Once again I’ve been leafing through Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead: a beautiful book, perhaps my favorite novel. Tonight I came across this from her protagonist John Ames. He is an old man writing to a six-year-old son he will not see grow up.
If God is the Author of Existence, what can it mean to say God exists? There’s a problem in vocabulary. He would have to have a character before existence which the poverty of our understanding can only call existence. That is clearly a source of confusion. Another term would be needed to describe a state or quality of which we can have no experience whatever, to which existence as we know it can bear only the slightest likeness or affinity. So creating proofs from experience of any sort is like building a ladder to the moon. It seems it should be possible, until you stop to consider the nature of the problem.
So my advice is this — don’t look for proofs. Don’t bother with them at all. They are never sufficient to the question, and they’re always a little impertinent, I think, because they claim for God a place within your conceptual grasp. And they will likely sound wrong to you even if you convince someone else with them. That is very unsettling over the long term. “Let your works so shine before men,” etc. It was Coleridge who said Christianity is a life, not a doctrine, words to that effect. I’m not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you would make honest use of it. I’m saying the doubts and questions must be your own, not, so to speak, the mustache and walking stick that happen to be the fashion of any particular moment.