[quote=Joseph]Hello!Can anyone provide any explanations that would appeal to a contemporary young adult mind that would show that God exists? I’m aware of Thomas Aquina’s proofs. Are there more contemporary explanations and approaches?
A precocious young adult Catholic, whom I know and who was very active in her parish, started college this year and is excited about her studies, living in the dorms, etc. She just announced that she no longer believes that God exists and that the bible is stories that people just tell each other.
If she no longer believes in God because she has an intellectual problem with the concept of God, then maybe I can appeal to her intellect with a contemporary “argument”, otherwise, she may have embarked on a spiritual detour.
Thanks very much and God bless!
Let me speak as a Catholic youth (17) with a bit of a skeptical streak. I’ve had trouble believing in God.
I personally find that the strongest argument for God is the argument from Christ’s divinity. But first, you have to firmly establish that Christ existed-- this Protestant site has a pretty good bit on “Shattering the Christ Myth.” Some of that stuff she won’t care about, but don’t let her miss the part on the historical evidences for Christ, specifically the secular sources, including Tacitus, Josephus, Thallus, Pliny, Lucian, Suetonius, The Talmud, etc… But group that argument with Resurrection Evidence.
Figure it as a multi-tiered argument.
- Christ existed.
- The Gospels portray Christ.
- We must come to a conclusion about Christ’s character from the Gospels, and the only reasonable one is that he is our Lord. First ask her if she thinks he is a good teacher. If that is her initial response, then any consequent conclusion that he isn’t God is disengenuous, because then he either lied or was insane.
- The strongest testimony to Christ’s divinity is His resurrection. The Apostles witnessed that resurrection, and universally were persecuted for it. In fact, 11 of the 12 died. And the one that didn’t die was exiled for part of his life, and also led a celibate life for his beliefs (John). This leads us to the conclusion that: the Apostles were telling the truth about Christ’s resurrection.
Now. One BIG PAUSE before you use this argument, which I find very convincing. You have to set it up first with two different methods.
First, show her that there is no reason that God can’t exist. Provide her with the various cosmological arguments for God’s existence. If that makes her say, well, I can see how God can exist, you’ve done a very good job. Next, argue from the Argument from Desire and from the Argument from Conscience. Remember where she is coming from, a fallen away Catholic. She’ll likely have some sort of idea that she has a longing for God to complete her life, even if she won’t say it. She doesn’t have to admit it to you, but it’s still a powerful argument, the argument from desire. Next, the argument from conscience. The idea of absolute right and wrong, and the existence of conscience are likely things she implicitly understands, or at least is willing to accept due to her Catholic background.
Ok. Now you’ve laid the groundwork. Now, you have to show her that Catholicism and the Bible makes sense. Generally, not totally. Ask her what parts of Catholicism don’t make sense to her, and show her that Catholicism is internally consistent. This is important. Otherwise Catholicism is a dead faith to her. Once she accepts this, hit her with the zinger.
Joseph, I’d always be willing to talk with her, if she’s willing to talk online as well. I can understand where’s she’s coming from, with her doubts about God. I am also a contemporary of hers, as a high school senior. Feel free to private message me if you want to talk to me too.
But let me recapitulate what I think would be most important:
- Show that God can exist.
- Argue from various (cosmological) proofs that God does exist.
- Argue from Desire and Conscience.
- Show that Catholicism is reasonable.
- Prove Christ existed.
- Confront her with the “Trilemma.” (Liar, Lord or Lunatic)
- Explain to her the evidence of the Resurrection.