How do you know God exists? (Part 2)

This is another one of the major reasons why I believe we can trust that God does indeed exist:

Clue #2 – “Beauty and Desire”

Each of us here are moved by certain things that we consider to be beautiful (may be a sight like the ocean or a mountain range or a sunset, may be a sound – a certain melody played by an artist you love, may be a painting, may be an impossible catch or shot made by a player on your favorite sports team at the end of the game, may be a certain person from the opposite sex that you just find stunning) – whatever it may be, it’s that thing that fills your soul with a sense of life and hope and vigor and joy and ultimately meaning – we call these things “beautiful”. They capture us, arresting our attention, elevating us to heights of praise and adoration we don’t often feel.

A man by the name of Leonard Bernstein once said of the effect Beethoven (German composer) had on him, “Beethoven…turned out pieces of breath-taking rightness. Rightness–that’s the word! When you get the feeling that whatever note succeeds the last is the only possible note that can rightly happen at that instant, in that context, then chances are you’re listening to Beethoven. Melodies, fugues, rhythms–leave them to the Tchaikovskys and Hindemiths and Ravels. Our boy has the real goods, the stuff from Heaven, the power to make you feel at the finish: Something is right in the world. There is something that checks throughout, that follows its own law consistently: something we can trust, that will never let us down.”

Each of us have felt that way about something beautiful, have we not? But if there is no God who desires through things beautiful to give us a taste of himself, then what you are perceiving as “beautiful” and meaningful is an illusion – is nothing more than a purely neurological response to a certain set of data. If we are just random accidents in the universe and our every operation and response and emotion is simply us adapting and evolving to survive, then you can throw out “love” and “joy” and “fulfillment” as simply ‘bio-chemical responses, inherited from ancestors who survived because this trait helped them survive.’

But there is real meaning in life isn’t there. One author said, “regardless of the beliefs of our mind about the random meaninglessness of life, before the face of beauty we know better.”

“So what!” somebody might object, “Just because we feel something (like God) is true doesn’t make it true!” But let’s be honest, we’re not only dealing with feelings here, we’re dealing with desires and appetites for things.

Let me explain: Suppose you feel the desire for a steak dinner. Now just because you desire it doesn’t mean you will get to eat a steak dinner, but the fact that you are hungry does mean that food exists. And isn’t this true of all natural desires, that they correspond to real things? Doesn’t our sexual desire correspond to sex and our physical appetite correspond to food and tiredness correspond to sleep and relational desires correspond to friendship. You see, feelings are really the expression of desire and appetite. And our desires and appetites always correspond to real things.

Why, then, do we feel the desire for beauty, for the eternal, for meaning? Don’t these, likewise, qualify as innate desires of all humans? We have longing for things (love, joy and beauty) that nothing in this world can satisfy (no amount of food or sex or money or power). “We want something that nothing in this world can fulfill.” That, my friends, is a major clue that there is “Something” real that corresponds to our unfulfillable desires. Those of us who are Christians in this room know what that Something is. CS Lewis said it well, “If we find ourselves with a desire which nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Living in the longing,

John Overton

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