I have lot of concerned and loving people in my life who have come to my site hoping to get an insight into my life and how I am handling the pressures of an ill wife, and the gradual erosion of my faith. It is an easier thing to be able to say “check out my website”, than to speak about things face to face, partly because when I do I find it difficult to explain what I mean when I say that I need proof of God’s existence.
It’s also easier to respond to the gist of a series of comments in one post than to answer each one, because the irrational part of my brain wants to argue with everyone, and say I am right and you are wrong and start something akin to a Christian/atheist debate, where neither gives ground and each argument makes the other side more convinced they are right.
Instead, I wanted to clarify a bit what I’ve said in earlier posts about my faith, and why I feel I need proof of God’s existence.
One of the things I should say straight up is that I actually need two things.
Proof God exists;
Proof that He cares.
I could rewrite that second one to be: Why does “God’s Existence” make any difference?
If I could be given proof beyond a doubt that God is a real being, it would change me. I always felt that the existence of God should have an amazing effect on my life. I thought it was my fault that it rarely did. But the presence of an all powerful being (if proven) should cause undeniable change (either terrified fear, or uncontrollable joy). If you agree follow along.
That is what the effect should be with incontrovertible proof. The effects of such proof are all around. Many people have been given such proof (real or imagined) and have devoted their lives to God. However the rest of the world does not receive such proof and falls somewhere else - in a place where they either deny the existence of God, or begrudgingly admit that He could very well exist, and so perhaps they should do something about it. If you haven’t established, I fell into the latter group. I felt that God could be there, but without the first kind of absolute proof, had to make do with my own faith - which is weak at the best of times.
I’ll pause for a moment and say this: some can take our very existence as absolute proof, because it is inconceivable to them that something came from nothing. I can almost share that faith. The problem is that in this age, there are explanations of how something can come from nothing. This doesn’t prove the opposite of course, but simply makes not believing a possibility.
So without absolute proof, what does one need to keep faith alive? I would argue that one needs to feel that God cares. If nature or anything else can only get me to the point that I concede the possibility that God exists, I need something else as well. That is why I want to know that God cares. If God cares, then His existence matters to me. In the absence of absolute proof, a caring God is one that I will believe in despite any evidence or argument to the contrary.
I’m not speaking clearly here I realise, and I’ll attempt to clarify. In a murder trial, you must have proof that A) a crime was committed, B) that the person on trial did it. You do this with evidence. Without a picture of the suspect holding a severed head, the evidence must take on a more subjective nature. You show the knife, you show the scene of the crime, and you establish that the suspect had motive. Then the jury takes that evidence and says “Yes, in all likelihood the suspect is guilty” or “No, we’re not convinced that that is sufficient evidence to prove anything”. At the moment, I feel like the deliberating jury. I have Exhibit A: ‘the universe in its mind boggling complexity’, and Exhibit B: ‘a lot of people who claim to have seen the accused’. But I don’t know the character of all the witnesses - only a couple of them. And the prosecution have witnesses who claim to have seen other gods, or not seen any god at all. As a juror, I need to know what God’s motivation is. Only then can I say “Yes, even without absolute proof, I know He exists - because the arguments stack up. All the little evidences point to one big conclusion”.
I have had a number of conversations with friends who have tried to convince me that the evidence of God’s motivation can be found in the bible. The issue with this is the bible’s credibility as evidence. The bible was written over thousands of years by multiple people, but some evidence contradicts the claims made by the authors, and other evidence contradicts what has been said about the authors. For example, it’s generally taken by most scientists that the earth (more or less as we know it) was something that took many many years to happen. It has been said that this doesn’t preclude the existence of a God, but it does bring the first couple of chapters of Genesis into question. And if Genesis is read as a metaphor, I then struggle with the exact point where the bible begins actually telling history as it is. Where this leaves me is with the bible ‘beginning’ at best somewhere about the middle of the prophets, and at worst perhaps the beginning of the new testament.
With even a small cloud of doubt about the validity of the bible as unquestionable truth, I begin to wonder what else isn’t true, and what other stories may be embellished.
See the issue is, I always believed that the bible was too fantastic to be anything else but true. I mean - God takes human form and walks among us! - it is amazing. Surely something like that is too good to be true - you couldn’t make that up!
But maybe you can. If everyone in the world who wasn’t a Christian believed the same thing, that God was fictional - strangely enough I’d find it easier to believe. With the small evidence I have I could say ‘the rest I take on faith’ because why would someone make up Jesus? But I see evidence that all over the world, people have created their own religious figures to fill whatever niche there is in their culture. Muslims believe their religion supplanted Christianity, just as Christians believe theirs supplanted Judaism. There is the possibility that one is right and one is wrong, but isn’t that awfully presumptuous?
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell.C.S. Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’ page 56
Forgive me Mr. Lewis for using your words in this way. The issue I see is that Muslims feel the same way about Mohammed. He may never have claimed to be God, but he and his followers have made some fairly bold claims that come close, or else refute the claims that Jesus made. If Christians can shrug these off with a wave of their hands, and Muslims can shrug off Christian beliefs, how do we decide who is right? Both religions are effectively saying that they have the only truth, both can’t be right.
Then there are religions who don’t have a God or head figure. Native Australians don’t follow Jesus or worship God. Are they wrong?
If you accept that the life of Jesus unfolded as written in the bible, you must accept that some pretty amazing belief systems have arisen out of lies or delusions that seemed perfectly reasonable to millions of people just like you. Why are you so certain you are right?
I realise that you may have a perfectly good reason - your faith - and again I return to my original point. I have little faith. I need evidence to build on. I have said in earlier posts that I believe Faith is for keeping belief alive when all these sorts of questions come up. Not having much to start with, none of the ‘proofs’ I can get from other people will satisfy me. Until I see God, or see any evidence that he cares about my life my faith will be small.
Forgive the rambling nature of this post. I have not the mental acumen to craft an argument or hold an idea in my head for so long. I will attempt to clarify in future posts based on your feedback.