Is God real? Just about everyone asks that question at some point in their lives. But the reasons someone asks if God is real could vary from person to person. It’s a question religious and nonreligious people alike are prone to ask too.
Some people wonder about it when bad things happen to them or in their community. This could be after a broken marriage, the loss of a close friend or family member or after an act of terrorism.
During these unusually tough times, people can assume that if there really was a God, especially a good one, He wouldn’t have let these terrible things happen. And so, some conclude God either isn’t real, He’s dead, or He’s at least indifferent or malicious.
Others may wonder if God’s real out of anger or bitterness. Perhaps they feel they’ve been dealt a difficult lot in life and are resentful and hurt as a result. A lot of little frustrations and worries add up to big-time struggles for them.
Another possibility is you prayed during a time of great need but things still went badly for you. You feel like God let you down in such a big way that you’re not even sure He’s real. Many other situations could prompt the ‘is God real’ question as well.
So, is the term “God” just another word we should use interchangeably with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny? Ultimately, that’s a question we all have to personally decide on.
For some of you, it’s not even a question—you strongly believe in God. Others may go back and forth on the matter while still others reading this may confidently say, “There is no God,” or, “God is dead.”
Regardless of where you find yourself, if you’ve landed here, you’re likely searching for answers. As you work through this question, here’s a bit more to think about on the topic of, “Is God real?”
Putting God in a Test Tube
When people ask, “is God real," what they want most is an indisputable ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. For that to happen, the first thing we need to do is grab a hold of God and put Him in a test tube. We need to find concrete physical evidence of this Highest Being. Then, once we’ve identified beyond any doubt that God exists, we can declare He’s real.
But as we all know, it’s not that simple. No one can see God, let alone place Him in a test tube. What we’re left with then is faith. We have to believe in God even though we can’t see Him or give up believing in Him at all.
If we can’t place God in a test tube or construct a ‘science fair project’ that concludes beyond all doubt that God exists, is there anything else we can do? Although the lack of physical evidence can be frustrating, I believe there are some things we can do. Let’s look at a few of them.
Is There Any Evidence of God?
There actually is a lot of evidence for God all around us. The challenge is that every one of those proofs could be turned on their heads by someone who doesn’t believe in God.
Why? Because we generally only see what we want to see when it comes to our worldview. That isn’t to say the arguments against the existence of God are equally compelling. I, for one, don’t believe they are.
Regardless of what belief system we choose, faith is always required. There will always be aspects of our belief system we can’t adequately prove beyond all doubt. In light of that, in part, it comes down to which faith takes less faith to believe. For me, that’s Christianity.
Don’t pay so much attention to what you and others say they believe. Look at what you do. What we do and how we live is the strongest evidence of what our belief systems really are.
As said earlier, God can’t be placed in a ‘test tube’. Still, here are several thoughts to consider for the existence of God. These are not shared too arrogantly or dogmatically attack others who don’t believe the same way. Rather, they’re mentioned as examples to encourage the possibility that God could be who He says He is as shared in the Bible.
One thing that baffles scientists is the idea of human consciousness. No one can argue against the fact that human consciousness is completely different from that of the animals.
There’s no discernible structural difference in the human brain when compared with an advanced mammal that would account for the incalculable complexities of human consciousness when compared with animal consciousness. That presents a sizable enigma for scientists who believe the physical or material realm is all that exists.
Could further study eventually unlock this mystery? It could. But it’s also highly possible that all the studies in the world won’t. That’s because evidence of human consciousness could be tied to an immaterial soul that has different laws governing it. It may never be discernible ‘under a microscope’. Yet we’re walking examples that the breath of life or soul God breathed into each of is real.
Right and Wrong
We now move on from human consciousness to the human conscience. We all have an inherent standard of right and wrong within us. Sure, each of us has differences in how we interpret what’s right and wrong. But, where did that highly unique sense of good and evil that we simply can’t shake come from?
Even staunch atheists can see that certain acts are kind or morally good while others are unkind or morally bad. Further, society would crumble to pieces if we all decided there was no such thing as right or wrong. A long list of laws exist and authorities earn their bread by confronting people who break those laws and threaten the safety of society.
What if we decided there was no such thing as right or wrong, and we lived out that belief in its entirety? For instance, we took whatever we wanted from others without permission because it seemed to be ‘in our best interest’. We’d get into serious trouble and be told in no uncertain terms by societal law that what we were doing was completely unacceptable.
Where does that sense of morality come from? Even if we say it doesn’t exist, our lives will still go wrong in a big way if we ignore it. In light of that, does it make more sense that such a thing evolved over millions of years or that it was placed there by our Creator?
What About Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)?
For thousands of years, people have reported leaving their bodies after seemingly dying and then re-entering their earthly bodies. This has become all the more common as technology has artificially allowed us to prolong life, making the discernible point of death a little fuzzier.
Of course, as Christians, we believe these experiences need to be evaluated in light of the Scriptures. We don’t want to be led astray by accounts that aren’t biblical. At the same time, many near-death accounts have surprising similarities to each other and don’t necessarily contradict the scriptures.
