Proof Of God's Existence


(Jamie) #1

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.
or:
B. I am not.

This is very theologically convenient as you can see. The premises of the argument are as follows:

  1. 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.)

  2. 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.)

  3. 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.)

  4. 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.*)

  5. 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.)

  6. 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.)

  7. 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.)

  8. 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.)

  9. 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.)

  10. 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.)

  11. 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?

  1. 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. :smiley:

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.

Thoughts?


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Does Evolution disprove God?
(Wookin Panub) #2

A God has to exist in order for anything to have meaning. Atheists always claim that they are the rational/logical ones. Without the existence of God, some sort of logic giver. How can we know if logic is really logic :slight_smile:


(Jay Johnson) #3

I usually would prefer to link “legit” sources, but since the OP links wikipedia…

You’re actually making an argument for certain schools of Hinduism and Buddhism that emphasize that reality is maya/illusion. Of course, if it was your intent to construct an argument for the truth of those views, you seem to be right on track.


(Jamie) #4

Thanks for replying,
I am linking for definitions not sources. In case anyone wants a starting point to learn more about the terms. This is a logical argument that stands on its own. Sources are irrelevant, but I can point you to some.

As for Buddhism sharing some of these ideas, yes I am aware of that. I am not addressing buddhism or supporting it as a whole. I don’t see how that has any bearing on the validity of the argument. Are you proposing we should accept or reject arguments on something other than their merits.


(Jay Johnson) #5

@pacificmaelstrom
Sorry, that wiki comment wasn’t necessarily a swipe at you. It was the old teacher in me coming out. I instinctively cringe at wikipedia as a source. I’m getting over it, though!

I realize that you were not constructing an argument for Buddhism. That was just me being a smarty pants. However, if I take every step of your argument at face value, not challenging any of its assumptions, it could just as easily lead me to conclude that most schools of Buddhism and some of Hinduism are true. Since those religions explicitly teach what you propose in No. 9, whereas Christianity does not explicitly teach it (or even imply it), then those religions should be judged as “closer to the truth” in their description of reality than Christianity is.

As far as an actual critique, I would stop you right at No. 1. [quote=“pacificmaelstrom, post:1, topic:5352”]
Empiricism is the preferred way of determining TRUTH. (This is the foundation of science. In other words, we must base our knowledge on our experiences and observations.)
[/quote]
This may be the preferred method of performing science (and rightly so), but it is not the preferred way of determining truth, as you assert. What you are describing here is Logical Positivism, which I would bet is the opposite of what you actually believe:

“Their (Logical Positivism’s) principle of verification meant that only propositions concerned with matters of empirically-verifiable fact (‘It is still raining’), or the logical relationship between concepts (‘A downpour is heavier than a shower’) are meaningful. Propositions that fall into neither of these camps fail to satisfy the principle, they argued, and consequently lack sense. It follows, therefore, that the propositions of ethics, aesthetics, and religion, are meaningless nonsense. The same would be said for any proposition that expressed a judgement of value as distinct from propositions solely concerned with facts.”

i stole the above from a good little article about Logical Positivism, Wittgenstein, and Tolstoy’s “The Gospel in Brief”


(Larry Bunce) #6

We humans never really experience reality, since everything we can know about the world comes to our brains via our sensory organs. That is why dreams seem as real as what we experience when we are awake. The parts of the brain responsible for sensation can’t tell if the nerve impulses they receive come directly from our eyes and ears or from remembered sights and sounds stored in our brain’s memory. (This would be like being in a listening room with a stereo system that reproduced sound perfectly. Without visual cues, we wouldn’t be able to tell if anything we heard came from a live performance or from a recording of one.)

I have heard that during near-death experiences, people report that the visions they had seen while clinically dead seemed more real than normal reality, as though they had awakened from a dream. The idea that all existence is the result of mind does sound very much like Buddhism. I have read that some people think that Jesus had traveled to India during the years that the Bible is silent on his life. I think it is more likely that he could have talked to someone in Nazareth who knew about Buddhism. Travel was difficult in ancient times, but caravans covered long distances, and ideas were able to spread.

Proving God by denying reality seems like a long way to go to make a point. We are all aware of reality, or at least of what we experience and call reality. It would seem to be easier to accept that God exists than to deny the physical world. People who deny God just have not had an experience in a rational state of mind that they can attribute to God’s action. If the only thing that exists is a mind, or our consciousness, then it is easy to accept the existence of a higher mind that we can call God. What we as Christians are trying to do is to show the world to that God is a spiritual being who affects things in our everyday physical life.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

Jamie – you keep using the word “we” and post things here … for … somebody to read I guess. If there is no physical reality outside of your mind, just who or what is it that you imagine should be reading or responding here?


