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  #1  
Old Dec 5, '09, 1:26 pm
Mike5575 Mike5575 is offline
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Default What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

Hello people,

Just curious, to you what are the best books for proving the existence of God? I have read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and the reason he uses for the existence of god has to a lot to do with morality, and how we know what the right thing to do and how we choose between two different instincts. If I remember correctly, the example he gave was if you see someone drowning, you will have the survival instinct, in which you run, and on the other hand, you will be compelled by morals to save the drowning person. I could just never grasp that concept completely.

I am in awe of the Catholic Church at no matter how bad things have appeared to be for the Church, it has always came back stronger than ever and has never strayed away from its Doctrine. I really want to join the Universal Church Christ Our Lord, but I still have doubts at times if God really exists. Can anyone reccomend any books I should read on proving the existence of God? I heard The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton was a great read.
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Old Dec 5, '09, 4:03 pm
PadraigPearce PadraigPearce is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

For me, it's the Gospel according to John closely followed by St. Augustine's Confessions.

Also Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica lays out a pretty god case for God's existence.
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Old Dec 5, '09, 4:07 pm
lemonbeam lemonbeam is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

Reasonable Faith 3rd ed by Dr William Lane Craig.

He is not Catholic, he is Evangelical, but he is a great writer and and he's probably the most accomplished Christian debater out there right now.
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Old Dec 5, '09, 5:34 pm
hatsoff hatsoff is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

There are few worthwhile apologists, in my judgment, and William Lane Craig is not one of them. He really focuses on the cosmological argument, which is not remotely convincing to many, including myself. He and his comrade Richard Swinburne, from whom Craig has drawn, are especially annoying.

Plantinga is arguably worse. His evolutionary argument against naturalism and ontological argument for God's existence are both downright ridiculous.

I can't decide whether James White or Gary Habermas deserve respect as apologists. Probably not, although unlike Craig/Swinburne/Plantinga, they at least appear to have some wisdom to offer in the way of history and textual criticism.

The only semi-respectable apologist I know is a dead Lutheran. The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto presents the most interesting (in my opinion, of course) case for God's existence. It's not convincing, but at least it isn't laugh-out-loud ridiculous.
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Old Dec 5, '09, 6:19 pm
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jpk1313 jpk1313 is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

Saint thomas Aquanis summa theologica part 1 question 2 has five proofs for the existence of god:The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
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Old Dec 5, '09, 7:45 pm
reggieM reggieM is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

I would suggest a different approach than the philosophical arguments. While those are good -- from St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure and others (or as interpreted by contemporary Catholics, Peter Kreeft, Fr. Farrell, Scott Hahn (Reason to Believe) -- it's important to know something much more than mere intellectual arguments. The best approach is to learn and know the lives of those who lived the faith -- where belief in God was incarnated in a person.
So -- I would start with the Life of our Blessed Lord from a Catholic perspective. Henri Daniel Rops' "Daily Life ..." or Fr. Pratt's two-volume set, or Abp. Sheen's Life of Christ are all great starting points.
After that -- the lives of the saints are essential. The lives of the Desert Fathers, the life of St. Athanasius, the life of St. Benedict and the life of St. Francis are essential classics.
These biographies will open your mind to the mystical component of Catholicism and you'll see how God transformed people.
  #7  
Old Dec 6, '09, 7:02 am
PadraigPearce PadraigPearce is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

Quote:
Originally Posted by reggieM View Post
I would suggest a different approach than the philosophical arguments. While those are good -- from St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure and others (or as interpreted by contemporary Catholics, Peter Kreeft, Fr. Farrell, Scott Hahn (Reason to Believe) -- it's important to know something much more than mere intellectual arguments. The best approach is to learn and know the lives of those who lived the faith -- where belief in God was incarnated in a person.
So -- I would start with the Life of our Blessed Lord from a Catholic perspective. Henri Daniel Rops' "Daily Life ..." or Fr. Pratt's two-volume set, or Abp. Sheen's Life of Christ are all great starting points.
After that -- the lives of the saints are essential. The lives of the Desert Fathers, the life of St. Athanasius, the life of St. Benedict and the life of St. Francis are essential classics.
These biographies will open your mind to the mystical component of Catholicism and you'll see how God transformed people.
That's an excellent answer, reggieM. I was thinking along the same lines. Philosophical proofs are important, because as St Paul said, you have to be able to give reasons for the hope that is in you. But he didn't say the proofs have to come before the hope.

