Philosophical evidence of God

Hey guys. I have been thinking about evolution and our world. I think a really good arguement/evidence of God is purpose. I see that the process of evolution could be guided by God, or not, but what I mean is the purpose we see in life. A lot of people who do not believe in God think that our lives have no purpose. Whether that includes scientific observations or your own experiences, what tells you that life has meaning and purpose?

My short answer would be family, the Fatherhood of God being huge, and Jesus being our elder Brother. A major verse along that line is Hebrews 12:2,

…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

That joy is us, if we have been adopted into his family. One of God’s purposes is to increase and share his joy – he is happy in himself. He is a good Father, and one of the ways of increasing his joy is by enlarging his family. He gets joy for himself from our love for him and pride in him as our Father, and in our joy in reciprocated familial love. Notice that we get joy, too!

Ecology and evolution goes hand in hand and ecology drives biodiversity.

What gives my life purpose is a few things.

  1. To please God and carry out the great commission baptizing the lost into Christ and continue to teach them about God.

  2. To be a father, a son, a brother, a cousin and future husband to my loved ones.

  3. To be a good steward of the land. To help teach others about ecology and how it plays a part in us combating the loss of biodiversity as urbanization continues to fragment wilderness. Focusing on native plants and healthier practices to ensure conservation can happen in our own yards.

All three of those things inspired by the teachings of God.

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There another option than these two:

  1. No purpose.
  2. Purpose given by a creator.

The mistake of both of these is pretty much the same. What bothers us about the first one, that it makes everything look dead doesn’t change with the second. Purpose is only given by a creator when only dead things (tools) are created. So the alternative to these is life – living things which give themselves a purpose.

  1. Purpose chosen by living things.

This is the difference between things made for and end and things which have an end in themselves. According to Kant, understanding that people are an end in themselves is our humanity.

Kant’s formulation of humanity, the second section of the categorical imperative, states that as an end in itself, humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always as ends in themselves. Wikipedia “Kantian Ethics”

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I do. …because I am alive. And that is what living things do. They act for their own reasons.

As someone who doesn’t believe in God, I would say that life and the universe doesn’t have an inherent or intrinsic purpose. However, I am able to choose for myself what purpose my life will have. I would suggest that Christians also choose to let their faith and beliefs guide them towards a purpose in their lives. People of other faiths also look to the tenets of their religion and fellow believers to find purpose.

Most of all, beware the nihilists.

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I would tend to say the same. But are we talking about purpose in terms of the roles or functions we perform in a society, or, is it about what gives a person fulfillment as in a sense of purpose? I’d need this firmed up to know how to answer.

If it is the former, then yes we can all pretty much decide what roles we take on as circumstances allow, almost arbitrarily. But if we’re talking about our satisfaction with those choices or the sense of purpose or meaning we find in them, then I don’t think it is entirely “up to us”. Then again I don’t think there is just one golden path for each one which will provide a sense of purpose anymore than I think there is just one ideal partner to marry. Though probably there are more ways to go wrong than there are to right.

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Let me tell an important “secret.” If there is no real movement, there is no need for direction, meaning, and purpose. If the universe were eternal, that is, if it did not have a Beginning, an End and Historical Movement in between, it would not need or have a purpose. It would just be.

If life is a journey and science indicates that it is a journey because it has a beginning, middle, and end, it is best to have a map so you can tell how far you have come on your journey and when you have arrived at where you want to be. This is the meaning and purpose of your life.

However, we do not live in a vacuum. We live in the same world with other human beings. We need to cooperate with others if we are going to survive and thrive, so the meaning and purpose of our lives should harmonize with those of others. We need to have mutually achievable goals.

In the USA we have a Constitution which has the purpose to indicating how we live the purposes of our lives. It tells us where our rights end and our responsibilities begin, and it is based on the assumption that we will respect each other. Very sadly this basic assumption has been badly shaken, because many people see the basic purpose of their lives to be self-aggrandizement, not working together for the common good.

We all need to get back on the same page, which would seem to be straight forward, because it means following Jesus Christ instead of the leaders we have now.

I see life has meaning and purpose, because when I look at the heavens and see the unity and diversity of the universe and even look back in time through the Hubble I know that God created a Cosmos, not a Chaos This does not mean that all is sweetness and light We live in a finite universe, which means that it never stops changing. so possible conflict is everywhere. It exists but it is controlled.

We look at the history of evolution, the history of God’s People, the history of the USA. We see a fantastic history of progress. Not that they are perfect. We are not perfect. We are all Sinners. Hopefully we learn from our failures and find salvation and forgiveness through Jesus.

Peter Stormare! The Big Lebowski!! Must watch it again. I laff till the tears run down me trouser leg every time.

