Friday, May 27, 2016

Evidence of God's Existence

Does God exist? This question may be uttered somewhat softly. Most people have considered the question in their minds, but have less often verbalized it. Perhaps this is because few people in our circle of friends wish to be noted as doubters on the issue of God’s existence. A large majority profess to believe in God’s existence. Such a belief is supported by a philosophical ontological position: the nature of being and the entities of being. Ontologists defer from specific questions concerning the reality of God. Ontotheologists deal with the question of God with somewhat more specificity, but exclude a more vibrant consideration of the existence of a personal God of Creation. It is the latter concept of God we highlight with our leading question, “Does God exist?”

Pew Research Center in a “Religious Landscape Study” in 2014 discovered that 89% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, but only 63% are absolutely certain that God exists. With each passing decade these percentages are declining. There is wide disparity in these figures among different demographic groups. These statistics cover a broad spectrum of theological belief systems. Orthodox, traditional belief in the existence of the God of Judeo-Christian scripture is less than the above statistics indicate.  

Recognition of the existence of God is an important theme of scripture. This recognition was easier for the people in the age of the Bible. In Old Testament times God was manifest to the Chosen People through cluster miracles at key times of God’s self-revelation. These miracles made it easier for people of that day to recognize the existence of God either by directly witnessing divine action or by listening to first person accounts of people not far removed from the events. In New Testament times the events of Christ’s miracles, death, and resurrection as well as early miracles of the disciples provided other instances of redemptive significance and direct credibility for the existence of God.

The message of biblical revelation is primarily one of God’s redemptive mission to man. Notwithstanding the historical immediacy of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ, even in New Testament times recognizing God’s existence was a challenge for some early Christians. The writer of Hebrews offered a deep instructional thought for early Christians as well as for us in the 21st century: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). God’s existence was a subject for consideration two thousand years ago. Other translations use a verb of being, is, in place of exists. Still others use an adjective, is real after the verb of being is.

Some modern arguments for the existence of God are philosophical; others are more scientific. The philosophical arguments are substantiated by reason. These arguments appeal to the human intellect. They do not supply proof beyond any doubt, much less physical proof. Scientific arguments may relate to physical evidence more closely than evidence provided by rational argument. Some arguments for the existence of God are termed ontological, cosmological, teleological, moral, and ethnological. Cosmological and teleological arguments may be judged more scientific in terms of their need for supporting physical evidence. Just as philosophical arguments may be the source of disagreement, so may physical evidence supplied by science be interpreted in different ways. Proof for God’s existence is a nearly impossible standard to achieve. We must judge by the strength of our reason and the reliability of our evidence and interpretational skills. Our personal answer to “Does God exist?” is dependent on many variables.

The premise of our blog has been to demonstrate the relationship of science and faith. This does not signal that science provides evidence for proof of God. We have already commented that proof is a difficult standard in the world of science. Science philosopher William Lane Craig has written, “We know almost nothing to be true with certainty.” Perhaps we could restate Craig’s observation by claiming that proof is an almost impossible standard to achieve. Evidence for support of a proposition is much easier to discover. As evidence for our propositions increases in quantity and quality, we move closer to the proof standard. Proof for God’s existence may be impossible but evidence for God’s existence could be strong and persuasive. It is incumbent on each person to examine evidence from a multitude of observations and accordingly come to a personal conclusion. The intrinsic notion of God is present in man. Acceptance of the truth of this notion based on evidence becomes a matter of personal choice.      

In 2007 we were offered the opportunity to produce this science/faith blog. Enthusiasm for our project has only increased. We realize how science strengthens our faith as well as how faith enriches science discovery. In our vision the two are intertwined, not to be perceived as unrelated domains. In the future we plan to review a number of evidences for God’s existence and other realities of our physical world. In the absence of proof for God’s existence, we must focus on the effectiveness of plentiful evidence.