(Jamie) #8

I’m not denying reality. Our lives (and dreams for that matter) are perfectly REAL in that they are REAL experiences… and at the end of the day, there is NO REAL DIFFERENCE between a mind-created experience and an experience of “physical objects”.

Thanks for bringing it up it’s a good point to discuss. What I am denying is that reality is physical. There is still a reality, and it certainly still matters. And it still makes sense to think of things in terms of objects because those are useful fictions.

IN other words, all this doesn’t change the way we interact with the world. But it can change the way we think about our place in it.


(Jamie) #9

I am not a Solipsist. This is not an argument which attempts to draw a solipsistic conclusion. If I was the only person in existence, then I would be God. I am not God.

Thus I imagine that God at least is reading my posts.


(Jamie) #10

This may be the preferred method of performing science (and rightly so), but it is not the preferred way of determining truth, as you assert. What you are describing here is Logical Positivism, which I would bet is the opposite of what you actually believe:

“Their (Logical Positivism’s) principle of verification meant that only propositions concerned with matters of empirically-verifiable fact (‘It is still raining’), or the logical relationship between concepts (‘A downpour is heavier than a shower’) are meaningful. Propositions that fall into neither of these camps fail to satisfy the principle, they argued, and consequently lack sense. It follows, therefore, that the propositions of ethics, aesthetics, and religion, are meaningless nonsense. The same would be said for any proposition that expressed a judgement of value as distinct from propositions solely concerned with facts.”

i stole the above from a good little article about Logical Positivism, Wittgenstein, and Tolstoy’s “The Gospel in Brief”
[/quote]

Many people today consider science to be a search for truth. It is not, however, because the scientific principles, rigorously applied in this argument, show that a physical reality is a bad hypothesis to begin with. But science CAN organize and explain what we observe in real life. Its still REAL even if it isn’t physical.

I think you may be attacking a straw man here. You are going to have to go into a specific example. I’m not sure I hold the views you think I do. For example: I am a fully in the Divine Command Theory camp. I don’t think that anything comes from outside of experience… after all, if it affects you, then you are experiencing its effects. (You don’t have to be conscious of it for this to be true).

I’m not sure where you would want to reject Logical Positivism, unless you were convinced that something you wished to believe could never be proven or shown to be likely by logic. That seems defeatist to me, although I probably would identify more with logical empiricism.


(Jamie) #11

Challenge away.
Bear in mind that this argument is only a starting point. I don’t expect someone to become a christian because of this argument, It is a way to open the door by uprooting deep seated assumptions that categorically rule out the supernatural.

On a side note, Buddhism is interesting because it seeks to eliminate suffering by an arguably effective but joyless route. There is nothing to be gained from dismissing Buddhism, when there is clearly a great amount of human wisdom to be found in it. Without Christ, Buddhism is probably the best you can do.

Absolutely all suffering can be understood as the difference between desire and reality. Suffering is not equal to pain, because while pain can cause suffering, it does not necessarily do so. Someone who willingly endures pain because of the promise of the great reward (such as an athlete) does not suffer from their pain. Buddhism proposes to eliminate suffering by eliminating desire. But Christianity proposes the opposite, the elimination suffering by redeeming and fulfilling desire. Buddhists teach the lack of desire, while Christ teaches that our ultimate desires can be satisfied only through a relationship with a perfect God. These are the kinds of things that may lead us to judge the relative merits of Christianity and and Buddhism, but if someone is a materialist, there’s no way to even get to the point of having such a conversation.

As for the what the Bible may imply, at some point we have to stop and think about what creation ex Nilo entails. There is nothing except God. The universe is not an insulated bubble with God on the outside, it is stained by God from within. The Idea that the universe was physical always implied that it is something that can stand on its own. Ideas like deism come from this. But here we see that God is actively sustaining the universe. Such a view is very compatible with the bible. Far more compatible than the deistic view that is implied by the existence of the physical world that is self-sufficient.

@Larry_Bunce rather than asking me whether it might be too much to deny the physical reality, I ask you what you feel you would be giving up.