The first book I read when I was thinking of coming back to the Church was Thomas Merton's Seeds of Contemplation, which is still one of my favourites. I didn't really understand a lot of it, but there was something about it that really drew me in. I was definitely the mystical side that attracted me. I think philosophical proofs are like icing on the cake after we know the truth in our hearts.

The only way to find God is through prayer. Books can help us learn more about God, but prayer is the only way to actually know him.
  #8  
Old Dec 6, '09, 11:19 am
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PadraigPearce View Post
That's an excellent answer, reggieM. I was thinking along the same lines. Philosophical proofs are important, because as St Paul said, you have to be able to give reasons for the hope that is in you. But he didn't say the proofs have to come before the hope.

The first book I read when I was thinking of coming back to the Church was Thomas Merton's Seeds of Contemplation, which is still one of my favourites. I didn't really understand a lot of it, but there was something about it that really drew me in. I was definitely the mystical side that attracted me. I think philosophical proofs are like icing on the cake after we know the truth in our hearts.

The only way to find God is through prayer. Books can help us learn more about God, but prayer is the only way to actually know him.
Once, during a Bible study, I answered the question, "Why do you believe in God?"
with, "Dead men don't answer prayer."
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  #9  
Old Dec 6, '09, 7:33 pm
reggieM reggieM is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

Thanks, Padraig. I agree - prayer is the only way to truly find God. Prayer has to start with some minimum of trust -- reaching out beyond the limits of oneself. So, we have to realize that we have limits. This helps when evaluating philosophical arguments -- they're human arguments based on a limited understanding of reality. To really prove the existence of God, we have to find God ourselves -- it's a search. But using only philosophical tools, or much worse (as many atheists do) only empirical science in the search for God is to cripple the effort at the very beginning. We can look at the champions who found God and then try to borrow some of their ideas and methods. I think meeting a very holy Catholic religious would help also -- like when visiting a Carthusian monastery (or a place like that). Then we can see how years of prayer and deep communication with God has shaped the person. Sometimes, you can even experience some little bits of mystical encounters also -- something that makes you aware of spiritual communication with God.
I was thinking about this today before receiving Communion.
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Old Dec 8, '09, 9:44 am
Mike5575 Mike5575 is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

[quote=PadraigPearce;6016913]For me, it's the Gospel according to John closely followed by St. Augustine's Confessions.

I'm downloading St. Augustine's Confessions Audiobook off of iTunes. I guess I should buy the book, but I'm curently deployed and I have limited space. What is so special about the Gospel according to John? I hear often it is the best of the 4 gospels. What makes it so different from the other 3?
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Old Dec 8, '09, 1:38 pm
reggieM reggieM is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

[quote=Mike5575;6027225]
Quote:
Originally Posted by PadraigPearce View Post
For me, it's the Gospel according to John closely followed by St. Augustine's Confessions.

I'm downloading St. Augustine's Confessions Audiobook off of iTunes. I guess I should buy the book, but I'm curently deployed and I have limited space. What is so special about the Gospel according to John? I hear often it is the best of the 4 gospels. What makes it so different from the other 3?
Your suggested readings here match Pope Benedict's two favorite texts -- so good choices! I would say that St. John's Gospel is a personal reflection -- it has a mystical power and excitement of immediate contact (of St. John) with the presence of Christ. It has a very pure quality about it. Simple and humble in style - but also otherworldly.