Nearly all NDE’s begin with the spirit of a person leaving their physical body. These accounts are often described as a state of hyper-reality. In other words, events are reported to happen in the spirit realm and are described as ‘realer than real’ in comparison to the earthly realm.
Many of these accounts include traveling through a dark tunnel with a light at the end. Some people report observing what’s going on in their hospital room in their spirit while their body has seemingly ‘died’. They share things that happened in the room they couldn’t have known if they’d simply been dead or unconscious. Some even report visiting a place of bliss or torment and seeing spirit beings including God and Jesus. Interestingly, atheists along with religious people have shared similar accounts.
Those who report coming back from such adventures often experience drastic and positive life changes as a result of what happened. Although some who haven’t reported having an NDE explain these experiences away, is it possible they’re a brief glimpse into the eternity that awaits all of us beyond this fleeting life?
One thing’s for sure. Those who have such experiences cannot be convinced otherwise. They don’t seem nearly as concerned of what others think as they are about sharing their life-changing event with others. Some even become Christians after coming back from an NDE.
Having said that, some of these accounts are denied later on. One well-known example is the story of Alex Malarkey. He’s the child the ‘Heaven is For Real’ book was written about after he was involved in a nearly life-threatening car crash as a six-year-old. Although he initially said he had a near-death experience where he went to heaven, he later said he made the whole thing up. Even so, many NDE accounts seem quite compelling such as Richard Cole’s story.
Again, these thoughts aren’t meant to scientifically prove beyond all doubt that God exists. Instead, they’re shared as food for thought to consider the possibility that God is real.
Deep Down, We All Believe God Exists (According to the Scriptures)
When wondering if God is real, ironically, you only have to look as far as yourself. Not only are you, “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as the psalmist, David, shared. According to the Bible, there’s no such thing as a ‘real atheist’.
We understand what someone means when they say they’re an atheist. And, even as Christians, it can be easy to think atheists don’t believe in God. But the Scriptures set forth a different idea.
Deep down, we all inherently know there’s a God. We’re masters at suppressing this truth through sinful practices, but the reality persists. As the old saying goes, “There are no atheists in a foxhole.”
Here’s how the Apostle Paul described the impossibility of a real atheist:
“But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:18-20)
Once things get bad enough, we know God’s there whether we consciously realized it before. On the subconscious level, we’re hardwired to know that God is real.
Music artist NF’s song, ‘Oh Lord’ illustrates this verse well. We don’t naturally seek God. Rather, we suppress his reality:
“You see the same God that we’re sayin’ might not even exist
Becomes real to us, but only when we’re dyin’ in bed
When you’re healthy, it’s like, we don’t really care for Him then
Leave me alone God, I’ll call you when I need you again…"
All of us walk around each day with God’s undeniable fingerprint stamped on us. But, without even knowing it, we instinctively live a life of denial of that reality.
Dr. Jason Lisle, in his article with ‘Answers in Genesis’ entitled What is the Best Argument for the Existence of God, put it poignantly when he said that, “God doesn’t believe in atheists.”
Lisle goes on to say, “The atheist is intellectually schizophrenic—believing in God, but believing that he does not believe in God.”
Based on this truth, then, Lisle shares that we don’t necessarily need to prove to an atheist that God is real. Ironically enough, he or she already believes that. Instead, we need to do our best to draw out what they already believe but have suppressed through their rejection of God and the resulting sinful lifestyle that follows.
There’s one more thing we lack if we aren’t careful. If we think ‘being right’ is more important than being loving in our arguments, we miss the point as a Christian. It’s love that draws unbelievers to God, not harshly presented truth. One has to wonder, then, if truth presented unkindly is really truth at all. It certainly isn’t its purest form. After all, we know from the Scriptures that, “God’s kindness leads us to repentance.”
What makes God’s truth so compelling is that there’s a way to completely escape the anger spoken of in Romans chapter one. The salvation and forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ is the only way to be cleared of our sin and guilt and to be declared righteous before God.
So, while it’s a terrifying thought to have God angry with us, there’s still hope. By turning to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sin, we can become a child of God and his friend. Once this happens, at death, we enter his presence and will always be with God and his people.
The Scriptures share that not only is God real, but He loves you. Because God is sinless, your relationship with Him has been broken because of your wrongdoing. But He was unwilling to leave you that way. That’s why He sent Jesus, his only Son and part of the Godhead, to live a perfect life on Earth.
He was accused and murdered although He’d done nothing wrong. And those who trust in Him for salvation will be cleared of their guilt. The payment Jesus satisfied on the cross will be credited to our sin debt account. All sins past, present and future will be forgiven and right standing with God from that moment through all eternity will be achieved.
Sin Has Made It Harder to See God
Whether you know Jesus as your Savior or not, you have one thing in common. Sin has made it harder to see God. We see that in Romans chapter one as shared earlier. Our sin causes us to suppress the truth before we have a saving relationship with God.
But that can also happen after becoming God’s child if we’re not careful. If we don’t take sin seriously, it can blind us to the incredible love God has for us. It can also make us feel disillusioned about life and God’s plan for us.
