GOD’S EXISTENCE AND THE PROBLEM OF PROOF



What is this post about? Well, the title is a dead giveaway, but why write it? A couple of months ago I wrote THE ODDS OF WHAT? In that post Allallt and I debated a post he had written. As a result of that discussion, I decided to write this post (see here).

A little over ten years ago I wrote WHAT IS MATHEMATICAL PROOF? DOES 2 + 2 = 4?  In that post we considered the nature of mathematical proof. As I wrote the post it occurred to me that our proofs are based upon the validity of mathematical abstractions, not the real world itself. We use mathematics to model reality. Then we test our models against reality by experimenting with real things. If our model predicts what happens in the real world, we are pleased with it. If not, we try to discover what important factors we have either not included or incorrectly modeled.

Therefore, imagine the problem of modelling God. We cannot construct a decent mathematical model of a person. Nevertheless, in our minds each of us has an idealization of what it means to be human. So when we see and hear another human being, we don’t confuse a person with a cat, dog, snake, or bear. We can even use words to describe what it means to be human. Thus, with evidence that is difficult to ignore we can prove to ourselves and each other that human beings exist. God, however, is infinite, infinitely more complex. Our senses are inadequate to apprehend God. Because we have no way of perceiving Him, we cannot form an idealized conception of God. Why is that a problem? If we cannot describe God — share our experiences of God — how can we prove He exists?

You say God could show Himself to us? One of my favorite posts is one insanitybytes22 wrote, Why doesn’t God show Himself? Here is part of her answer to that question.

In the process of these discussions, this idea came to light that God should just physically appear before our eyes and show Himself. That actually made me smile simply because people just don’t understand. That would be a bit like flying too close to the sun. At the very least you’d go blind, if not just completely insane. Nobody really gets to “see God” right now while we exist in the physical, because our brains just can’t handle it. That would collapse your psyche, crush your perception of reality, and send your spirit reeling somewhere outside of your body. (from here)

God is infinite. He is the beginning and the end. He is perfectly Holy. He is love. He is truth. He is ….

How is it we can know anything about God?

  • We can study His Creation. We can examine Creation to gain some understanding of the character of its maker.
  • We were made in God’s image. In ways we don’t quite understand, we are like God. Our minds tell us someone created the universe. Our hearts tell us we need God. Our consciences demand we do good, not wrong.
  • We have the Bible, what God has told us about Himself.

If we cannot form an idealized conception God, how then do we prove God’s existence? We can focus on God’s roles, what He does and what He has done.

  • We can show the need for a Creator.
  • We can point to God as the source of the Moral Law, our innate knowledge of what is right and what is wrong.
  • We can consider our history. How could what has happened have happened without God?
  • We can look at the life of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was not God, then who was He?

Philosophers like Peter Kreeft have written books on the logical proofs. Much of the material in his books is on his website. Check out his Featured Writing or, if you prefer, Featured Audio.

Mel Wild has some posts on this subject as well. His Argument for God is a five-part series that focuses on the arguments of Thomas Aquinas’s brilliant 3,500 page Summa Theologica also has a post, The Classical Argument for Christ, that is worth considering.

Old Posts On This Topic

42 thoughts on “GOD’S EXISTENCE AND THE PROBLEM OF PROOF

  1. Tom,

    Atheists have been recorded 3000 years ago in history to question the differences between god and man as evidenced by a King Solomon Proverb:

    It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.(Proverb 25:2)

    If using your statement that if a person’s eyes would melt if he or she becomes too close to the sun (or glory of God) might be a reasonable cause for God to conceal himself. In other words, not to harm us, mere mortals, while we are alive, only when we die and our soul will no longer be harmed when we see him at time of judgment.

    and (a king’s task Is to search out) to inquire diligently into all causes that are brought before them, that they may find out the truth of things, and pass judgment accordingly; and be able to give reasons for what they do in the public affairs of government, and make it appears that they are according to the rules of truth and justice; and to do so will gain them immortal honour!

    What’s My Point?

    Debating what neither a faith believer can prove, nor an atheist can prove, in my opinion, unless both agree to “circumstantial evidence.”

    What common ground would satisfy both parties?

    For example, does an atheist believe any human is capable of creating all the wonders of the earth and universe? If not, what circumstantial evidence can he provide to prove how it was created other than a big bang theory?

    Even the big bang theory needs someone or something to create the big bang.

