An athiest friend of mine and I were talking recently and he asked me, "Do Chrisitans have any proof that God created the world?". He wasn't being sarcastic, he would genuinely want to know if we have proof of some kind. My immediate answer was, "Hmmmm, let me think about it.". But then a moment later I said, "Well, I think the human body is proof in itself. There is no way it could have happened by chance. There are too many things that could have gone wrong."
I read an article by Glenn Beck, and in it he talked about all of the "string of coincidences" that led up to the people being saved when the plane crashed in to the Hudson river recently. Glenn Beck said that he felt it was a miracle that everyone survived, and that so many coincidences led up to their being saved. I sent the article to my friend and asked what he thought about it. He said that he didn't count little coincidences as miracles. He felt that if there is a God, God should doing something really miraculous like parting the Red Sea. He wants proof that is beyond doubt.
The Book of Mormon teaches, "12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith." Ether 12:12. This is the pattern that God has followed since the beginning of time. A famous LDS church book is titled, "Faith Precedes the Miracle" (by Spencer W. Kimball). This is very true. One of the reasons that we come to this earth is to learn faith. Faith is a power. It is a motivating force.
I guess you could liken this earth experience to a child learning to ride a bike. As long as the parent holds on to the back of the bike, the child will never know if they can ride it alone. But if the parent launches the child, then left him try it alone, the child will then discover that he can keep the bike aright, and propel it correctly. So too, God has sent us to this earth to learn that we can live according to our faith. He wants us to have faith in Jesus Christ. He wants us to have faith in Him. If we could see Him now, we would not need to exert our faith. So He sends us here to give us the chance to exercise our faith.
Faith is much like a muscle. The only way it can grow is by using it. We can't be given faith. We can't really even borrow faith. Just like the 5 foolish virgins who forgot to buy oil, we must supply our own reservoir of faith. We can have faith in someone else's word, or their testimony. But that is the actual act of exercising faith. We only gain faith by using it.
So I was thinking that I would like to see if I could get a little "audience participation" in this dialogue. What makes you believe in God? What evidences do you have? What experiences have taught you? What would you say to my athiest friend?