Proof Of God's Existence

There is little in scripture that elaborates on the image of God, and people seem to hold a wide variety of views on this topic. I’ve heard the image of God be equated with all sorts of aspects of our existence, and I’ve done it myself. But the verses are pretty clear in my opinion that being made in the image of God means we are “like God”. The image of God is what sets us APART from nature and gives us dominion over it. Since we can understand nature as a rendering that comes directly from God, nature itself has no independence from him. It has no ability to have its own experiences and make it’s own relationships and choices. But since we are in the image of God, this means we are like God, being independent beings (or “minds”, for lack of a better word) who are actors and independent agents in the world that is otherwise created and maintained by God alone. Like God, we are spiritual beings, although very limited we are able to form relationships and love and make choices in a reflection of our triune God.

Now unlike God who is infinite and privy to all of existence, we are limited and designed for a specific kind of environment, one which is ordered by time and space. These are the experiences we are given, and they are what we are designed for. We are capable of realizing that reality is something beyond our experience, but with our limitations we would be unable to experience it. This will not change, the new creation will still be built for human experiences, it will still have recognizable time and space and objects because these are the things we are capable of understanding, and they are the conceptualizations which God has created us to interact with.

When Jesus became flesh, he took on the limited perspective of a human soul and experienced his own creation through the perspective that God renders for us as we live our lives. He played by the same rules that he had created for us, even experiencing death, showing by his resurrection that death is not the end. He did this to set and example and to show us how much God loves us and how he has taken our sins and forgiven them despite how much we have wronged him and caused his suffering.

A reboot is not a bad analogy. I think it is important to notice that it is relationships that cause more suffering than any physical pain. We are incapable of not causing this suffering to others, and even if the physical problems of the world were completely removed: death, disease, hunger and all pain, we would still be as miserable as ever because of how we treat each other, even when we try our best. A suffering-free world is only possible because we submit to the guidance of the Holy spirit. (allow Jesus to “take the wheel” so to speak) Here in this fallen world we are shown both the suffering that arises from selfishness and the joy that can result through love. Thus while we are able to make the free and informed choice to give ourselves to God and choose to be part of the new creation. Anyone refusing to make that choice cannot be part of it, and God does not force them to submit to him because that would not be love but slavery instead. So the new creation is more about the redeemed human element then the nature of the “physical” experience itself.

Thanks for addressing the propositions.

Prop 1 is an Axiom. All logic must start with Axioms. It is possible to adopt the alternate Axiom, for example, that subjective feelings of conviction are the best way to determine Truth. What Axiom would you suggest?

Prop 2 is based on prop 1, yes.

See my reply to him above for prop 4. It doesn’t matter that dream experiences are “different” because we have no way of ranking them. Is it NECESSARILY true that a more highly ordered and complex experience can only be the result of perceiving physical objects? No. The proposition does not REQUIRE that dreams be exactly like reality, it only requires that we are capable of having experiences that are non-physical. It is the physical nature of the experience that cannot be distinguished. You cannot demonstrate a connection between an underlying physical object and the experience of the object, because it is possible to have JUST the experience alone. This problem has been recognized since ancient times, but people often prefer to attempt to make their logic to agree with their assumptions, rather than the other way around.

Prop 7: You experience yourself directly. (your thoughts, ideas, choices, experiences, etc) Therefore you have direct empirical (experience based) evidence of your own existence. This IS sufficient. I really can’t wrap my head around your objection. Why don’t you try observing yourself, and then you can empirically decide if you exist or not… Are you going to deny your own existence to preserve the existence of physical objects? (This is EXACTLY what many materialists end up doing, by the way, and it is as delusional as you can get if you ask me.)

Please reconsider this conviction that a non physical reality is necessarily a “Fiction”, that is a personal bias that is getting in the way of your understanding of this concept. A fiction is something that is not real, but your experiences are still real regardless of where they come from. Fiction is only a valid concept when it can be contrasted with nonfiction. If the world is mind-generated, then that is what “reality” MEANS. It is impossible for reality to be a fiction, that would be a paradox. If the essence of our real life is that we experience a God-rendered environment, then this is no less “real” than a hypothetical universe of physical objects.

The mind-rendered reality has permanence and consistency, real interactions with others, real experiences, real choices that effect the reality, and real eternal stakes… what else do you think reality is supposed to entail if not these things? How would “physical objects” make it all more meaningful and “real”?

I think arguing about physical objects is important because it addresses the objections of many people, but thanks for the props.

@pacificmaelstrom,

You don’t think bringing up the physical side isn’t an unnecessary distraction?

All these years, I just considered physical things to be a special CATEGORY of consciousness. I don’t even throw doubt on the physical.

Though I do think it is helpful and important to categorize the orders of reality … we know much more reliably that we are CONSCIOUS than that what we are conscious about is actually real (dream vs. [so-called] reality!).

Many people think the physical is ALL that exists and that their consciousness is somehow physical. I am demonstrating how the idea of God is much more logical than that.

. . . . or . . . the physical could be just as non-material as consciousness… there’s more than one way to skin a metaphysical cat …

I don’t think we are disagreeing as far as I can tell. If you don’t need all the points to reach the conclusion, more power to you.

1 Like

I find one thing rather curious - since you can distinguish a dream from a non-dream (awakened experience), how would logic insist these are of equal value wrt to real objects?

@GJDS

I think it is well established that while IN a dream, it is sometimes impossible to know it is a dream.

