Throughout history, thoughtful people have questioned God's existence in the face of suffering. What student of literature can forget the compelling arguments of Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor? What student of art has not turned in horror from Roasa's "Massacre of the Innocents"?
Then there's the ultimate irony that trips up even the most steadfast believers and has caused some to reject God altogether: waging war in His name. Not only do the major religions of the world clash, often violently, but there is war within religions - even within their individual congregations.
People who emerge from all of this as believers in God and as adherents to religion tend - even as they question - to look beyond the wire services for their answers. Not that the answers can't be found there. It would be hard not to have seen the hand of God in September, for example, when a Palestinian and a Jew agreed to a peace willed into being, some 15 years ago, by a born-again Christian.
But in searching for proof of the existence of God, those who come out believers tend, perhaps, to keep in mind the "man-bites-dog" definition of news. They conclude that, despite a human nature capable of everything from the unintended insult to the neutron bomb, the normal course of events - that which doesn't make news - includes a whole lot of good which many see as the handiwork of God.
Some see this handiwork in nature. Humans have ravaged the Earth, but in the faithful return of spring, for example, lies a relentless reminder of God's promise to make all things new.
They see His hand in the kindnesses that routinely passes between strangers. A black man offers his train seat to a white woman. A passerby stoops to tie the shoe of a woman whose arms are filled with children, in a kind of startling re-enactment of a familiar Biblical call to humility and service.
While God sometimes comes unbidden like this, many people seek Him in prayer. A husband pleads in desperation for a thaw to a chilly marriage and finds that his heart has softened enough to make his wife a cup of coffee. A family turns to God during an illness and finds in its relationships strengths that last beyond the crisis.
Such anecdotal evidence of God often meets with cynicism in a society that likes to see its truths in medical journals. It's remarkable, really, that people persist in church-and synagogue-going. For in addition to being blamed for a good portion of the world's conflict, people who make public their belief in God tend to set themselves up to be chided for their failures and even sometimes ridiculed as hypocrites.
But in worship, those seeking answers to the questions of evil and injustice find a kind of regular retreat from the 24-hour news cycle view of reality. In sitting for a while with the truths that have endured through the ages, they can weigh their own actions in hopes of steering them toward the good.
They tend to recognize that - despite the human failings inevitable in any human institution - their religious traditions offer a common, and eminently workable, approach to daily life - one that has proven itself so valid, it has survived and been passed down to them through the great works of their faiths. Be it through the Torah, the New Testament or the Koran, the voice of God is a call to peace.
Those who feel privileged to believe in God during a time when few things endure have experienced the fact that, even though He will never be proven in a double-blind study or featured in Vanity Fair, God has consistently shown the way to transcend conflict - shown it to today's believers no less than to those whose lives have been recorded in the great stories of their faiths.