Proof of God


#1

I was asked by an Atheist to justify my belief in God. Any sugestions?


#2

Well there’s the old phrase, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who do not believe, no proof is good enough”. Or something like that.

But let’s not be too gloomy. :smiley:

Just what does your friend mean by “justify”? Does he mean, can you give him concrete evidence of God’s existence? Does he mean, can you give him a “reason” to believe?

First, find out exactly what he means by “justify your belief”. Does he, for example, ask you to justify your belief that Mickey D burgers are better than Burger King’s? If you say that to you they just taste better, does he ACCEPT that, or does he insist on concrete things (one burger has fewer calories, less fat, etc.) and even then argue?

If he does the former, and accepts that you can have a preference for one thing among other similar things, then you can explain that you have a preference for religious belief. . .and he will have to accept that you have “justified your reason for belief” because he can’t allow you to have a preference in ONE area (burgers) and deny it in another (belief).

If he does the latter, then he won’t ever “permit” you to have an opinion that is solely based on a personal preference. . .and, since he has basically denied you any opinion that HE does not permit, he’s really limiting you, and attempting to limit God. You can be quite polite about it, and say you’ll “agree to disagree”, but if people are not willing to grant you full freedom (including freedom to believe), then IMO THEY need to justify to YOU why you should permit them as friends. True friends accept personal beliefs and values of others without having to control them or persecute them.


#3

[quote=Joan45]I was asked by an Atheist to justify my belief in God. Any sugestions?
[/quote]

You should read certain philisohpical works that try to point to the existance of God. I am sure someone else will help me with Aquinas’s proofs. I beleive there are 4 of them. This does not rely on theology to prove God, but rather philosophy. More
"proofs" for God is given to us by Descartes. In summary his first proof of God is that since we have no concept of the infinite some infinite being put it in our minds. How does the finite reach out and grasp the infinite? How does the limited think the unlimited? His second proof, in summary, states that something of less power, less strength, and other various attributes must come from something else of greater power, greater wisdom. Like a smaller stream comes from a river, or a pebble comes from a large rock. This is a form of St. Anselm’s ontological argument. In the saints own words “That than which nother greater can be conceived,” which of course is God.


#4

[quote=Joan45]I was asked by an Atheist to justify my belief in God. Any sugestions?
[/quote]

One can know with certainty, without faith, whether or not “God” (as creator) exists. This is accomplished through the use of our senses and natural reason.

However, not everything about God can be known this way. God is also to be known through faith.

Finally, not even faith can reveal all things about God; and even those who see and know God in heaven do not and cannot fully comprehend God.

Church Dogma:
[list=1]
*] God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty, by the natural light of reason from created things (De fide)
*] God’s existence is not merely an object of natural rational knowledge, but also an object of supernatural faith. (De fide)
*] The blessed in Heaven possess an immediate intuitive knowledge of the Divine Essence (De fide)
*] The Immediate Vision of God transcends the natural power of cognition of the human soul, and is therefore supernatural. (De fide)
*] The soul, for the Immediate Vision of God, requires the light of glory. (De fide)
*] God’s Essence is also incomprehensible to the blessed in Heaven. (De fide)
[/list]

This list is for your own reference.

As for the atheist, he will likely want to know what the means of knowing God via natural reason are.

There are various such demonstrations, and a good source would be Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. He summarizes five ways to demonstrate God’s existence here:
Whether God exists?
catholicprimer.org/summa/FP/FP002.html#FPQ2A3THEP1

I prefer to address an atheist directly because there are multiple ways to be atheistic, and they might have certain biases against pre-existing literature regarding this topic. Also, they usually have a predetermined “Definition” of the term “God” that they think has to be demonstrated.

The first thing you might want to do is find out how they define “God”, and then go from there. What can be naturally known about God without faith is limited, so if they are demanding proof for the God many follow in faith, then they can’t have it. If they have no faith, then they can only know God remotely via their natural reason. And there is abundant proof on that level.

hurst


#5

[quote=Joan45]I was asked by an Atheist to justify my belief in God. Any sugestions?
[/quote]

I don’t know your atheist friend, so I hesitate to try and diagnose the particular cause(s) of his/her unbelief (there can be many), though often the atheist has not so much an intellectual problem with belief in God (also called theism), but rather has a moral conflict over the idea of God. It’s not that the mind can’t grasp the reality of God’s existence, but that the prospect of conforming one’s behavior to any standard apart from one’s own will can be a difficult thing to come to terms with. My point is that, while the atheist asks you to justify your belief, he/she should also be challenged to justify his/her unbelief.

