and I was filled with uncontrollable joy; I couldn’t stop laughing, no matter how hard I tried.
- Secondhand stories of physical healings and miraculous experiences
- The origin of life
- Statistical unlikelihoods
- Beauty. Beauty in nature, in experiences, in love.
I’ll probably come up with more, in time. But, as I have said to Christian friends who use things like this to try to prove there is a God,
“Just because it can’t be explained doesn’t mean it is God. Just because you have an answer for these things doesn’t mean it is the right one.”
I still hold that to be true. There are likely deep psychological and pyschosomatic processes within the human body that we don’t understand that is responsible for many of these things. But just because we haven’t discovered it yet doesn’t mean “therefore God.” How many times throughout human history were deities assigned responsibility for supposedly supernatural things that were later explained by science?