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Thread: How Do We Know that God Exists?

  1. #11
    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    Yes. We as Christian's [sic] cannot provide rational, incontrovertible proof of God's existence to an "outsider[.]"
    The problem with this line of argumentation is that it assumes the task of Christianity is to in some way demonstrate its intellectual viability (or respectability) by ushering forth ‘proofs’ of God and his existence to an unbelieving world. This contradicts what Paul sets forth in Romans 1:18–25. The notion that persons need to be ‘proven’ the existence of God is not scriptural, but misguided. As simplistic as it might sound, in their moral corruption, non-believers have suppressed (or held back) the knowledge of God as Creator. There is a sense in which even those who have heard the proclamation of the good news of salvation in Christ are blinded not only by their moral corruption, but supernaturally as well (see 2 Cor. 4:4).
    [I]f what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. … The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 Jn 2.24; 5.12, LEB)

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    Farewell. (Sat., 24 Mar. 2018)

  2. #12
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    The problem with this line of argumentation is that it assumes the task of Christianity is to in some way demonstrate its intellectual viability (or respectability) by ushering forth ‘proofs’ of God and his existence to an unbelieving world. This contradicts what Paul sets forth in Romans 1:18–25. The notion that persons need to be ‘proven’ the existence of God is not scriptural, but misguided. As simplistic as it might sound, in their moral corruption, non-believers have suppressed (or held back) the knowledge of God as Creator. There is a sense in which even those who have heard the proclamation of the good news of salvation in Christ are blinded not only by their moral corruption, but supernaturally as well (see 2 Cor. 4:4).
    I'm not arguing that we as Christian's ought to attempt to prove God's existence. I am stating that we cannot prove the existence of God to anyone, including ourselves. What separates us as Christian's from the unbelieving world is that unbeliever's reject the gospel and Christian's accept the gospel, based on faith, not proof. As Christian's, our interpretation of why we accept the gospel is partly due to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, another article of faith, not proof. Naturally, therefore, we will at times doubt (some frequently, others less so) the existence of God (or our presuppositions), elements of the gospel, parts of the bible, etc. because many of these things fall into the category of "belief" and not "proof" -- because we lack rational certainty -- but that doesn't mean we cannot have faith. Some of us do, by the grace of God, I believe.

  3. #13
    Professor Cerebrum123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    Perhaps you could post them for non-Thomists?
    From Summa Theologica.

    Source: Thomas Aquinas

    The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

    The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence—which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

    The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

    The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

    © Copyright Original Source


  4. Amen One Bad Pig, Teallaura, lee_merrill amen'd this post.
  5. #14
    tWebber Christianbookworm's Avatar
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    For some reason, I like working back from the Resurrection. If you establish the reliability of the Gospels and examine all the possible explanations for the empty tomb and the Twelve's reports of seeing a risen Jesus, then the Resurrection is the explanation that makes the most sense. If the Resurrection happened, then Jesus is Who He claimed to be and god exists. Of course the best evidence is yet to come. It will be hard to doubt God's existence when He will be the light source for the New Jerusalem! Well, a really stupid fundy atheist at the final judgement could try to claim that God is somehow like one of those fake gods that are merely aliens from Star Trek, but I'm sure God can easily disprove something so stupid.
    If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    The fourth way is what I have been debating with Tassman and JimL regarding morals. They have both made comments that they think human kind's morals are "better" than they used to be (i.e. value of life, slavery, etc) and yet want to say morals are just relative. But they keep appealing to a "better" standard to which they measure past moral value and even present ones to. They don't seem to grasp that they are appealing to an objective moral standard of good and bad.

  7. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.
  8. #16
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly View Post
    I'm not arguing that we as Christian's ought to attempt to prove God's existence. I am stating that we cannot prove the existence of God to anyone, including ourselves. What separates us as Christian's from the unbelieving world is that unbeliever's reject the gospel and Christian's accept the gospel, based on faith, not proof. As Christian's, our interpretation of why we accept the gospel is partly due to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, another article of faith, not proof. Naturally, therefore, we will at times doubt (some frequently, others less so) the existence of God (or our presuppositions), elements of the gospel, parts of the bible, etc. because many of these things fall into the category of "belief" and not "proof" -- because we lack rational certainty -- but that doesn't mean we cannot have faith. Some of us do, by the grace of God, I believe.
    It seems to me that you're both right in a way. Arguably, acknowledging the limits of human perception and knowledge (we're not omniscient) there's a point where we sort of have to admit that we can't be absolutely certain about anything. We can't be 100% certain that we are nothing more than brains in a vat, or the product of some alien's dream, but I do think that the Christian can claim that belief in God is properly basic, and through the witness of the Holy Spirit to our spirit, can claim to have proof that God not only exists, but that we are his children. This proof may not be convincing to anyone but to the individual making the claim, but I do believe it still counts as a proof of sorts. In this sense, I think we can claim to be certain that God exists inasmuch as we can claim to have certain knowledge about anything; Probably as much as we can claim that our own minds exists and that other minds exists. So, while this may not be 100% certainty, it might as well be.

