A Response to Comments on "How Do We Know That God Is Real?"

image courtesy of duchesssa via sxc.hu
It was quite a firestorm last week. I re-posted an article that I had written a year earlier, when my son Elijah asked me, "How do we know that God is real?" I made the decision (maybe not the best one?) to post a link to this on a site where I figured it would get a little bit of a negative response. I underestimated.

Over 2000 views and almost 60 comments in the first few hours. Whereas it started on this particular site (reddit.com), I think it spread elsewhere. Page views kept trickling in over the next few days. Whoa, Nelly!

Like I said, maybe made a mistake by stirring up the hornets nest. I did not have the time to respond to comments as they came in, nor was that the intention of the post. But, part of me smiled knowing that there are certain buttons that you can press to bring about a response. I probably need to learn to be more of a peacemaker, huh?

Here are a few things that I learned from the comments and feedback I received, whether on the blog, email, Facebook, or verbally:
  1. I enjoy comments. If you have something to say, whether supportive or not, please say it. I always look forward to keeping the conversation going.
  2. I do enjoy comments that are civilly and thoughtfully presented. Some of the comments, even from an opposite perspective, I appreciated. Many self-proclaimed atheists presented logical arguments, and a few were upset at how other atheists conducted themselves.
  3. I don't enjoy mindless or profane comments. I had to remove a few that were unrelated babble or that were outright nasty.
  4. The purpose of the post was NOT apologetics. I did not intend to give a full evidential support about Creationism and the Resurrection. Give me some credit! Some commenters took a line or two, and assumed that was as deep as my thinking has gone. Trust me -- I am skeptical to the bone, and not afraid to question and say, "No." It was with much, much, much skepticism that I began to explore the claims of Christianity over 16 years ago.
  5. The purpose of the post was to illustrate how I talk with my kids. Dialogue (not just me "preaching") and questions are a great way for my growing kids to learn. I love that Elijah thinks of things like this, and that he feels comfortable asking me. This has come about through years of conversations and the grace of God, helping him feel safe with me.
  6. I want my kids to learn how to think. It's interesting the number of comments that referred to me being "abusive" or "deceiving" or "immoral" to my son. The whole point of the conversation was actually to encourage him to ask questions. I have never told him to "just believe blindly." I just shared why I believe. 
  7. My child's faith is not in my hands. In this case, I agree with the comments that I need to let my son make his own decision about God. I have to realize that Elijah's faith is really between him and God. Of course, my role as a Christian father is to encourage him in his faith, and to lead him in the path of truth, but ultimately I cannot control his spirituality. But I do trust in a loving and gracious Savior, and I pray for mercy on my kids' souls.

I did find this comment regarding my post on a separate site (not in my original link). It is from a strong atheist, and I appreciate his or her honesty and civility in these excerpts:
"This dad even mentions in the story that he wants his son to believe in God for his own reasons, and that one day he will have to believe in God for himself. This is EXACTLY what we want Christian parents to be like. This is a father who isn't angry his son is questioning at a young age, this is a show of tolerance in the most basic form we can hope for in a religious family (especially one willing to visit a Creationist Museum).
"I've noticed that a lot of people [on this forum] act like born-again Christians, finding a need to preach to every person who express their beliefs in public form, and not doing so in a polite way that implies a discussion or debate. . . .

"I also think the wording here implies that he expects his son to believe in his Christian beliefs later in life, but he's also not blindly telling his son "God just does exist, why would you not believe that?" and making him read scripture. He's explaining his own personal beliefs using opinion and hoping that his son understands where he's coming from. . . .

"My argument isn't even that this man is RIGHT, the fact that this story was tolerant in terms of Christian families was just a note. My argument is that we bandwagon against religion on [this forum] in the same way that religious people bandwagon against other religions."

Likewise, I am especially appreciative of words that are both encouraging and supportive. Comment #60 or so on the original post was from a Christ-follower, and included the Bible reference Matthew 5:11-12:
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Finally, I re-posted a particularly good rebuttal of many of the comments. It was a comment itself on the original article, but I thought it was worth highlighting.

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  1. Wow, glad the post got so many views and a big conversation going. I don't know how I missed it. I'll have to check it out!

  2. It was interesting, to say the least.

  3. I haven't had the opportunity to view all the comments from the previous post, but I read your post and thought it was good. While you may have felt your answer was clumsy, it seems fine to me. The fact that you spoke honestly and with integrity is what I think will matter most to your son and it IS encouraging to see other people recognize that- especially those who have no affinity for our beliefs whatsoever like that athiest redditor you quoted. While your post wasn't about being apologetic (as in regarding doctrine, not as in being remorseful), it reminded me a lot of part of a online Bible study that highlighted different topics- the first ones being about the nature of the Bible and the nature of G-d. What I found really profound and encouraging about those studies was that they highlighted the rational, deductive analysis that supports faith in G-d. To me at least there seems to be a message in secular society conveyed that faith is a feeling/ sensing based,arbitrary, subjective and nebulous notion; therefore, there can't be one true faith, faith is an ancillary life feature, and you just have to believe what seems right to you. I think that's a lousy and inaccurate philosophy that fosters all kinds of bad theology and corrupt morality. Yet knowing there are ways to objectively and empirically study the W-rd and nature of G-d and find convincing evidence to support His claims is so tremendously reassuring because it gives me a firm foundation for faith- especially one that I know is designed to be so contrary to mainstream culture. I love knowing that more than just believing in G-d, we have good and substantial reason to believe G-d. :)

    1. Thanks for your encouraging words! I like the think and figure things out (as best I can). It was that kind of investigation that led me to faith in Jesus. And I want my kids to do the same -- to own their faith as their own, not because I tell them to.

      Thanks for your insightful comments!