Do you or someone you know have doubts that God exists?
Are you skeptical that there is a Supreme Being who created our planet, and our universe?
I know it can be tough to believe in God sometimes.
I used to believe in God when I was a kid.
But then when I was in high school, some bad things happened to my family and me.
I prayed to God that He would fix those bad things that happened ASAP.
And when I felt that God didn’t respond, I ended up believing that everything I was taught about God was wrong.
I ended up thinking He was just a figment of people’s imagination.
So I became an atheist for eight years.
That was until 2006 when some dramatic things happened in my life that changed things around.
If You Don’t Settle the God Question Quickly, Then Your Problem Gets Worse
If you’re searching for purpose, meaning, and whether there is an afterlife, then answering the God question is crucial.
That’s why I always encourage skeptics who visit my blog to spend as much time as they can to search for their own evidence about the divine.Trusting God is more than what you can see. Ask God to remove your doubt and add to your faith. Click To Tweet
But Wait, Don’t Mistake Evidence for Proof
As you’re reading this blog post, I want you to be aware that there is no proof that God exists. However, there is plenty of evidence.
Many of the skeptics that I speak with want proof that God exists, like as in a scientific experiment that can produce results.
However, the problem is that science can only measure things in the natural realm; things that science can observe.
But God doesn’t inhabit a space that is visible, and that scientists can measure.
In fact, God (the Christian God, or God the Father) exists outside of our universe.
So that’s why using science to measure God is like using a thermometer to measure the wind.
It’s just not the right tool for the job.
While there isn’t any proof that God exists, there is plenty of evidence.
And there is even plenty of scientific evidence and philosophical evidence as well.
What’s the Difference Between Evidence and Proof of God’s Existence?
Think of it like being a juror in a trial (if you live in the US).
When you’re part of a jury, you are presented with evidence from both the plaintiff and the defendant.
It’s up to you which side you believe…
You’ll end up making a decision based on the evidence that’s presented to you by both sides.
Does that make sense?
The Man Interviewed in this Video is an Expert With Decades of Experience
Below is a video interview with Doctor William Lane Craig.
If you’re not familiar with Dr. Craig, he is a renowned author, speaker, and professor.
Here are Dr. Craig’s credentials as he is one of the authorities in the intersections of philosophy, science, and theology.
- Master’s Degree From Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
- Ph.D. From the Univerisity of Birmingham England
- Doctorate of Theology from the University of Munich in Germany
- Currently Professor at Talbot
You can learn more about Dr. Craig by visiting his about page on his website.
He is well known for debating atheists, Muslims, and people from other religious beliefs.
YouTube is flooded with Dr. Craig’s videos if you’re interested in this subject.
Here Are Some of the Extraordinary Things You’re Going to Learn in This Video
- One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to viewing the Big Bang theory and how you can correct it
- How some people try to mislead you by trying to re-define what a quantum vacuum is which can keep you from believing in God
- How some physicists are trying to convince you that it’s possible for a universe to create itself from nothing but in reality, that is just a big fat lie
- What is the ballon-button illustration that explains how matter, space, and time came into existence so you can simply understand all the facts
- And many more fascinating facts about why a transcendent cause is the best explanation for the origin of the universe
For part 2 of Dr. Craig’s video about how God can be personally known and experienced, click here.
So Are You Disappointed With the Video, or Did You Like it?
There’s no way that a video like this is going to be received by everyone the same way.
Some skeptics will still not be convinced.
For some people, this video will put their doubts to rest.
And yet for others, this will just be a confirmation of something that they’ve already known for years.
[author title=”About the Author”]
Hi Peter. Lucas here. Have you ever seen the debate between William Craig and Sean Carroll? The upshot is the Sean Carroll gives a technical and easy to understand explanation of the factors at play during a big bang. Essentially, he agrees with Craig on what’s happening but then explains how before space and time exist, it’s not a logical proposition to say things like “cause” and “exists” as these things are necessarily tied to a temporal state. No universe, no time, no “before” and no “cause”.
Carroll explains how these quantum particles pop into existence in a quantum vacuum in just the very mechanical way Craig says can’t happen. However, I think none of that matters. Since we weren’t there, it’s hard to say exactly what did happen nor could we determine the actual cause (even if we have a plausible, physical hypothesis). I think Craig’s jump to a transcendent, personal entity, no matter how comforting that may be, is just a failure of the imagination. Because we don’t know what the mechanism is, nor does the hypothesis substitute for the data, we can imagine any mechanism we want in place of the transcendent entity. It’s equally realistic to claim that a quantum, toaster looking, universe o’matic machine simply creates universes whenever there is room for one. There’s no love in that but there’s equal evidence to Craig’s hypothesis, none.