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Hello Sam,

For me, finding ultimate satisfaction in an eternal love relationship with the God of the Bible, our loving Creator, our pure Savior, and our perfect Ruler, gives me a complete sense of meaning and purpose. It provides full, soul-satisfying joy that cannot come from any other source (I’ll refer you to John Piper’s “Desiring God” for a full development of those ideas). This all-encompassing relationship provides a sure hope for the future and a reason to keep striving to grow closer to Him (and to keep striving in all facets of my life!). It gives me a task to accomplish and a promise of eventual reward: two things that I believe humans need to flourish.

I wanted to share that first (even though it doesn’t exactly answer the question you asked) because it gives some context for the other things I want to say. Let me turn to your question now.

What tells me that life has meaning and purpose? My primary reason stems from what I said just a moment ago: that people need meaning and purpose to flourish in the first place. You said in your post that “[a] lot of people who do not believe in God think that our lives have no purpose,” and while there are nonbelievers who verbally assent to that statement, my experience with such individuals says that their lives don’t bear it out. Their idea of “purpose” is just a different idea; it doesn’t necessarily come from God, and it isn’t eternal or absolute, but they come up with one nonetheless (perhaps “we should make the world a better place” or “we’re here to be kind to one another”). They can’t seem to avoid declaring some purpose, even if somewhat apophatically (“we don’t have an ultimate purpose, so we should just keep learning to make the world a better place.” The second part of the sentence asserts a purpose after all!). Adherents of every worldview go to great lengths to proclaim that their belief system or way of life has some form of meaning and gives some form of purpose (though as I describe below, I don’t think all such forms are equally valuable). On the whole, people desire meaning and purpose to such a great extent that humanity can’t thrive without it.

So, do our lives really have purpose, or do we just invent one to soothe our fragile psyches? I would find it quite strange if we needed to believe a lie to function well in life, so that gives me reason to think that meaning and purpose in our lives is not just a fantasy, but is really there. Are there examples of humanity needing to believe a lie to function properly? There may be some individual situations where a person would choose ignorance over a painful truth (such as preferring to remain unaware of a personal betrayal), but I don’t think those examples apply to humanity as a whole. Believing the truth seems to be better for the health of societies and (almost always) for individuals, too.

Of course, my claim is not: “we want to have purpose, and therefore we really do have it.” Just wanting something to be true doesn’t make it true. Instead, my claim is this: the fact that people everywhere across times and cultures have always tried to find purpose and meaning, that we have an unshakeable sense that what we do in life is meant for something, that people can’t escape the notion that how we live matters – all this seems to point to a human need that is too deep to be ignored.

Essentially, if everyone wants the same thing (or nearby versions of the same thing), I find it more believable that that desire is indicative of something which truly exists, rather than that we all share the same “useful fantasy.” Thus, I think life has meaning and purpose because the contrary (that life has no meaning and purpose, and yet humanity works so hard to find or invent them) is implausible.

Does human meaning and purpose have to come from Christianity? Obviously, people can and do find/invent purposes for their lives to give them motivation to keep going or succeeding in life (or for whatever other reasons). But I claim the meaning and purpose provided to us in Christianity – to know and love the God of the Bible more deeply forever – is unique in that it is the only one which is all of the following: it’s eternal, it’s absolute/inherent (defined outside of humanity, in particular by God), and it conforms to reality. This makes meaning in Christianity both intellectually satisfying and personally fulfilling. In fact, when people talk about the “meaning and purpose” of life, I think they implicitly intend for all three of these characteristics to be exhibited; let me expound on that.

Is life really meaningful if its effects last a finite time? I would say no. Part of the desire that people have for their life’s meaning and purpose is that their lives will have ongoing impact, and I argue that only eternal impact would fully satisfy this desire. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 puts it, God “has put eternity into man’s heart.” If there is some point in the future when no sentient being is impacted in any way (directly or indirectly) by anything from my life, then my life would have served no purpose and thus be ultimately meaningless. To me, what’s the difference if that time comes tomorrow or in billions of years? If it isn’t eternal, then someday it will have no importance and hence no meaning.

Is life really meaningful if humans define that supposed meaning for themselves? Again I say no. Inventing meaning through one’s own declaration would provide no satisfaction even if the goals are met. Why not? I liken it to cheating in Solitaire; or setting one’s clock a few minutes slow to declare oneself more punctual; or making a home movie and then giving yourself an award for making such a good film. These notions of “achievement” are meaningless when they start and end with “me.” Don’t they just feel vacuous and vain? If we are free to define meaning for ourselves, then we are free to change that definition at any time, too – but then there was nothing inherent about it in the first place if we can change it to suit our performance ex post facto. If we move the target after we shoot the arrow, what is meaningful about getting a bullseye? If we believe that our meaning is a product of our own construction, we would soon realize that there is no benefit or satisfaction to living up to its “standards,” nor any disappointment if we fail to reach them. If we invent our own rules for meaning and then declare our lives meaningful when they meet our fabrication, who is impressed?