    Regards and good will blogging?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumstantial_evidence

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Scatterwisdom

      When we debate Atheists I have some hope they will be convinced, but that is up to our Lord. He changes hearts.

      So why bother. When we affirm our belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we demonstrate we are not ashamed of the Gospel. Through our example we strengthen the faith of other Christians.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The first to propose Hubble’s Law, Hubble Constant, and the Big Bang Theory would not disagree. FATHER Georges Lemaitre–a Catholic priest. Something that secular historians have been trying to bury since his papers were first published two years before Edwin Hubble. Look it up.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Philip Augustine

        Thanks for the information. Interesting a Priest initiated the Big Bang Theory before Hubble.

        I subscribe to the following statement.

        “Nevertheless, the mere fact the Pius XII was willing, as Pope, to affirm the best science of his time does set a clear precedence for today that Catholics and all people of good will can trust scientific investigation, presuming, of course, it is done in a truly scientific manner.”

        I also still subscribe to the thought that some Mysterious Power had to light a fuse to set off the big bang, yes?

        I wonder if we will find out the mystery, unless of course, God wills the mystery to be revealed.

        Regards and good will blogging.

        https://www.vofoundation.org/blog/priests-science-georges-lemaitre-father-big-bang/

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes, I believe it’s the argument from motion. One analogy that I’ve heard, and I hope I remember it right, is to imagine a series of rail cars that extend over a stretch of flat land that you observe their movement. In fact there is a stretch of Australia that this occurs, now we presume that the cars are moved by a force different from the rail cars themselves, as rail cars cannot be the source of their own movement. Logic dictates that there must be a force, unpreceived, that is causing the motion.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. The concept of God in the Abrahamic tradition is of a supreme human ego that is patriarchal, and tyrannical. He lauds himself over his puny, insignificant creation and subjugated it to his monarchical rule through laws and punishment.
    Does such an entity exist? Only as a construct and reflection of the human psyche, otherwise it’s a complete absurdity!

    Like

    1. @Robert

      Since you did not have anything to offer except an emphatic, insulting, denial, I am puzzled why you bothered. However, there is that strain of militant Atheism that argues for shaming Christians into silence. It is funny how most Atheists become silent around Muslims.

      Anyway, all you are doing is illustrating the truth of this psalm.

      Psalm 14 New King James Version (NKJV)
      Folly of the Godless, and God’s Final Triumph
      To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

      14 The fool has said in his heart,
      “There is no God.”
      They are corrupt,
      They have done abominable works,
      There is none who does good.

      2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
      To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
      3 They have all turned aside,
      They have together become corrupt;
      There is none who does good,
      No, not one.

      4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
      Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
      And do not call on the Lord?
      5 There they are in great fear,
      For God is with the generation of the righteous.
      6 You shame the counsel of the poor,
      But the Lord is his refuge.

      7 Oh,[a] that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
      When the Lord brings back [b]the captivity of His people,
      Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Islam, Judaism and Christianity are all Abrahamic religions that invoke a supreme ego that endorses racism, slavery, sexism, genocide, infanticide, human blood sacrifice, adultery, etc. This idea of a creator is also a deceiver and trickster!
        I’m not an atheist, but it’s not surprising that atheists lead more moral lives than evil Christian hypocrites given the nature of their deity!

        Like

        1. @Robert

          I’m not an atheist, but it’s not surprising that atheists lead more moral lives than evil Christian hypocrites given the nature of their deity!

          That’s funny!

          All we have to do is to look at your own behavior. Nothing constructive. Just outrageous insults. Your judgement in these matters obviously should not be taken seriously.

          Like

          1. @Robert

            Well, you finally said something worth taking seriously. I disagree. Since it has eternal consequences, I think we have to take this life seriously.

            Do you want to be taken seriously? Well, that’s up to you.

            Like

          2. I don’t worry about being taken seriously by delusionals like yourself and there is no hope for you! And that’s fine since there is always a new crop of morons being born every day! 😊

            Like

          3. I bet you confuse your asshole with a chocolate bar dispenser? It certainly explains the accumulation of shit between your ears!
            And yes Christians, Muslims and Jews were all shit out of gods divine asshole and this explains everything about you! LOL 😂

            Like

  3. Hubris, plain and simple. The first step is acknowledging that maybe we just don’t know and we cannot comprehend.

    A famous man once said, “I know that I know nothing”. It was either Plato or Socrates.

    God is real, we all feel it and we all know it to be true. Those who question it, perhaps haven’t thought on it enough yet.

