Monday, September 28, 2009

Proof of God?

Today, I was telling someone about the Ingram reference of a previous blog, where a study projected that 25% of all Americans will not believe in God within the next 20 years. I explained the political breakdown of the study to him and he seemed a little shocked. He then decided to explain that religion was real, and God existed. Let me stop here and clarify before someone marks me an athiest. I do believe in God, though I often question religion for power motives over centuries. Having said that...

He decided to indicate that everything around us indicated that God exists. My response to him is the same response I have made to probably more than 1,000 people in online and in person debates on the issue: There is no evidence that God exists. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I then explained that all the evidence he would site would be from stories from the Bible, and that was all good and well, but they are simply the stories of people like he and I that were written down, and attributed the meanings to God of events, or people espousing what they say God said. None of that constitutes "evidence of God."

He insisted, like they all do, that the Bible is evidence of God, and went on. I interjected the thought I have long had about this topic: Why is it that so many who profess a faith and a belief in God feel the need to find evidence of his existence?

Maybe I misunderstood it, but when I go to church, I hear talks of how we need to have faith in God's plans, believe in God and his power, and so on. Faith and belief are by definition not facts, they are not knowledge, they are not evidence, they are what we choose to understand.

I have never read a verse in the Bible or Koran or Book of Mormon that ever said "find evidence of God" but I have read passages that talk about "faith in The Lord" or "belief in God" and so on. So I have to wonder why they feel the need to spend so much time with others talking about the evidence of God's existence.

I realize it is probably partially about persuading others who they perceive as "non-believers" in God or at least their version of religion, but it also seems to be partially about self-doubt and convincing themselves. It is almost as if they gain their re-affirmation from convincing someone else because they aren't sure, but their is comfort in the crowd of people around them who agree with them.

I am not going to profess to "know" God or his "plan" or his "will." I am not going to profess to know the way to heaven and condemn others to hell. I have my ego, but it isn't that big. However, I believe that God is a belief, it is something you have to know in your heart, it is something you have to have faith in, and something that no one can make you truly believe.

That is something religions essentially share, the idea that we have a choice of what to believe and not to believe. It is why religions have heaven and hell, they are ways to indicate that we have choices in our actions that are based on our beliefs and our character. It is why God is a belief and not a fact; because if God were a 'fact', then there would be no choice. We would all know of God, and we would all do God's will, there would be no choice. But we do have a choice, and I believe that is by design.

Finally, the reality is that short of "God" showing himself to the world in the sky and speaking to everyone very clearly and overtly all at once for all to see, like he was on a jumbotron, there is no clear evidence that God exists and their can't be. You can't attribute something to someone that has never been proven to exist. And you can't simply proclaim that because you can't explain something, it must be God. It just means you can't explain it. It is just poor logic and poor argument to make the leap of attribution. One could just as easily attribute it to the Genie of the Lamp.

Maybe it is time for the religious to stop trying to prove God and just admit that God is a belief that cannot be proven. And if you want to teach your children about God in schools, great. Home school them or send them to a religious school. I graduated from a religious university, your child can too. But be honest about it.

The dishonesty with themselves and others clearly indicates that they can talk about God, but it shows a real lack of enactment of his beliefs about honesty. It is time to admit the truth, and have faith in God's plan.

1 comment:

Quenton said...

very interesting to hear a believer take this standpoint. It's been a long road for me, and I wish I could bring myself to believe, but I cannot. For pretty much the exact same criteria you laid out.

It took a long time. I spent some time caught up in all the other "spiritual" trappings before I realized that in order to be philosophically consistent that it all had to go out the window.

Now I'm not going to deny that the faiths have teaching which are important life lessons and practices, or that yoga and chi gung or meditation do not develop discipline, consistecy, or have any value. But pretending to know the already decidedly unknowable, and reaching for what is forgone as unobtainable is not a good use of time.

removing idea of god or a spirit from my life has been one of the hardest steps I've ever had to do. because, you're stepping away from comfort, and security into a whole new experience that is overwhelming and at times frightening. much like how some religions talk about accepting god into your life, or stepping into your power, or whatever else they want to call it. *tongue in cheek* maybe god would want it that way?

Someone in a conversation I had recently said "without god life would be mundane." I think he meant "not a fascinating miracle"; otherwise, he's kinda stating the obvious, and being redundant. My experience has been the opposite, this thing we call life has gotten even more beautiful, precious, and dazzlingly complex than I ever could have imagined previously.