Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Evidence that God exists

Have you heard athiests, agnostics, curious thinkers challenge a Christian with, 'Give me evidence that God exists'? Have had the challenge recently from Twitter user @hughring wanting evidence for the claims of Christianity. Interestingly, if we want to enter into an evidentialism kind of debate, lets look at both sides of the equation. @hughring is a professed atheist and so believes that there is no 'God who created the heavens and the earth'. He wants me to provide evidence of the existence of God so that I can clearly justify my belief system and prove to him that my beliefs are not insane, illogical and outrageous. So will Hugh provide me with the same evidence of his belief in the non-existence of God? Will Hugh outline to me in a logical, scientific and intellectual way, evidence that show his holding of an atheist viewpoint is right? Why should I have to provide evidence of the existence of God, while someone can say that Christianity is fictional and be free from making any valid reasoning to why they hold to that assumption?

I know what people are thinking. So, will you give us some evidence on the existence of God anyway? Some of the atheists are saying, 'C'mon - prove to me that God really exists and that your whole faith and religion isn't just a pile of controlling, authoritarian legalism.' The fact is, whether or not I have the ability to clearly and soundly argue the existence of God does not change the truth about whether or not God exists. It will merely provide some with ammunition for rebuttal and provide others with some ideas about what they already believe.

Ahh, the existence of God. Theologian and famous Christian minister John Wesley broke up Christianity into four sources saying that within Christianity the following four tenets were imperative, and they were:
1. Reason
2. Tradition
3. Experience
4. Scripture
He argued, amongst others, that a wholistic Christian worldview was made up all of these four sections. Reason is one subsection that atheist's pounce on and demand from the Christians. Reason (http://www.dictionary.com/) 'is a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action'. This is most important for atheists as empirical evidence is what is valued the most; scientific arguments/evidence for any belief/idea. The 'reason' the Christian uses to share with others, to justify and explain their belief is 'faith'. This of course is not enough for the atheist to justify such a large claim, that God exists. Maybe you're right. Maybe its a cop-out. Though many know that through faith in the Lord Jesus (that is genuine trust/belief) in Jesus is all the reasoning they need. Now, to have to provide scientific, intellectual, step by step analysis of the existence of God to prove God's existence is a presumptious, arrogant stance that scientists take. They shrug off faith like its a mosquito with malaria, and spit and shout loudly that scientific, empirical evidence is what is needed. I stammer and whinge and say, 'No! Faith's enough, in and of itself.'

Tradition highlights to the Christian the importance of the past and can help inform theology into the future, including the proof of the existence of God. 'Tradition' here is being defined as, 'a living and active process of passing on the Christian faith, rather than as a static source of revelation, indepedent of Scripture' (McGrath, 2001: 185).Quoting from Alister McGrath:
   ' "tradition" implies not merely something that is handed down, but an active process of reflection by which theological or spiritual insights are valued, assessed, and transmitted from one generation to another' (: 186). Some atheists would call this 'organized religion' and throw the baby out with the bath water. The tradition side of understanding Christianity and the existence of God is about looking and appreciating the validity of particular ideas/theology that has come from the past. We think of statements such as the Apostle's Creed and the Athanasian Creed forged within the think tanks of followers of Jesus in days gone by. But, does any of this provide evidence for the existence of God? When encapsulated wholistically with Scripture, experience and reason, tradition highlights to us, one of two options - millions of Christians and theologians got it all wrong and handed down pathetic excuses for religiosity, or there is merit and validity to the tradition of the past. It's admittedly not a strong argument, but is a justification nonetheless.

The same is said of 'Experience'. Millions of people testify their lungs out about the existence of God, through a faith response to the message of Christ. The atheist is quick to label experiential stories of supernatural experiences as either mental illness, illusions, hypnosis, lack of sleep, paranoia... the list goes on... If we labelled each and every Christian with these, quite often over the top, bogus justifications for someone's lack of true experience, then we have emerged into the 21st century on the back of millions of liars and millions of sick people who have for some reason shared with humanity a belief that is irrational and nonexistent. The millions of believers with these 'valid for them' experiences of faith have also been some of the most influential people in science, politics, religion, entertainment, the world has ever seen. I understand that a million people saying something is right, still does not necessarily make something right, though we cannot brush off the experience of many people with broad offensive comments about the validity of someones experience. Each experience should be weighed on its own merits, and possibly weighed up to the rigours of cohesiveness with biblical writings and scientific analysis.

