Evidence For God

This is one of those posts which has nothing original in it. Rather, it is fulfilling the original purpose of this blog, which was to be a theological sketchpad- a place to jot down things I have come across that might be useful in the future. Zoomtard Hero #5, Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “A god who let us prove his existence would be an idol”. This amazingly profound sentence might need unpacking (and if so, comment man, comment!) but it is my standard response to friends who tell me:

There is no evidence for God. How can we be expected to believe when it is so irrational!

In the spirit of the last post here is an attempt to show in a different way, how the question is a kind of category mistake. Let me rip off a book I am reading at the moment by Zoomtard Hero #4, Tom Wright, called Simply Christian. Imagine being in an isolated house out in the countryside. You are on your own. Don’t worry about why your here and don’t worry about whether this plot set up will lead to some horror movie starring Famke Janssen or worse, an erotic thriller starring Sharon Stone. Trust your narrator. You are better off trusting him anyway because you, as the character are at his will. In many ways he is like God. Therefore, God exists. Q.E.D.

Wait, I haven’t remembered that properly. I got lost somewhere in my reasoning. Go back to the start. You are alone in an isolated cottage in the countryside. Late one evening, just as you are about to curl up with a book, the power goes off leaving everything in darkness. You know there is a box of matches on the mantlepiece so you grope in the darkness across your living room until you find them. You use the matches to guide you to the utility room where you know there are some candles. With the candles you are able to root around until you find a flashlight in amongst some junk in a spare room. You can now breathe a sigh of relief. You have successfully managed to discover devices that illuminate the world around you. You curl up with your book and eventually fall asleep.

But when you wake up the morning has come. It would be ridiculous to draw on the tools that were so helpful in your previous quest to discover if the sun had risen. You cannot hope to reach up to the source of all light with man-made tools for illuminating darkness. It is because of the sun, the source of all light, that we recognise the darkness. And it is by the sun that we have the tools to vanquish darkness. At the risk of crushing the point of the story under my explanations, asking for evidence of God, whereby you mean empirical, scientific evidence, is foolishness. God, if he exists, is not an entity in our world. He is not subject to the same study as architecture or maths and we cannot use the same techniques on him that we use for process and products of the world.

Your Correspondent, Even his kids will end up as skeletons.

11 Responses to “Evidence For God”

  1. neuro-praxis says:

    But, does this not leave us in the Wittgenstein-ian position of not being able to say anything about God at all?

  2. sliabh says:

    Yeah, if you can’t know anything about God, then how can you know the first thing – does he/she/it exist?

    At best this leads you to agnosticism.

  3. jimlad says:

    If we look at the type of wave emmitted from the torch or matches we can understand something of the nature of sunlight. By studying the spectrum of sunlight and matching it to the frequency of light emitted by certain elements on our world (when excited) we can figure out what the sun is made out of. But the Sun isn’t God even if some psalms would make you think so (throwaway comment: ignore please) so maybe I’m reading into the analogy a little too deeply. Still, I suppose what you mean is that we have to look at the sun, not at the torch, in order to believe it’s existance. ie, we have to look at cases where God has directly shown himself to us, rather than simply showing us his creation?

  4. zoomtard says:

    Great comments. Even from Jimlad. I hope to have time to think about them all.

    But Sliabh, I realise the post was mis-titled. It wasn’t meant to be “evidence for God” in the sense of, “Here is a conclusive argument” but rather as a response to show how unreasonable it is to expect God to be provable by scientific method.

    I’m adding How can we know anything about God? to How can we know Jesus wasn’t married ? and Did Wittgenstein kill metaphysics? as future Zoomtards.

  5. sliabh says:

    Why is it unreasonable to expect evidence? We do so in all other areas of our lives. But in this one are (potentially the most significant) you are suggesting we just take it on faith. Which is another way of saying that you have no good reason for believing.

    I use the “second hand car salesman” test for any argument like this. If I heard a second hand car salesmen using an argument like this, I ask would I buy it – “this car is so big and magnificant that you don’t need get evidence of how good it is”.

    The answer is no.

  6. neuro-praxis says:

    Sliabh, there is a difference between scientific evidence and other kinds of evidence. Zoomtard has not said there is no evidence, he has said there is no scientific evidence. Surely you can’t expect God to be “proven” through an equation by the very systems he created? Philosophically, a world without a moving creative force (an “unmoved mover” at the very least) is a logical impossibility. All of the philosophical arguments in the world, however, won’t create scientific proof.

  7. zoomtard says:

    Sliabh, I am going to restate what np has written but in my own words. As good an advocate as she is, I feel I should speak for myself. Sorry if it feels like the Bible-bashers are ganging up on you.

    The point of my post is actually parallel to what you have written in comment number 6. We must have evidence for everything we believe. But I often field questions from insistent students who demand something they believe to be “true” evidence, that is scientific evidence. Their demand for a scientific reasoning for God is unreasonable since the empirical method, by definition, cannot offer input on non-empirical events.

    Faith informed by reason would be a term I would use to describe my position. Reading this journal sometimes, that might be hard to believe! Scientific discoveries play a vital role as flying butresses supporting other evidence (initially philosophical and experiential but increasingly artistic) that builds my grand gothic cathedral of faith. But flying butresses were never designed to support the whole thing.

  8. potato says:

    So where does this faith come from then? If I took a blow to the head and woke up thinking that God lived in a stone shack on the moon and he was personally instructing me to go out and kill French people, does this mean that “right thinking” people should give credence to my thinking? Why not? Why is your faith more equal than my faith?

    And to ask the simple question of course, why would God, the supposedly all powerful, care.

  9. zoomtard says:

    What’s with the putting words in Zoomtard’s mouth that were never there? Sliabh did it on his site too. When did I say that Christians were somehow “right thinking”?

    Let me think about your questions before composing an interpretive dance to answer them Spud.

  10. ortho says:

    potato, if you think God is telling you to go kill French people, you might be on to something. after all, the French are “cheese-eating monkeys”; it’s in the bible isn’t it? you would definitely have some Christians on your side, of the likes of Pat Robertson, which proves Zoomtard’s point about the ‘right thinking’. clearly lots of people don’t think that most Christians are right thinking, check out this alternative to intelligent design http://www.venganza.org for empirical proof of that. anyway, to attempt an answer to your question, there is no reason why people shouldn’t give credence to your faith, people with similarly strange theories have attracted lots of followers. but at the end of the day, if you believe in absolute truth, someone or no-one has to have it right don’t they? we can say the essence of all the world religions is the same, and they are all mans attempts at finding meaning in existence etc.. but then what you are essentially saying is that none of their claims are really true, that mohammad wasn’t really a prophet sent by God, or that jesus wasn’t/isn’t the son of God… if i am a Christian then i believe that Christianity’s claims are true and that a lot of the claims of other religions are false…

    and why would God care? well he wouldn’t if he didn’t take a personal interest in his creation, but again Christianity claims otherwise…

    sorry if this is a horribly simplistic response!