I’m sorry for the late letter! I know I was asked one night in 10th grade to write you all a letter to attempt to answer your questions such as why I believe in this thing I call “God” and why I pray and go to a building some of us humans call “church”. When I was first asked to write to you my answers for these seemingly simple questions, I stared at the blank page in front of me for the longest time. For the first time in my life I asked myself “Why do I pray?” “Why should I believe in something which I cannot see?” As my beliefs began to crumble one by one once that foundation was struck, I began to classify myself as a weak-atheist (also referred to by us humans as an agnostic), which basically means I took on your inquisitive mind-set and started to doubt the things I’d been taking for granted my whole life. I felt like I was in as bizarre of a world as you must have thought I was in. I began to understand your confusion as I myself became confused.
Well here I am, five years later, preparing to transfer to a seminary to (God-willing) be ordained a priest (That’s a long story, perhaps I’ll save it for another letter). I realize that this letter alone will not do much to benefit you, as written words by themselves hardly ever have the ability to convey a message as effectively as an encounter with someone. Nevertheless, I owe you a letter and I think I’m better equipped to answer at least one of those questions you had when I was in 10th grade.
Let me begin by attempting to explain to you who God is before I delve into why I believe in him and why he matters in my life. I understand that you are currently observing our planet as a whole right now from where you’re at in your UFO? Well in sort of the same way you see Earth as a whole, this thing us humans call God can “see” the universe as a whole for all of time in one “now”. He is the Creator of everything that surrounds us in the universe; among other things, he’s like the First Cause of a universe in motion.
Now that’s a very brief description and only one aspect of him, but I’m sure you’re too busy plotting to take over the galaxy to want to take the time to read anything further than that at this point. But now I can begin to address the question of why I believe in him, especially if he is outside of time and space so I cannot see him. The first thing I want to address is the nature of belief. Some kids in my 10th grade class may have written to you saying “You just have to have faith in God. You just have to believe” as their reason for why they believe in God and why you too should believe. The problem is that this statement on its own is pretty weak, so I don’t blame you if you merely crumpled up those letters and threw them into a disintegrater. If I told you I believed in a Flying Spaghetti Monster and you asked me why and all I could say was “Well, you just have to have faith”, how would that be any different than the response brought up for merely having “faith” in God?
One of the other ways to think about the word “faith” is like a bridge which closes the gap between reason and a belief. For instance, I believe on faith that there exists a section of land on our planet called Antarctica even though I’ve never been there. People on TV say they’ve been there, I’ve seen pictures of it, so I have reasons to believe it’s there even if it’s possible that those people were lying and my senses have deceived me. Until I go there myself, faith kind of bridges that gap and helps me feel confident that such a place does in fact exist in reality.
Now you may be asking “Well what kind of reasons could you give that could lead you to God before you rely on faith to close that gap at the end?” Well there are a few different ways to go about answering this question. One way, which could take up a whole letter, is to show how scientific discoveries have seemingly pointed us towards some First Cause, some Fine-Tuner, and more, which some people then combine and refer to as “God”. But for this letter I wanted to focus on another way you can come to know God; the way I began to rediscover his authenticity.
Picture a metaphorical mountain that some humans choose to climb to get closer to the peak, a peak which some call “God”, others “Ultimate Reality” and so on. Each man-made path to get to the peak offers their own insights on how to best reach that peak and what the peak itself actually is. But God himself actually came down that metaphorical mountain and dwelled among us humans for a while in the form of a human who was named Jesus and showed us the path that would most effectively lead us towards the peak. Now there could be a whole series of letters I could write to tell you about this human, but a few humans already did that 2,000 years ago and some of those letters got complied into a book called the Bible. Now the real kicker here, as I began to explain, is that this human who I just mentioned, Jesus, claimed to be none other than God himself in the form of a human. If that claim turns out to be true, then that’s a game-changer.
