Why Do You Believe in God?

March 26, 2009

I recently came across a blog of an atheist named Katie soliciting believers for why they believe what they do.  I took the opportunity to respond.  I’ve reproduced my comment here, because it sums up my faith pretty well.

1. Why do you believe in God?

I’ll grant that my upbringing played a huge role, but I feel that I’ve grown beyond the testimony of my parents and I have learned who God is independently. My belief began as a small seed, planted in my heart, which I nurtured carefully through prayer, scripture-study, fasting, and attending church, etc.

I have seen and felt personal evidences that Father is looking out for me and others, and although any doubter could systematically dismiss them as coincidences or cognitive dissonance, I know that I have felt the peaceful comfort of the Holy Ghost. It is enough for me. The more I feel the witness of the Holy Ghost, the more sense everything makes and the more comfort I feel.

2. Why do you believe in your particular god?

You could make the case that I didn’t give the other gods a chance. You might say I’m only a product of my culture, but I will tell you that there is something deeply significant with the story of Jesus.

It’s concrete; He actually lived, and died. Then, He lived again, according to countless witnesses. It’s practical; He saves us from our own evil, while making us good. It’s universal; His story dovetails perfectly with ancient Judaism and (according to Mormonism) his gospel reaches far beyond first century Israel into ancient America and other locations, into the realm of the dead, into the pre-earth spirit world, and into modern times.

But mostly it’s because of the relationship I’ve developed with God through prayer. The best thing I ever did to solidify my sometimes wavering faith was to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it were true.

When I learned from Him that it is true, I knew I could trust Joseph Smith as a legitimate prophet. Once this foundation was laid, it became much easier to believe, and I began to see the fruits (evidences) of my faith more abundantly.

Why do you believe in God?  How would you respond?

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6 Responses to “Why Do You Believe in God?”

  1. Kevin Christensen

    I published an essay on this very topic, from which I offer the following:

    If approached without reference to any particular doctrinal interpretation, Ian Barbour suggests that these kinds of experience can serve as a common ground for discussion, a place of solid footing, a point of little disputed reference from which to examine the varied interpretations and traditions. Those I shall discuss in this paper (following Barbour) can be seen as generally framing a movement:
    (a)From responses to external impressions regarding:
    Order and creativity in the world
    The common mythic symbols and patterns underlying most religious traditions
    Key historical events that define separate traditions and bind individuals

    (b)Through the innermost experiences of the individual:
    Numinous awe and reverence
    Mystical union
    Moral obligation
    Reorientation and Reconciliation with respect to personal sin, guilt, and weakness, the existence of evil, suffering, and death, and tensions between science and faith.

    (c)Then returning to the external world as human action:
    Personal dialogue where you begin interpret external events as God speaking to you, and you answer through your own actions.
    Social and Ritual behavior

    These matters cannot objectively prove the existence of a God (whether personal or impersonal), but, as I hope to demonstrate, they do constitute the core of religious experience for believers. They provide the ground of experience on which reasoned and feeling assessments of the validity and worth of faith are based. They encompass the ways in which spirituality is manifest in history and symbol. They are the wine—and doctrine the wine-bottles. To argue and contend about doctrine is to emphasize the wine skin over the wine. In Alma’s terms, it is to emphasize what you think you “know” over what ultimately gives “cause to believe” (Alma 32:18).

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park, PA

  2. Hi,
    I, too, am L.D.S. I stumbled on your blog tonight and am so happy I did. You have a very intelligent, educated, and respectful approach to some difficult topics.

    As far as answering your question, I have one simple answer: I believe in God because I NEED to. My belief keeps my life vital and in tact. Atheism feels like a black hole to me. Belief is fulfillment.

  3. Thaddeus — I don’t know why it took me so long to come across this post, but I just saw it. I must say, your response was wonderful and I really enjoyed reading what you have to say.

    I often find it difficult to explain to the faithful why I do not believe in god. My reasons are very clear to me, but they often just do not make sense to believers. I think of “aha” moments (light bulb moments, revelatory moments) when I think of people’s convictions. Someone can tell you why they believe or why they don’t believe, but until you have an “aha” moment either way, it doesn’t necessarily “sink in.”

    See? I’m inarticulate even now! 🙂

    Anyway, my point here is that I truly appreciated your answer to that question and found it illuminating and very well put.

  4. David

    LDS practice Polygamy in the Temple. My neighbor and Bishop has married his second wife. He said he will have two wives in the Celestial Kingdom.

  5. Thaddeus

    David, good point. Eternal marriage is available to everyone, and if we stay true to our covenants, even a person’s first love who has died may be reunited with them after the resurrection.

    It’s a powerful and uplifting doctrine. I’m curious why you brought it up here, though. Definitely wasn’t the topic at hand…

    Let’s continue the discussion of plural marriage here.

  6. Brandon

    Just stumbled onto this in trying to understand why people believe the things they do. One question — how do you know that the feelings you’ve felt are the Holy Ghost talking to you? Peaceful feelings are wonderful, but I’m trying to understand how you made the jump from feeling peaceful to knowing that the Spirit is talking to you. Can you elaborate?