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Does God Exist?

Andy Steiger Articles Leave a Comment

People’s answers concerning God’s existence vary from: theism (God exists) to agnosticism (not sure if god exists) to atheism (no god exists). Interestingly, statistics consistently demonstrate that the vast majority of people, even in secular European countries, believe a god does exist. More than that, history has demonstrated that humans have never needed to be taught to believe in god.

Belief in God comes naturally to many of us but how do we know God’s existence is true? Can we prove with 100 percent certainty that God exists? Can we prove anything exists with that level of certainty? Can God’s non-existence be proven?

A more realistic definition of “prove” we all naturally use to determine our beliefs is probability. We determine if something is true by its being more probable or more likely than its negation. This is the standard in criminal cases. In an investigation there is no absolute certainty of ‘who done it’ only degrees of likelihood, defined as beyond all reasonable doubt, on which a case is built and a jury deliberates. The same is true of God’s existence.

 

When we ask “does God exist” we are

seeking to examine the evidence and

determine if the scales are tipping in

favor of God or not?

 

Tipping the scales of evidence becomes a verdict for belief. As we accumulate evidence we become more grounded in that belief.

What then is the evidence we are examining? There are two forms of knowledge: facts and experience. In daily life we are continually developing beliefs from the factual and experiential knowledge we acquire. However, these two forms of knowledge have some curious effects on one another that we would be wise to understand. For example, I have come to the belief that sasquatches most likely do not exist. Recently, I watched yet another hour-long special presentation on the evidence for Big Foot but it did nothing to challenge my belief.

However, imagine my best friend, with whom I have been on countless hiking trips, telling me of a recent hair-raising experience he had with a Big Foot. I think you would agree that his five-minute story would do more to challenge my belief than an hour-long documentary ever could. Why is that?

People weigh not only the factual evidence but to a greater degree their experience and the experiences of others they trust. As relational creatures we often give greater authority to this kind of knowledge. Not surprisingly, statistics consistently show that the vast majority of people who come to believe in the Christian God do so through trusted relationships.

While this does not mean their belief is false, it is vulnerable. What happens if that same person were to develop a trusted relationship with an atheist or a person of another faith? Their new belief would be challenged. Our testimony of God is powerful evidence but people need more than that.

This is where Christianity stands distinct uniquely from other religions. It is weighed by experiential (relational) and factual knowledge of God. In fact, the Apostle Paul made it very clear in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ was not raised from the dead, your faith is worth nothing…” The New Testament is full of authors who went to great lengths to demonstrate their testimony and the facts.

The growth and spread of Christianity was due to both the early Christians’ experience of the risen Christ and the facts surrounding Jesus. This led people not only to believe in a God, but to experientially know who this God is and have good reasons to believe so.

People asking the question, “does God exist?”, need to carefully weigh the experiential and factual evidence.

At the age of seventeen, in a quiet moment of deliberation, I played out a courtroom drama in my heart, soul and mind that had been in session for years and only I could judge. Yes, I concluded God does exist. Not only did the facts lead me to the answer but amazingly the experience of God in Jesus Christ brought me into a relationship!

Christians need to balance their experience of God with the facts supporting it, so that their conviction grows, allowing them to positively influence those of competing beliefs. The exciting purpose of the church is to equip disciples to do as Jesus commanded, “… love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.”

Andy Steiger is the Director of Apologetics Canada. ThinkingSeries.com. The thinking Series addresses five of the most asked questions today.

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