It’s a false dichotomy to propose either god or total “random accident” as Craig seems to believe. There are a billion more possibilities that may explain our universe and god just happens to be expeditious. So, as always, I’m left with the same question; if physicists came up with a detailed model of the creation of the universe and it was widely accepted and proven to your satisfaction, would you still believe in God? If the answer is yes, then this isn’t a reason to believe for you, nor is it likely to convince me. What is the main reason you believe there is a god, you know his name, have a relationship with his son and know what he wants from us?
Hi Lucas, sorry, I didn’t see the debate between William Craig and Sean Carroll.
As far as a quantum toaster looking universe o’matic machine that simply creates universes whenever there is room for one, are you assuming that this machine has always existed (is eternal)?
As for the billions of more possibilities that explain our universe, you are absolutely right. However, I’d like to point out that Dr. Craig didn’t say that it was God but that it was a transcendent being. I think we need to have a completely different conversation to go from transcendent being to God.
Additionally, he was saying that it is the most probable conclusion and better than all of the other billions of explanations like aliens, other life forms, or something of the like.
As for answers to your last questions, it boils down to what we talked about in our one-on-one conversations on Twitter and on our Skype call. It has to do with my own personal story which I shared with you.
This is of course ignoring all other evidences and looking purely at the alleged beginning of the universe as the key point on which you will base your decision. Human behavior and psychology begs a further question (even Christians will observe this), that even if you have such a ‘truth’ or ‘fact’ that you can claim like this, will that be the strength of your belief. In other words, is one historical event enough to convince you, honestly? Even the Israelites, who saw intense miracles of power, (one could argue they saw God with their own eyes) fell into depravity thereafter. Adam and Eve, knowing a relationship with God like no other human in history were deceived and turned away from what God desired of them.
Here’s my point, because you’re gonna keep smacking your head against it (speaking from experience here) if you’re purely going to base your faith in God on your mental agility and ability to comprehend him: you will not be able to sustain faith in God purely by ‘knowing for certain that He exists’. It’s a philosophers dream….’I can understand it, therefore I know it. If I cannot understand it, I cannot know it.’
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The point isn’t that God can be 100% absolutely proven by the Cosmological argument, but that is has the best philosophical explanatory power… in other words, God as the cause of the universe makes the most sense. I doubt we’ll ever be able to “prove” God exists until the Second Coming of Christ when time is up for arguments about His existence. There must be an element of faith that is exercised here, and that keeps us humble.
Yes, you make a good point Lisa. That’s why I wrote the part in the article that explains the difference between evidence and proof. I believe that there is no proof for God but there is plenty of evidence. And just like you’re saying, the evidence for God is the best explanation.
But when you have a relationship with God and you’ve been walking with Him for years and you experience Him, then you don’t really need all of that evidence.
Thanks for sharing! I’ve read/watched this guy for several years. Personally, Craig’s arguments made complete sense to me – until they didn’t.
By that I mean that Craig is exceptional at debating and arguing, but when I stopped to really drill into the content, suddenly his arguments seemed weak.
Why? Primarily because they’re just that, arguments. I think we do ourselves a huge disservice viewing religion as a court of law or election. In an election, if I convince enough people to maintain my perspective, I “create” reality because my candidate wins. But this doesn’t work with religion. If we all become Muslim, Mormon, Atheist, or Baptist, it won’t change reality.
God either exists or he doesn’t, regardless of how many people we convince one way or another.
Which brings up this very difficult to answer question: If God is real, and personal, why does he make believing in him a maze? A loving parent wouldn’t throw their kid out in an Alaskan winter with a box full of keys and say “One of those will get you in the house, good luck”. No! A loving parent would give their kid the exact key to get in so that they don’t freeze to death.
However, God gives us a few “evidences” that he is real and says “Good luck! You better believe in (the right version) of me if you want to live eternally!” He then gives us a book that can be used to condone dozens of opposing philosophies and leaves us at that.
It’s interesting how religion has evolved over the years, and God is continually used to explain what we can’t explain elsewhere (until we can).
Really, here’s my biggest challenge. Christianity (and most modern religions) don’t require faith in God – they require faith in a select few people who had one off “experiences” and very strong political agendas.
Reading through the Old Testament while tracking “how” people experienced God (usually just 1-2 people “saw” him at a time, and we have to take their word), and asking yourself “did they have a political incentive for God’s answer?” leads to a very revealing revolution that much of our Bible may be exaggerated.
This isn’t a conclusion a like, but it really seems to make sense. It appears that our religion is based on faith in men, not God.
Rob, why do you think it is that you believe that if God exists, then believing in Him is a maze. But yet there are others who don’t believe that believing in God is a maze?
1 John 5 :
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Then your faith in men will certainly disappoint you; men/women have fallen from grace and are inherently sinful (I’m including myself in here). I have this conversation often in the church, that there are many strong voices in contemporary christian media that people latch onto, because they’re human, because we want something we can see….because WE are human and want what’s easy (seeing is believing). Scripture is very clear in many places about our faith in an Invisible God. That faith will produce fruit in keeping with repentance. That faith is a gift from God himself. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” <—That’s us.
