Proof Of God's Existence

It buys me a lot:

  • It provides both a role and explanation for the soul without relying on Cartesian dualism or equivocating soul with consciousness.
  • It enables me to avoid making a HUGE logical assumption in my personal view of reality.
  • It provides a POSITIVE logical proof of God’s existence. Something that is SORELY needed by today’s apologists. (Not to mention me personally)
  • It provides a framework for understanding the “Image of God”.
  • It obliterates many ways in which God is commonly “boxed”, such as nature vs divine intervention, evolution vs creation where the questions are always framed in terms of “How does God interact (or not interact) with the PHYSICAL world.”
  • It re-frames the secular vs religious debate into one that can be plausibly won.
  • It fills me with awe and humilty to realize how little we really know about the ultimate nature of reality.
  • It provides an effective way of visualizing the eternal perspective, and puts life on earth into that perspective.
  • It increases my awareness of God’s “active” participation in my life and my personal debt to him.
  • It generally harmonizes a wide range of theological and scientific concepts into a coherent and robust belief system without compromising the integrity of scripture or science.
  • There are many other reasons, I can’t think of at the moment.

Yes, English is not well equipped to explain this idea. If you read about George Berkeley, he actually proposes that we simply do exactly that: continue to think and speak of reality as physical for practical purposes, but while retaining the knowledge that it is ultimately not made of physical objects.

You seem to think that the philosophical doctrine of physical reality came from scripture, when in fact it came from western philosophy and has been absorbed in scriptural interpretation.

Re this:

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.*)

I think this is true, in principle, given a sufficiently powerful and robust experience-generating mind. But I’ve never thought that the example of a dream is anything more than a poor example of this. If I am critical and honest with myself, I have to concede that my waking experiences of ‘physical reality’ - my sensory experiences while awake - are far richer, more comprehensive and robust than my dream experiences. At every moment I am awake, I experience a wide range of vision, sound, touch, etc, that all logically hold-together and mutually cohere in the finest detail all the time. In comparison, when I am dreaming I have to honestly admit that my perceived sensory experiences don’t even come close to this in their comprehensiveness or coherence. My dreaming mind only thinks that they do, because its discriminating faculties that could tell otherwise are not fully online. In other words, its only because of my altered state of mind that my dreamworld seems as real as the ‘real world’, if I’m critically honest with myself.

It’s sort of like somebody experiencing a ‘high’ or an acid trip. Sure their experiences seem real to them, their insights seem incredible, and etc - but that’s not because they really are just as compelling, but rather because important discriminating faculties in their mind are not fully functioning.

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@pacificmaelstrom, Well, you might THINK you are not God… but you might not be in a position to know…


I think I owe you a drink! Your 11 point list in the first post are very impressive! But I think you can save even more steps! I don’t think you need to argue about physical objects.

The three steps that I think can stand alone are the ones I’ve highlighted.

This is actually why I DO believe in God. I just didn’t have the full vocabulary to support my ideas… now I do! I have YOU to thank!

My usual discussion is that CONSCIOUSNESS is the most mysterious thing in the Universe … and without God to support Consciousness, Consciousness is completely meaningless.

George Brooks, Tampa, FL

Hi Jamie!
I think that line of reasoning is based on a faulty application of Occam’s Razor. The principle holds that our explanations should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. If you apply a razor too enthusiastically, you end up cutting your own veins…

Both the denial of the reality of matter in favor of the mind (like Berkeley) and vice versa (like Dawkins) are, in my opinion, examples of reductionism. They end up reducing reality to one of the two.

I think we’re doing more justice to God’s handiwork if we acknowledge that matter and mind are both essentially real, while dynamically interdependent on each other. Otherwise God’s work would be more like maintaining a universal hallucination.

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Reductionism to the spirit-state of the mind is no sin …

How so, and how does this framework relate to the way “image of God” is presented in Scripture?