I agree that the Gospels are great sources for proving the existence of God also.
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Old Dec 8, '09, 3:45 pm
wanstronian wanstronian is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

I'm not trying to start a flame war here (honestly!) but it's worth mentioning that all the 'proofs' mentioned in this thread so far have been repeatedly and comprehensively debunked.

The fact is that there is no proof for God's existence. It's a matter of faith alone.

So maybe your question should have been: "In which books would I find the more convincing arguments for the existence of God?" to which the answer would presumably have to be, "it depends on how easily you're convinced of stuff." But I'm guessing the suggestions given above would be reasonable.

A note about Aquinas though: I don't understand why he's held in such a high regard, as his five 'proofs' are nothing of the kind. As I understand it, even he allowed for the fact that one would already have to believe in God for his final statement, "this we call God" to be accepted without being highlighted for the bare assertion that it is. However it seems that many theists hold Thomas to be bang on the money; presumably because his 'proofs' support their already-held conclusion. The fact is, none of his 'proofs' will convince anybody with a fundamental grasp of logic, who doesn't already believe in God. They're just emotionally appealing rhetoric at best.
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Old Dec 8, '09, 3:56 pm
dmelosi dmelosi is online now
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

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Originally Posted by wanstronian View Post
I'm not trying to start a flame war here (honestly!) but it's worth mentioning that all the 'proofs' mentioned in this thread so far have been repeatedly and comprehensively debunked.

The fact is that there is no proof for God's existence. It's a matter of faith alone.

So maybe your question should have been: "In which books would I find the more convincing arguments for the existence of God?" to which the answer would presumably have to be, "it depends on how easily you're convinced of stuff." But I'm guessing the suggestions given above would be reasonable.

A note about Aquinas though: I don't understand why he's held in such a high regard, as his five 'proofs' are nothing of the kind. As I understand it, even he allowed for the fact that one would already have to believe in God for his final statement, "this we call God" to be accepted without being highlighted for the bare assertion that it is. However it seems that many theists hold Thomas to be bang on the money; presumably because his 'proofs' support their already-held conclusion. The fact is, none of his 'proofs' will convince anybody with a fundamental grasp of logic, who doesn't already believe in God. They're just emotionally appealing rhetoric at best.
Do you think there is a more convincing argument that there is a God or that there is not a God?

And just curious, if you are not trying to start a flame, what are you doing here? Are you searching for that answer or is your mind made up?
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Old Dec 8, '09, 6:03 pm
reggieM reggieM is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

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I'm not trying to start a flame war here (honestly!) but it's worth mentioning that all the 'proofs' mentioned in this thread so far have been repeatedly and comprehensively debunked.
You're completely off-topic and your comment gives the indication that you don't care for common courtesy in a discussion (e.g. you're trolling for a response to your own pet interests and not the topic of this thread).

Quote:
The fact is that there is no proof for God's existence. It's a matter of faith alone.
You're wrong - in more ways than one. So, why don't you start your own thread with that theme and argue about that there?

Quote:
A note about Aquinas though: I don't understand why he's held in such a high regard, as his five 'proofs' are nothing of the kind.
Another good topic for your own thread: Why is Aquinas held in such high regard? That's what you could title it.

Quote:
However it seems that many theists hold Thomas to be bang on the money; presumably because his 'proofs' support their already-held conclusion. The fact is, none of his 'proofs' will convince anybody with a fundamental grasp of logic, who doesn't already believe in God. They're just emotionally appealing rhetoric at best.
Again, you're wrong and completely off-topic. But if you want to argue with people about your opinions it's best to do that on threads dedicated to those topics.
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Old Dec 8, '09, 6:03 pm
reggieM reggieM is offline
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Default Re: What are the best books for proving the existence of God?

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And just curious, if you are not trying to start a flame, what are you doing here? Are you searching for that answer or is your mind made up?
Excellent questions.
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