Thursday, January 17, 2013

Do you believe in God or in the existence of God?

It is funny, but every time I tell people I have studied Theology the following question follows, “Do you believe in God”? It is safe to say that it is a pointless question, since my studies and hence the course of my life is in the study and the acceptance of God, I merely reply with a smile. However, it is interesting to identify what they ask.

“Do you believe in God” is the question. What I would expect by the non-believers or the atheists is to ask me whether I believe in the existence of God. The first question does not question the existence of God; on the contrary it could even accept God. What is asked is whether I believe in Him, whether I support Him, whether I follow Him. If I am permitted to use a sport example, it implies that for example Liverpool F.C. exists, the question suitable would be: do you believe in Liverpool and not whether I believe in the existence of the football team. Hence we observe that no one questions the actual existence of either the team or of God.
Surprisingly this even works within other languages, such as Greek where we are asked the first question. Could this be a weakness of language which does not state what exactly is meant to be asked? Nevertheless, I always found it intriguing that the question “Do you believe in God” was always misunderstood as a questioning towards the existence of a deity, where in fact, a literal understanding of the question shows the exact opposite. 

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