On Proving the Existence of God

The great argument of the “new atheism,” as of most atheisms of the old stripe, seems to be that “you can’t prove the existence of God.”

In other words, using the tools of science, you can’t prove the existence of something that transcends science.

To think more clearly on the matter, it might be helpful to look at the word religion. It comes from the Latin – legio: to tie, and re: a broad prepositional prefix with too many possible meanings to be able to properly translate.

The idea is generally taken to be that of tying together.

A religion is not a conclusion to an argument. It is a teaching that ties everything else together, that harmonizes everything.

The most powerful religions are those that are able to tie the most together.

I am a Christian because, while I have great respect for other religions, they all seem to leave us with one or two irresolvable dichotomies that are reconciled in Christ.

The mother of all dichotomies might be that between the material and the spiritual realms. Naturalism, the religion of today, resolves it by denying the spiritual or giving naturalistic explanations for all things spiritual.

Gnosticism, the perpetual enemy of Christianity and, according to Richard Weaver at least, the painfully ironic foundational dogma of progressive education (Dewey, James, etc.) treats the spiritual as legitimate and important and the material as valueless.

Christianity tells of one who is big enough to weave all things together into a harmony that damages nothing and blesses everything: Christ, the incarnate logos: Spirit made flesh, God made man, the weaving together in one of all things.

Now, if a religion is true, it cannot simply dismiss what it doesn’t like. That is a sign of theological weakness. A true religion ties everything together.

But when a philosophy is based on a necessarily inadequate premise, as is naturalism, then it is hard for this Christian to see why he ought to abandon his foundations because the other guys have developed a sophisticated argument.

A premise is necessarily inadequate when it excludes what it doesn’t like at the beginning of the discussion.

God is not the conclusion of an argument based on naturalistic premises. He is the beginning of thought and the harmony of all truth. He is necessary to every other premise, but I don’t see how that can “prove” his existence. He is simply Necessary: to thought, to ethics, to beauty, to society, to physics, to marriage, to education.

3 Responses

  1. Good account of the circularity of atheist thought–“only matter is real; now ‘prove’ God according to my reality” The theist accepts as real natural and supernatural. Supernatural realm is obvious stumbling block, just as obvious that the supernatural cannot be proven in ‘reason’ as long as one rejects supernatural accounts as ‘unreasonable’.

  2. Dear NAS,

    Thanks for dropping by. You are most welcome here!

    You ask some great questions, each of which could occupy a very long discussion, so let me respond to one of them and see if it helps us better understand each other.

    My basic argument is not that there is unambiguous evidence of “a god,” though I do not deny the possibility, but that the Christian God (and maybe Aristotle’s God) are necessary.

    I don’t necessarily mean that he is logically necessary, though again, I do not deny the possibility, but that he is ontologically necessary.

    In other words, He isn’t the conclusion of a series of premises, though premises might lead us to the conclusion that we need Him, He is the beginning of any series of premises at all.

    i’m arguing that God is the Necessary condition for logical arguments, for the requirement of evidence, etc.

    I don’t come to know that God is through my bodily senses, amplified by equipment, and reasoned on logically. I come to know God, if I come to know God, directly.

    Then everything else follows.

    So maybe this would be a good place for you and me in particular to discuss our disagreement:

    You say correctly that I think God is necessary but that He is “fully unnecessary for” you.

    Before we go at it without knowing what the other means, let me ask you, what do you mean by “fully unnecessary?”

    In other words, do you mean this philosophically, practically, emotionally, or something else or all of those things?

    And to follow immediately on that question, do you mean that He is unnecessary because you have settled those things, or because you don’t care about them, or something else?

  3. “seems to be that “you can’t prove the existence of God.””

    I think you might not be hearing it right.

    The argument that I’ve heard most, and the one I think is most valid, is “You certainly SHOULD be able to show good unambiguous evidence of it if a god exists. The fact that there hasn’t been good evidence shown suggests there isn’t. Until there is good evidence, there’s no good reason to believe it.”

    “But when a philosophy is based on a necessarily inadequate premise, as is naturalism, ”

    You call it inadequate, because it doesn’t account for the non-material.

    Other than wanting it, what good reason is there for the existence of the non-material?

    “He is simply Necessary: to thought, to ethics, to beauty, to society, to physics, to marriage, to education.”

    Strange that something you think is necessary is fully unnecessary for me. I don’t see the need for a deity for any one of those things.

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