The evidence that God exists, for a Christian is found in the continuing revelation of the power and significance that is found in the biblical writings. While atheists are fast to jump onto specific bible verses about the vengeance of God or the specific commands to a specific people at a specific time, the Christian has time and time again witnessed the outworking of Scripture in their lives. Whether it be the quiet reassurance that 'I will always be with you', or the supernatural sense of the peace of the Holy Spirit when we read, 'Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ' or the challenge we feel when we read, 'Go into all the world and make disciples'. The Scriptures and validity of them, and significance of them could obviously be unpacked with much more detail and eloquence than provided here, but suffice to say, the evidence for the existence of God comes partly though the faithfulness of the Christian Scriptures known today as the Bible.      

I'm happy for informative, constructive comments below (no matter what system of belief or non-belief you adhere to), so we can keep the discussion going. I finish with something lighthearted from Albert Einstein...
'Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former'.

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  1. None of those four arguments are empirical testable evidence of the proof of a god or gods.

    This entire exercise is a logical fallacy.

    Proof of God requires repeatable testable evidence. Not anecdotes or historical anecdotes.

    Gravity is not proven by people telling you about it. It is by testing it. And Galileo did not prove it. He imagined it and discovered it. We proved it on the moon. With testable conditions.

    Without a control, religion is no more testable than a fairy, Santa Claus, or a Leprechaun.

  2. I can only say, I KNOW that God exsists! How? because I have felt His love and power within me. A person will never truly believe in God and can never be convinced there is God until they have felt that power. Don't truly deny God until you have opened your heart to accept Him. if after you have given yourself to God you have not felt a change, then dare I say continue living in the hands of Satan.

  3. My proof? 1) Look out in wonder at the world around me and know that it could only have been created by the power and miracle of God, from the tiniest insect to the largest mountain.
    2) What is my purpose in life? If there is no God then what am I living for? I am born, live and die for no reason. Yet because of Jesus, my life has purpose. I am here for his purpose, to serve Him. And when I leave this earth I know that I will have eternal life with Him in His Kingdom.
    3)I feel His power, His love, His peace and I rest in the knowledge that He is guiding my life. I have no fear of the future.
    That is how I KNOW God exists.

  4. 1) Look out in awe at the universe. It is beautiful to know that nature can do what it has done.

    2) I take every moment of this precious life living it for the moments I create within it, because I know that life is not precious if there is a goal at the end with a reward.

    3) I love nature. It has so many mysteries yet to be discovered. Answering them with a sky-daddy is too easy and unsatisfying.

    That's how I don't know God exists and why I don't care if he does. THIS life is important because I make it important to me.

  5. "stacey buhagiar said...

    I can only say, I KNOW that God exsists! How? because I have felt His love and power within me. A person will never truly believe in God and can never be convinced there is God until they have felt that power. Don't truly deny God until you have opened your heart to accept Him. if after you have given yourself to God you have not felt a change, then dare I say continue living in the hands of Satan. "

    You can do drugs, and feel like you're superman, and you aren't.

    You can be sick, and feel like you are going to die, and feel perfectly fine in two days.

    Just because you feel inspired, doesn't mean there is god behind it.

    If it makes you feel better to believe, fine. But don't say that your generic good feeling is absolute scientific proof that god exists. Say that, "This is what makes me feel good about the world, and even though I can't prove it, I prefer to think this way."

    I've felt more love from my parents than anyone else, but I doubt that they are god.

  6. To anonymous- What I felt was not Generic or the feeling of love from a parent or an inspired moment.i in NO WAY said this is SCIENTIFIC PROOF. I said I know God exsists because of what I FELT.

    what I felt was an unknown sensation, something i had never felt before. every part of me was screaming for help and understanding, and everyone i turned to didn't have an answer, and then i asked God for help (something i had NEVER done before) and finally i got an answer. it shivered through my mind body and soul and reached my heart like an explosion of reasurrance. that is about the best way i can describe it.

    if your heart will only stay closed and hear only what it wants to hear then you will never believe in God, any amount of words will never convince you of God.

    If you want proof there is a God then don't ask me or Pete to try to convince you, because you will only find a way to scoff at them or explain them away as Generic or drug induced.

    try stepping outside the box and asking God!!! He is the only one who will convince you of his exsistance. thats what happened to me... i gave Him a chance to come into my life. just in your own time and privacy try talking to God, talk about your concerns,fears beliefs ANYTHING. Ask Him for an answer.

    Praying for you anyway.....


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