Your metaphor of a parent throwing their kid to the wild with a set of keys is far contrasted from Scripture. If God is the parent and we are the children. They lived in the house until they burned it down with the fire the parent told them not to play with (Garden of Eden and fall of creation into sin), but the parent left their voice (think walking-talkies) to follow and make the best they could of the fallout, leading them into new places, making beauty out of ruin (also his nature), working toward rebuilding that house, awaiting parents find return to make the final finishing touches and happily-ever-after (second coming/new world).
It comes to this, EITHER we accept, on faith, that Jesus was indeed who he said he was, and that we repent (often daily) of our self-centered life, putting God and his desires on the throne of our hearts and walk in his perfect peace, OR we set to the philosophers of men, looking for someone to follow. One path leads to life. One to death. “He chose the foolish things to shame the wise.” What does that even mean? Could it be that when Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven was made up of children, was he also poking at our understanding, saying that to trust and follow him is indeed easily done, so easy that a child can understand how. Indeed, if we were only to be saved from our warranted destruction by our intellect, that would truly be an ‘unfair’ God. His door is open to all who seek him. Here are some promises from scripture that may encourage you:
“Yet to all who received him, to those who called on his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all this shall be added to you.”
“Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Ask and you shall receive.” “But when you ask, do it in faith, not with an unbelieving heart like those in the world.”
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door to me, I will come in and have communion with them.”
He is always there, according to his word. But, if you’re not gonna believe scripture, and listen to the ‘wisdom of man’ as an authority, you will continue to be lead astray. Thank God for his unchanging word, which he said will not change. Two things in our human existence are eternal: our spirits and God’s word. I hope you look intently at the connection between those two and seek the Lord. CHOOSE LIFE!
Is there any position or belief that cannot be accepted on faith?
Maybe you could go ahead ask the question you’re building up to or define some terms, because this comes across as rhetorical. Pretty sure you can take lots of positions or beliefs without faith….(we’re standing on the earths crust, we have 5 senses, no respiration equals biological death for us, etc.).
Hey Ninja thanks for the reply!
I’m probably building a statement more than a question. Statement being that faith can be used to justify or certify ANY position of faith.
Since this is the case, I don’t see how faith can ever be considered a reliable pathway to knowledge or truth. Who’s to say Muslims don’t have it right? They certainly have strong faith! Ancient Egyptians had faith that Osiris would guide them to the afterlife. Jim Jones’ followers had the ultimate faith and drank the cool aid. Christians tell me non-stop in Peter’s blog that you just have to have faith. And on and on………….
I decided a while ago to truly care about the things I believe and why I believe them. I want to believe in as many true things and as few false things as possible. The only way I can see to discover truth is via reason. Reason and religious/supernatural claims are incompatible. Therefore, I don’t accept any religious or supernatural claims as true. Holding beliefs based on faith rather than evidence seems like a bad idea to me.
Btw, I totally agree with you that lots (millions in fact) of positions can be taken without faith……. these are called facts!
As always, I’m TOTALLY willing to be convinced by facts of any religions claims.
Nice! R, I’m glad you are a reasonable person. I love reason.
So we’re working toward this statement:
“Faith can be used to justify or certify ANY position of faith.”
My gut reaction is, “nope”. Because, when I’m reading that statement I keep seeing it as “faith can justify faith”? Is that what you mean?
I say no because, we CAN trust something/someone and that thing/person could turn out to be false in some way and thereby LOSE our trust or faith. So, faith’s justification must come from outside that faith.
Again, this is me simplifying it to “Faith can justify faith.” 1=1, but A does not = B
Tell me if this is a reasonable statement, that “a belief/worldview (faith) is justified by evidence and therefor trusted.”
So the Christians here on Peter’s blog have a host of scriptural references that flood the mind when we talk about faith. I quoted several of the more popular passages. I talked about an invisible God and the references that promise blessing for believing in him without seeing him. But God doesn’t ask you to believe without seeing, he said you’re blessed when you do. God says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Like, I can describe a Snickers candy bar to someone, all about the chocolate, the nuts, the caramel, chewy, crunchy, nutty, sweetness that gives you a sugar high for an hour… but until you taste one, you can’t KNOW what it tastes like. God is all about evidence. He wants us to EXPERIENCE him.
Here’s where I’m gonna run into issue with some to the “reasonable” crowd, but keep an open mind; it’s still a very reasonable (I dare say most reasonable) view. Scripture lights us up, saying “Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature etc.–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” That’s rough. Basically, we have the whole of existence, our very breath and pulse testifying that there is life, that we are alive, that we were giving life by the Living God, and that to believe otherwise, or that there’s no evidence is simply inexcusable.