  9. Amen Chrawnus amen'd this post.
  10. #17
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psstein View Post
    See the title, but this is a question that I've been thinking about recently. More specifically, while Aquinas' Five Ways are very strong arguments, what necessarily makes them apply to reality?
    I don't really have much useful to say about the OP, as concerns Aquinas' Five Ways, but it's interesting that you decided to bring this up. Just yesterday I listened to the latest Unbelievable? podcast which is directly relevant to this topic. If you're not familiar with it, Unbelievable? is a Christian British radio program that coordinates informal debates between skeptics and Christians (and sometimes Christians vs. Christians, or orthodox Christians vs. unorthodox). They've had some amazing guests on the show over the years (as well as some not so amazing guests). This weekend the debate was between the Catholic philosopher Ed Feser, who specializes in Thomism, and Cambridge atheist philosopher, Arif Ahmed on "5 Proofs of the Existence of God ". As with most debates on Unbelievable?, the show was a bit frustrating because of its time constraints. Feser, who's a bit verbose, was never, in my opinion, able to fully explain his position, and reply to Ahmed's criticisms, and in the end they were only able to cover two proofs. But Feser did handle himself well, and was able to promote his new book by the same title "Five Proofs of the Existence of God". I haven't checked it out outside of the debate, but it sounds exactly like what you're looking for.

  11. Amen psstein amen'd this post.
  12. #18
    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christianbookworm View Post
    For some reason, I like working back from the Resurrection. If you establish the reliability of the Gospels and examine all the possible explanations for the empty tomb and the Twelve's reports of seeing a risen Jesus, then the Resurrection is the explanation that makes the most sense. If the Resurrection happened, then Jesus is Who He claimed to be and god exists. Of course the best evidence is yet to come. It will be hard to doubt God's existence when He will be the light source for the New Jerusalem! Well, a really stupid fundy atheist at the final judgement could try to claim that God is somehow like one of those fake gods that are merely aliens from Star Trek, but I'm sure God can easily disprove something so stupid.
    The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ must be grounded in the biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption. I do not see the scriptural authors encouraging believers to expend energy attempting to demonstrate to non-believers the reality of God. Scripturally, the existence of God is taken for granted. It is something humans already recognise via the created order (i.e. natural revelation). Conversely, the story of redemption is not intuitively known, but must be made known in some way supernaturally (i.e. supernatural revelation). Whilst one can (and does) know that God created the material world quite apart from special revelation, such is not the case regarding the good news of Jesus Christ.

    (As an aside, I rather detest the term ‘fundie atheist’.)
    [I]f what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. … The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 Jn 2.24; 5.12, LEB)

    <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>


    Farewell. (Sat., 24 Mar. 2018)

  13. Amen Thoughtful Monk amen'd this post.
  14. #19
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    It seems to me that you're both right in a way. Arguably, acknowledging the limits of human perception and knowledge (we're not omniscient) there's a point where we sort of have to admit that we can't be absolutely certain about anything. We can't be 100% certain that we are nothing more than brains in a vat, or the product of some alien's dream, but I do think that the Christian can claim that belief in God is properly basic, and through the witness of the Holy Spirit to our spirit, can claim to have proof that God not only exists, but that we are his children. This proof may not be convincing to anyone but to the individual making the claim, but I do believe it still counts as a proof of sorts. In this sense, I think we can claim to be certain that God exists inasmuch as we can claim to have certain knowledge about anything; Probably as much as we can claim that our own minds exists and that other minds exists. So, while this may not be 100% certainty, it might as well be.
    I would be comfortable saying that I don't know God exists, but I believe He does. Further, I would say that I believe I know God through His Son Jesus, but I cannot be certain of this, yet I have faith, despite doubting, relatively frequently.

    In regards to your statement: "I think we can claim to be certain that God exists inasmuch as we can claim to have certain knowledge about anything"; well, I would have to respectfully disagree with that statement. I won't push the issue however because this naturally leads to highly abstract philosophical discussions that I have little to no interest delving into.

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    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    [I]f what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. … The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 Jn 2.24; 5.12, LEB)

    <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>


    Farewell. (Sat., 24 Mar. 2018)

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