In Stephen Hawking’s last book, which will be published posthumously, he answers questions that he was asked most frequently. Among these is “Do you think God exists?” Hawking’s answer was essentially no, it is impossible that there is a god. This opinion of a renowned scientist contradicts what people of different cultures have believed down through the centuries. Humans have an innate sense that there is some high Being who created the world and has power over it. Primitive people worshiped spirits in trees and rivers, and some of them made their own gods out of wood and metal. The Romans and Greeks believed in a whole community of gods created in our likeness with Zeus Jupiter at the head. The Native Americans spoke to the Great Spirit. The Hindus have hundreds of “deities,” but these are only manifestations of the one God Brahmin. We Catholics, along with our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers, believe in one God.
St. Thomas Aquinas offered five arguments for the existence of God. These appeal to our intelligence. For example, there must have been a first cause. Science offers us the Big Bang Theory to explain the origin of the universe. But someone must have been created that tiny point that exploded into the universe.
God is incomprehensible, and as Moses Maimonides observed, “The only we can say is “God is not (this).” Yet we give God names that reflect who God is for us. We call God holy, the almighty, and spirit. The Hebrews called him El Shaddai. Muslims have 99 names for God, most prominently, Merciful. God revealed his personal name when he came to Moses via a burning bush: I am who am. The Hebrew word is YHWH, soft letters that are like a whisper. They mean “I will be who I will be,” sometimes translated, “I am there for you.”
It’s said that a little boy was asked, “Why do you believe in God?” He replied, “I guess that’s something that just runs in our family.” Most of us “inherited” our faith from our parents, but in time it deepened in our hearts because of our own experiences with God. At times things incredibly good things happen that are unexpected—an answer to prayer in a remarkable way, a chance meeting with someone, a passage in a book that touches us. These have been called lovebursts from God, or times God has winked at us. They are our personal “revelations.”
Of course, God had the courtesy to make Himself known in person by becoming one of us on planet Earth. Jesus told us to call God Father and Friend. Pondering Jesus and his loving actions, we come to realize that the best name for God is Love.
Why do you believe in God?