Is there evidence for God’s existence?

The answer depends upon the meaning of the word “evidence”. If you are referring to scientific evidence, then the answer is no (perhaps). There is no substance that you can put in a test tube and confirm that it is God. And for this reason, the naturalist assumes that he is simply the realist; he is simply the child from The Emperor’s New Clothes who cries, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”, and reveals the stupidity of the emperor and all the people who bought into the idea that the emperor is wearing “invisible clothes”.

But I would like to suggest a metaphor. Is there any evidence within the paint of a painting that the painter exists? In one sense, you can search the colors and contrasts of a painting for as long as you want, but you will never find “the painter”. But of course, that is the wrong path to discovering and understanding the painter.

I believe this is the great fallacy of the atheists’ claim that there is no evidence for God. They are looking for evidence of a builder in the building itself, but the builder is completely other than the building (transcendent). They are searching for evidence of the Author in the characters of the story, but the Author transcends the reality of the story.

Yet in paintings, songs, buildings, and stories there is indeed an important and significant sense in which there is great evidence for the Creator. Thus, there is validity to the conversations around the teleological and cosmological arguments for God’s existence.

This is obviously not a comprehensive post, but rather a conversation starter. I am eager to hear feedback. I believe that many of my atheist/naturalist friends would be able to form an articulate and reasonable response.

So here’s to beginning one of the most important conversations!

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4 Comments

  1. Okay, here we go! This may be a long one! I’ve thought long and hard about all these kinds of arguments. Here are my thoughts. Hopefully I can retain coherency in my fervor.

    The first thing you bring up is evidence, and that is one of the great sticking points when people from opposing sides of this debate clash. I’d like to hear you flesh out more what you consider evidence, and specifically what makes for strong evidence versus weak evidence, because people -myself included!- are very loose about their standards for evidence. VERY loose. And it cannot be overstated. Logical fallacies are terribly common, and in regards to God, well… Both sides are liable to cherry pick data, come to hasty conclusions based on incomplete data, etc. I’ll try to make my standards as concise as possible.

    Strong evidence involves understanding and being able to replicate the causal mechanisms proposed, and that’s a huge thing in regards to scientific evidence. Less convincing but still interesting evidence is correlation between two observations. That usually means you need to look into the topic more. And I think, at least in a broad way, that evidence of the scientific variety.

    You seem to be using analogy as evidence, from what I can see, which is shaky. Really, really shaky. Analogies are helpful for understanding a topic, but not for determining truth, as far as I’m concerned.

    I have a lot more to say, but I need to get going now, so I’ll leave this here in case anyone wants to respond. Plus, it does help to break up issues, I think. I’ll flesh out more of the analogy issue (both as a means of understanding in itself and the specific analogy you are using) and anything else that comes to my mind in the next comment.

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  2. Continuing from my previous comment, there needs to be a reason to assume this analogy is the correct one. Many analogies could be made in a variety of ways. For example, weather is a very complex phenomenon, and it could be assumed (and often was assumed) that there was an agency behind it. Zeus’s lightning bolts and Poseidon’s storms, and goodness knows what else.

    But we know that this is not true. We can trace the majority of weather causes to temperature differences and the work of the sun. There is no agency behind any of it.

    So if we can invoke agency and be wrong, how do we know this particular analogy will hold?

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    1. Hey Jono,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and sincerity on this subject.

      I am not trying to use an analogy as evidence for God. I am trying to use an analogy to clarify how evidence for God is categorically different than the evidence for the dinosaurs or for Santa Claus, because the biblical God (as opposed to Zeus and Poseidon, I would note) is a transcendent being who created the world and exists in a higher dimension than this world (like an Author exists in a higher dimension than the characters of the story he writes), whereas Santa and dinosaurs (and actually Zeus and Apollos) are beings that exist within this realm with all the constraints of this realm (like a character within a story).

      The massive naturalist fallacy I hear is this: “There is no evidence for God, just like there is not evidence for Santa Claus, and therefore we have no legitimate grounds to believe that God exists.” It’s extremely problematic thinking but I find that it is fundamental to how many naturalists think about evidence for God.

      That said, you are absolutely right that there are a lot of gaps that I did not address, including what the evidence for God might be, even if it is categorically different than evidence for Santa Claus. I’ll have to leave that to a future blog post.

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