So if it’s so plain as day, how come the world is full of those like us that questions this, reasonably? Scientific theory. Not sure if they still call it the Big Bang THEORY, or not, but scientific minds have wrestled this ad nauseam. What’s the motive? Well, if you don’t want to believe that an all-loving God can let bad things happen, promise that if you ask, you’ll receive, and yet your wife lives with chronic–unbearable at times–pain (this is my situation), you have a tremendous motivation to explain away this ‘God Theory’. Because, ‘how could a good God let bad things happen?’ (that question comes from only looking at parts of scripture instead of taking the whole together, like looking at only half a map while going to your destination).
Here’s what I’m getting at. No matter WHO you are, or what worldview/faith you hold (atheist, muslims, buddhists, etc), we look at the same body of evidence (speaking of origins and scientific measures thereof) but come up with different conclusions. We say (both you and I) that we are motivated to discern what is true, by some reasonable amount of evidence, so that we can trust what’s true and right. We can’t both be right (let’s not get into truth being relative in this thread). So, what’s up? Am I delusional? Are all theists actually crazy people? What do we qualify as evidence? Who’s research do we trust to be unbiased and free of circular reasoning? We have to pull it all away and decide for ourselves, right? No one can make your belief choice for you.
I have found, from looking at the evidence (known, scientifically-measurable universe, natural law, human behavior, my own history and that of my families, the lives of those who claim to know the Christian God [as described in the Bible]), that there is no other choice than that God exists, and is who he claims to be. That he is timeless (outside our measurable universe) and inscrutable, and his intellect can somehow weave all this human free-will to an eternal glory, giving us all freedom to follow his Light and Life into eternity, or to abandon him and get exactly what we THINK we’re looking for…that part scares me to death. We are called to hope, as he hopes, that all people would choose to follow him. It’s a true Christian’s duty to reflect the love, grace, kindness, wisdom, and other attributes of God to those around us, to encourage and continue to produce fruit (and even more evidence) that he is here, he is coming back in a big way, and there is a party that you are invited to. There’s a quote somewhere, and you can shame me for not finding the source, but it’s plain and reasonable enough that: “the single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” I find that to be spot on, and it’s why my initial post mention that faith in people would bring disappointment.
It often can’t help but come off as an “us vs. them” argument, or an “oh yeah, well I’m right,” conversation once you bring in absolute truth. Please here me on this though, you are right to choose for yourself, it is your God-given right, and it’s not about if I’m right…. it’s about no one wanting to be wrong at the cost of eternal separation from everything that is good, pleasurable, perfect, and living. I will pray that you will FIND TRUTH! That you will have a faith inspired by EVIDENCE. Yes, have faith, but don’t “just have faith,” build that faith in a trustworthy God, and ask him for help with it. If faith is a gift, and he has unending power supply, and he commands us to ask, there is NO shame in doing so.
Loved this chance to type for you. Hit me back further if you wish, I just get so excited and probably should calm down. It was a thought provoking question/statement you made, and I have been (somewhere close) to where you are before, in scrutinizing world religions. “There is always hope.” ~Princess Leia
Hey Ninja –
I’m posting a reply in a new thread at the bottom since our box is getting squeezed!
Thanks for the reply Peter. The universe’o-matic is just a thought experiment. It could be a perfectly natural process that makes universes or maybe it’s an entity that only makes universes. In any event, don’t hang up on the universe needing an “eternal” agent. If there is no universe, then time is not something we can even discuss. It’s a fully understood part of Einsteinian Relativity. The point I was trying to make was that without evidence, Craig’s hypothesis is as valid as any other totally wild guess. Claiming that it was god that did it and that is the best explanation is a failure of the imagination. It’s much simpler to explain the universe with a universe’o-matic.
Craig does say that he hypothesises it’s a transcendent being, then says it’s a personal, transcendent being, you’re right but He’s talking about god, don’t you think? You’re also right about him connecting those dots, he knows he’s got no external basis to connect that universe building entity (god) with Christianity. This is why you never see him (in any debate, article, blog or radio show) try to connect his cosmological argument to his Christian faith. The most I’ve heard him say was “… The god of the Bible”. Pure assertion.
My problem with the cosmological argument is that it is just an argument. There’s no evidence to examine. Mainly though, it violates Occam’s razor. In every other natural process we can observe, from childbirth to gardening, we can get a product out of virtually nothing. No Gods required.
I notice you’re pretty invested in this belief of yours, you are totally surrounded by it’s trappings and earn your living from it. I know you couldn’t answer this question directly, but do you ever have doubts about the factual basis of what you believe? Are you in a position to investigate the questions those doubts raise? (I don’t mean about the theology, I mean much more fundamental than that, it’s truth) If you were mistaken about this, would you want to know?
Lucas – you said “In every other natural process we can observe, from childbirth to gardening, we can get a product out of virtually nothing. No Gods required.” Childbirth and gardens are not produced out of nothing, so your logic is illogical.
Perhaps the Cosmological argument is not stated with clarity. What Dr. Craig intends is to show that nothing produces nothing, thus, everything has a cause. This cause must be transcendent, in other words, outside of known space and time since the Big Bang was the starting point for all things including our dimensions. This transcendent cause also must be intelligent, not some random universe creating machine that spits out other universes. If you believe the Mulit-Verse Theory, then you have faith in this theory. You are exhibiting FAITH, which believe in something unseen.
