I am going to share what I believe is a very powerful argument for the existence of God you may not have heard before.
When it comes to Christianity, the question of God’s existence is pretty much square one. So why is it so hard to find a compelling answer to this question?
The best mainstream apologetics argument is probably the cosmological argument, which makes the case that since everything that began to exist has a cause, the universe must have an uncaused cause, For which God is the most likely candidate. But this argument ultimately falls short because it accepts the key premise ultimately responsible for skepticism about God: that there is a physical universe that exists in the first place.
If we can reject the idea of a physical universe, or physical reality, the foundation of Atheism utterly collapses. Atheism relies on the idea of a physical reality above all else. Without a physical reality, science becomes the study of a limited part of experience, and while still very useful, ultimately useless in the quest for TRUTH about the ultimate nature of our existence.
I know we mostly love science around here, so this might seem like a hard sell, but stay with me. I have tested this argument on two of my atheist friends and they were both convinced, and I mean legitimately convinced, of all the premises, although they were not ready to fully accept the conclusion. The conclusion is: After empirically analyzing our experience, the Existence of God is undeniable and instead the question becomes:
WHO IS GOD?
To which we can either answer:
A. I AM.
B. I am not.
This is very theologically convenient as you can see. The premises of the argument are as follows:
Empiricism is the preferred way of determining TRUTH. (This axiom is the foundation of science. In other words, we must base our knowledge on our experiences and observations.)
ASSUMPTION is not a firm basis for TRUTH. (This follows from 1 and is also a key scientific principal. If you make an assumption in your chain of logic, you must recognize it and acknowledge that all subsequent logical conclusions are contingent on the truth of the assumption.)
Occam’s Razor: When there are multiple ways to explain the same thing, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be accepted. (This is another key scientific principle. Militant Athiests are very fond of employing this premise, as you are likely aware.)
There is no empirical way to distinguish between a mind-generated experience of an object and an experience of a “real” object. (This is evident from our experience with dreams. In dreams as in reality, you can see a cup, pick it up, drink out of it, and drop it on the floor and watch it shatter into pieces. True, you can’t take a dream cup into reality when you wake up, but nor can you take a real cup with you into a dream.*)
The idea of Minds is capable of explaining all experience, including real life. (This follows from 4. We know that a mind can create experiences indistinguishable from “real” experiences. Thus we know that Minds could be responsible for all experience.)
The idea of physical objects is capable of explaining all experience, including real life. (This is the premise of materialism and the foundation on which Atheism sits.)
There IS Empirical Evidence that Minds exist. ( I think therefore I am. You are a mind, and you know you exist. Thus you know at least one mind exists. The confirmed existence of one mind means it is an order of magnitude more plausible that other minds may exist than something entirely different. The confirmed existence of one horse makes it far more likely that there are more horses out there, when compared to something that has not been confirmed to exist, like a unicorn.)
There is NO Empirical Evidence that Physical Objects Exist. (This follows from1, 4 and 5. Since you can have experiences of objects that are clearly not physical (dreams), your experiences in real life are totally unable to demonstrate that “physical objects” are, in fact, physical.)
Physical objects do not exist, and all experience is generated by Minds. (This follows from 3, applied to 5,6,7 and 8. We should not be ASSUMING the existence of an entire class of things (physical objects) for which we have NO direct empirical evidence in order to explain our experiences, when we can already explain them completely by invoking only the concept of Minds, which we KNOW exist.)
There is a mind responsible for our experience of “real life”. (This follows from 9. Since all experience is generated by minds, some mind must be responsible for generating what we experience while we are awake.)
The mind responsible for “real life” is God. (What else would you call a mind that controls and creates the fabric of your reality?")
So God exists. Now we ask the question: Who is God?
- The complex and highly ordered nature of reality reflects the greatness of the Mind behind it. (“The heavens declare the glory of God”)
Since we are not in control of our reality, and we know from our experience with dreams that our minds tend to create realities that are significantly less complex and ordered than real life, we have good reason to conclude that we are not God, but we are free to believe whatever we want.
In the end, God’s existence is clearly evident, and from the very principals that make up the foundation of science, no less. Just as clear is the fact that the idea of a physical universe is based on an untenable, unprovable assumption. Even worse, this unprovable idea of a physical universe is totally unnecessary and unjustified. It explains nothing that cannot already be explained by the proven idea of minds. As rational thinkers, we are obligated to discard this fanciful notion of physical objects and stick to the facts.
I am not the first person to propose this kind of thing.18th century philosopher George Berkeley came up with a variation of this argument, and emphasizes that nothing exists unless it is observed (or thought about) by a mind. In other words, to answer the old question “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” The answer is: God hears it. It gives a fresh understanding to the meaning of Omnipresence.
Perhaps more importantly it is compelling in how we think about the “eternal perspective”. Our eternal souls, the true essence of our being, are not “in” our bodies, any more than we are really “in” a dream body. Thus if our soul is safe, no harm can come to us no matter what happens in our lives on earth.
It also turns many basic assumptions on their head. For example, one may argue that all this is rubbish because minds require brains. But we only suppose that they do because of what we see in our experience of the “physical world”. And so we realize that we have barely any idea of the TRUE NATURE OF OUR REALITY. But at least we figured out that minds are the basis of objects, not the other way around.