Atheism, Pie, and Bach
I remember the first bite I ever had of an Emporium Pie. Biting into the rich filling and tasting the delicate crust, all I wanted to do was thank someone. With the long line streaming out the front door, you’d think that this small pie shop in Bishop Arts was the trendiest dive bar on Lower Greenville. Huddled inside the tiny house, you will find people eating pie; some worshiping with every bite.
Countless books have been written, conferences held, and lectures given on the topic of God’s existence. There is a whole discipline in philosophy called “apologetics.” Apologetics is the attempt to argue for the existence of God through reason and evidence. It includes defending God from accusations that are made against him, some of which include: God and evil, God and naturalistic thought, the integrity of the bible, and the exclusivity of Christ.
Maybe you have heard these accusations; maybe they have caused you to doubt your faith. Maybe they sound familiar because it was one of these accusations that discredited “God” in your mind. You have rejected the God of Christianity, or you have rejected any concept of “god” at all.
I think there are many reasons (countless!) to believe that the God of the Bible is who He says He is and has done what He has said He has done. But really, right now, all I want you do is remember the last time you experienced beauty. That last tasting, hearing, reading, touching or seeing that left you breathless. Like my experience with the pie, upon the tasting, I felt a desire to shout “Thank you!” When was the last time you were left with nothing but the powerful desire to thank someone.
But whom do you thank when you can’t see the pie’s maker? Who do you thank when the painted sky fills you with wonder? Who do you thank when the sweet hymn of leaves falling catches your ear? And beneath all of this ... why on earth do we want to thank someone? How can we deny a Giver when we delight in the gifts? James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Even those who deny God can’t deny transcendence. To deny truth, goodness, and beauty is to deny the gifts we have been given. It’s why we are so beaten down when we see evil and suffering in the world, why we hate to be lied to, and why we choose to visit museums. We crave truth, goodness, and beauty. When we encounter and experience this truth, goodness, and beauty we are compelled by gratitude. As with every true longing, gratitude and wonder are the natural response.
Don’t believe me? Maybe you will trust indie pop sensation The Postal Service, who sang in “Clark Gable”
I want so badly to believe, that there is truth, that love is real.
And I want life in every word, to the extent that it’s absurd.
So, what’s the problem? What’s wrong with me wanting to know and experience truth, goodness, and beauty
Well, nothing. You were created to desire truth, goodness, and beauty. Actually, you were created to experience it in ways that tasting, seeing, hearing, and touching only hint at. But, you and I both know that it seems that many of the people, objects, and situations that we think will produce the glorious experience we were hoping for fail in producing an experience that lasts.
As I have heard it said before, “The music of Bach exists, therefore God exists.” What does this mean? It means that beauty, wonder, and gratitude all seem to indicate that our hearts desire the transcendent. We are compelled to say, “thanks,” but we don’t know who is looking down to say, “you’re welcome.”
If you have ever felt overwhelmed with the desire to show gratitude, to express thankfulness, may I suggest that there is a God of infinite wonder who invites you in. He whispers to you through the symphony, through the sight of the midnight stars, in the taste of an amazing pie. What is he saying? He whispers, “It is me you seek. Come to me and feast on that which all of the beauty, truth, and goodness you see is but a shadow.”
Who is this God?
His name is Jesus. It is him you seek.