It doesn’t matter that dream experiences are “different” unless it is true that a highly ordered and complex experience can ONLY be the result of perceiving physical objects. This statement would require some sort of evidence/proof, but there is no way to “prove” it, except by the usual circular logic:

A. If experiences are ordered and complex, they must be physical.
B. Real Life is ordered and complex, therefore it is physical.
(C. Since Real Life is physical, (A) is true.)

It is debatable whether you can even claim that dreams are NOT highly ordered and complex, but that is irrelevant because to prove real life is physical, you have to go even farther, and show that ANY experience of objects MUST be physical. Dreams show this to be clearly false. My argument does NOT require that dreams be like reality, it only requires that we are capable of having experiences of objects that are non-physical. They don’t have to even be “realistic” objects. They just have to be “objects”. Since it is possible to have JUST an experience of an object, with NO underlying real object, one cannot demonstrate a necessary connection between an underlying physical object and the experience of the object. The experience alone cannot confirm that the experience is caused by the existence of a real physical object. Since we have nothing else to go on except experience, there can be no direct evidence of a physical object. This is true regardless of how ordered and “realistic” the experience is.

An experience cannot take the form of “something out there”. A person experiences - this subjective response may be measured (e.g. brain activity), but that person may communicate it as “my experience”.

I am referring to what is a common everyday response to an object, or that may be due to a dream. If the subjective experience is communicated as identical (e.g. dream = same as observed object), a second person may question what is communicated.

Arguing that brain activity is required for all of these activities is of little value; we may say a person is alive (by observation of his acts), or asleep, or dead. Only the latter would negate brain activity.

More importantly, our observation of brain activity is part of our experiences. We can’t use brain activity to prove anything, because we cannot prove the brain is a physical object. We may observe our brain activity, and have experiences that are consistent with it, but this still fails to verify that the brain is a physical object.

My point is that we can differentiate between dreams and non-dreams.

I do not object to that. In fact I said as much in my Original Post. What we cannot differentiate between is actual physical objects and the mere experience of objects.

Ok, I’ll bite; what is a mere experience of objects (and I cannot accept that objects have arbitrary properties). We experience physical objects because to varying degrees we give them “that” identity or recognition.

This is the reason why I bowed out of the conversation, and also why we keep talking past one another instead of engaging. You and I are operating with different definitions of what “empirical” and “empiricism” mean. I am using those terms as they are traditionally used. This is not to say that you are “wrong” in your usage, but it might help your argument to define what you mean by them. For example, here is a passage from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Rationalism v Empiricism that affirms the traditional understanding that Descartes’ maxim was based on rationalism, not empiricism (emphasis mine):

Historically, the rationalist/empiricist dispute in epistemology has extended into the area of metaphysics, where philosophers are concerned with the basic nature of reality, including the existence of God and such aspects of our nature as freewill and the relation between the mind and body. Major rationalists (e.g., Descartes 1641) have presented metaphysical theories, which they have claimed to know by reason alone. Major empiricists (e.g., Hume 1739–40) have rejected the theories as either speculation, beyond what we can learn from experience, or nonsensical attempts to describe aspects of the world beyond the concepts experience can provide. The debate raises the issue of metaphysics as an area of knowledge. Kant puts the driving assumption clearly:

The very concept of metaphysics ensures that the sources of metaphysics can’t be empirical. If something could be known through the senses, that would automatically show that it doesn’t belong to metaphysics; that’s an upshot of the meaning of the word ‘metaphysics.’ Its basic principles can never be taken from experience, nor can its basic concepts; for it is not to be physical but metaphysical knowledge, so it must be beyond experience. (1783, Preamble, I, p. 7)

I won’t dig into this but what one major point here is that we are demonstrating what CAN’T be known by the senses, thus NEGATING claims that the physical nature of the world is known empirically. NOTHING is known empirically AND without assumption, EXCEPT that “I” exist. After we reach this point, we finish with empiricism and move forward with metaphysics. Are you thinking something different?

When you dream, for example, of a cup, you are experiencing that cup in all its dimensions and sensations despite it being clear that there was no real cup when you wake up. Each “property” of a cup (size, weight, ability to hold liquid, shape) can be experienced in a dream WITHOUT a physical cup. This raises a problem: If I can experience a cup without there being a physical cup actually there, how can I know that when I experience a cup in real life there IS a physical cup there… and the answer is: You can’t. What you call a cup is really a pattern of experiences (visual, tactile, auditory etc) which you associate with “cup”. You have no way to know a cup except through those experiences, and since those experiences don’t correlate with the actual existence of a cup, you cannot use them to demonstrate that physical cups exist.

Oops. I forgot to make my second point. It’s also about definitions. I wasn’t using “fiction” in the sense of literature (fiction v non-fiction). I was using fiction in the sense of a mental framework for understanding, regardless of questions about its truth.

I’m just saying that if you leave Prop. 7 as it is written, asserting that Descartes’ maxim provides empirical evidence of the existence of minds, you are likely to sound ridiculous to people who learned in college that Descartes was a rationalist and the cogito his attempt to prove that one can know something without relying on sensory experience. I think the problem is that you have something else in mind than the traditional definition, but I don’t know how to help you articulate it. Sorry. Not trying to be intentionally obtuse here.

Honestly, I don’t find your proof persuading, but I’m not the target audience, and others might find it useful. Thus, I was just trying to offer some criticism to help you improve it, if that’s what you want to do. Some of my suggestions might be helpful, but if not, please don’t hold it against me.

Thanks for your input. I will look into it and see if I can make clarifications.

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

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.