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.

What do you know?

For some time I have been saying that all teaching and all knowledge begins with the senses. Now I don’t know why I ever said that because I realize I don’t and never really did believe it.

I think I simply didn’t realize what I was saying.

This notion is probably rationally absurd and certainly not Biblical.

For one thing, the Bible makes it clear that we know God’s law from the day we are born. That is why when I teach Aesop’s Fables (and I never tell the moral), I never hear anybody make an immoral application. Children get the morals more rapidly than adults do, and that point in itself bears great reflection.

There are things we know “by necessity.” But there are other things we know even before necessity presents itself. We know them by nature, in the sense that they are woven into our nature. We know, for example, that different things are similar and that similar things are different. We know that events occur in sequence.

We also know things that cannot be defended by words or even necessarily put into words, things that may not even be comprehensible, and yet things that precede all knowledge. We know that we are souls, for example. We just might not know what souls are. We also know there is a God, though we cannot know what God is.

This being so, it is dangerous to try to build a philosophical argument to defend the existence of these things, not because we seek to be irrational, but because two errors follow from the attempt:

  1. We misdefine the thing we are talking about
  2. We reduce the thing we are talking about to what we can understand.

As a result, a third error follows, namely that if someone doesn’t want to believe in what we are talking about, they can 1. point to our inadequate idea and disregard that and 2. attack our argument and think that doing so shows that the thing we are talking about does not exist.

If I were debating a “new atheist” or a french man, when they snickered at me, smirking, “ah, so you believe in god, do you?” I would answer, “Probably not. What do you mean?” If they could attach meaning to the word, I would know that whatever meaning they have attached would not refer to the true God, so I would say, “No, I don’t believe in that God either.”

Probably.