The Great Courses

The Un-Provable Parent

May 28, 2009 at 4:25 PM
6 years ago

Why our spiritual father should be more tangible than our physical one

I was born on April 12th, 1968 at St. John’s Hospital, just a few moments before the clock struck midnight. My twin sister was born 5 minutes before me.

I try to picture the scene in my mind. The doctor cuts the umbilical cord. The nurses clean me up and wrap me in a warm blanket. Helpless in a foreign environment, I’m immediately attended to from all sides and placed in the warmth of my mother’s arms.

From that moment, my parents’ every action bears proof of their love and devotion to me. Midnight feedings. Diaper changes. Nurture, care and protection.

When I enter school, they take great pains to ensure my education will be a sound one. They pack lunches, attend parent-teacher meetings, support my extra-curricular activities, and they become the disciplinarian when boundaries must be enforced.

As I reach adulthood, they serve with counsel and encouragement as I start a family of my own, never more than a phone call away in any crisis. They laugh with me, cry with me, share with me.

I can see them, hear them, smell them, touch them. There is never any doubt that they exist, they’re my guardians and loving parents, and I am their child.

Jehovah claims to be my father as well. But unlike my imperfect, human parents, He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and His love makes the love of my parents pale in comparison. He is the author of all things, and I (as a human) am His most cherished creation.

And how does my spiritual father demonstrate His love for me? He provides no tangible evidence of His existence whatsoever.

I can hug my earthly father. I can share conversations with my earthly mother. They can reach out and prove themselves, without a doubt.

But Jehovah insists on remaining invisible, appearing only in subjective, improvable manifestations that would generate wails of mockery if those scenarios were applied to my earthly parents:

“Hello my friends. Yes, my parents are here with me. They’re standing right here! Well, no, you can’t see them with your EYES. Yes, they speak to me, but nobody else can actually HEAR them. Yes, they embrace me, but not PHYSICALLY. Perfectly sensible. Wait…I’m receiving a message from Dad. He says I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, and I have a divine purpose. (sigh) They love me so much!”

As I recall, serial killers hear voices, too. So do schizophrenics. And drug users. And people who live in apartments with cheap insulation.

It seems ludicrous.

God created us as his treasured children in a physical and tactile world, and then provides absolutely no physical evidence of his existence.

Evidently, He decided that our proverbial ant farm would be a more interesting place if He placed us in the center, turned out the lights and allowed us to dig in every direction.

Being naturally curious creatures, we look to the sky (or the microscope) for answers, but instead of finding evidence of a loving parent (like in my delivery room on April 12th), we find a wondrous and complicated universe whose apparent designer has apparently stepped out for coffee.

Yes, yes, He’ll explain everything in due time. Oh wait…you’ll be dead in 80 years? Fine. He’ll tell your grandkids. Or their grandkids. Now get in the queue with the other 80 million and stop bothering Him!

Dr. James Dobson wrote a book entitled, “When God Doesn’t Make Sense,” in an attempt to make the illogical logical. It’s one of a litany of books, articles, speeches, sermons and interviews from spiritual leaders claiming that clarity only requires we see the world through the correct lens. “What? You still don’t see God? Here…put these on!”

These perspectives still don’t alleviate the fact that their God made a world that doesn’t make sense! (And don’t get distracted by the “fall of man” argument, which was inevitable if God created man as fallible in the first place, which makes God incompetent…or at the very least, imperfect.)

A loving parent cares for, nurtures, rears and influences his/her child at every moment. For two solid decades, a parent is arguably the single defining force in the life of their offspring. And the child never has to ask, “Does my parent exist?”

That burden of proof should apply to a spiritual father as well.

And as we look at a world where a divine hand is revealed more and more as merely a way to explain everyday occurrences, we must ask ourselves, “Wouldn’t the Father prove himself every day, in every way, without question?”

In our world, even among fellow believers, there are questions everywhere.

For my real, tangible, loving, involved and provable parents...I am truly grateful. They are the only parents I recognize and accept.


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