15th June 2014
Is there anyone out there?
How do we know that God exists? On this Trinity Sunday we reaffirm our belief that God is three Persons who are equally God, yet there is only one God; how can we state that without committing intellectual suicide? What’s the evidence?
People through the years have come up with various ‘proofs’ about the existence of God. None of these ‘proofs’ are convincing to everybody, which shows that they are not ‘proofs’ at all. We must not be surprised at that. Lots of things we take for granted cannot be proved. Even historical ‘facts’ are difficult to prove; at best we can say that the evidence is overwhelming. And scientific theories which are ‘proved true’ by one generation may be questioned by the next as new evidence or theories come to light. It is no surprise, therefore, that even convinced Christians can be prey to doubt – in our Gospel reading we see that disciples of Jesus who had seen him after his resurrection still had doubts about whether it was appropriate to worship him.
It is equally impossible to prove that God does not exist. Atheists are just as much people of faith as Christians! They may, however, justly say that they don’t have to prove anything; people who say God is there have to shoulder the burden of proof. (As the philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, if I claim that there is a kettle orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars, it is up to me to prove it; no-one has try to prove it is not there.) Christians cannot prove God is there. But we can show the weight of evidence, and I believe it is more reasonable to believe there is a God than that there is not.
One of the most convincing sets of evidence for me is the universe itself: its cause, its complexity and its beauty. What caused it to happen the way it did? I’m happy for scientists to come up with theories about the mechanism; but the chances of everything happening as needed for the universe to be as it is are so inconceivably small that I don’t think it is good enough to say simply, ‘That’s lucky.’ I think it is more reasonable to believe that there was an intelligent Being directing it.
Even more convincing evidence for the existence of God is the existence of Jesus Christ. No reasonable person doubts he existed, nor that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Many doubt the stories of his miracles, and especially his resurrection; but I suspect the reason for their doubt is the unprovable assertion that miracles do not happen. The record in the gospels of his teaching is unlikely to have come from anyone else apart from Jesus – it is so original, so unlike anything that was being taught at the time or had been taught in the past, that it is inconceivable that one of his Galilean followers – or even the well-educated Apostle Paul – could have made it up. That’s especially true of his claims to have come from heaven, sent by God who acknowledged Jesus as his ‘son’, and to be equal to God. These claims need to be examined: was Jesus mad? Or deliberately misleading people? Or was he right? It seems to me that, all in all, these claims ring true and fit in with his character, his teaching, his miracles, and especially his resurrection. And if so, there has to be a God!
1) Is anyone out there? What factors encourage you to believe, or to doubt?
2) How important is this question