How would you prove or disprove God? Where would you start?
Previously I introduced the topic Is There Evidence for God? with this 3-minute YouTube video clip from a Creation vs. Evolution debate at Portland State University. A sixth-grade atheist asked for evidence that God exists, but the answer was neither clear nor compelling.
How would I answer the student’s question in the video? What would I say if asked, “What is your evidence for God?” or “How do you know God exists?”
I would answer with the Argument from Design and the Argument from Personal Experience.
In one prequel, 2. Evidence for God – Design, I presented the Argument from Design as I would explain it to a sixth-grader. The basic idea is that nature’s complex designs require a Designer to produce them. The kind of information the designs contain can only come from an intelligent Agent. The many examples of complex design we see in nature present strong evidence for a Creator.
In another prequel, 3. Evidence for God – Experience, I presented the Argument from Personal Experience as I would explain it to a sixth-grader. The basic idea is this: the testimony of personal experience with the Creator by millions of people is weighty evidence, especially since they come from different countries, cultures, and time periods. The cumulative testimony of the human race is overwhelming and compelling.
These two arguments are strong and persuasive evidence that God exists. Yet they do not constitute absolute logical proof that God exists.
Proving or Disproving the Existence of God
Atheists and agnostics often demand an argument that “proves” the existence of God. Apologists should avoid the trap of trying to prove the existence of God. Mankind cannot do it.
Yahweh is the Almighty Creator. He is the ground of all existence upon which everything else is based. There is no independent starting point from which to begin in order to logically prove God’s existence.
However, what we can do is show that the existence of God is far more plausible than the non-existence of God. It is legitimate to use arguments of reason to support that claim, demonstrating that it is much more logical to think God exists than that He does not.
To those who ask for proof of God, sometimes it’s helpful to point out that both sides are in the same boat. Believers cannot prove that God exists. Atheists cannot prove His non-existence. Therefore believers’ inability to prove God’s existence does not score a point for atheists. Neither side owns this issue.
Reasonable and Plausible
Life is filled with less-than-certain decisions. For example, do you give the car a thorough checkup every time you get in it, to ensure that there will be no mechanical failures? Probably not. You make a decision that it is reasonable to think the car is reliable and will safely deliver you to your destination. You make a decision based on what is reasonable, not on what you have proved to be certain.
The vast majority of all decisions are made based on plausibility or probability evaluations. We hardly ever prove anything absolutely. We must approach the question of God’s existence the same way. Neither His existence nor non-existence can be logically proved.
“Prove God exists” is an invalid demand. We have to correct the mistaken presupposition of demanding that proof, in order to prepare the ground for discussion of plausibility arguments like Design, Experience, Source of Morality, Cosmological, Inherent Light, etc.
The real questions are
What is the most reasonable explanation for the design and order we see in nature?
What is the most reasonable explanation for humanity’s cumulative testimony to the existence of a Creator?
Which is the most plausible explanation, a Creator or Nothing?
The Argument from Design and the Argument from Personal Experience provide evidence that it is more reasonable to believe in a Creator than to believe there was no Creator. While a person may not accept this design and experience evidence, one can’t deny that it is legitimate evidence that must be considered.
This approach is one that a 6th-grader could understand. With examples and stories, he might even find it of such compelling interest that he would think about it in the days, months, and years to come.
Questions to Ponder
- If you think that God does not exist, why is that more plausible than thinking He does exist? How do you respond to the Design and Experience arguments?
- What do you think of the following argument for the existence of God?
“In order to argue against God’s existence, you have to assume the laws of logic. You are thereby implicitly granting the existence of a Logic-Giver in order to argue against His existence.”
- What is your own answer to someone who demands that you prove God exists?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the fourth post in the Evidence for God series that discusses the question,
“Is There Evidence for God?”
Read the prequels:
1. Evidence for God – Can You Answer a 6th-Grader?
2. Evidence for God – Design
3. Evidence for God – Experience
Read the sequel to learn why the Argument from Design is the best argument to use for the existence of God:
5. Evidence for God – Design Is Best Argument for God – Simple
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday July 10, 2013 A.D.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)