Granted, a lot of other humans claimed to be God around that time too. Even today some people on our planet claim they are God and that we should worship them too. Yet none of those people who have died have come back to life a few days later. No one except this human named Jesus. Now you may still object, as many humans do, saying that those letters those other humans wrote which provided us an account of the death and supposed coming-back-to-life were just fairy tales and that Jesus never actually died or his disciples just hid his body. But here’s why I’m not buying that.
The New Testament (a section of the Bible which talks a lot about Jesus) does not contain completely fictitious characters and locations like a fairy tale does. You can historically verify that there was (and is) a place on our planet called Jerusalem (which comes up a lot in the New Testament), that there was a human named Pontius Pilate and Saul of Tarsus around 33 AD, that people were crucified under Roman law for some time, and so on. Now the Bible was not solely written to be a history book, merely replaying events in a chronological style, but at the same time it was historically accurate enough and written in such a way that it reduces the likelihood that it was just a piece of literature and that those who wrote it simply wanted to brainwash people in order to give them false hope.
But here’s the real kicker about this whole New Testament deal. Even when the first disciples and many of the early followers of Jesus were told they would be killed if they did not stop talking and writing about the supposed resurrection of the human named Jesus and the conclusions that could be drawn from that, it’s a historical fact that they could not keep quiet about all they’d seen and experienced. They were so impacted by the implications that followed from Jesus’ supposed rising from the dead that they were all willing to die excruciatingly painful deaths to stick to that story. Not a single one of them changed their story at the last second in order to avoid death. Picture yourself in the middle of a Roman coliseum and you were told that all you had to do was admit that you lied about Jesus being raised from the dead and you would be saved from the jaws of a man-eating lion and your wife and daughter would be saved from rape and death. Even more, you knew that the lie didn’t bring you or your family or your friends or your future generations any wealth or power or popularity anyway. (By the way, you don’t have a ray gun on you or the ability to use your mind-control.) You probably would have just lied and said “Ok, ok, we made it up. Now get me out of here!” Yet almost all of the early Christians died in that way and none of them said at the last minute “Hold up! I admit it, we made it all up.”. That tells me that those people who supposedly met Jesus must have discovered something worth dying for. That also tells me that I must have something worth living for today.
So do I believe in God? Yes. Why? Well, we can take into account the science that points us to God, we can explore the validity found in the claims made by the human named Jesus (who was also God), and we can ponder on the constants or “laws” which seem to be govern most human beings and the nature that surround us. Now it might seem like I’m making this whole thing sound like it’s an easy choice to believe in God, as though “you just have to have faith”. So why is it that this conclusion is such a hard thing for some people, or aliens, to accept if it’s just that simple? Well there are many reasons. I had my own when I was in 10th grade. The different reasons are unique to each human (and alien). I wish I could say that believing in God was just as simple as merely accepting him on blind faith alone, but that would be an irresponsible choice. For many people, like me, it just doesn’t work like that. It takes a day-after-day re-commitment to search for the truth found in our universe. Thus far, the truth that I have discovered (or, you may argue, think I have discovered) seems to be leading me to one source of Truth, which I believe is none other than “God” himself.
Now as to why I pray and go to church? Well, I suppose I could touch on that in another letter. I’ve probably given you enough to think about for now. (Though, if you can begin to piece together all that I just said and ponder on the implications that can be drawn from those points, the answers to the other two questions you asked will kind of start to fall into place.) But this has been a brief account of my young journey seeking out truth and being open to where it takes me. I hope you aliens are willing to do the same because, in the words of one of our humans named Socrates, “The unexamined life is not a life worth living.” Let me know if you’d like to keep in contact; I’d love to meet you sometime in person and also hear from you the questions that you may have. I may not be able to answer all of your questions, but I will try my best to share with you what I’ve discovered so far on my journey of searching for truth.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for asking me those questions in the first place. I’m sure this search for truth has ended up helping me more than reading this letter will help you.
(“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ -John 20:29)