Let’s assume, however, that your friend is looking for an intellectual case for theism. One of the strongest arguments for God’s existence that I’m aware of is the “Argument from the Impossibility of the Contrary” (sounds brainy, doesn’t it?). In other words, it’s rationally impossible that God not exist. It works like this: If there was ever a time in the past when absolutely nothing existed, then (since something cannot come from nothing all by itself) it doesn’t take a PH.D. to understand what would exist now—nothing! Therefore, something must exist which has existence, the very power of being, within itself as part of its basic makeup. Nothing in the natural world qualifies here, since the universe (including you and I) must depend on other things for its existence; it doesn’t exist on its own. So, there must be something outside of the natural world which has its being, its existence, within itself and relies on nothing outside itself in order to exist, and upon which all other dependent things rely for their existence. And this self-existent something we call “God.”

Whew! Kind of wordy, I know, but I tried to be brief. If you’re interested in an excellent book that might help, I especially recommend this one:

Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (InterVarsity Press, 1994) [ISBN 0-8308-1774-3]

It’s written by two Catholic philosophers for the lay reader, and is really a fine book to have on your shelf. Hope this has helped.

God bless,
Don


#6

hmm, this is actually is a subject that interests me. as an agnostic, I profess no particular religious creed, but will vehimently defend the athiest and theist standpoints. i justify my UNbelief thusly. in the darkest points of my life, i prayed and i prayed, just like i’d been thaught to. but it always felt like my prayers were just going nowhere, like God had just left his answering machine on. it just felt like, well, if God’s abandoned me, then i owe him no alliegence.

I live my life by my own principles, basically Love thy neighbour, do good to those who hate you, etc. i do this for no particular religious benifits, just because i think it’s the right thing to do.

if anybody could give me a good, reasonable, reason why i should believe, i’d be glad to hear it.


#7

If there is no God then religion would not have come to exist - there is your proof.

Ask your friend what the point of human existence is - there is only one true answer of course - love.

Then ask your friend to explain what love is, and where it comes from? Answer - God is love.

Then explain that is why we are all put here on earth - to love God and each other for all eternity - the two great commandments. Unfortunately there are many who choose to think they know better - like your friend.

You and your friend are in my prayers.

DD


#8

[quote=deekod1967]If there is no God then religion would not have come to exist - there is your proof
[/quote]

that doesn’t make much sense at all. sorry, but it doesn’t.

[quote=deekod1967]Ask your friend what the point of human existence is - there is only one true answer of course - love.
[/quote]

this is, however the principle i choose to live my life by.


#9

First off, if your friend wants scientific proof… there will be none. This is obvious. God deals with the intangible nature of humanity. So the key is to get him thinking outside the completely scientific mind frame. It’s important to realize that our understanding of science is always changing. Old truths become new fallacies and old fallacies become new truths. This begs the question: “How do you know what truth is?”

He won’t be able to answer this with any logic because on a purely Atheistic and scientific standpoint… there is no truth… only a world of relativities. God gives truths which have maintained relatively constant through out time. The hard part is finding which version of God you want to accept and belief. By explaining the logic in Christianity (yes, there is actually a lot of philosophical and very rational thinking in Christianity if you study it) you can help guide him towards God. However, don’t expect this to happen quickly.

ISTPQ: Sometimes God responds to your prayers… just not in the way you wanted or expected them to. If you were able to pray and get anything you wanted there would be no purpose to life. Life is a process of challenges and hardships which gradually build you up and make you stronger. Clearly, if you’re the same person at 65 as you were when you were 3… then you’re a sorry excuse for a person.

And sometimes getting what you want isn’t always best for you. The child never reaches it’s full potential by always receiving the answers to their homework and always getting whatever toys they want. End the end they turn out to be a spoiled and unreliable person.

Understanding that hardships are just the natural process which help us grow will take you a long way in having faith. I have found one prayer which always helps me is “Give me strength.” It’s the acknowledgement of 3 things.

  1. There is a God
  2. He gives me strength & the importance of God in our lives
  3. The fact that hardships are a natural process of growth in our lives.

And, at the end… ask yourself: “Prove that there is no God”. The fact is that you can never disprove God with any logical rational. It all comes down to faith. Sometimes it takes a jump of faith to realize He’s there. (I used to be an Athiest/Agnostic. This last line was extremely frustrating to me for obvious reasons that only an Athiest or Agnostic will understand. However, if you’re risky enough… you’ll give it a shot. ;))

Keep the Faith


#10

[quote=Joan45]I was asked by an Atheist to justify my belief in God. Any sugestions?
[/quote]

Joan,

My favorite is that the only way for something as messed up as the Catholic Church to have lasted two thousand years is by divine intervention. This proves not only the existence of God but also His favor towards the Catholic Church.

Napoleon once told a French bishop that he would destroy the Catholic Church in France. The bishop’s reply was “One thousand years of French bishops have not been able to destroy the Catholic Church in France. What makes you think you have a chance?”