That’s why Jesus said:
“Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Denial of God, deep down, is not an intellectual problem. Rather, it’s a problem of the heart. Our sinful actions, thoughts and failure to do the right thing go against the heart of God. The more we become unlike God, the harder it becomes to see that God exists. And it becomes more difficult yet to believe that He’s good or has kind plans for us.
What’s the answer to doubting the existence of God? First, if you don’t know Jesus, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved from the penalty of your sins. The penalty for our sin is unspeakably steep. It’s eternal punishment and separation from God. But the sacrifice of Jesus brings us into the blissful presence of a restored relationship with God.
If you’re a child of God, do what it takes to get rid of sin in your life. That may mean confessing your sin to someone you can trust and admitting the specifics of it to God. It’ll also require daily dependence on God as you trust in his empowerment to increasingly deliver you from the grip of sin.
All People Struggle to See God as He Is
The reality is we all struggle to see God. We all exist somewhere on the spectrum of being close to God or far from Him. Some of us are so far from God that we can’t recognize He exists. But even those who are closest to Him can struggle to find Him at times.
After losing his children, his health and his wealth, Job was crushed. God considered Job a man who walked with Him like no other of the ancient world of that time. Still, Job went through difficulty in seeing God like he wanted to, especially during such terrible grief. Here’s how Job described it:
“Look, I go forward, but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;
When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-10)
What was Job essentially saying? “No matter what I do or where I go, I can’t find God.” And this was the man who was closer to God than any other person on the earth at that time! If you read through the book of Job, you’ll find a man of intense struggle and despair.
But what was Job’s conclusion? “Even though I can’t find God anywhere when I need Him more than I ever have, I trust that He’ll use this suffering for good in my life. He will purify my life in the fires of adversity until I come out like refined gold.”
Regardless of whether you’re the most righteous or sinful person on earth or anywhere in between, one thing will be true of your life. You’ll struggle to see God rightly if at all. But your closeness to God will determine how you handle such a trial.
Most if not all of us in Job’s shoes would’ve failed the test. We could’ve easily said the first part of that verse. It would’ve been no problem for us to say, “I can’t find God anywhere. I’m not sure if He even exists.”
Where Job departed from most of us was this: He was able to come to the right conclusion about God during the worst imaginable circumstances. At best, it felt like God had abandoned him. At worst, it felt like God didn’t even exist. But because of Job’s close relationship with God, he was able to not only have faith in the existence of God but believe He’d eventually work his tragedy for good.
Despite how Job felt, he knew that somehow everything would work out. Although he didn’t know how it would happen, he believed in the goodness of God and that God loved him. He trusted that God would make him a stronger and better person because of his adversity.
How to Deal with An Absent God (Or One Who Doesn’t Seem Real)
The struggle for the unbeliever is that they aren’t even looking for God until He gets their attention. Oh, they may play along like they’re looking for Him, but that’s an impossibility until God draws them to Himself.
But the pursuit of God and the struggle to find Him certainly doesn’t go away after we’re God’s child. Even those closest to God throughout the Bible couldn’t escape feeling abandoned at times. This included the Apostle Paul, Elijah, Joseph, King David and even Jesus.
Christian music artist, Chris Rice, shared about his own struggle to find God in a unique way. Here’s how he described it in his song, ‘Smell the Color 9’:
“Cause I can sniff, I can see, and I can
Count up pretty high; but these faculties
Aren’t getting me any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin’ so
I know I’m doin’ fine but sometimes findin
You is just like tryin to smell the color nine
Smell the color nine…
Nine’s not a color…
And if even if it was you can’t smell a color,no
That’s my point exactly.”
But just like Job, Rice was able to see through faith that everything would be okay in the end. Even though he was perplexed by what felt like the absence of God, in his heart, Rice knew that it wouldn’t always be this way. And, deep down, he knew that God would take care of him.
In Conclusion: We’ll Struggle to Fully Connect With God Until We’re Home
There are more reasons than we’ll probably ever understand as to why it can be so hard to find God in this life. We’ve already mentioned how sin can blind us to the reality of God and rob us of closeness with Him.
There’s more to it than that, though. For instance, sometimes God withdraws his conscious presence from us to challenge and test us. He wants us to strengthen our faith muscles. He wants us to learn to have a stronger belief in who He says He is.
If you’re feeling abandoned by God as his child at the moment, take heart. God has it all under control. This life is very temporary and it can be incredibly tough at times. But it’s not God’s will for his children to struggle to see Him forever.
Soon enough, all of his children will be with Him in heaven and never again will struggle to see or find Him as they did on earth. He will always be with them and the indescribable joy of his children because of his presence will go on through all eternity.
Maybe you consider yourself an atheist at the moment or you’re undecided. Deep in your heart, though you may not realize it, you know God is real. Ask God to help you see Him like you never have before. He loves finding lost people and helping them to get on the right path.
Yes, there is more than enough room in God’s family for you. And there’s more than enough room in God’s eternal heaven for you. And the joy in your heart after finding your Creator will never be extinguished!