One question that arose was this (from one believer at the table to the agnostic): "What constitutes 'evidence' in your mind? What would you consider satisfactory proof for the existence of God?"
This question caused me to reflect on the nature of my own faith, and to consider "proof" in general.
What does it take for us to believe in something? What makes us so sure, for example, that our children will wake up healthy each morning if they went to bed so last night? How do we know our partners will not disappoint us, how much "proof" do we need of that before we commit to, say, marriage? What certainty do we have that money we put into our bank accounts today will still be there next week when we need/want to withdraw it?
Faith... it's a funny thing.
One of my colleagues is a scientist. During our lunchtime conversation, he commented on his need to integrate who he was, i.e. he couldn't be a Scientist Monday to Saturday, and a Christian on Sunday mornings. These two "personas" are, for him, not distinct. He recognizes that the God he worships on Sunday mornings at church is the same God who created the miraculous universe that he studies and teaches his students at the university.
I think a great many of us separate our faith from our lives in general. Somewhere along the line, we Christians (and perhaps those of other faiths) gather enough "evidence" to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient and loving God, and for a while, it becomes the focus of our lives. But all too often, we soon let this focus dissipate, and although we may continue to attend church on Sundays, and maybe even Bible study on Wed night, we no longer let the discovery of our Creator (and more specifically, the implications of this discovery) guide us every day in each decision we make.
I wonder if one could say the same for athiests and agnostics. Fairly certain in a meaningless system, they may float through life largely without hope of salvation or any kind of eternity. And yet, many of them love, procreate, start grand scale projects or set long term goals. This begs the question, "Why"?
As tea and desert arrived after lunch yesterday, it became clear that one conversation was just an opening to a lifetime of subsequent questions and ideas.
This I know: The mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream were delicious. My full tummy and tingling tastebuds the following several hours were proof of this truth at least!