In my About Me page, I mentioned that I believe everyone is a cynic. I figured this was a better place to share why I think that, because I also want your thoughts and opinions on the matter. People typically have a lot to say whenever you try to label them, so I figured I should explain myself a little more and allow others to do the same.
For starters, no one starts life as a cynic. As children, we all believed whatever we were told. We were innocent, curious, and gullible. As we grew older we realized that not everything is as it seems. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, fairy tails, and unicorns all turned out to be fake. This all happened for many of us while we were also in Sunday school learning about an all-powerful, all-loving God that we couldn’t see. We were promised that God was real and loving, and would answer all of our prayers, only to find countless prayers unanswered. As we grew older we still found ourselves in the middle of a broken world, and God slowly began to sound like just another fairy tale. Maybe God was just like all the other make-believe things we were told growing up to make life a little easier. Or, maybe God actually was real, but just not very dependable. After all, if Jesus healed everyone who came to him, why aren’t we healed? If he promised protection, why are we not always protected? If he promised to love us, why don’t we feel loved? If he promised to comfort us, why don’t we feel comforted?
The result of all these discrepancies is that, to some extent, every one of us became a cynic. After years of being let down, most of us began to expect the worst out of life and to expect very little from God. Why bother, right? He never really seemed to care anyway. On the other hand, there may people who very much believe that God is good, but just not in a way that most people would understand. This kind of goodness allows children to be raped, families to be murdered, people to die of cancer, and billions to live in poverty. He may be a good father, but he’s a kind of good that many people would prefer their own father not to be. In this view, God basically turns into a kind of lottery slot machine: put in a prayer, pull the lever, and your prayer gets sent off to heaven. Usually, it seems like a waste of time, but sometimes you might get a winning combination, like getting that promotion you prayed for. Every once in a blue moon, you might land the jackpot and get a legit miracle.
People who claim to experience miracles are often viewed in this light. They either got really lucky or are just making it up to get attention. There is essentially no expectation for miracles or encounters with God because we’ve been there and tried that. We trusted scripture and it didn’t work, so it’s best to just play it safe. Maybe God will and maybe he won’t, but it’s best to just avoid getting our hopes up to make sure we don’t get hurt.
So, what’s my point in all this? It kind of sounds depressing, but the reality is that this is how the vast majority of people think, often without even realizing it. My goal is not to make people feel comfortable and fuzzy, but to talk about difficult issues. It’s not a popular thing to do, which is why I plan on keeping my day job.
Obviously, there’s a lot of topics to cover—more than can be fully addressed in this blog post. In future posts I’ll go deeper into each of the issues addressed in this post. For now, I want to know what you think. Do you think people generally have a cynical attitude towards God? Why or why not? Do you now or have you ever found yourself questioning if God is actually good? How did you reconcile that? Why do you think many of our prayers never seem to be answered, even when they aren’t selfish?
I would love to see what you think, so I hope you join the discussion! Also feel free to send me an email if there’s a question or comment you’d prefer to not have in the comment section.