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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Evidence of God's reality

Perhaps I should post my reasons for believing in God.

I am well aware that a large part of my reason for believing in God is my upbringing, and my past history, including my associations. But other people have had very similar upbringing, and, at least for part of their lives, a similar past history, and do not believe as I do.

To me, the convincing evidence of God's existence is multiple, and includes the Bible, my conscience, the work of the Holy Spirit in my own life, and the evidence of nature (See Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 for the latter.). But the most important evidence is that Christianity works radically, so much that it can be noticed. It works in people, whose behavior changes, in ways almost everyone, even non-believers, would agree was for the better, after a conversion experience. Does it work that way in everyone? No. But in many, enough that it's hard to doubt that something real is going on.

When I see someone's transformed life, or see that my own life has been transformed in such a way as to be kinder and less selfish -- more Christ-like -- that is evidence for me. I understand fully that such matters are subjective, and cannot be rigorously tested by others, at least not in the way that scientists test hypotheses by experimentation. But all of us make various important choices, such as who to marry, what political party to belong to, what kind of auto to buy, or what athletic team to support, based, largely or entirely, on subjective evidence, or, sometimes, apparently, no evidence at all.

I think God respects us enough that He allows us to make up our own minds about His existence, and if His existence could be proved like a Euclidean theorem, we would almost be forced to believe in it.

The Bible says that our belief is important. John 3:16 tells us that we need to believe. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that salvation (our part of it) comes by faith.

You may also want to look at my post "What Christians Believe."

Thanks for reading.


Pete DeSanto said...

Martin, I know that you know that none of this is real evidence. An ancient text with questionable authorship and editing? Personal experience? Anecdotes?

You can substitute Islam, Buddhism, Scientology, Mormonism, etc. for Christianity and tell the same tale of life transformation. Further, you are ignoring those who claim Christianity (or any religion) yet do not undergo a life transformation. Or those that undergo a life transformation without claiming Christianity (or any other religion).

Pete DeSanto said...

"I think God respects us enough that He allows us to make up our own minds about His existence, and if His existence could be proved like a Euclidean theorem, we would almost be forced to believe in it."

Nonsense! There is evidence for many theories that explain how natural phenomena work, yet there are also many people who refuse to accept those theories. God does not show respect by allowing us to make up our own mind absent evidence. Indeed, he shows a great deal of disrespect by demanding we believe so many fantastical things without evidence. Sort of like exclaiming "Because I said so!" to our children when they ask why.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete.

Well, that's your view, and you are certainly entitled to it.

I am not familiar with lives transformed by, say, Buddhism. Perhaps there are some. I can't say. I have seen lives transformed by belief in Christ. I went to the funeral of a person who had had such a transformation today. I have seen such transforming power in my own life. For me, that's evidence.

You are correct, of course, that it is possible to reject good evidence. There are all too many examples of that, in all sorts of areas of life and thought.

Another blogger, who has, and deserves, more readers than I, picked up on the quotation from Feynman, found in a previous post, which quotation you also commented on. His blog post is here. He doesn't comment directly on what either of us said, but perhaps what he did say will be of interest.

Pete DeSanto said...

There are many buddhists who would say they have not seen lives transformed by Christianity. I have seen lives harmed by Christ. Families torn apart. Women staying in abusive relationships. Children beaten so as to not 'spare the rod.' Children in fear of hell. Homosexuals called vile things because they are 'abominations.' Do these count as evidence against a loving christ? The standard for evidence must be objective, otherwise it is just personal anecdotes or assertion.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete.

They are all evidence that some people call themselves Christian and don't follow Christ's example, and I am sorry that these things have and are happening. They can, of course, also be taken as evidence that Christianity is a false religion, or that there is no loving Christ.

I assert that, from my experience, and observation, there is a loving Christ.

green leaf said...

To me, the first evidence is the Gregorian calendar, where does BC comes from ? There must a Christ. I believe to Mary who witness the Lord's body disappeared from the tomb, the evidence is more obvious. The second evidence is the tenacious existence of the Jewish race and the re-establish of the nation of Israel. A scattered and dwindling race can survive for more than 1000 years, it sounds impossible to me, unless there is the lead of the spirit. The third evidence is the desire to search for the meaning of life, and the longing for eternity within. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says "God has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end". I don't know if any other god tells such thing to his believers.

The proper organ to taste food is the mouth, even though one can use mind and tools to analyze the element in the food, he will miss the real taste. The proper organ to know God is in our human spirit, even though one can collect thousand physical evidences, he will miss the real enjoyment of God.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, green leaf.

There have been, as I understand it, a couple of skeptics who set about proving that the resurrection did not occur, but ended up believing that it had.

The existence of the Jewish race is remarkable, indeed. They also went off to Egypt for 430 years, and came back to re-take their land, plus 70 years of captivity in Babylon and the surrounding area, and came back both times.

Thanks again.