As they sat on the soft lounge chairs, he picked up a cup of coffee, stirred it slowly and said,
"Reverend, would you mind if I ask you a few questions about …about 'God,' and His existence? I'm an educated man and I tend to lean toward atheism, so I would like you to tell me why you have a belief in a Creator when there is so much evidence in the other direction." Reverend Smalley smiled and said "I would be happy to try and answer any questions, if will you stop calling me Reverend. I’m Edwin."
"Sure. Here’s my question. I can understand why Connie suddenly wanted to come to church. Death is a very scary thing and that's when 'faith' comes in handy. My own father prayed when the Nazis were heading for Poland. I spent four years fighting with the French resistance, and I would be a liar if I said that I never prayed when things were tough. But that's my point, when things get difficult, we all need to look to 'God' or the bottle--something to pull us through.
“I remember praying once and even being convinced that God answered my prayer, but I was backed into a corner and couldn't do anything but pray. I’m sure what I then thought was an answer to prayer, was nothing but a coincidence.
"Then there is actual evidence against the existence of God. First, there is the ever-present issue of suffering. If a God of love existed, He wouldn't allow it. What father would let his children starve to death, as we have seen happen in China in years past? Or what father would let his child suffer with cancer when he could easily cure him, as in the case of Connie?
"Second, what proof is there for His existence anyway? You can't hear Him, see Him, touch Him, taste Him or smell Him. All I ever hear when it comes to God is, 'You've got to have faith.' Well, I'm sorry Reverend . . . uh Edwin . . . I don't want 'faith,' I want good hard concrete evidence."
Jerry sipped his coffee, then put his cup to one side, shuffled a little in his seat and said,
"I must say I feel a little uncomfortable. Here I am a guest in your house, and I guess I have shaken your faith a little."
To his surprise, Edwin didn't look one bit shaken. He smiled politely and said,
"I had exactly the same sentiments for years. If I gave you a book, would you take the time to read it and get back to me with your thoughts? It's about atheists. It's called, God Doesn't Believe in Atheists. If you take the ti . . . "
Jerry lifted up his hand before he could finish his sentence and said,
"I really don't think it will help." The minister smiled in that he had uncovered the fact that Jerry wasn't asking questions at all, but merely airing his beliefs. He said,
"So, you are pretty sure of your facts?" Jerry was quick to respond,
"Sure? To be quite honest, I haven't begun to bring out all the other evidence to support atheism--the fact of evolution—you can’t argue with science, the hypocrisy in the Church, the hateful doctrine of Hell, and the fact that Hitler was a Christian. " Reverend Smalley leaned forward a little and said,
"May I ask you a couple of questions?"
"Why not? Go ahead" Jerry retorted confident that he could handle anything the minister had.
"Look at my house. See the windows, the door frames, the interior paneling, the wallpaper, the electrical wiring, the tiles on the roof, etc. If I asked you if there was a builder, what would you say to me?"
Jerry's face revealed that he thought the question to be absurd and his tone carried a slight impatience as he said,
"The building exists; therefore there must be a builder. Buildings don’t make themselves. I don’t see your point."
"But I can't see him, hear him, touch, taste or smell him. What actual proof is there that he exists?"
Jerry shuffled in his seat and quietly said,
"What then would you think of my mental capacity if I told you that there was no evidence that there was a builder? What would you think of my intellect, if I said to you that I really believed that this house; with all the concrete, nails, glass, door frames, paneling, etc., happened by pure chance, by accident?"
Suddenly, it seemed like a light switched on in Jerry's head. He thought for a moment and said, "I would think that you were a fool."
“Here’s the second question. As an atheist, you believe that nothing created everything . . . a scientific impossibility?” Jerry didn’t answer. “You can’t truly believe that creation, or as a professing atheist you may call it “Nature,” made itself. This is because if it made itself, it had to pre-exist befor it made itself to be able to have the ability to make itself. So, you are stuck with the scientific impossibility of believing that nothing created everything.”
Jeremiah rubbed his chin thoughtfully, and said, “No, I don’t believe that. Obviously something created everything, I just be;lieve that it was God, and particularly not the ‘Christian’ God.”
“So Jeremiah, you’re not an atheist. You are what’s called an ‘agnostic.’ You believe that there was or is some sort of creative force. “
To be continued...