Finally, arguments from science are good and getting better with the Intelligent Design Theory, but the best argument by far is the one from changed lives. There are literally millions in history whose lives have been transformed by the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is highly suspect to conclude millions of reasonable people are deluded.
From a reasonable believer.
Wondering how one would start from WLC’s favorite Kalām cosmological argument (keeping in mind that arguments are not proof of anything, btw):
Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
The Universe began to exist.
Therefore, the Universe had a cause.
And conclude Jesus Christ?
In your comment you have two conclusions that are a result of one premise:
1. “therefore the universe had a cause”
2. “Conclude Jesus Christ”
I think there is a big gap between the two. Once it’s been proven that the universe had a cause, then WLC provides more arguments as to why he thinks that cause is Jesus Christ. Those arguments of where he goes from the universe had a cause to concluding it’s the Christian God is not in this video but in another video.
Exactly my point. The Kalām cosmological argument never includes a deity or anything supernatural in its premises. Nor does it prove that the universe has a cause.
One of my favorite Christian Philosophers, J.P. Moreland, says you can’t conclude Jesus Christ is the Creator for the conclusion to the Kalam Cosmological argument. He says this argument simply points to a Theistic worldview as making the best possible explanation for why anything exists at all. Moreland suggests if you are dealing with an atheist, you must first just get him to see the credibility of a theistic explanation for the universe. Once you do that, then you can discuss why this Creator is personal.
Lastly, you can bring up the point of what religion has the best answers to the human problem of sin (or call it something else since “sin” is a taboo word in our culture). Christianity explains why things are not perfect, and provides the solution through the person of Jesus. That is a very simplistic answer to your question, but I hope it helps a bit.
Lisa, both you, and J.P. are correct. That’s why I was trying to say that the conclusion to the Kalam isn’t that the Christian God exists, but that a transcendent being exists.
Thanks for your thoughts on the subject. You are quite knowledgeable in the subject and you have a nice manner of writing your replies in the comments. It’s always a pleasure reading what you have to say 🙂
I love your comment Lisa, thanks so much!
You know something, Lucas, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to your questions and to question from others that come from atheists. After several years of having my blog up and running, I realized a very interesting thing. These arguments about God’s existence don’t do really very much for atheists. If I was an atheist and I came across this stuff, honestly, I wouldn’t find it very compelling. I’m just being very blunt, honest, and as sincere and genuine as I can be.
However, there is a certain type of people that do find this information helpful. And those are people that are either more on the agnostic side, or that believe in God but are going through a season of doubt. They write to me and ask me questions. And almost always, they say that the articles that they read have been helpful, or that our conversation has helped to answer their question in some kind of way.
So that got me to thinking about why is it that atheists don’t really respond well to this kind of information? And I suppose that really one can come up with several different answers. The same biases that people accuse me of are exactly the same biases that you and other atheists are also guilty of (confirmation bias etc). So we are all biased in some kind of way.
However, what I did find recently is that the reason there is such a big gap between me and other atheists is because we operate by reading different manuals. You guys are reading the scientific manual and are looking for either things that confirm your position, or for evidence that confirm the opposite position. You want evidence from the scientific realm.
I’ve tried to give as much evidence as possible on this blog from the scientific realm but it will always be limited because a transcendent supremem being exists in the super-natural world. Of course, you don’t believe that a supernatural world exists. And if one were to exist, you wouldn’t be able to discover through scientific tools either.
As for me, I don’t operate from the scientific manual that you and atheists operate from. I operate from a faith-based manual. I left atheism and became a Christian in 2006 not because of the scientific evidence that I talk about on this blog. But because of something that God did personally for me. I had a personal encounter with God. Which is why I was talking with you on twitter that I found that most people who convert don’t convert because of the evidence but convert because of a personal experience.
So does that mean if you don’t have a personal experience, then you’re out of luck? I don’t think so. I think the first step is to start searching for that personal experience. I think if you continue searching, then one day you will look and find what you’re looking for all along.
Sorry, I don’t think I got to answering all of your questions in the comment. But it was just something that I got inspired by when I read your comment.
I read this comment a couple of time last night and have been thinking about it ever since. I’d like to thank you for your sincere and honest thoughts. You are exactly correct – those of us who have earnestly tried to find truth in religion and haven’t will doubtfully be convinced by the existing “evidences” or arguments. For the most part these things are what caused us to question what we believed to begin with.
What I sense is that some people have what they feel to be a supernatural experience attributed to a god and make the decision to believe – no matter if the natural, rational evidence points to a different, non supernatural conclusion. Once you’re invested in that decision its VERY hard to be self critical. Hey I get it! I was in the same boat for most of my life!
