If you cringe at authority concerning other things in life the way you do at religion you would have to be content to know nothing all of your life. Most of the things we know in this world come from authority. All this really means is that you believe certain things because you get the information from a trustworthy source. People believe in the concept of the solar system, the existence of the atom, and evolution because a scientist or teacher explained it to them. In fact, every historical statement in this world is believed because of authority. No one alive today was present during the Revolutionary War. We believe it happened because we are told it happened.
The point here is that information that is passed to people throughout history is done so on the sole basis of authority. It is a legitimate way of receiving information, otherwise we must be content to only know the things we experience or witness direct from an original source. We would have a closed-minded life indeed if we did the latter.
So, what’s the problem with God then? Why do some people not believe in him? The strange thing is, people are less inclined to believe in God, yet they have no problem believing in the existence of the atom, though most of them have never seen one. It still takes an authority to explain the atom. Nevertheless, the ones who have seen the atom first hand must accept another’s authority in scientific fields they themselves are not authorities in. So, it would seem, there is an endless need for authority. Let’s not forget, however, that these authorities are just as fallible as you and I.
We accept one authority and reject another, but why? We heap to ourselves teachers that tell us what we want to hear. We are always learning, but much of the truth we believe we will never witness to be true ourselves. Sadly, truth takes a backseat to our agenda. Truth then, only stays truth if it happens to fit our views of life.
Does God exist or not? Well, that depends on who you are listening to, and who you trust. It is still up to each man to make his own decision, regardless of what fallible authorities say. Only a first hand experience with God can convince you otherwise, and that takes a little faith. I wouldn’t cringe at the word “faith” either. You already have faith in the authority of your teachers. You can’t say you don’t have any. It’s just a matter of where you place it.
***Update*** See Side Notes April 27, 2010