And what was the Incarnation, in your view? If reality is just an emanation of God’s mind, what does it mean that God took on σάρξ?

What is the New Creation going to be? A reboot of God’s mind projection?

“What is the New Creation…?”

Discussions on this topic are of theology, and as human beings we will exercise our reason and intellect. When we discuss God, we are undertaking theological discussions. Theology is the science of religion and the way arguments may be constructed (via speculative philosophy), on matters pertaining to particular conceptions of God. The following summary is fairly typical …“theology may deal with dogmatic ascertains, or may be natural theology, or consist of arguments about God. Such activities include writings ranging from those of St. Aquinas, to the 20th-century theologians, such as Karl Barth. Theologians have endeavoured to construct theology as a science that radically differed from the natural and the human sciences because its ultimate subject, God, was not accessible to empirical investigation. Aquinas included in his theological system five proofs for the existence of God. Barth considered God’s freedom and revelation (communication of himself), as providing the understanding of God. In this way Barth believes one may avoid the danger of approaching God as an object of investigation”.

Even if we agreed that we avoid considering God as an object for empirical investigation, we cannot reason that revelation may be within a range of phenomena that are human potentialities or of the human senses. We have ruled out objective-based activities such as found in the natural sciences. Revelation cannot be defined in a way that philosophy or science may argue and consider within the ideas of reason.

For revelation to be valid, the person being revealed unto needs to be able to respond, to reason, and to consider the revelation within his (context of) life. The meaning of God needs to be completely comprehensible. Since I understand all human life and reason to be within the freedom of birth, freedom of life, and freedom of thought (intent), revelation is also understood within freedom. The unreasonable part of the human condition is lack of freedom that finds its ultimate unreasonable condition in death.

The goodness of life is within the completeness of life and the resulting continuation of life. Revelation is that God reveals himself within the possibilities of the goodness of life and its continuation; revelation is presented to human beings within such goodness and revealed things become meaningful. Furthermore, because revelation is comprehended as goodness, it can be argued that this leads to an increase in reasonableness. Revelation is in harmony with reason and removes the antimony found in reason and may be said to add to the reasoning aspects of a human being. The possibilities within human beings regarding revelation arise from both the responses of reason to revelation, in that each person may respond according to his reason and heart, and also because revelation can be comprehended within the framework of life and death, thus within good and bad. The remarks concerning the idea(s) of god(s) and the capacity for human beings to conceptualise such entities within the context of human attributes, provides many possibilities that reason may ponder and consider as the meaning of god within the human context. Because of these many possibilities that confront reason, the necessity of faith naturally follows this discussion.

So while we should have a working understanding of major philosophical arguments, the theological content is what matters, and Berkley (and many other philosophers) understood this. The emphasis that I place to these arguments is the necessity of faith - this is especially relevant in this age of materialism/science, which appears to exclude perhaps the major aspects of what makes us human. Christ indeed took on human flesh and bone and we are also taught that we have the mind of Christ - able to discern spiritual matters as mature Christians.

@GJDS I’ve read your post above twice and I don’t really understand it. Could you summarize in a sentence or two the point you were trying to make about reason and revelation?

I apologize if I offended you in some way. It was not my intent. My reply to @cosmicscotus about Pascal was intended as a reply to him, not a critique of your proof of God.

Actually, I was presenting the position of the Logical Positivists/Empiricists. They are the ones who insisted that the only statements that have meaning are those that can be verified by facts. I do not agree with them.

Anyway, getting back to your argument, I am personally not persuaded, but that has more to do with my conviction that the universe has objective existence and is not a “fiction” generated by minds. It really has nothing to do with the logic of your argument. Even if you were another Anselm or Aquinas or Descartes, I still would not agree that you were correct. Perhaps, then, the fault lies with me.