#12

I have become interested in Proofs of God’s extistence after reading about the extensive and sophisticated proof the was argued by John Duns Scotus and if that may be relevant today in today;s scientific climate. I’m still considering it.

Meanwhile while there is an argument for God’s existence from a First Cause (part of Scotus argument), that the universe must have a cause and this is God is sometimes on disputed ground in relation to multiverse theory. Can there be a causeless original “something” that existed with many potential regions in which many possible universes arise and ours is just one out of the total set of possibles with the right conditions for our existence.

Of course the postulation of such causeless “something” is a theoetical construct that some would say has no actual proof behind it either. We might even say that a causelss universe is just the atheists way around the question “why is there somethng rather than nothing”.

Maybe there can be no real theoretical “proof of God” no more of less than there proof of a causeless origin.


(Jay Johnson) #13

I do not reject Logical Empiricism/Positivism as the proper philosophical outlook for conducting scientific inquiries. I reject it as an appropriate philosophy for determining “truth” in all matters because of its insistence that only propositions that can be verified by facts or the logical relationship between concepts can have any meaning. In other words, to say that “God is love” is to make a meaningless statement. It cannot be verified by facts, so it makes no sense. Divine Command Theory is, likewise, a bundle of nonsensical statements, judged by Logical Empiricism. To say that “God gave moral commands in the Bible” is meaningless. I can verify that there is a book called the Bible. I can verify that it contains commands. Using facts alone, I can’t verify that God gave the commands. Therefore, the statement has no meaning. Wittgenstein, in my view, pretty soundly countered their arguments.

Actually, I would say that creation ex nihilo entails the idea that God alone is self-sufficient and self-sustaining. He is the Creator; all else is contingent. Aquinas did a pretty good job with this. The physical can stand on its own only for a short period of time before lapsing into decay and eventual disorder. (Any finite period of time, whether 10 years or 10 billion years, is “short” compared to eternity.) The question I have at this point is whether your argument is a logical exercise, or whether you actually believe it to be true. Christian tradition is pretty consistent in teaching the reality of the creation as something that truly “exists” outside of ourselves.

@cosmicscotus
I’m definitely a fan of Blaise Pascal when it comes to proofs of God’s existence. He says that the proofs of God from nature are usually weak and give unbelievers the impression that “the proofs of our religion are indeed feeble.” Essentially, Pascal argues that the evidence from nature is ambiguous – neither absolutely confirming nor denying the presence of a divine being. The hidden God is a constant theme for Pascal, which he ties to our unworthiness because of sin. “It was therefore not right that (God) should appear in a manner manifestly divine and capable of convincing all men … (W)ishing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart and hidden from those who shun him with all their heart, he has qualified our knowledge of him … There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.”


(Jamie) #14

You present a false dichotomy with your insistence on “meaning”. Something does not need to be proven true to have MEANING, because meaning is individual and subjective. TRUTH on the other hand, is neither. It is not my concern that you cannot prove this or that about religion. There is something called Faith, which can bridge that gap. But it is far too intellectually dishonest for me to say that I can PROVE truth WITHOUT Empirical evidence. And keep in mind that Empirical entails ALL experience, not just “natural” experience.

This is NOT a proof from nature.

Your speculation on how the physical may exist apart from God is… speculation. And it suffers from the problem that this idea of phyisical objects is ultimately illogical. It is also a road to putting God in a box.

I believe it personally. None of what I have proposed is in any conflict with those things. We experience reality. Our lives are real, and we have real interactions with others and with God. Reality is a creation of God. Reality is something external to ourselves. None of this requires the actual existence of physical objects as anything more than experiences. Maybe you don’t yet understand what is being proposed here. Do you need me to clarify something?


(Christy Hemphill) #15

Well, I am not a philosopher and honestly these kind kinds of questions about the nature of reality aren’t that interesting to me so I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I don’t buy your “no physical reality” argument. I think creation is more than an emanation from the mind of God and has its own independent existence, albeit an existence that is sustained by God’s will and desire. Otherwise, I don’t see how the Incarnation makes any sense. If you are right, God did not enter his creation and unite himself with it in an unprecedented way. He entered his own mind emanation? How is that significant or redemptive?


(Jamie) #16

This is a legitimate concern, and I think the problem lies more in your framing of the idea. What does it mean to sustain the existence of something if that something has an independent existence. If something is being sustained, how could it then be independent? I see a paradox there.

