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Apr 26

Truth beyond the Provable

Huios: Well, hello, friend Sci-atheist.  I understand you wanted to talk to me?

Sci-atheist: Yes.  I knew you to be a reasonable person and wanted to chat about one of your favorite topics: God.

Huios:  Really!? Sure!  Would you like to get to know Him?

Sci-atheist:  Well, no, but I have been thinking, and I am pretty sure that I can refute any argument you choose to prove that God exists…

Huios:  OK.

Sci-atheist:  What?  You give up?  That was easier than I expected!  You agree there is no God?

Huios:  Well, yes and no.  I agree that I cannot prove that God exists, although you really have to do some philosophical cartwheels to explain away things like meaning and minds… and you really have to accept some pretty unscientific improbabilities to believe in things like evolution and the existence of an ordered universe.  But given all that, along with some serious quantum-mechanical hand-waving, I agree that I cannot prove God’s existence to you.

Sci-atheist:  So have you given up being a fool?

Huios:  If I get your meaning, I suspect we differ in our definitions of the term “fool” but actually, I am most definitely still a believer in God.  I just don’t think I can prove Him to you – especially with “scientific” evidence.  You see, the God I know existed before the stuff of this world – the stuff of science.  In fact, He created both the space into which the stuff was to go, and the time of its existence.  He exists… or existed… or will exist… or all of the above, since I don’t really know how to talk without reference to time… but His existence is without reference to time or space since these are merely elements of His creation.  There was a first day and will be a last day.  Along here somewhere, there will no longer be any place for the earth or the sky and it will all just not be anywhere.  I guess they (space, time, stuff) could all be considered “temporary” relative to the eternity dimensions in which He exists.  All of space-time, all of the rules inherent within space-time, and all the stuff inside space-time are elements of His creation.  Sure, He can and does interact within this bubble of His creation, tweaking this, inserting that, or canceling the other thing as He determines, but that is at His discretion.  So no set of natural experiments will require you to believe in God – He is anchored outside of this natural world that we can experiment on!

Sci-atheist:  But you say that He sometimes intervenes in the natural world – and I know you believe in miracles?!?  So why not have Him do a miracle right now for me?

Huios:  Well, first of all, He is God and not me… I don’t generally “have Him do” things.  Usually I just talk to Him and then He tells me what to be doing and how to do it…  when I do what He says, sometimes there are miracles, but He is no genie in a bottle!

Sci-atheist:  But if He really wants us to believe that He exists, why wouldn’t He just prove Himself?

Huios:  That is a fair question, so let’s look at it.  First, let’s note that God desires to give mankind free will within the boundaries of this life within space-time.  He decided to allow mankind an amazing degree of freedom to choose – all sorts of choices, including whether to believe or not to believe in Him!  Second, my Daddy God does not fit naturally (in His fullness) inside His creation… the more one becomes aware of Him, the weaker is ones hold on the bubble of space-time.  In particular, if Daddy were totally exposed to everyone, nobody would have any free will at all – we’d all be believers!  So God’s desire for a man with free-will precludes your desired demonstration of God.

Sci-atheist:  So in a sense, God conveniently refuses to be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Huios: Well, yes, for now.  As I understand it, after time is done (and I understand that this seems like an oxymoron, so let’s just say “outside the bubble of space-time”) there will be a moment (there we go again with time-words) in which all see Him, and then free-will will evaporate like every other thing that used to exist (time, again! J) inside the space-time bubble, and then, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus…

Sci-atheist: Hold on!  Let’s not go there.  But what you are saying is you can’t prove God’s existence.  So you basically give up!

Huios:  Well, you see why, right?  Since Daddy’s existence is rooted outside the bubble, we can’t force experiments on Him.  Since God wants us to have free will, He enforces your right to think like an atheist… at least for now.  So you see what I mean?  There is no way to prove…

Sci-atheist:  That’s right – you cannot prove such a God, so I guess I win!

