In a pervious article, The Beginning of an “Unapologetic” Argument for God, I conceded that human beings cannot prove the existence of God as an absolute, objective certainty. Not because God may not exist, but because we are finite beings who have limitations.
Because we don’t know what we don’t know, we have have to take our most basic assumptions on faith. Basically, we all must reason from a point of faith. Whether our premise is a multiverse limited to space/time and matter or the existence of a transcendent creator God, we assert the starting premise on faith because we cannot prove it.
That is the very nature of an axiom. Axioms are propositions we regard as “self-evidently” true, but we can’t prove them.
Immanuel Kant famously demonstrated the dilemma we face on the existence of God by creating an airtight syllogism logically proving the existence of God. Then he turned around and created an airtight, syllogism logical proving there is no God. What was the difference?
The difference was the first premise, the axiom with which he started. Thus, the premise with which your logic starts will determine the outcome of a syllogism. Different starting premises yield different logical conclusions. The logic can be solid in both examples, but the difference in the starting premises leads to opposing conclusions.
This is the human condition, finite as we are: we have to take our starting premises on faith. We can test them logically and in other ways. We can eliminate starting premises that won’t stand up to logic or other forms of testing, but we cannot ultimately prove our starting premises.
When we have two syllogisms that stand up to logic and to other ways of testing them, and they still yield opposite conclusions, we are at a loss to reconcile them and to eliminate one or the other – except by faith.
We can’t hold them together, because they are diametrically opposed to each other. We cannot resolve which one is correct objectively because we do not have the facts we need, as finite beings, to determine which axioms comport with ultimate reality, and which do not.
This is the human dilemma on the existence of God. It requires us to choose a starting premise on faith. With that said, I am going to make a very “unapologetic” argument for the premise of God.
First of all, I want to observe that a God who is transcendent from the natural world would need to initiate communication and connection with His creation. Being merely created beings who are material beings operating in a material world (as Cindi Lauper crooned) – we have no tools for “finding” a transcendent God – at least no material tools.
We cannot find the artist in a painting any more than we can find God in the universe. A painting reflects the artist’s character and creativity, but a painting does not come close to providing us knowledge of the person of the artist. If all we have is the painting, we can know the artist in any real, accurate or complete sense.
The same is true of God and the universe.
We can’t know very much about an artist from her painting, alone. We need more information, and we need to meet the artist to really know the artist.
Unless we meet the artist, we don’t know the artist in any personal sense. The more often we meet the artist and the more interaction we have with the artist the more accurate and complete our knowledge of the artist – the person – becomes.
These same principals apply to God and the creation (if God exists of course). We should not hope to have a very accurate or complete idea of “who God is” without meeting God.
If God exists, God would have to initiate that “meeting”, because God is transcendent. We do not have the ability to transcend as a creature to the level of the Creator. The initiative must go in the other direction, from Creator to creature.
If anyone ever hopes to determine whether God, in fact, exists, she would have to be open to the possibility, first of all, and she would have to look for God to initiate the contact. It doesn’t lie within the province of the finite being to compel the infinite being.
The responses I have heard from some atheists about what evidence they would require to believe in God and what God would have to do for them to believe is the height of arrogance (if God exists, of course). Any conception of a God who can be compelled by us is not a conception of the God of the universe, but of some lesser, created being – like maybe a flying spaghetti monster.
If anyone is going to reject God, they should at least be rejecting the right God. What’s the point in rejecting a conception of God no one believes exists?
Anyone who really wants to know whether God exists needs to be looking for the “right God”. Such a God, if He really exists, is transcendent, necessarily, from the universe He created. We should expect to see such a God reflected in His creation, but we shouldn’t expect to know very much about such a God from observing His creation, alone.
Such a God would need to initiate the connection with His creation, as created beings (like us) have no ability to transcend “to” such a God. We would start by looking for signs of divine communication.