Against my better judgment, I’ll offer a few more observations. I suggest your rewrite Prop. 1 to say “Empiricism is the preferred way of determining scientific truth.” Prop. 2 (Assumption is not a firm basis for truth) assumes that you already have established the truth of Prop. 1, rather than merely asserting it. I had the same reservations about Prop. 4 that @dscottjorgenson expressed. Prop. 7 (There is empirical evidence that minds exist) lacks appropriate proof. The theorem “I think, therefore I am” is not empirical evidence. It is based on the logic of the proposition, not empirical induction. I suspect that there is empirical evidence that minds exist, but cogito isn’t a good example of it. Is there a better example? As for Prop. 8, I don’t know what to say. It seems that there is a mountain of empirical evidence that physical objects exist, otherwise the collection of empirical procedures, data, and propositions that we call “science” has been a charade. Perhaps, as you say, I just don’t understand what you are trying to say. In any case, this proposition rests so soundly on Prop. 4 that you would have to convincingly prove Prop. 4 before someone could accept Prop. 8. Prop. 4 is critical to your argument, so I would concentrate on making that as strong as possible, if I were in your shoes. I wish you well with it, but I probably won’t be of much help to you, so I’ll take my leave.

A couple issues with the ‘necessary’ God of philosophy:

  1. It’s darn hard to connect the God of philosophy with the God of the Bible. That is, it appears that the God of the Bible is described as possessing specific attributes for which it is hard to justify an omnipotent, omniscient and/or omnibenevolent God of philosophy having.
  2. From necessary beings come necessary outcomes. It has remained very hard to describe how to generate ‘contingency’ with a necessary, self-sufficient cause or agent.

These issues have been examined for centuries in philosophy and it’s definitely clear that no one has nailed down the answers there. It makes for useful thought exercises, I suppose. I wonder if it would be productive investigating whether any of these questions can actually be determined in a logical system (i.e. along the lines of Kurt Gödel’s work or some other construct). I’d love to see a proof showing that these questions cannot be answered.


  1. knowledge of God cannot be a human construct or an intellectual idea.
  2. as such human reason cannot provide an authentic proof of God
  3. knowledge of God exists however, and this is by revelation
  4. revelation is not coerced, and the response of a human being is within freedom and reason
  5. the essence of God and revelation is goodness, so the central response is to goodness, and human beings can understand goodness within human existence
  6. we as humans may consider many aspects of what is good and not-good (or evil), and thus,
  7. faith in God is a necessity when we respond to the revealed goodness.

Okay, I lied. haha

Interesting points. I definitely agree with No. 1, but this is the first time I’ve heard No. 2, and it certainly is a conundrum. It seems to steer right back to the tension between personal freedom and God’s sovereignty that runs throughout the Scriptures. I won’t get into that debate, but I wonder if much of the confusion arises from the simple fact that we do not know exactly how God exercises his divine power. Can he “cause” a human choice while still retaining the freedom of the creature? We may not be able to conceive how that would be possible, but that simply points out the limits of our reason, not the limits of God’s power.

Beats me, Jay.
It goes deeper than personal freedom. I think it has roots in questions about basic causality. From what I’ve seen, many philosophers have attempted to address the problem by playing with definitions but I think that effort tends to obfuscate rather than clarify.

In any case, I suspect the best one should expect from metaphysics is not to achieve final clarity but to uncover interesting questions.

Yes, true on all of that. I wasn’t clear, but what I meant was to draw an analogy between the freedom paradox and the causality paradox. Our confusion on both counts may be because we have zero understanding of divine action and power. Like you say, interesting to speculate, but no final answers. Thanks for your input!

Jay - that very idea was integral to both mainstream scholastic and Reformed theology: there is a fascinating contemporary treatment of it in Hugh McCann, “Creation and the Sovereignty of God.” He does not attempt to cross the limits of human reason and nail everything down, but does, to my mind, make a good job of showing where divine mystery applies, and where we can gain some understanding.