My challenge to you and your readers is to examine your beliefs with logic, reason and skepticism to see what you’ll find. It never hurts to look at things from a different perspective. It may even confirm that you’re correct and have found actual truth!
As always thanks for the forum and the chance to have the discussion.
You’re welcome, R, and thank you for your feedback 🙂
Well dang….. I was going to reply but Lucas and Rob got it covered! Great work guys! I couldn’t add any better thoughts or questions if I tried. Happy to see you guys involved in the conversation!
Hopefully Peter’s readers will digest what you guys have said and truly embrace the logic involved. Trust me, I know its uncomfortable to question a belief system once you been indoctrinated. BUT, I think believers (no matter what deity they ascribe to) owe it to themselves and their God(s) to take an honest look at what they believe and why. The Christian God would certainly want his creations to put the massive processing power in their brains to good use. If you’re so certain you’ve found the absolute truth then what could it hurt??
Again, great site and I look forward to seeing clearer evidences for God develop over time (hopefully). But to answer your question: why does believing in God seem like a maze?
Ultimately, what I mean by this is that Christians have historically responded to atheists differently from other religions.
For example, I’ve been raised a Protestant. Anytime I would speak with a Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, etc., I would tell them to look at the evidence.
Meanwhile, when speaking with an atheist, many arguments I see come down to “have faith”. We use Pascal’s wager – which doesn’t take into account the chance that, if God is real but he’s not my religions God, then I’m still going to hell. So we demand evidence from others, but not from ourselves (for the most part).
Even Craig’s arguments don’t really reveal new truths, they simply use logical arguments to eliminate the competition (watch Thank You for Smoking sometime). Saying, “if your argument is wrong, mine must be right” isn’t solid.
Hence the maze. If God is real (and let’s assume, the Bible is our source of truth), then it should be easy to have clear, Biblically based answers to questions like:
Is killing ever ok? (How about gun ownership for self defense, or abortion to save a mother, or missile attacks on Isis).
Should Christians stand up against persecution, even when it is against someone other than ourselves (current political situation in the US).
Is slavery and/or racism acceptable?
Are women equal to men?
The four questions above are just a few examples of issues that have been defended and opposed by biblical scholars in the past (and sadly, again in the present). How can we claim God’s word as the source of truth when devout students of the Good Book can come up with completely opposing views of what “truth” is?
In other words, not only does God need us to have faith that he is real. We must also be lucky enough to be born into the ideology that “has the truth” because there are so many opposing views that all state you must follow their doctrine to be saved.
There’s the maze. 🙂
I see your point, Rob. It seems to me that the answers to those types of questions are more subjective rather than objective. That’s why so many people have different interpretations.
So let’s just assume that there is a maze out there when it comes to those questions that you asked. How would you like for God to wipe the maze away?
Good points Rob. I agree that per the Christian view of what’s at stake, the evidence needed and the path required to salvation should be the most obvious thing in the universe. Unfortunately even Christians can’t agree on points of doctrine and dogma. Having to use arguments to define a deity into existence does very little to inspire confidence for me.
I like the stance Matt Dillahunty takes – I’m not sure what it would take to convince me that God exists, but He would know. So, if He truly exists and cares that I’m aware of Him, He could make it happen.
Well if he’s talking about the God of the Christians, that God isn’t slave to man’s pride. Dillahunty’s perspective (again, from a biblical perspective) sits on a literal world of evidence, but isn’t convinced. His needs are met, he doesn’t need God. He has everything he needs in this world. Check out Matthew Chapter 13. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+13&version=NKJV
The brutal reality for the debate between Christianity and atheism is that Christians will always refer to it, it is their foundation. We believe it is truth because we have seen the evidence, accepted it as such, and are rewarded by the promises of God (his Spiritual fruit, peace, joy, faithfulness, his grace, his love, etc.) The Christian survives only by the Word of God. A person who will not even consider the gospel for what it is, will never come to know God, to his great sorrow. But the love he is, only operates in a world were we have freedom of choice. This is the greatest mystery to us all, and yet, wouldn’t we all love to be loved so much by someone else, that they would choose to do things for us over everyone else, even their own desires? Maybe it’s not mysterious.
You’re totally right about me and other naturalists being biased. Jumping to the supernatural is the last resort in my view. If there is any way to get there from a natural cause, I’m going to believe that first. Doesn’t matter what the question is, I’d believe the natural before the supernatural.
I think the reason is that we all live by induction and inference. Since I’ve never had a supernatural experience, it’s not something I even consider as a possibility, that’s just my default. That said, I think it’s reasonable to exclude the supernatural because it’s either a natural event that’s been misunderstood, or a previously unknown natural event. The very last possibility is that it’s a genuinely supernatural event -which says nothing about a god at all. In short, even if supernatural things happen, they don’t point to entities nor personal relationships.