Is life really meaningful if our beliefs of what make it meaningful are nothing but fantasies? No. If our beliefs about purpose don’t accord with reality, then eventually they will amount to nothing. Reality will win out. Of course, the claim I made that only Christianity ultimately conforms to reality is a big one, and one that would take us far into other issues…but that’s beyond the scope here.

To put it simply, I have never known anyone to live as if his/her life has no eternal, ultimate, inherent meaning or purpose, regardless of their stated belief, and that alone is formidable evidence to me that eternal, ultimate, inherent meaning and purpose really do exist.

(As a side note, the book of Ecclesiastes would be great reading on this topic; it shatters the notion that we could find real meaning in anything that isn’t eternal, that isn’t from God, or that isn’t in accordance with reality.)

One final thought: God’s Word makes it clear that we have meaning and purpose through knowing Him and fulfilling the mission(s) He has tasked us with. For a Christian, finding it in His Word ought to be enough (though I acknowledge it may not be persuasive to someone having doubts).

I hope you find my thoughts useful. Thanks for the question, Sam.

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That may be one of the reasons that God desires us to be childlike, to have childlike hearts (as opposed to childish :grin:). Little children don’t think that their lives are useless – they have to be taught that by cruel parents or atheistic teachers or professors.

It’s also why the Fatherhood of God and the familial relationship we have with him is huge, that although once vagrant rebels and delinquent orphans on the streets or in jail, we have been redeemed, set free and adopted through Jesus’ unimaginably painful and arduous labor for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

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Sam B wrote (Dec 15, 2020):

Hey guys. I have been thinking about evolution and our world. I think a really good arguement/evidence of God is purpose. I see that the process of evolution could be guided by God, or not, but what I mean is the purpose we see in life. A lot of people who do not believe in God think that our lives have no purpose. Whether that includes scientific observations or your own experiences, what tells you that life has meaning and purpose?

To start with purpose and argue that there is a God seems backward to me. Instead, I start with God and argue that there is a purpose. For me, God is always prior, always first. It starts with who God is, which defines what God does, and that in turn defines who we are, which defines what we do. In other words, our purpose is a function of our identity, and that is sovereignly defined by God to whom we are accountable. So what tells me that life has meaning and purpose? God does.

But perhaps I could say a bit more about the connection between God, evolution, and human purpose. I maintain a categorical distinction in my biblical world-view between “redemptive history” on the one hand and “natural history” on the other. Redemptive history is something we explore theologically, while natural history is something we explore scientifically. Natural history is the stage upon which the drama of redemptive history unfolds, and it is redemptive history which reveals the meaning and purpose of natural history, all things pointing to Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

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The record of God’s dealings with humans tells us of the (general) purposes for which we were created, and that we each have a (specific) calling in life. Our experiences of God include the way clusters of biblical teachings are self-evident to us, which is why we believe in Him. God’s reality is not an inference from science or anything else. It is known by experiencing Him.

Roy

Sounds a little bit better than God gives us our purpose, according to which we are nothing but tools and a means to an end for Him. In which case, we must throw out all ideas that God is a role model for us to emulate so we don’t trash human ethics.

But your formulation just doesn’t sound credible either. It simply isn’t the case that atheists have no meaning and purpose for their life. So the far more realistic picture is that people give meaning and purpose to their own lives and the theist and atheist simply come up with a meaning and purpose for their life according to different ways of thinking. For the theist it is about their relationship with God and for the atheist it is not.

Is it really the case that your purpose comes from things that were simply given to you, or is your purpose something which you decide for yourself. Does the man born to atheist parents therefore have a purpose not connected to God. No it does not follow. Does the man born to theist parents therefore have a purpose from God? No. We make our own decisions about these things either way.

But different people have different records about God’s dealing’s with humans and thus the purpose they get from that if they do so at all is not the same.

And those experiences change a lot over a person’s life.

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It seems to me t hat the philosophical way of coming at thus us the question, Why is there something rather than nothing? The answer is because there is order rather than chaos. The reason that there is order is because reality has a purpose.

Now this statement is either true or false, but people can see it differently. @Klax thinks that Nature or really Philosophy, created the universe so Philosophy gives Reality meaning and purpose. You have a similar view in that you have Nature separate from God.

