Thursday, July 30, 2009
Does God Exist?
Have you ever noticed that people who don't believe in God want things both ways? They tend to leave a little room for unknown possibilities but angrily profess their own designs with supreme authority. A favorite foundation for an atheist is the following: "People cannot know God or determine the existence of God." In other words, the lack of scientific evidence for the knowledge of God or for the existence of God is enough to deny His being. Most atheists believe that the assertion "God exists" does not express a proposition, but instead is nonsensical or cognitively meaningless. I feel very sad for people who lack faith. While it may be true, no one can fully comprehend God, and no one can be completely sure that he does or does not possess certain qualities such as omnipotence, this does not disprove his existence. As for the proof of existence, why can't the believer simply put the burden of proof on the skeptic? Considerations, discoveries, and breakthroughs have all been used in efforts to render religious beliefs false, yet the point on which the acceptance or rejection of these new thoughts rest, for a moment the latest thing, is all too soon forgotten or refuted itself. It is no less reasonable for one to believe in God than to believe in the non-existence theories of other minds. After all, a theory is defined as "a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural." Likely, much more attention is paid to theism, religious belief, the existence of God, as a problem to be dealt with, as something that is an intellectual task, by the skeptic than by the believer. It seems skeptics are looking for airtight proof for the existence of God. The atheist wants absolute factual proof for God, not theory -- how unfair to establish science as the "know all" and "be all" of creation in theory. The believer establishes truths about God on the basis of other truths which are accessible in principle to any human being. The believer cannot, by himself, establish all truths (or falsities) with natural reason. But, why can't the preambles of faith provide premises from which the mysteries of faith can be concluded? The atheist is willing to convict all generations of human believers as irrational beings. He is willing to decry whole cultures that base belief in the divine and worship are mindless civilizations. Going against the grain of human experience is risky business. The order and arrangement of natural creations and events impose the idea that a Creator lives. Humans then live within the laws of His natural creations. Indeed, this idea is almost innate in the surroundings if people merely open their eyes to the mysteries of nature. Why can't "God exists" be one of the basic propositions of the religious? For example, when Job says that "he knows that his redeemer liveth," even if he is simply reporting his idiosyncratic convictions, he has as much right to take "God exists" as a basic proposition as his critic does to take other sense, data, or truths about the world as basic. The believer and his critic are "in the same boat" in relation to accepting basic propositions. The atheist is simply wrong if he thinks some version of empiricism is beyond dispute or, worse, that it is part of the formal theory. This view has been reinforced time and again. Besides, without conjecture, no new science is possible. Lisa Miller ("Arguing Against the Atheist," Oct. 6 2008) says, "Submitting faith to proof is absurd. Reason defines one kind of reality (what we know); faith defines another (what we don't know). Reasonable believers can live with both at once." Lorenzo Albacete, a Roman Catholic priest and physicist who speaks of the importance of both science and faith in his life expresses his opinion. "Faith," he said, "is like trying to explain to your uncomprehending family why you have fallen in love with so-and-so. They have all the arguments, and you can understand what they're saying, but you can't help it, you're in love." It is impossible to measure what people do mean when they talk about God—their individual experiences with Him. But, over 90% of Americans believe in God. According to a new survey by Baylor University, just about half of Americans believe that God intervenes in worldly affairs while less than half characterize God as "punishing." Many also believe in eternal salvation for people from faith traditions other than theirs. So, maybe any conceived problem with religion is not belief itself, which even in the most orthodox believers is inconsistent, but the (violent or oppressive) enforcing of one truth over another. Maybe it is time to put the burden of proof for "God does not exist" on the atheist since he so willingly puts the proof of "God exists" on the believer. ).