Location: MA, United States

View my profile on Linked in

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Can you Prove God Exist? By Nicholas Blanchette

Nicholas Blanchette
Introduction to philosophy
Can you Prove God Exist?

There are two types of arguments used by philosophers to prove the existence of God; the a posteriori arguments, which are known as the cosmological argument, and the teleological argument; and the a priori argument which is known as the ontological argument. The a posteriori arguments are based on our experience of the world and reasoning back to prove there is a God. The a priori argument is not based on our experience of the world but on our understanding of a hypothesis to see that it is true.

The Five Ways written by Thomas Aquinas, also called the Cosmological Proof is one of the oldest and most popular arguments for the existence of God. The Cosmological Proof argues that God exist by saying that there is a universe and something must have caused. The Watch and the Watchmaker written by William Palley, a leading evangelical apologist, argues the existence of God using an ontological argument. This argument states that if one finds a watch in the woods they would not conclude that it has just happened but was made by a watchmaker. Similarly, the universe has the appearance of order and design, therefore there had to be a maker, which is God. Both of these philosophers profess a belief in the God of the Bible and that they have proven that he exist through their arguments.

These philosophers have fallen short of their goal to prove that God exists and have contradicted themselves. Belief in the God of the Bible, as Paul says to Festus in Acts 26:25 is "true and reasonable", but can not be proven visually because that would contradict the Bible. I intend to show all who believe in the Bible that there is no way one can ever prove there is a God with Relations of Ideas but only as a Matter of Fact. Relations of Ideas are discoverable through reason without dependence on anything in the universe. Matters of Fact have no concrete evidence to be displayed in order to prove it to be true, therefore there is still room for a skeptic to doubt.

The skeptical philosopher believes that one can not know any matter of fact. To a skeptic, for one to say he knows "X" is true there are three conditions; "X" has to be true, he must believe it to be true, and he has to show some evidence. If I drop a ball one million times and say I believe if I drop this ball again it will have the same result, fall to the ground, a skeptic would still not believe it. I think the ball will fall to the ground and believe it to be true, and have the evidence of it happening the million times I tested it without fail. Yet the skeptic still does not believe it to be true because he says there is insufficient evidence. He will believe it only when I drop the ball and it hits the ground that million and first time deeming that sufficient evidence.

Trying to prove God as a relation to an idea is a contradiction to what the scriptures teach. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) says that "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 11:1 (NIV) says "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Faith as defined in the dictionary is "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." Jesus says to Thomas in John 20:29 (NIV) "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Faith in God is a fundamental aspect to a relationship with him. If one were to logically prove that God exist, with material evidence that would go against what is needed to have a relationship with him therefore could not happen. A priori arguments for this reason could never prove the existence of God.

A posteriori arguments have been criticized by Hume, Kant, Mill, Edwards and many others to show that this argument is not a proof of the existence of God. I intend to use the Bible to show that this argument can not prove the existence of God. A posteriori arguments are based on our experience in the world. Hebrews 1:2 (NIV) says "in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe." God made the universe through his son therefore God is outside the universe. How can one prove that God exists using our experience in this world if He is outside the universe? God is not limited by the laws of nature but created them. No one can prove that God exist as a relation to an idea to a skeptic because it is unbiblical. A skeptic who does not believe that the sun will rise tomorrow because there is not enough evidence, is not going to believe that God exist from the testimony of Jesus.

The way the Bible teaches to believe in God is through faith in Jesus and the testimony of the eye witness accounts of his life and the evidence one sees in his life changing as a result. Jesus made some extraordinary claims that he was the one and only son of God. He was not the only one to have made such claims so what made him stand out from the crowed? The evidence he showed was fulfilling the prophecies that were spoken years before and rising from the dead. The proofs of these things are the words of the eye witness accounts of these events. The proof today is the effect that comes from believing in Jesus' words and putting them into practice. This is not enough proof to a skeptic but God himself has said that not everyone would believe in him. We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 1 John 5:10 "Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son."

These Philosophers have not proven that God exists, as a relation to an idea because if they did that would contradict the God they are trying to prove exists. All the proofs of God are matters of fact and can be doubted by a skeptic. There is no way one can prove God exists, as a relation to an idea because belief in God requires faith. There are many common things we believe in today with as much or less evidence. According to a skeptic there is no evidence the sun will rise tomorrow or that gravity will keep us on the earth. Call me naive, but I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow. I believe that if I throw a ball it will fall back to the ground. I believe that France is still on the earth, even though I have never seen it. I believe in the words that Jesus spoke, that there is a God and he exists.

The Ethics of Belief By William K. Clifford

Nicholas Blanchette
Introduction to Philosophy
The Ethics of Belief

In The Ethics of Belief, the author argues against Pascalian Wagers and belief in God through faith calling it unethical because it comes from insufficient evidence. Clifford argues that belief in anything on insufficient evidence is unethical, even if the belief turns out to be right or true. He believes the decision to believe without patient investigation or by suppressing doubts is unethical because it leads to wrong actions. These actions are what some people believe to be wrong, and not the belief. Clifford argues it is the belief that caused the actions, and that is wrong. Clifford's whole argument can be summed up with this main point against the rational belief in God; "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence" (133).