Seriously, though, C.S. Lewis has one in his book Miracles which I have found ironclad so far. It is that if the supernatural does not exist–that the physical world is indeed all there is–then our conscious thoughts have no relation to the reality outside our brains other than that of cause and effect. If our thoughts are caused simply by the motions of the subatomic particles in our brains, then there is no reason to think they are true. And then the idea of atheism–in fact, any ideas at all–go completely out the window.

  • Liberian

#11

personally, i like the ontological approach simply becuase it makes atheists mad.


#12

left Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.[/left]
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
Therefore:
(3) The universe has a cause of its existence.

The cause of the universe cannot be of the universe. Thus, there exists a supernatural cause of the universe which transcends the universe. We call that cause God.


#13

Here are some other helpful articles from Peter Kreeft…

Arguments for God’s Existence

[list]
*]Can You Prove God Exists?
*]Argument from Design
*]Argument from First Cause
*]Argument from Conscience
*]Argument from History
*]Argument from Pascal’s Wager
*]Argument from Desire
*]The Divinity of Christ
[/list]


#14

[quote=hurst]The first thing you might want to do is find out how they define “God”, and then go from there. What can be naturally known about God without faith is limited, so if they are demanding proof for the God many follow in faith, then they can’t have it. If they have no faith, then they can only know God remotely via their natural reason. And there is abundant proof on that level.
[/quote]

All the advice so far has been good. I would add to the suggestions above that you should define the initial debate as Atheist vs. Theist. Don’t get sidetracked with by discussing any particular revelation or superstition. Remember the Catholic Church as condemned superstition multiple times.

The logical proofs and the available evidence of personal experience are strong enough for a reasonable person to conclude God exists. Your friend may hold on to his convictions and stubbornly remain unreasonable. In this case the best you can do is pray and live a life of example.

You can find an overview of the proofs of God’s existence on Peter Kreeft’s web site and you can even purchase his book mentioned previously from Catholic Answers.


#15

[quote=ISTPQ]I live my life by my own principles, basically Love thy neighbour, do good to those who hate you, etc. i do this for no particular religious benifits, just because i think it’s the right thing to do.
[/quote]

The fact that there is a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do is one of the proofs of God’s existence.


#16

Aquinas once argued a proof that is so simple people often dismiss it. In a nutshell, saying that God doesn’t exist is a contradiction in terms since God’s very nature is to exist. It is like arguing with someone over whether or not they can make a triangle with four sides. I know it seems kind of loopy, but I have thought about it a lot and I can’t find a problem with this argument.


#17

[quote=St.BJLabre]Aquinas once argued a proof that is so simple people often dismiss it. In a nutshell, saying that God doesn’t exist is a contradiction in terms since God’s very nature is to exist. It is like arguing with someone over whether or not they can make a triangle with four sides. I know it seems kind of loopy, but I have thought about it a lot and I can’t find a problem with this argument.
[/quote]

Alright, so God is defined as a thing wih such and such properties, and one of these properties is that God exists. Therefore God exists. Now, how is this different from saying, “OK, Porflap is something with all the properties of a normal apple, plus Porflap exists and is right in front of me right now”? The problem is that you can’t define things into existence.

More specifically, existence is not a property of an object. The properties of an object would be exactly the same if that object did not exist. Existence is a particular relationship between the world and an object.


#18

Why not go to the daddy of all Theologians when answering your friend…read Aquinas. Try: Reasons in Proof of the Existence of God found in Vol 2 of the Summa I believe


#19

[quote=itsjustdave1988]left Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.[/left]
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
Therefore:
(3) The universe has a cause of its existence.

The cause of the universe cannot be of the universe. Thus, there exists a supernatural cause of the universe which transcends the universe. We call that cause God.
[/quote]

This is the argument that most appeals to me. Ultimately, one thing has to have always existed. What seems more likely: An eternal being who IS existence itself, or some random super-dense mass?


#20

[quote=St.BJLabre]Aquinas once argued a proof that is so simple people often dismiss it. In a nutshell, saying that God doesn’t exist is a contradiction in terms since God’s very nature is to exist. … I can’t find a problem with this argument.
[/quote]

Actually, he said:

Therefore I say that this proposition, “God exists,” of itself is self-evident, for the predicate is the same as the subject, because God is His own existence as will be hereafter shown (Question [3], Article [4]). Now because we do not know the essence of God, the proposition is not self-evident to us; but needs to be demonstrated by things that are more known to us, though less known in their nature—namely, by effects.

Summa Theologica
Whether the existence of God is self-evident?
catholicprimer.org/summa/FP/FP002.html#FPQ2A1THEP1

So he says that such a statement cannot itself be used to demonstrate God’s existence because the fact that “the essence of God is to exist” is not self-evident to us.

hurst


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