An emanation from the mind of God is no less REAL then a physical world. This is the key point. The entire argument is based on the realization that there is nothing that we can use to distinguish a physical reality from a non-physical one. We still experience a reality. We still have a human experience. As humans, we are limited to a certain viewpoint and mental resources. There is no reason that Jesus cannot enter the same reality as us.

But even more important, I don’t think you should be hung up on this in general. The cross is a symbol of something that is far more profound then the simple Crucifixion of a God in the body of a man. The forgiveness of our sin is that something. How are we to understand God’s forgiveness of our sin without the cross? But even with the cross we are still unable to comprehend what it means for an infinite God to forgive us despite our failure to love him. The outward suffering of the cross is a infinitesimally small glimpse of the true suffering of Christ on our behalf. Do you agree with that? God’s forgiveness of our sin has nothing to do with physical vs non physical reality. We still have a real life, we still sin. It is just all the worse because we realize that God is literally facilitating our every second of existence, and yet we use it to sin against him, and he still has grace for us.


(Christy Hemphill) #17

Well, one example would be a fetus in its mother’s womb. When my babies were inside me, I was sustaining them, and their existence was dependent on mine, but at the same time, the babies were not me; they were independent beings even in their dependence on my sustenance. At least that is how I view unborn infants.

But for me, the fact that the cross is symbolic of anything depends on the historical, physical reality that generated the symbol in the first place. The forgiveness of our sins was accomplished by a physical death and resurrection and the revelation in Scripture that I give much greater priority to than logic-based metaphysical musings repeatedly hammers on the idea that Jesus died in a physical body and rose again with to physical new life, giving us the hope of our own physical resurrection in the New Creation.

No, I don’t grant that premise. I think the Incarnation as I understand it definitely depends on a physical reality that exists distinct from God’s Kingdom reality. My whole concept of the Kingdom is based on the idea of an in-breaking and eventual unification of God’s spiritual reality with our physical reality. That is the idea I see presented in Scripture and I’m not inclined to part with it just because a different conceptualization might stump an atheist. I’ll stick with special revelation on this one. :relaxed:


(Jamie) #18

I don’t think that’s quite the same thing. If you were to die, the baby would not die right away. But fair enough, I will grant that it is not necessarily a paradox.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Is that a metaphysical musing? Did Jesus say that because after bearing his tortures in silence suddenly had it occur to him that God was forsaking him? I don’t think I should have to argue there is clearly a spiritual dimension to the whole thing. And isn’t the spiritual dimension always regarded as MOST important. Baptism with the holy spirit. Treasures in heaven. Spiritual warfare.

I don’t think “non physical” means what you think it means in this context. I am saying that our experiences are a constant act of our Creator God. “Physical” in the sense of having a body and living in a spatial and temporal framework does NOT require the actual existence of physical objects. I am not merely trying to confuse atheists. I have found unequivocally that this framework strengthens and enhances all these key conceptualizations that you feel are being threatened.

On a side note, if you have some objection to my argument besides “It goes against my interpretation of scripture.” I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, you are arguing like a YEC :smiley:


(Christy Hemphill) #19

It’s not either or. Yes, of course there is a spiritual dimension to the whole thing. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a physical dimension, which is what you are arguing. We are physical creatures that needed a physical act of redemption in order to secure our spiritual salvation.

If you say so. But this is where philosophy becomes useless to me. It seems like you are just redefining what everyone else labels “physical reality” as “non-physical reality” and I honestly don’t see what it buys you.

It goes against my interpretation of English. :open_mouth:

“It goes against my interpretation of Scripture” is not a valid scientific argument. It is a valid contention when one is discussing one’s personal theology and view of metaphysics and the nature of reality, things science doesn’t speak to, but Scripture does.


(Jamie) #20

This is what frustrated me. Yes, the argument for a first cause is, as I said, probably the best mainstream argument. But it is not all that convincing. It can be CONFIRMING for many people, but it is not the kind of logic that compels someone to confront it. It is too easy for people to say “well maybe the universe (or multiverse) just always existed”, and leave it at that.

In finding the OP argument, I dug deeper, and realized that the “existence” of the universe itself is in question. If we simply grant the assumption that the universe IS an independent physical realm of objects, then we have already lost half the battle. But there is NO good reason to grant this assumption. It is an ILLOGICAL assumption to make. There is NO question whether the universe was caused to exist because it DOESN’T HAVE AN INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE in the first place. You don’t prove God by saying the universe must have a cause, you prove God by showing that there is NO logical alternative to God.