Saturday, March 18, 2017

Prove To Me There Is a God

The most often repeated challenges to faith is this: prove to me there is a God. Almost always it is a challenge thrown in the faces of believers because the skeptic doesn't think it is answerable. But that is wrong. It is easily answered. 

   The first, the universe is finely tuned so that it permits life like ourselves to exist AND that our particular place in the universe is especially finely tuned for life like ourselves - that is large bodied and intelligent. Various scientists have pointed to as many as 200 conditions that are/were required for life to develop on this planet. Fine Tuning and God

   Are those measurable?

   Yes. Can they be falsified or can the conclusion drawn from that evidence be falsified? Yes. Simply show me a place with large bodied intelligent life that doesn't meet those conditions and the premise that it requires such fine-tuning is falsified. Or show me a place that meets those conditions that does not have large bodied intelligent life and the premise is falsified.  

   BTW If that premise were not falsifiable, then all the efforts to falsify it seem pointless.  

   The inference is that the conjunction of those conditions is improbable naturally. That can also be falsified by showing that there are many such places in the universe.  

   The inference is that highly improbable conditions suggest the need for those conditions to be purposeful, thus an intelligence behind them.  

   Second, there is the evidence of the book. The Bible is made up of 66 pieces written by dozens of different authors over a period of 1000 years or more. There was no collusion among them. None understood they were writing a single story. Yet it is a single story. And it is a story that meets all the criteria of a narrative with beginning middle and end (a single plot) and the usual plot development that we have come to see as common in literature throughout the millennia in which people have written or told stories.  The Book

   The inference is that a single story with those characteristics is highly improbable unless there is a divine author.

   Is that falsifiable? Yes. shown that this kind of story structure is unique in literature. Show that the was collusion among the authors. Show that there are other stories with the same parameters.  

   Third, there is the evidence of the nation Israel. The book mentioned above is in large part the story of Israel. In that story The divine author makes numerous promises to Israel, promises that stretch out over 1000 years and more. One of those is that Israel will never disappear from history until God brings history to a close. There may be times of discipline when the nation is exiled from the land. But the Hebrew people will not be absorbed into the other nations and lose their identity, and every exile will end with the people back in the land assigned to them by God.  A Chosen People

   The inference is that because this is unique in human history and very improbable that if if were to happen some divine entity must be involved. Is that falsifiable? Yes. Over the 4000 years during which Israel has existed, all of the predictions and promises have proven accurate. BUT if they had not, that would falsify the premise that there is divine purpose evidenced in the history of Israel.

    BTW If that premise is not falsifiable, then all the efforts to show that it is false seem pointless.  

   Fourth, there is the evidence of the foreshadowing (prophecies) made in the book. Not all the prophecies are easily tested, but some are. I've recommended the prophecy in Daniel 9:20-27 as one of those. The Date of Jesus' Death Foretold

   The inference is that it is highly improbable that anyone could predict the future in detail and with measurable specifics. Only God can do that.

   Is that premise falsifiiable? Yes. Show that the prophecies fail. Or show that anyone can make such prophecies. Obviously, that premise is tested by skeptics.

   But if this was not a valid test for the existence of God, such challenges would make no sense.  

    Fifth, there is the evidence of Jesus. Jesus and those writing about him in the book make the claim that he was/is God.  Jesus Is Proof

   The inference is that Jesus did things that would be highly improbable for a person to do who was not God. Is that falsifiable? Yes. Show that Jesus did not do those things. Show that those things can be done by anyone. Show that the claims were not made by Jesus.  

   The strong attempts to refute those claims or the facts presented demonstrate that many here think that the claims are falsifiable.  

   Bottom line. When multiple lines of evidence converge on one conclusion and survive the attempts to falsify them, the inference is strong that there is a God.


Neil said...

Hi Don:

1) If the universe is as finely tuned for life as you say, then why does the vast bulk of it appear devoid of anything, er... living? Most of it is black matter and dark energy and the physical bodies that there are, like the other seven planets in our own solar system are, as far as we can tell, completely barren. Meanwhile, the Earth is 'finely tuned' in the same way a hole in the ground is finely tuned for the puddle that fills it.

2) The bible is not as consistent and coherent as you claim. YHWH is a completely different character from Jesus' 'loving father'; God's expectations are different in the Old and New Testaments (whatever happened to the 'everlasting' covenant?); there IS collusion between the synoptic gospels (Matt & Luke plagiarise much of Mark); several of the letters in the NT are forged to read like Paul or Peter; Jude is a copy of 2 Peter (itself a forgery!) and so on. 'The book' only appears consistent because that is the view you yourself impose on it, blithely ignoring problems like these.

3) The Jews are incredibly resilient - good for them. This doesn't prove a God, though perhaps the holocaust demonstrates the absence of one.

4) That Jesus - or his script-writers - thought he was the fulfilment of a prophecy in Daniel doesn't mean he was. The end times and judgement mentioned in the same passages didn't come to pass, did they, so why should one small part of the 'prophecy' be considered fulfilment of the whole? In any case, scholars think it far more likely that Daniel was 'prophesying' events that had already occurred in his own time. Some Jews even consider Jesus himself to be the desolation predicted!

5) What DID Jesus claim?
That he would return within the lifetime of those listening to him - didn't happen. That he would appear in the clouds with an army of angels to separate sheep from goats - didn't happen.
That he would set up the Kingdom of God on Earth after smiting all those goats - didn't happen.
That he and his buddies would rule the new Earth forever and ever - didn't happen. These ridiculous claims, and others, make Jesus seem a delusional megalomaniac, not the Son of God.
Looks suspiciously like this 'proof' of God is as easily refuted as your others, Don.

Don Camp said...

Thanks again, Neil. You summarize well the case many skeptics have made during my sojourn through the various atheist websites and blog. But rarely is the argument as clearly and succinctly laid out as you have done. I deal with most if not all of those in the blog posts I've linked. I'll leave it for the readers to decide.