Argon’s second point is, when it comes down to it, a question of trying to “work out God from first principles” - as if there were a category of “necessary beings” and so on. That may be the only way philosophy can operate, but must be subject to God’s self-revelation.

So if God says man is accountable because of his own choices, but that he sovereignly governs human choices (of which there are numerous examples in the Bible) then it’s legitimate to shelve the “How?” question rather than say that God can’t do that.

Quite so Argon - or more usefully, to push the boundaries of what may be known by reason, recognising that there are boundaries, and also give practically useful handles for dealing with reality (such as categories of causation and so on).

As Jay says, we have zero knowledge of divine action and power … with the big exception of what he chooses to reveal, and one must include in that not only special revelation, but the general recognistion that God is not entirely alien to us, but the Father who made both us and the world to be in communion with him.

In fact we assume such knowledge every time we do science, by believing that the cause and effect we find in the world is more than just a human convenience, but a reflection of the truth of what God put into the world. It’s either (our method assumes) the way God actually works, or (to channel Pacific Maelstrom) the way he chooses us to see him working, a divinely authroised analogy. Either way such analogy is all we can know, whether revealed in general revelation, or in the special revelation of Christ and his Spirit.


Interesting questions which have exercised many people for many years, and I want to add some “meanderings of my own” - I do not have a definitive answer, but I have wondered if we are treating “freedom” and “causality” in a way that is consistent with Christian theology? Freedom to us essentially amounts to being ourselves within our context; we are constrained physically, we may imagine and intellectualise, but we are constantly aware, as Jon says. of our limits. When we try to think of what God may and may not do, or cause, the paradox is that we are free to imagine what that may amount to, but we would also reason that we cannot think as God - so where does that take us? If I think God and consider that I understand what and who He is, it must by necessity constitute knowledge as this is my thought - I prefer to think of the way we obtain knowledge of ourselves and all that is about us, to be due to the creation made to suite the unique intellect/spirit of humanity (often termed intelligibility). On spiritual matters, I can only see this as “caused” by an act of Grace and due to the Holy Spirit.

Because we communicate between ourselves, I am attracted to Kant’s antimony of reason - we face more than a conundrum as we try to reconcile the spiritual with testable knowledge.

You are certainly correct about dreams being less ordered and complex then real life. This doesnt have any bearing on the arguement, however. And I have found dreams to be amazingly detailed in some instances where I can remember them clearly. In fact, consider that the “world” you create when you dream is far more complex and detailed then what you can imagine while you are awake. Even more profound is that conviction that dreams are real when you are asleep, and conviction that life is real when you are awake. How do you know but that conviction you feel is accurate? You don’t. You’re giving explanations for things that make sense while you were awake, but when you are asleep you feel assured of things that do not make sense when you wake up. There’s no way to tell that the things that you feel make sense (like a reality of physical objects) really make sense. This is another example of why you cannot simply trust your experiences at face value if you are looking for truth.

But even if no one ever dreamed, this argument would still be correct because we would still not be unable to observe anything beyond our experiences, and thus we are unable to demonstrate a link between our experiences of objects and an actual object. Since it is possible to JUST have the experience without the actual object, no link can be confirmed. Dreams just provide a convenient demonstration of this and I mention it because they are an experience that we all share.

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This is precisely the kind of situation in which it is meant to be applied. We have two alternate theories that explain the same phenomena (our experience). One of them relies only on known entities. The other requires assuming the existence of entities which cannot be proven to exist. The razor allows us to eliminate the theory that requires more assumptions.

You are claiming this is a faulty application of the razor because you feel you are losing something by eliminating physical objects, but that’s just because it conflicts with your intuition. Denying logic does no justice to God’s handiwork. Please make a logical case rather than one based on your Intuition or prior assumptions.

You don’t like the idea of a mass hallucination, that’s your framing of the issue. We’re not talking about hallucinations. We’re talking about a reality that is just as real as a physical reality. There’s nothing about a physical reality that makes your experiences more real. Experiences are real regardless.