Months before I graduated in college, I was assigned with a team of artists to partner with a group of college students from one of our country’s top universities. My team were all Christians; our counterpart, all Buddhists. For one week, we stayed in their university campus exhibiting photos taken by mariners at sea during the gulf war.
One day, when I was left alone in the exhibit area together with our “counterpart,” I was challenged by three beautiful ladies. “Do you believe in God?” they asked me. Quickly, I answered with a smile, “Yes, of course, I do!” not realizing that I was speaking with people who have different belief—at least different from mine.
“Can you prove to us that there is God?” was the next simple yet dreadful question. I was taken by surprise. Never did it occur to me that one day I would be by my own to defend what I truly believed in my heart. My mother wasn’t there for me to rescue me, nor the pastors who mentored me. I was alone. Much worse, was when I realized that I wasn’t even sure if God was with me to help me defend His own existence.
As I was preparing to answer, thinking very carefully where to start, those three angel-like figures where smiling at me, gesturing like they have already caught me in the corner. The moment I opened my mouth and started quoting the Bible, they stopped me right away. They raised their voices in unison as they interrupted me, as if I’m about to make a mortal mistake that will cause me instant death—and they were there to stop me so I would be safe.
“That’s where we base our belief! How can I not quote anything from it?” I was planning to argue with a question, when one of them said, “The Bible was just written by men. It’s full of errors. You cannot count on it in an argument.”
“What do I do now?” I asked myself? They don’t even allow me to argue, or at least to speak . . .
Then they said to me, “Cite anything you like, but never quote the Bible because we don’t believe in the Bible. We don’t accept any argument from the Bible.” They encouraged me to argue without using the Bible.
How do I deal with such debaters? Instead of answering their question, I asked them the same thing. “How about you, what do you believe?” Then, they started telling me what they believed.
I listened attentively as they discussed with me the concept:
They do not believe in the context of God. There is no heaven and hell. Life is an eternal cycle: after we die, we will be reincarnated in human form or in another forms like animals, insects, trees, stones, any form under the sun. Our next form—wether as human or non-human form—will be strictly based by our performance while still alive.
If we, as humans, are consistently reciting the “Chant of Buddha,” then most likely, we will become human again when we are reincarnated. However, if we don’t chant, chances are, we will become animals, or plants, or rocks where our chances to hear the Buddha chanting are less. The chance that we become humans again depends on the degree of how much chant or how much access to the chant we have while we were alive.
There is no God, they believed. Buddha is no god; rather a universal force. A chant activates that force. Every creature that comes in contact with that chant is blessed by the force. The more a creature—wether a dog, an orchid, or sand—is exposed to the chant, the more it is likely to become human in the time of its reincarnation. Therefore, humans have the greatest advantage: we don’t need to wait for somebody to hear the chant, all we need is recite the chant by ourselves. In that way, when we are reincarnated, we’ll be sure that we will be humans again.
I thought I was already freed from defending my faith. I was wrong. After they explained to me their side, they challenged me again, “Now it’s your turn. Prove to us that there is God.”
I knew I couldn’t. So instead, I asked them to prove me that there is no God.
I then took a single strand of hair from my head, then I asked them, “Who among you have already tried to go inside this strand of hair? How many strands of hairs we have in the entire planet, including those from animals?” They looked with each other, and said, “Obviously, no person can enter inside the hair.”
“How about inside this stone, have you ever heard a person who entered inside a small stone? And how many stones our planet have?” I asked them as I reached one small stone from the plant pot near us. “How about inside the leaf of a plant?”
What if God was inside one of those hairs, or stones, or leaves?”
I started enumerating things, big and small: the woods, the birds, water, air, the pearl under the sea, asking them if “they have heard anyone who had checked the insides of every object, and searched the entire planet and found out that there is no God?” I even asked them if they know of anyone who has gone to the moon, or made a routine round in our solar system to thoroughly search for God. “Has anyone tried to travel around the Milky Way, or to Visit Andromeda or make a complete search around the entire universe and then successfully come back to earth and proudly declare—after reaching every corner of the universe, including the black holes—that indeed, there is no God? What if God was hiding in one of those places that you haven’t searched?”
Although I couldn’t prove the existence of God; they couldn’t disprove it either. Both of us need to resort to what we call “faith”—belief in something despite lack of evidence.
I told them, if you have searched every place in the whole universe and then come back to earth and declare that you have not found God any where, then I will not believe you. Because if you were able to do that—searching the entire universe, reaching through the tiniest and the most gigantic creatures—then you are the god. In that case, there is god.
Is there a chance?
Here’s my personal perspective:
If they were right—that there’s no God, and that we are in eternal cycle of reincarnation—then I have eternal chance. Next time, I will simply believe them and live my life chanting eternally to keep myself forever safe.
But what if I was right? What if there’s heaven and hell? Will they have another chance? Will there be any second opportunity for them?
I cannot prove the existence of a God I do not see, nor touch. But I still choose to believe. Others may view it as being irrational. I think, that’s faith—acting beyond reason.
I sometimes encounter other groups who are good or even expert in pointing out errors in the Bible. They are geniuses in finding what they think are faults. But for me, they still cannot provide something more solid, more rational . . . still they cannot offer me a surer alternative. What they do is point out the problems and errors but they can’t show the alternative way, can they?
Honestly, I don’t have enough faith to doubt the existence of God.