Clifford's ethics of belief are to examine the evidence on both sides of the argument with the utmost patience and care with an open mind so not to be biased. He also claims the following: a true belief has some influence on our actions. No belief is a private matter but affects everybody around the man who holds it. No belief is without effect on the fate of mankind no matter how insignificant, trivial, or ridicules it is or however unimportant the man holding it is. Therefore every time someone believes anything with insufficient evidence, they danger society by weakening their ability to think, question, judge and learn from evidence.

I do not think Clifford's Ethics of Belief proves that faith in God is irrational. The main point of Clifford's argument says, "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." What is sufficient evidence? How much evidence is needed to be sufficient enough? How does one know he has enough evidence to make the ethical decision? Is a man qualified or competent enough to know he has enough evidence to make the right decision?

Let's say the ship owner hired an expert to inspect his ship to see if it was sea worthy, and this expert said that it was. It didn't erase the doubts in the ship owner's mind because of a dream he had of the ship going down the week before. The ship owner felt pressure to send the ship out from his business partners, because they didn't want to lose any more money on the ship being docked. So the owner, who wanted a more thorough inspection of the ship, felt the pressure from his business partners and with supposed sufficient evidence from an expert sends the ship out. It sinks killing all the innocent people on board. Would the ship owner still be guilty? He still suppressed doubts in his mind of what he believed to be sufficient evidence, and sent the ship to sea. Only, the doubts were supposedly irrational because they were based on a dream he had a week before of the ship going down. The expert he hired said the ship was sea worthy.

The ship owner in this story would have met the requirements Clifford has set for an ethical decision. Clifford would say this man is not guilty because it is not whether the believe turns out to be true or false but that it's the origin of his belief that make it right or wrong. This would not change the remorse the ship owner feels now who felt he knew in his heart that the ship was going to sink. Let's change the story a little and say the ship owner did not send the ship out to sea but got another expert opinion that said that the ship was not sea worthy. Both are experts, but they have different opinions. This could continue with a dozen experts, six saying that the ship is sea worthy and the other six saying that it is not. How patient of an investigation does the ship owner need to have to be sufficient? Wouldn't the difference of opinion of twelve experts make for even more doubts in one's mind? What should be done now, Clifford? This happens every day in the American court system, were the prosecution and defense attorneys find experts in the same field of study that have two different opinions. On what grounds should one entertain such disparate beliefs? What is sufficient evidence?

Clifford says that no man can be unbiased if he holds or even wants to strongly hold on to a belief on one side of an argument. Clifford himself believes that nothing is too big that human understanding can't figure it out rationally. He believes that everything can be figured out through careful and patient investigation of all the evidence. At one time rational men believed that the sun revolved around the earth because they observed the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. They had all the sufficient evidence of their day but still made the wrong conclusion. At one time rational men believed that the earth was flat for the same reason. At one time rational men believed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rational man can be wrong in their conclusions, even though one can patiently investigate and gather all the sufficient evidence available to them.

Clifford believes that because you can not prove there is a God that it is unethical to believe in him. This is a contradiction because he is biased toward this belief, so how can he be open-minded to believing otherwise. What is the sufficient evidence that proves God does not exist? Faith as defined in the dictionary is "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." Hebrews 6 (NIV) says that "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:(NIV) says "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Neither Clifford nor anybody else in any age will ever find logical proof or material evidence that God exists because than there couldn't be faith which is required to please God.

I don't think Clifford proves that faith in God is irrational because there is insufficient evidence. This sentence is an oxymoron for faith as defined can not be proven. I believe in God not from sufficient evidence but through faith. In John 8:32 Jesus told the Jews who "believed" in him that "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." We will only know the truth about Jesus if we hold to his teachings. We would only hold to Jesus' teachings if we believed in him. This scripture claims that the sufficient evidence for the existence of God is holding to Christian teachings. Having done so, the believer's faith is confirmed by seeing pronounced changes and improvements in life. Without the initial seeds of faith to investigate the teachings, sufficient evidence of a changed heart and lifestyle will never be found.

Such were the Exploits

Written by Gus Gonet a good friend of mine.

2 Samuel 23:8
"These are the names of the Lord's might men:

Nick-Basshebeth, a Lowelite, was chief of the Three, he rode down the summit
lift trail at Gunstock against eight hundred patrollers, whom he dashed in one

Next to him was Gus, son of Charlie, the Durhamite. As one of the
three mighty
men, he was with the Lord when he snow shoed Mt. Major in early February. He
sang songs of praise at the summit. Though most of the snow had retreated, he
still shredded down with his board.

Next to him was Adam, son of the tuna fisherman, a Glouscesterman. Soldiers
gathered at a place called Hopkinton, but Adam stood his ground in the middle
of the field and finished the Boston marathon.

Such were the exploits of the Three.

On one occasion, Gus, son of Charlie, the Durhamite, and Nick-Basshebeth, the
Lowelite, who was chief of the Three, though not counted among the thirty,
worked together and struck down twenty miles of trail including six 4000-foot
peaks in steady rain.

At another time, Adam, son of a tuna fisherman, and Gus were together
when they
beat down Doubleback Mountain twice in one day, smothering it with their

Rarely were the three all together, though one night, while it was still dark,
the three, including the chief among them, set out with headlamps to slaughter
the Tripyramid peaks. They won easily that morning, and did pushups as a
victory dance.

Such were the exploits of the Lord's mighty men."