I don’t accept arguments well because if a person wants to prove something, they might need to argue for the value of the evidence but never for the thing itself. If Einstein had only arguments for relativity, you’d have never heard the name. Yet, as abstract as the idea is, there’s proof that it works as described. If I want to argue how a mountain formed, I’d not be allowed to point at it and say “it exists, therefore god”. God is a non sequitur in that case. Apropos of nothing, I named him as the cause on no basis. Just like Craig does. Arguments for god only seem to help those who already believe God did it. It’s rare to find someone convinced due to the Kalam or other arguments.
The most vital point of your response, in my mind, was your admission that you believe based on faith. You know how I feel about faith. Can you think of anything that I couldn’t believe in if I use faith as the foundation of my epistemology? I can’t think of a single thing. I think it’s fine to continue to believe in something based on faith as long as you admit that you don’t care about the truth of it. I’m sure many people have been comforted by their belief and that’s great. If it’s enough for them, fine. Who am I to say otherwise? If they care about whether it’s true or not, then faith cannot be enough.
Hindus believe in Shiva because of faith. Muslims believe Jesus escaped death on faith. Lisa said that we should believe in Jesus because belief has changed lives. I don’t disagree there are good things about religion, but belief in a thing doesn’t make it true. Muslims have done wonderful things for the world and their communities. Muslims have stopped drinking and drugging and had their lives changed based on their belief. You think they’re wrong about God, so obviously it wasn’t their god that did those things.
Lucas – well thought out response.
I agree with you, R, Lucas’s response was pretty cool. I’ve come to appreciate and respect the both of you.
That’s really cool Lucas, I super-appreciate your candor. I know that you said that you haven’t had a supernatural experience yet. I’m looking forward to the day that you come back and say, “Pete, you’ll never guess what happened to me!” 🙂
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I think you caught the gist of my thought on faith – that faith in NO way is a barometer to tell us whether or not anything is true.
I can believe anything is true by having faith – I have faith that Thor exists, I have faith that invisible pixies created our universe, I have faith that Christian God is the real and only God, etc, etc……….. Faith is a terrible mechanism to base your beliefs on.
Now, you brought up evidence. This is where I truly get baffled with religious believers (of any kind). I’ve honestly searched for evidence of religious claims and have found no justification for believing any of them.
The time to belief something is AFTER the evidence warrants it, not before (ala faith).
The real issue is not believing in a God but trusting Jesus as the only Saviour. Religions are all about doing things or abstaining from things. That basically gives themselves the power to save thrmselves. They are blind to the fact that they can do nothing to resurrect themselves and that is their real problem in this world : death awaits, what can we do about it. Nothing We can do nothing. The only hope we encounter is thru the writings of those who encountered the only one who is claimed to be Saviour of the world. There is no other hope. When we know we cannot save ourselves, all we can do is place our faith in that Saviour based on the knowledge we have of Him from those who encountered Him.
Quick question – per Christian dogma, aren’t God and Jesus the same thing? (John 10:30, John 1:14)
Why would trusting Jesus matter more than “believing in a God”? Wouldn’t you have to accept both to be “saved”? What evidence (besides copies of copies of ancient superstitious people’s writings) do we have that anyone needs “saving” anyway??
Leaves me curious.
Thanks for the response!
Tricky territory rhetorically here since God is all three (Father, Son, Spirit). Maybe you meant, the challenge is trusting his human form as he chose to appear to us. Yes. I’m there with you.
I think thatguy and I are working around how we come to these discussions at all. How you can trust a philosophy or doctrine (which you are more or less saying, for Christians, the philosophy is literally a person – and I agree with you), and how much faith plays a role in that process.
If we’re honest, I think just about everyone of us has makes up our mind before we begin conversations like this. And when I “was an atheist”, I was just as rigid (if not more than now) before going in to discourse with opposing views.
We’re getting into evidence, just like you pointed out, because Jesus tells us to take him as he is. How does that translate to those of us living in this information age with as many theories on origin and human psychology as we have twitter accounts and hashtag links?
I’ve seen history revisionist theories trying to explain it’s all a hoax so that true believers can take over the world! Haha, yeah, and spread the ‘poisonous beliefs’ that loving each other is the way we were meant to live, without sickness, pain, death. Always think motives. People don’t read anymore, so poor Sherlock is out.
Correct, faith would be more of a result, not a starting point. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God.”-Romans 10:17 And here we get back to my initial post. As long as we’re looking to hear from human minds, we’re never going to get beyond them. Only the wisdom of God can lead us to truth and a faith supported by evidence.
You would struggle to maintain faith in something that showed no evidence (invisible pixies, etc.).
Out of curiosity, in your quest, as a reasonable person, what constitutes (read ‘do you accept as’) evidence of your current philosophy? What faith do you have in the way the universe come to be? What faith do you have that humans are evolving (or not) into better creatures? What faith do you have to maintain to hold that there is good or evil (or neither)? Does truth being relative require you to have faith?
