Posted tagged ‘experience of God’

The Place for Experience in the Mix of Science, Faith and the Evidence for God

February 1, 2019


On the show and podcast, Unbelievable! On Christian Premiere Radio in the UK hosted by Justin Brierley, the host often asks people, atheists and Christians, what would make them believe (or not believe, as the case may be). Most people think of arguments or historical or scientific proofs, but not everyone.

In one particular episode Michael Ruse, a professor and philosopher of biology at Florida State Universality, participated in discussion with John Lennox, a professor of mathematics and philosophy at Oxford, on the subject of Science, Faith and the Evidence for God. When asked the question about what would make him believe, Michael Ruse surprisingly (for me at least) said that it would have to be a personal experience with God.

Michael Ruse is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ruse is an evolutionary biologist who has debated against intelligent design proponents. He has been on the Advisory Council to the National Center for Scientific Education. He is a Bertrand Russell Society award winner for his dedication to science and reason.

Thus, my surprise to hear him provide such an “unscientific” answer to the question of what it would take for him to become a believer. I have since heard other atheists provide similar answers. Intelligent Christians, I think, underestimate the power of personal experience.

To be fair of Michael Ruse, though is a decided atheist, he has a healthy respect for theology. Maybe that is because he is a philosopher, and not just a scientist.

I say “just a scientist” because there is a school of thought among modern scientists that we don’t need philosophy anymore, that science is all we need. (People like Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson have expressed this view.)

But science, by definition, is limited to the study of the natural world, matter and energy (or “molecules in motion” as some like to say). Anyone who makes the claim that science is all we need has made an a priori determination (an initial presupposition) that molecules in motion are the sum of all reality. Neither theology, nor philosophy, fit into a world like that. And, where, then, does that leave mathematics and logic?

Michael Ruse, being an expert in philosophy takes great offense at the notion that philosophy has gone the way of God and is dead (alluding to Nietzsche’s great contention). It’s natural for a philosopher to take that position, I suppose, even an atheist philosopher. After all, he has devoted his life to philosophy!

But then, consider that he knows something of what he talks about. Just as scientists know a great deal more about science than me, a philosopher knows a great deal more about philosophy than, well… a scientist (who studies only molecules in motion). It isn’t hard to understand why such a person might begin to see the world as nothing but molecules in motion when that is the constant and continual focus of life long study, but the theologians and philosophers, even atheistic one, protest there is more.

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Can Personal Experience be Proof of God?

January 29, 2017
mountain-silhouette-by-kallie-carlson

Photo by Kallie Carlson

Dr. William Lane Craig is a Christian philosopher of the highest caliber.[i] He has multiple doctorate degrees and has taught at various colleges and universities. He is a prolific writer, and has debated nearly two dozen of the more outspoken atheists, agnostics and skeptical thinkers of the world on philosophical, theological and other issues.

In the short clip below, which is a segment from a longer interview on the various arguments (proofs) for the existence of God, he discusses an additional basis for knowing that God exists apart from rational bases for believing in God. This basis, or claim for the existence of God, is personal experience.

This is not an argument for the existence of God. It isn’t rational proof. Rather, it is more like a personal proof or confirmation of the existence of God apart from (not contrary to) reason. It isn’t a substitute for reason, but neither is reason a substitute for the experience.

The main ways that Dr. Craig (and most theists) usually discusses the proof of the existence of God is logic, scientific evidence and philosophy, but these aren’t the only proofs we have.

We might be apt in the western world to discount personal experience and to be suspicious of it, and for good reason. Charles Darwin was suspicious of his own intuition, being the product of evolution from lower life-forms.[ii] A good friend of his got lost in the morass of spiritualism, and that experience of seeing his friend get lost down the rabbit holes of irrational, spiritualistic notions influenced Darwin to distrust his own intuitions.

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Ted Parker, Jr.

Photographer of People, Music and Life - Husband-father-son-brother, son of the King. Soli Deo Gloria

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