“One Nation Under God?” That was the headline of the lead article in this week’s New York Times Sunday Review section. The very smart Molly Worthen led with the standard news about the increasing number of Americans who say they have no religion: 20 percent in an October Pew poll, up from 16 percent four years ago.
The God Problem.That’s the title of the University of California Press’s new book by Princeton professor Robert Wuthnow. He examined various atheistic jottings and concluded, “The critics of religion are absolutely correct about one thing: There is a God problem. Belief in God is a dubious conviction. There is no getting around it.”
God problem? How do so many bright folks get it completely backward? We have no God problem. Anyone who thinks there is no God has a problem. That problem: We find ourselves in an existence we didn’t ask for on a world made for human beings. Atheists who think there’s nothing supernatural about this hugely unnatural situation are the ones with a problem.
The late great novelist Walker Percy put it well: A person who does not believe in God “finds himself born into a world of endless wonders, having no notion how he got here, a world in which he eats, sleeps … works, grows old, gets sick, and dies, and is quite content to have it so. … He takes his comfort and ease, plays along with the game, watches TV, drinks his drink, laughs, curses politicians … for all the world as if his prostate were not growing cancerous, his arteries turning to chalk, his brain cells dying off by the millions, as if the worms were not going to have him in no time at all.”
Percy concludes about the unbeliever, “The more intelligent he is, the crazier he is. He becomes a professor and forms an interdisciplinary group. He reads Dante for its mythic structure. He joins the ACLU and concerns himself with the freedom of the individual and does not once exercise his own freedom to inquire into how in God’s name he should find himself in such a ludicrous situation.”
The Bible regularly shows how God does odd things—but none as odd as the story of our existence in His absence. Sun stands still? Not as odd as a sun being there at all. The Son of God emerging from the womb of a human mom? Not as odd as that mother being there at all.