Premier Christian Radio’s “Unbelievable” show this week was a type of call-in with some atheists and agnostics asking questions of three studio guests from the UK Apologetics Facebook group. The first caller (a former believer who had lost his faith) wanted to know why God hadn’t provided more evidence for his existence. This was fielded by Ruth Preston who gave what most of us will recognise as a fairly standard answer to this (fairly standard) question. Her explanation was that:
- If God’s existence was beyond doubt, that would take away our free-will and
- God wishes us to love him of our own free-will.
Both parts of this answer strike me as being highly unsatisfactory.
- Knowing beyond doubt that God exists would not inevitably entail that we loved him. Traditional Christian dogma teaches that Lucifer rebelled against God, so presumably did not love him, although obviously he knew he existed.
- Love is never a matter of free-will. Last Sunday was Mothers’ Day. I am a mother and a daughter. I never chose to love my mother. I never chose to love my children. I can’t help but love them and I hope that they can’t help but love me. The lack of choice, far from diminishing the value of this love, in my view enhances it. It is visceral, not a matter of weighing up the options to come to some “rational” choice.
If loving God is a choice for Christians, I should really like to know how they exercised it and what the other options were. Was the only alternative to loving God hating him? Or being indifferent to him? Or were there a range of emotions to pick from? Might they (for instance) have chosen merely to quite like God? Or find him mildly irritating?
Could they have decided that they would not love God now, but would start loving him, say in five years time?
And what was it that made them eventually decide to plump for loving God, rather than any of the other options open to them?
I only ask because I want to know.