The problem seems to be that you see meaning and purpose closely connected to control, which for God it is not. To use the model of the parent and child while it is true that many parents have definite ideas as to how they would like their children to grow up, most are satisfied if they come out reasonably well. Still it is not wrong for us to have high aspirations for our children, but we must not reject them because they might not live up to them.

God does want us to live a certain way. God wants us to love one another. That is the purpose and meaning that God gave life. It really does not depend if one is an atheist or believer, although there are many people, who do not believe that this is the purpose of life. I have said before that the issue we should be discussing with non-believers is not the question of God, but the question of what is the purpose of life. This especially true because many believers seem to have lost sight of the true meaning of life. .

That is your answer and makes sense to you. It makes no sense to me at all. I would give a completely different answer. If there is no reason to choose nothing over something then you don’t choose and you would have both nothing and something… or even nothing and everything. An infinite God is everything… until He creates something which is not God.

I don’t see any similarity. I believe nature is separate because God is a true creator and not just a dreamer. And yes it has a purpose because God created it for a reason. But there is nothing metaphysical about this it just means God designed the universe so that His purpose in making it would be fulfilled.

Now you are just making stuff up. And I see no reason for that… unless it is because you want control over the discussion.

I have no problem with this …as far as it goes.

I never said that atheists have no meaning and purpose for their lives. On the contrary, I said the very opposite. Specifically, when I said that our purpose is a function of our identity, which is sovereignly defined by God to whom we are accountable, that word “our” was intended to mean all human beings—atheists included. (Please keep in mind that I am a Christian arguing from a biblical world-view.)

“But atheists don’t believe in God.” Even if we were to grant that for the sake of argument, how should that defeat my claim? It is still the case that atheists have a purpose as a function of their identity which is defined by God. Sure, they reject God and presume to contrive their own meaning and purpose—they aren’t the only ones—and that is a deliberate and willful sin, one of many for which God will hold them accountable.

 

That simply begs the question against my claim, thus it is not a legitimate defeater, much less is it somehow more realistic.

 

Again, because I am a human being, my purpose is a function of my identity which is sovereignly defined by God. And, because I love God, I choose to embrace that identity and its inherent purpose. Others can choose differently, of course, disregarding their God-given identity and purpose and contriving their own. People do all the time.

 

Sorry, what doesn’t follow? Does a man born to atheist parents have a purpose not connected to God? Not a legitimate one, no. Again, he can disregard his God-given identity and purpose and contrive his own, but it is illegitimate and sinful. Like everyone else, he is created in the image of God; his purpose is a function of that identity, which is inexorably connected to God.

 

Again, this simply begs the question against my claim—which is that his identity is from God, and that is packed with purpose. (But, as I said, people can disregard that and make up their own. So many do. It is just one of the many sins for which people will be responsible.)

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I quite agree.

I quite disagree. Even as a Christian I disagree. This is you speaking for God and thus this is you forcing your idea of purpose and identity on others which is a violation of human ethics by which you are changing people into inanimate tools treating them as a means to an end you have chosen.

This is what people actually do and how people actually live rather than your fantasies of theocratic domination of the world. It is the world God actually created rather than the ideology you want to cram the world into. And the ethical poverty of this ideology from treating human beings as a means to an end is atrocious.

Yes I believe in God and I believe that God created the universe for the purpose of the self-organizing process of life so that we would participate in our own creation (through growth, learning, and evolution) and thus choose our own purpose of existence. In that sense, you can say God created us. But that is nothing like the creation of a tool for an purpose but the creation of children to be an end in themselves.

God had a reason to do this, to be sure. There is in fact only one good reason for doing such a thing and that is for a relationship with persons other than yourself. But one cannot have a relationship with a person other than yourself unless they are persons in their own right and that mean they make their own choices about who they are and what their purpose is. Otherwise the relationship is nothing but sham.

Now to be sure this is far from an equal relationship. This is a relationship between an infinite being and finite beings. Although as children created in God image with infinite potentiality to reflect God’s infinite actuality this is an eternal parent-child relationship, where there is no end to what God has to give and no end to what we can receive from Him.

Disregarding what YOU have made up and decided is “God-given,” yes.

None of this is a matter of objective proof… except perhaps what experience shows to promote better relationships between people.

We have tried theocracy and the result is horrible. Rather than bringing anyone closer to God it drives everyone away. The only result is endless ammunition from historical atrocities by theistic religions for atheists to claim that theistic religion is evil. So what objective evidence there is from what actually works in promoting better relationships is very much against your idea of God or anyone forcing an identity or purpose onto people.

God is not a thing, so God cannot be everything

I am glad we are in agreement…

Have a blessed Christmas and beautiful 2021 to all.

everything is not a thing in the sense you are using the word to say God is not a thing.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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