Evangelicals “Want to Believe”

fox mulder

Guest post by ObstacleChick

From 1993 to 2002, a unique show called “The X-Files” ran for a total of 9 seasons on Fox. Fans were excited in 1998 when “The X-Files” and in 2008 “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” movies were released in theaters. In 2016 and 2018, two additional seasons of “The X-Files” were released to enthusiastic fans of a certain age who had followed the series. The basic premise is that FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are teamed up to investigate unusual cases that defy conventional solutions. Agent Mulder has an open mind regarding the paranormal and is up to date on mythology across cultures. Agent Scully is a trained medical doctor whose goal is to find scientific answers to the cases to which they are assigned. The conflict of believer and skeptic, along with a good dose of sexual tension, combined with stand-alone cases and overarching story arcs created a cult following that eventually became a pop cultural icon. One of the props designed for the show, Agent Mulder’s poster of a typical 1960s rendition of a UFO ship with the caption “I Want to Believe,” is a well-known image that sums up who Agent Mulder is and who Agent Scully is not.

I know a lot of Evangelical Christians who profess to “know” that their rendition of God is the One True Rendition of the supernatural. In short, they believe that their deity is omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient. Many believe that gods from other religions are either nonexistent or are demons or Satan trying to pass themselves off as deities in order to deceive followers from adhering to the One True God of Evangelical Christianity. Not unlike Tigger from the Winnie-the-Pooh series who states that “the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I’m the only one,” many Evangelicals feel the same way about their deity. Yet when I have asked any Evangelical Christian what evidence they have of their One True God’s existence, they always fall back on “heart” evidence; they felt it in their “heart” so it must be true. Additionally, they may comment that human knowledge is inferior to God’s knowledge, or that we cannot rely on our own understanding as we are flawed, inadequate creatures (Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 55:8-9). Some may say that their deity reveals himself in nature and in His Holy Word, the Bible. Like Fox Mulder, they want to believe.

I know Christians who say they cannot contemplate facing a day without knowing they have God overseeing and protecting them throughout the day. They derive comfort from thinking that their powerful deity is protecting them in their day-to-day lives, helping them find the closest parking spot at the supermarket, revealing the lost $20 in their jacket pocket, or protecting them from being in a car accident. Of course, when things do not go well, these folks attribute unfavorable circumstances to “Satan,” or to “sin,” or that “God has other plans” for them. There’s always a reason other than that their god doesn’t exist or that he is not a benevolent, all-powerful god who is striving to protect them. Like Fox Mulder, they want to believe.

My grandmother loved a song by William J. and Gloria Gaither called “Because He Lives.” I think it sums up how a lot of Christians feel about their God and their own attitude about their lives. That “life is worth the living, just because He lives.”

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my savior lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy He gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day, because He lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

And then one day, I’ll cross the river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to victory
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

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11 Comments

  1. Brunetto Latini

    A few months ago, I was looking up at the stars, and I had this sudden feeling of loss. The way I perceived the universe when I was a Christian was better than the way I perceive it now. I can’t believe anymore, because it doesn’t make sense. But I understand wanting to believe. When I remember how much time I spent reading apologetics and Bible prophecy in my 20’s and 30’s, I think it’s because I was trying to overwhelm myself with reasons it had to be true, in spite of my doubts and contrary desires. The universe isn’t really a comfortable place, and believing makes it seem better.

    Reply
    1. Sheila Fierro

      Strange that I had the opposite feeling. The fact that I exist on this tiny rock spinning through space is amazing. When I believed a deity was speaking everything into existence there wasn’t as much wonder. When I learned how all mammals are connected, how all living things on this planet are connected, I felt part of a much larger world. I lost most of my prejudices, no longer consider LGBTQ people abborations, and I think nicer to all. Believing made me stupid. Now I thirst for knowledge and I want to know how, when and why.

      Reply
  2. Brunetto Latini

    I must observe, though, that a dog and a partner compensate nicely.

    Reply
  3. Brunetto Latini

    I don’t feel like there’s time anymore to learn how and why. Life is too short, and since this is all there is, happiness is what’s important. I don’t begrudge Christians happiness in their beliefs, if they would only keep their mouths shut about mine.

    Reply
  4. ObstacleChick

    Bruno Latini, I felt so much freer after I realized I didn’t believe anymore. I wish more Christians would stop trying to impose their beliefs onto the rest of us. Many if them squawk in fear and anger about Muslims supposedly wanting to impose sharia law on us, yet many of them want to impose Christian nationalism on us.

    I hear what you’re saying about finding happiness in our limited time here. I like learning more about scientific advances, but I also understand that those advances will continue on ling after I am gone. I do miss that religion promised us one day that we would see how it all turns out though. The only way my mom could appease me when she couldn’t answer my questions was the promise that I would find out in heaven, and now I know that’s not true.

    Reply
    1. Hugh D. Young

      Oh how quickly they turn on ya whence you leave the ‘faith’, and now it becomes, ‘Guess you’ll find out when you’re cast into hell’! I used to listen to, (still do on occasion for some of the political stuff) a fundamentalist pastor out of the Cleveland, Ohio market, who always used to gleefully proclaim, ‘Every human being that has ever lived/ will live on this earth will one day BEEEEEEEE-LEEEEEEIVE! There are no unbelievers in either heaven or hell’!!

      Reply
  5. GeoffT

    ‘Omni-god’ is now pretty well a dead concept in serious apologetic circles. The paradoxes are just too great to be worth defending (can god make a rock he can’t move, or if god knows the future then it contravenes free will etc), and are now replaced by a variety of propositions that seek to circumvent the challenges. I doubt evangelicals worry about such niceties.

    The matter of god favouring you in your daily life is one that I think is equally challenging. If I win the lottery then that denies someone else. If I find a car parking spot then, again, I deny others. When I receive the heart transplant I so urgently need then I cannot ignore the misery that must have led to my good luck. I can think of nothing that is entirely benign, in the sense that favouring one person always, without exception, is at the expense of others. And that leads me to the Satan thing, because that’s the height of illogicality. If I believed in god then I’d assume he was all powerful (albeit not omni everything). This would mean that I wouldn’t accept that god allows Satan to confuse things, in the sense that believers, especially more fundamental, attribute all they dislike to Satan and all they approve to god. The problem is that this makes you deaf to god, because you can never really know who is speaking to you; perhaps the message you don’t like isn’t really Satan, but god telling you something you don’t like.

    Reply
  6. Brunetto Latini

    If “omni-” is a dead concept in apologetics, things have changed drastically in the 15 years since I left evangelicalism. Denying omniscience via the open view was still considered heresy then. Next you’ll be telling me that Trinitarians are in retreat and annihilationists outnumber hellfire evangelists! That would play hell with the fun of inquisitions.

    Reply
    1. GeoffT

      I don’t think that serious apologetics and evangelicals blend terribly well!

      Reply
  7. Brunetto Latini

    Josh McDowell and Walter Martin had me fooled! A whole generation of evangelical college students tricked by sub-standard apologetics. If only the eggheads had been as prolific, I might have become an apostate sooner.

    Reply
  8. Brunetto Latini

    Geoff, regarding your opinion of evangelicals and apologists, I would like to recommend a piece by my favorite apologist for the Christian faith (who nevertheless can’t induce me to return). Her expressed opinion of sophisticated theologians approximates mine:
    “The Enduring Chill” by Flannery O’Connor

    Reply

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