A question for all Catholic, atheists, agnostics, and anyone who cares: Can the existence of God be proved through natural reason? If so, why? If not, why? Charitable debate is welcome. Thanks!
No and Yes. “Proved” is a loaded term. Websters has multiple definitions.
One is “to establish as true”. In this case, unless we are all-knowing, our abilities are lacking to “prove” something that is so transcendently beyond us.
One is “to be found by experience or trial”. In this case, God gives each of us a capacity to experience Him and thus if we are open to Him, we will find Him in our experience and reason. But, this “proof” is personal to us. God’s means to allow another to experience Him is as different as we are different from each other.
This is why our ministry to spread the Good News is not to convert by the sword or executive fiat but first in the words of St. Francis- Always preach the Gospel, use words if necessary. Our role is to be both an example and a teacher in ways that allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to allow them to experience God as He has designed. When this happens, they will have “proof” that THEY can rely upon as it will have come from God.
If we are going to agree that God is beyond our ability to comprehend, then any conceputualization of God is faulty. God would remain beyond our ability to understand. Try proving infinity.
Saint Paul appears to have belived it could be proved. Romans 1:19-23
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20] Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
21] for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
No. God, being super-natural, is beyond the scope of natural reason.
Care to eleborate on your last comment, Midrath? It seems that your premise is:
- God is supernatural
- He cannot be know by natural means
- Therefore, he doesn’t exist.
If I have misunderstood, please clarify. Thanks!
In order God to be God, He must Infinite. If He’s finite, then he must be a mere creature and certainly not God. Do you believe that God is beyond our comprehension?
This apologist seems to thinks so - read his proof:
Yes. It is possible to know the existence of God by the light of reason alone.
Dei Filius of Vatican I defined this:
- The same Holy mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason : ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.
Regarding ways of coming to know God by the light of reason alone, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
34 The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls God”. (see also CCC, 31-35)
We should also recognize that there is a difference between knowing the existence of God with certainty and comprehending or exhausting or measuring his nature. God is, after all, incomprehensible and immeasurable.
I agree with what they are saying. God gives us the capacity to experience Him in a way that He will become very real to us. For each of us, His existence can be proven.
But I think that issue (I may be wrong) of the OP is can it be proven such that it can resolve the debate between believers and unbelievers. This I contend is not God’s intent. If it had been so, He would have done so for those who came before us (He loves them as much as He loves us). For a reason that is beyond me, God has determined in His Wisdom that He will reveal Himself uniquely to each of us and in a way that invites a response to His Love at the same time respecting our free will.
No, no, only one and two! The third line is a non sequitur.
Rather, since God is supernatural, his existence is not naturally knowable – and the question itself immaterial, since the answer lies beyond our grasp. God may exist or may not; I don’t know, and given the definition of God as supernatural, I cannot know, barring personal revelation. That hasn’t happened yet.
Ok if God’s existence is unknowable, how did you know that He doesn’t exist? It almost seems like a contradiction. If the answer is beyond our gasp, then there is a possiblity that He does exist and we do not know it. Which leads to another question: If God exists, does He care enough to tell us?
Thanks for the information. I am a cradle Catholic whom has been going through some doubts lately so I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a Catholic lest I be a hypocrite. It has been very helpful to have posts from both believers and nonbelievers.
Anyway, I understand the point that you are making. In order God to be God, He must be Infinite. With a finite mind of mine, I cannot fully comprehend all His infinity. However, your post begs the question. Ok, the Church says we can know Him through reason alone–What reasons are they?
I think you have me mistaken. I’m an agnostic, not an atheist: I admit the possibility of God, but not the rational knowability. And certainly, if God exists, I don’t know it!
As to your question, from my personal experience I am doubtful. I at least wasn’t on the mailing list.
Thanks, Riley! I understood what the author was trying to say yet I kinda lost him on after step 8 where essese must be immutable. This argument could easily be used for the existence of souls–whom are immortal, unchangable, exists outside time in a sense–yet we are not gods. I understood the comparison but for me, it seemed to be a huge step from finity to Infinity. If you have any more thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
I read Mirdath’s comment as stating God may or may not exist.
So, I guess there is no contradiction.
Hope that helps.
Ok, if you were to argue as a theist, what would you say God exists if not through natural reason? Do you think theists are irrational?
P.S. What does your signature mean?
Ok from my point of view, he seemed to be saying that God is unknowable yet at the same time saying God doesn’t exist. (I didn’t know that he was an agnostic) Hence, the confusion on my part.
Were I a theist, I would take God on faith, not on reason. Lack of faith is what keeps me from being a theist.
Are theists irrational? In the sense that they accept things without requiring a rational explanation, yes they are! It’s the very definition of Faith: trust without explanation. It should not be construed as an insult; to me, it just seems odd
P.S. What does your signature mean?
‘The world wants to be deceived’. It’s on the coat of arms of the ruling family of Poictesme in James Branch Cabell’s novels. They’re quite a rogues’ gallery (and the whole thing is some great reading, highly recommended!).
It’s also a saying ascribed to the Roman satirist Petronius: mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur – the world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived. I like the ambiguity of Cabell’s version, without the command in the second half.
It could also be argued that atheists and agnostics have faith as well, but not in a divine sense like the area of science. Some may trust that science will eventually explain away religion, miracles, etc. Yet they are not gods; they do not know what the future hold or what science will discover–it’s a trust without explanation. This is not say that it is irrational, but I don’t think that faith need to be only limited to theists.
P.S. What does your screenname mean?