    We all make our own decisions in our own time and by our own criteria. Let people realize for themselves that God is true.

    The only reason this is discussed is because God gave man free will. Without free will we are nothing, without God, we would be nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @bottomlesscoffee007

      Plato said it was Socrates.
      😀

      One man cannot change the heart of another. Nonetheless, we have cause to participate in these discussions, and believers have for millennia. To strengthen our faith in God, the Bible discusses these matters. Therefore, to strengthen each others faith, we should discuss these matters.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. @bottomlesscoffee007

          Checked out your podcast. Good job!

          I put the Socrates quote in my little Words From The Past widget down at the bottom.

          Keep up the support for limited government and Trump. We definitely have too many people these days who think they should be using the government to run other people’s lives. Never works out because the people who think that think themselves immune from the Law of Unintended Consequences.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks Tom I appreciate it.

            I just want to be left alone, I think practically everyone wants to be left alone. We must address this within ourselves if we are to lead independent and self sufficient lives.

            Only then will we be able to push the government back.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear CitizenTom and Friends,
    When the Hebrew slaves crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, they had “proof” right and left (walls of water) – among other “evidences” of things that just normally don’t happen (manna falling like snow). And many, if not most, did not believe. Even in the so-called “real world” people refuse to believe the mathematical outcomes of spending beyond one’s income. Evidence, ha! Christ-bashers just keep playing that raggedy card.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Sue

      Well, it is true enough that many of the Hebrews at that point had not yet put their faith in God. Fortunately, faith is something that grows. The generations that walked between two walls of water raised the generations that entered the Holy Land. 40 years in the desert would have been a long time to remain faithless. So perhaps there is hope for the Christ-bashers

      Liked by 1 person

  5. While I do understand the desire for proof, it is called Chrisitian faith and belief for a reason. I am only aware of one person getting the privilege of the hands-on experience of Thomas.

    Like

    1. @marmoewp

      That’s funny! Roman soldiers beat and scourged Jesus. They pounded nails into Him. Thousands saw Jesus hung upon a cross. Then some of Jesus’ friends prepared Him for burial and stuck Him into a tomb sealed by a huge stone. And here you are complaining you are not Thomas to a believer named Tom?

      We can’t make this stuff up.

      The Bible, BTW, does not record that Thomas touched Jesus. When He saw and heard the Lord, it seems more likely that Thomas just went straight to his knees.

      Like

  6. There is no need for Mankind to try to “Prove” God’s existence because both God and His existence are evidented to those whom He has called to Salvation through the sacrifice of His Son — and all dealings with God and about God have to be done by spiritual means — and God has supplied all the spiritual means necessary so that those whom He has called according to His purposes can apprehend Him and communicate with Him and receive His blessings and benefits and share them with others and there is no need and no hope of relating to God through secular mechanisms. The whole thing about God is based on “Faith” —- Hebrews 11:1 King James Version (KJV)
    11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. —– Anyone who wishes to know anything about God need only to “Ask, Seek and Knock and in due time all things will be revealed to the seeker …God cannot be apprehended through Science, Philosophy or Psychology — It is all faith and it is all reserved to those who believe and who receive the gifts that God has prepared for them ….Fruitful discussions about God do not revolve around the disputations concerning His existence …. They revolve pragmatically around the offer and acceptance (or rejection) of His Son and His Plan of Salvation. — Intellectual and Academic approaches to God are fun, entertaining and sometimes even motivating, but Intellectualism and Academia are more the province of temporality than eternal verities — and one of the clues as to the folly of such approaches is found in the Scripture, — 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 King James Version (KJV)
    18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

    20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

    22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

    23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

    25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

    26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

    27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

    28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

    29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

    30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

    31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @John

      Looks like we have a minor disagreement.
      As a practical matter, God saves those He wants to save. There is that matter of predestination, but we don’t understand that either, but it is clear that our faith in God is a gift from God.

      Faith is based upon evidence. The sight of the stars should be enough to convince us of things unseen, the God who made the stars. But some of us are stubborn.

      What about 1 Corinthians 1:18-31? Look again at 1 Corinthians 1:18. That is what that passage is about. There are folks who take great umbrage at the thought anyone would be sacrificed on a cross for their sins.

