Can God’s Existence Be Proven?

I was reading Fr. Aidan Kimel’s blog post published today about whether God’s existence can be proven and I wanted to give a brief response to a statement made in it.

Back in 1975 I became a theist on the basis of a philosophical argument: specifically, the reliability of our sensory and cognitive faculties can only be guaranteed if they are the products of divine design (see Richard Taylor, Metaphysics). I have no idea now whether the argument I found so persuasive almost forty years ago is sound or not.

I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote him here. My comments are that I think there are quite a bit of rational, philosophical proofs of God’s existence. So long as the argument doesn’t rely on materialistic tendencies. Can God’s existence be proven? Honestly, it depends on your definition of “God”. I think that while proofs such as the moral argument, the epistemological argument, and the ontological argument provide the best defenses they all flounder on assumptions being made. Hence, the moral argument assumes that God’s moral precepts should match a particular moral reality, the epistemological argument assumes that supernatural and God are the exact same thing, and the ontological argument assumes greatness exists.

Thus, there is no single “knock-out” proof of God’s existence but there are sufficient attacks against a structureless world-view. How I look at it is from the Nietzschean and Sartrean pre-cept. If there is no god, then the only god in existence is yourself. Hence, we desire to be god. Our own god.

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About newenglandsun

A student. Male. Passionate. Easily offended. Child-like wonderer. Growing in faith, messing up daily.
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7 Responses to Can God’s Existence Be Proven?

  1. I enjoyed this post. It is important not to rely on reason alone, but to acknowledge the necessity of faith. I agree with your objection to the Ontological Argument (at least Anselm’s version). However, I’m not sure you’re doing full justice to the moral and epistemological arguments.

    For your readers’ sake, I’ll reproduce the Argument from Morality: 1) If God doesn’t exist, objective moral values and obligations don’t exist. 2) Objective moral values and obligations do exist. 3) Therefore, God exists. (per William Lane Craig.)
    I don’t see the basis for objecting that this argument presupposes that God’s moral precepts should match a particular moral reality. The above syllogism is structurally valid and addresses universals; not particulars. Indeed, what is a “particular moral reality”?

    Argument from Epistemology: your objection seems to arise from widespread confusion over what the term “supernatural” means (my apologies if I’m mistaken). As the Church has always understood the distinction between nature and supernature, the latter completely transcends the former. Therefore, God and the supernatural are synonymous. (Many beings and phenomena commonly called “supernatural”, such as demons, are actually preternatural.)

    In my opinion, the best argument for God’s existence is the Argument from Contingent and Absolute Being. For being whose nature dictates that its existence depends on something else must be grounded in Being whose very nature is To Be.

    Most objections to this proof are based on the mistaken assumption that God is the first or highest being in the universe instead of Being itself, who transcends the universe.

    • How does Craig explain the commands of God to destroy the other nations (women and children included)?!?

      *Innocent* children, mind you. This objection must also be met in the moral argument.

      • There are several ways to address that objection, one of which is that it’s not really a direct objection to the argument from morality, but a variation of the problem of evil which objects to God’s goodness. However, it’s important to answer the question you’ve raised since it’s a very common one.

        Christian Tradition holds that God isn’t just the supreme good, but Goodness itself. If that’s true, how to account for passages (mostly in the OT) like the one quoted above? Contemporary theologians, the Church Fathers, and Scripture itself provide numerous possible answers.
        -Dei Verbum notes that the Bible must be read within the unity and content of the whole of Sacred Scripture. The Old Testament’s full meaning only becomes clear in the light of the New. Therefore we must be cautious about selecting particular OT passages without reference to the whole context of divine revelation and holding them up as normative.
        -There are clear stages of development in the Old Law. It starts out simple with just the Ten Commandments and the priesthood of all firstborn males. Then layers of penitential regulations are added as Israel continues breaking the covenant. Most of the latter are abolished in the New Covenant (as Jesus did with Moses’ concession on divorce and remarriage).
        -Though the Exodus account isn’t to be dismissed as pure mythical fiction, bronze age peoples didn’t follow the same guidelines as modern history writers. It was pretty common back then for writers chronicling a war to say “We annihilated the enemy to the last man, woman, and child” as a dramatic device. Everybody from the same culture knew he was speaking in hyperbole. We’re not used to historians using such poetic license today.
        -Even if the sacred author wasn’t using a literary exaggeration, citing a divine command to launch unrestricted warfare as evidence against God’s goodness suffers from two flaws. First is presuming the innocence of the population that the order was issued against. Keep in mind that it would be objectively better for God to preemptively destroy the universe rather than allow the least sin to be committed. Life is His gift. He’s perfectly within His rights to take it back if He wants to. The fact that He chooses not to is a mind-boggling mercy for which I, a wicked sinner, give thanks.
        Second, accusing God of injustice presumes that objective justice exists, and there can be no source of objective justice but God. Therefore, appealing to the problem of evil to disprove God’s goodness is self-contradictory.

    • Highlight:
      Argument from contingent and absolute being.

      No. This does *not* prove God’s existence. Even if we do represent it properly, one must still deal with the notion that scientific findings have made more recent discoveries on how and why the universe started.

      Given, the argument of contingent being *does* explain the creation ex nihilo doctrine.

      What the Church defines as supernatural is not what the anti-materialist atheist considers supernatural. The non-materialist atheist perceives the supernatural as being that which exists *outside* and *beyond* nature.

      Even my older sister recognizes the futility of a strict materialist viewpoint yet remains atheist.

      • “Argument from contingent and absolute being…does *not* prove God’s existence…[O]ne must still deal with the notion that scientific findings have made more recent discoveries on how and why the universe started.”

        I beg to differ. Since the argument in question claims to demonstrate the necessity of an Absolute Being, and by definition an Absolute Being transcends material existence, no data gathered by empirical means can possibly refute that argument.

        Empirical science can only investigate the “how” of purely physical phenomena. It is powerless to contemplate the “why” of anything.

        The common objection to theism that science will some day disprove God by explaining how such-and-such a physical process really works commits the error of reducing God to the greatest being within the physical realm. It does refute God of the gaps arguments, but those run contrary to the Catholic metaphysical tradition. Aquinas didn’t search the natural world until he found a process he couldn’t explain and said, “Therefore, God.” He noticed that nature operates according to rules and asked, “Why are there any rules in the first place?”

        God is not the greatest being in the universe. He is Being itself, in which all other being is grounded and sustained. Even physical laws like gravitation are contingent.

        “What the Church defines as supernatural is not what the anti-materialist atheist considers supernatural. The non-materialist atheist perceives the supernatural as being that which exists *outside* and *beyond* nature.”

        Then the non-materialist atheist is equivocating. One must contend with an opponent’s strongest argument in its strongest sense, or else engage a mere straw man. Since Western atheism is attacking the Christian understanding of God, it is that understanding which atheists must refute.

        The etymology of the word “supernatural” reveals the atheist fallacy. The supernatural is that which is above any and all natures (something “outside nature” would be extranatural, and something “beyond nature” would be ultranatural). The anti-materialist atheist still conflates the original meaning of “nature” with “the material world.” Christian theology means “nature” in the classical sense of “substance” or “essence”. Angels and devils, though they are non-material, still possess finite, intelligible natures and are thus preternatural. God alone transcends nature itself. He alone is supernatural.

      • Western atheism? Ah, I see. This is why I attack only the strongest of the strongest atheists 😀 ! I’m referring to the Ancient as well as the Eastern atheists. Hence, the Buddhists and the Satanists.

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