3 reasons why people doubt God's existence
Life is hard. Then you throw in a tragedy or disappointment in the mix, and the average person asks, “If God exists, where was He?” Everyone either knows someone who has asked this question or has asked it themselves. There are different reasons why a person would doubt the existence of God. Circumstances play a very large part. Here are a few to consider.
1. Emotional doubt
When one doubts that God exists either because something terrible happened to them or because one was disappointed by another person or a church, this is emotional doubt. This is when we hear, “Why did God let my loved one die?” Or “Why did God let that happen to me?” When this happens, we are tempted to think, “If God is all good, all loving, and all powerful, and He didn’t stop that tragedy, then He’s either not all good, all loving, and all powerful, or He just doesn’t exist.” This is an emotional response to an event that is likely to begin an about-face away from God in the heart of the person who is asking the questions.
The apostle Peter wrote that we should be on alert, that our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan waits for the chance to get into our heads, and says, “Jesus doesn’t exist. If He did, he would have prevented this from happening to me.” This is a lie from the pit of Hell. Let me remind you that Satan is a liar, and when he lies, he speaks his native language. For he is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44). The only way to get past those thoughts is to know Scripture. Even the Devil knows Scripture. He quoted it to Jesus when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
2. Moral doubt
Moral doubt is when someone is claiming that there is no God because they are engaging in some kind of sin or addiction, and they don’t want God to exist.
I had a friend text me one day. She said that she had a friend who had been raised in the Christian church, and now all of a sudden, this friend was asking questions about God’s existence, the problem of evil, etc. I started asking her questions about this “friend.” I asked her, what kind of objections she was bringing up about God. Why do you think she is doing so now? Her friend’s objections were all over the board. It was as though she were grasping at straws, trying to make God go away. When I realized this, I explained to her that sometimes when people are engaging in sin, they don’t want God to exist because now they would have to be accountable to God. She finally came back and told me that her “friend” was her son, and he was sleeping with his girlfriend. I told her that he doesn’t want God to exist because he knows he is engaged in sin. But that doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead and that Christianity isn’t true. That’s what I would tell him instead of playing whack-a-mole with him.
Moral doubt comes down to this — authority. In whom does one put their authority? In God, or in oneself? A person struggling with moral doubt wants to be one’s own God.
3. Intellectual doubt
Sometimes, people do have legitimate questions about Jesus and the resurrection. I did. I had questions like, what does it mean that Jesus died for our sins? Why did it have to be Him? Why did God choose Mary to be the virgin mother of Jesus? Why did Jesus come when he did? I had a lot of questions. It wasn’t enough for me to say I was a Christian. I wanted to know why I should be a Christian. Why is it so important? So, I went to a long-term and intense Bible study for several years, then seminary, after which I came out with not only answers but a much stronger faith. I studied apologetics because I don’t believe it’s enough for one to say they are a Christian without being able to explain why. If we don’t know why we are Christians, then how can we convince someone else that they should be? So, here’s what I learned. I am a Christian, not because my parents were Christians, or because Christianity was our family tradition. I am a Christian because Christianity is true.
Christianity is true because an event occurred
Here’s the thing, one may have legitimate questions, or objections to God’s existence because of one’s circumstances. But none of those have any bearing on the objective, historical fact that Jesus is God, and He rose from the dead, and that is what makes Christianity true.
The Bible gives eyewitness accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, and Flavius Josephus are just a few historians who were not Christians themselves, but who wrote about the historical accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There is also archeological evidence that the biblical accounts of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection are true.
Thinking with our feelings
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? What Jeremiah is telling us here is that our hearts can lie to us. When one is going through a trial or tragedy, it is dangerous to listen to feelings rather than what we know to be true. Feelings can lead us down a line of thinking that does not necessarily lead us to the truth, or the best decisions.
So, what’s the solution to thinking about our feelings? Know Scripture. If we know God’s promises, we can call those to mind when we need them, rather than thinking with our emotions and making lifetime decisions based on feelings instead of using critical thinking. What’s the solution to doubting God because of our circumstances? Know that history is true whether we believe it or not. It is not dependent on our circumstances. The resurrection is an objective, historical event that occurred in time. That claim is true regardless of our circumstances.
Claudia is a Christian apologist, national speaker, and blogger with a Master of Arts degree in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. She is on the speaking team for the Talbot Seminary of Biola On-The-Road Apologetics conferences, teaches Apologetics at her church, and leads the ladies Bible study. Claudia has been a repeat guest on the KKLA radio show in Los Angeles, Real Life With Gina Pastore and David James. Her blog posts have been published multiple times in The Poached Egg online apologetics magazine, and she is a contributing writer for Women In Apologetics. She blogs at Straight Talk With Claudia K. After raising two now adult sons, her focus now is to make an impact in the world for Christ.