      How does God change hearts? How does Romans 8:28 work? Well, to some extent He does seem to work through us. He has called upon us to spread the message of the Gospel, and it is difficult for people who don’t believe in God to believe in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Minor disagreements are part of being human. What really matters is Jesus. In my book it’s all about Jesus. Therefore I try to love everybody else in the same way that God loves me. Unconditionally and without argument or strife.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. You say, “God is infinite. He is the beginning and the end. He is perfectly Holy. He is love. He is truth. He is ….”

    So what does it mean beginning and the end? What does it mean to be infinite? What does it mean to be perfect, to be love, to be truth? Now, Catholics have different modes of theology, it’s not as uniform as many would believe, but in the Thomist tradition, the Thomists would articulate that God’s nature is existences itself. In fact, He more or less say this in Exodus 3, “I am who am.” I never tire meditating and thinking about the revelation of God’s name; what it shows about his nature and the mystery of creation. How can we know this by our reason? Well, we’re created, or contingent, beings and created beings need a creator.

    Now, the common atheist retort is, “Well, who created the creator?” No one, because God is a necessary being, not a contingent being. How can this be known? A created being must come from another created being to be in existence and we know that this cannot infinitely regress. How do we know this? There would be nothing at all without a necessary being. For there to be anything that comes into existence from a potential there must be a being of pure actuality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Philip Augustine

      Think about this passage.

      John 14:7-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
      The Father Revealed
      7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
      8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
      9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

      Part of what I think Jesus was telling Philip is that seeing God in human form was as much as he could handle.

      As God Jesus is infinite. As God Jesus was at the beginning and the end. Jesus is perfectly Holy. Jesus is love. Jesus is truth. Jesus is ….” But we cannot perceive the God Jesus except through what the man Jesus shows us.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. As a Catholic, philosophical inquiring has a long tradition with the frameworks of the proofs for God. Now, let’s separate it from the religious and the theological for a moment in this particular comment.

    In Neoplatonic philosophy, largely from Plato and adapted by Plotinus, we have the theory of forms. Now, accordingly, the material actually ranks rather low on the scale of the forms according to Platonists; concepts such as numbers, ideas, knowledge, and goodness rank in ascending order. Now, there’s this is the epistemological question, how do we know things? How can we know the number “2” as opposed to the number “3”? Sure, we can have three apples, but nature/form/substance of those objects are not “3” but rather apples, so “3” exists outside of objects themselves.

    So what about the axiological, or the assigning of value to concepts? What about the form of beauty? We’re most familiar with the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But is this actually true? The common realization of what is the beautiful betrays the familiar phrase as showing preference as opposed to the truth of the form of beauty. And thus we must ask if there is objectively various values of beauty from whence do they stem? An objective form of beauty must predispose an ultimate source of the beautiful that which all other things vary in comparison.

    So, the problem of proof simply is more or less, a problem with understanding of what constitutes as proof. If the material wishes to examine the creator of all material under a material microscope… well the material wouldn’t be the material.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Philip Augustine

      Hello! Been awhile. Got somewhat distracted by the election.

      I sort of adapted that theory of forms. Not interested in diminishing the importance of the material. To a scientist the value of the idealized — or that which is modeled — is measured against how well a model models the material or real world.

      Since the spiritual — God is a spirit — is part of reality, an idealization of God must include the idealization of the spiritual. That is a serious problem for us.

      Therefore, in addition to agreeing upon what constitutes proof we have trouble defining the object of proof, God. That is why, as dumb as this will sound, when some people say Creation just happened, they are just saying they don’t believe in God because they cannot perceive Him. Yet the fact of Creation is just like hearing a sneeze. Even if you cannot see them, you know someone is there.

      The difference is this. If I walk over to that someone sneezed I can see them, but where would I go to see God? How would I know Him if I saw Him? That gives Atheists what they consider sufficient cause for disbelief. I reject that. It is asking for the impossible. We only have the capacity to know God indirectly. It may be we can hear His voice, but we cannot gaze into His face.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whereas Platonism does diminish the material, Aristotelian philosophy attempts to raise both the material and metaphysical, or spiritual. The traditions seem to build of St. Augustine/Plato; St. Thomas Aquinas; Aristotle. However, Aquinas quotes Augustine more times in the Summa than any other theologian, so he uses him more or less as a check when Aristotle goes too far. Now, there’s a great importance in scripture and Aquinas was a master of it, so he does synthesis all of philosophy with scripture. However, when it comes to dialoguing with Atheist, I find it easier to stick with strictly the philosophical because they are so turned off by “religion.”

        Liked by 1 person

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