If you’ve honestly searched and are finished (due to being baffled, fatigued, or uninterested (I was angry at the idea of God (or God, however you read that), it’s curious that you have motivation to hash out these philosophies, isn’t it? That’s something I was never able to get around. We have these forums, people have discussions, wars and genocide, all because of this need to have a philosophy and have, the “true” one. How could such a truth/thing exist if they’re all human-made/invented. Nothing would be special and none of these philosphies would would have any merit. The Jesus-following Christian mind see all of these philosophies as having ‘parts’ or ‘elements’ of the truth, but then they’re tailored to glorify humankind and the desires we have. But if none of it’s true, there is no reason for any of them to have anything in common. Instead we’re just a bunch of monkeys eating each other’s offspring.
How miserable is the human race? Am I right? But if you’re gonna look it in the face and make your own truth, it’s gonna have to deal with some grim realities.
(and thanks, good idea to move it down, skinny text box was getting crazy up there.)
I was following along in your response pretty well but you lost me big time at the end. I’m super confused by your last couple of paragraphs – really can’t tell what points your making or questions your asking??
But, I’ll speak to the first part of your post:
“Only the wisdom of God can lead us to truth and a faith supported by evidence.” – Here it seems like you are still beginning with “God is” instead of first providing evidence that shows there’s actually a God. Also, I’d point out that “faith supported by evidence” isn’t faith. Knowledge and facts are supported by evidence.
“You would struggle to maintain faith in something that showed no evidence (invisible pixies, etc.).” – True. This is exactly why I don’t see good reason to accept God, gods or that anything supernatural exist. None have met their burden of evidence.
“do you accept as’) evidence of your current philosophy?” – I haven’t adopted a philosophy. I simply do not believe in the existence of God or gods. No philosophy or dogma necessary.
On the questions of faith – Faith isn’t a factor in what I accept about the universe, evolution, good vs evil, etc. I proportion my confidence relative to the evidence presented. There are almost unlimited sources of testable, peer reviewed evidence for what we know about the universe we exist in, common ancestors and speciation, the source for and reason morals arose…… etc, etc. Once again, no faith is necessary to accept facts supported by evidence.
“Does truth being relative require you to have faith?” – First I’m not sure that I accept your assertion that truth is relative. IMO, things are true or false. Again, why would faith be needed to accept a true thing??
While I find this conversation fascinating, I’d love to change gears back to the topic of Peter’s post and get your take on what “Indisputable” evidence there is that God exists.
In the meantime, I’m headed out to have a couple beers with some monkeys I know. Doubt we’ll eat each others offspring…. but ya never know! 😉
This article might help you see what Christian faith really is : http://www.startingwithgod.com/knowing-god/what-is-faith/
I’ve made my peace with the fact that God will never allow us to discover any concrete, factual evidence that He exists. That’s why they call it faith.
I also accept that it is narcissistic and unrealistic to think that God will ever speak to me directly in a manner that I would recognize. He saves that stuff for the heavy hitters like Moses.
What would convince me that God exists is if I actually felt His presence, even briefly, once in my life. In 50 years, I can honestly say that I have never experienced “the divine”. Most Christians I know can readily name one or more occasions where that had that experience.
I’m left to ponder three possibilities:
First, that God simply doesn’t exist.
Second, that God exists, but the only way He is communicating to me is through his silence. In this scenario, the only way I can interpret His message is as follows: “I do not want you to believe in me, and I will never give you any reason to believe in me. I will not help or comfort you as you deal with any of the problems you will encounter in your life. The bottom line is that you’re not meant to be saved, so I’m not wasting my time with you.”
Finally, the most generous possibility is that God has been purposefully hiding from me my entire life so that I will become stronger by facing every challenge without having Him around to help me or even to be a source of comfort to me. This scenario holds out the hope that at some point in the future He will in fact reveal Himself to me.
If he wanted me to learn humility, mission accomplished, a long time ago.
If he wanted me to learn how to deal with failure, he’s taught me that lesson dozens of times.
If he wanted me to learn how to ask for and accept help from others, this too has already been achieved.
If he wanted me to learn how to disconnect my self worth and happiness from material success, that’s done as well.
I’m not sure what more I can learn as a result of His utter absence from my life.
I’ve prayed to him countless times. I’ve surrendered myself to him repeatedly. I started off asking him to help me fix my life. When that didn’t happen, I asked him to just help me make peace with my failures. When that didn’t happen, I finally just asked him to give me the capacity to believe in him. That didn’t happen either.
Totally agree with your post. My take on it is this – a God that has zero interaction with reality is indistinguishable from no god at all. So why in the world would I choose to believe one exists??
Great thoughts man. Look forward to seeing more from you.
@thatguy – thanks for bringing up the “non-interventionist God” explanation; I forgot to include that one. That’s definitely another possibility. Interesting that no one else wanted to weigh in on this one. This is one of the questions that I’ve posed to other Christians before that never gets a satisfactory response.
Thanks Ed. Funny, I don’t get much of an answer on this either from Christians other than “He speaks to me internally”. Seems hollow to me as well.