Huios:  Wait, a second!  He is not provable, but by the same token, He is not falsifiable.  And incidentally, if you consider yourself a scientist, yours is the burden of proof!  Remember the most basic approach to science?  It is a process of creating a null hypothesis and performing an experiment that falsifies your hypothesis.  Unfortunately for your quest for proof, I think you may have a real difficulty in coming up with any falsifiable hypotheses.

Sci-atheist:  No proof either way… hmmm….  Well if you can’t prove God and can’t disprove Him, He must be pretty irrelevant, right?

Huios:  That does not quite follow.  You see, the God I know is the most central part of my life… and yours too (believe Him or not :-) .  It’s just you don’t know it.  But there will be a day when knowing Him will be the only relevant thing, and you and I will both know it then.

Sci-atheist:  Yeah?  Your fearful day of judgment?  Well, how could a good God…?

Huios:  Stop!  Just how are you defining “good”?  Usually, someone who asks a question like the one you were posing defines a “good” that does not depend on God.  But a God Who is ignored in the definition of “good” is a God who has been defined away by the poser of the question!  Can you say “straw man”?  Define good as what God is, and then try to ask the question without imposing your own inconsistency.

Sci-atheist:  Ouch!!  Well, I guess that this whole discussion still leaves us without much of an answer… what a waste of time!

Huios:  Hold on, though… There is one thing that has been discovered!

Sci-atheist:  Really?  Proven?  What is that?

Huios:  We have discovered that we each believe what we choose.  You choose your perspective and hold to it with the same sort of faith of which you have always been aggravated by seeing in others.  I have faith in God; you have faith that there is no God.

Sci-atheist:  Well, you may have a point, but your faith is so blind!

Huios:  Blind is an apt descriptor for one who intentionally chooses to believe that something cannot exist outside of a certain comfortable bubble.  I have heard your own sneering laughter at those who believed the earth was the center of the universe, but there are many who even more foolishly wish to believe the universe is the center of all existence.  It is the same sort of mistake, taking that which seems central and assuming it is the ultimate center without recognizing that which is less comfortable and less accessible – that which is beyond.  But in this case, the costs of universe-centrism are even more significant than earth-centrism:  missing out on the purpose and person of our Creator and Savior.  But the consequences of choosing to know God are too difficult for many people – they know they would have to bend the knee now (in time) as well as later (after time), and we all like to do whatever we want.  “There is none so blind as the one who refuses to see.”

So there are some who are blind, but my faith is not truly blind.  Look, you act like you believe in me – Huios, a person – a sentient entity beyond my amassed set of molecules and biological processes.  You relate to me like a friend.  Yet you cannot prove that there is anything beyond my atomic carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, electrical impulses, genetic codes… but you believe in me as a person because you relate to me, talk with me, find out about me, KNOW me.  I call you a friend because I do the same with you.  I believe in my Daddy God because I do the same with Him – I KNOW Him.

Sci-atheist:  But I don’t know Him… if He exists at all…

Huios:  Then be an extra-bubble scientist and do an extra-bubble experiment!   Send a message out from this bubble into the realm beyond: ask Daddy God to invade your personal space and somehow set up a person-to-person connection… not so much a proof as a relationship.  Then tell Him you’d like to get to know Him… and that you are willing to get to know Him if He will show you something of Himself….  But only do it if you really want to, because He won’t force the issue… you can always choose to not believe in Him!  Still, I recommend that you do the experiment and find out that He is there.

Sci-atheist:  That hardly seems safe, if it were true…

Huios:  You are correct.  It is not remotely safe in the conventional sense of the word.  But it is hardly safe not to know Him since He IS, provable or not.

15 comments

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  1. Jae

    I guess I don’t understand how the logic of the argument works: The athiest believes there is NO God, perhaps because there is no “proof” of His existence. You are trying to prove to them that there is, by inviting them to have a personal experience with Him – but conditioning (possibly) His response upon the requirement of a sincere heart – but that’s like asking me to give a relationship with Santa or the Easter Bunny a sincere attempt. How can you expect anyone to give something imaginary (to them) a real try?

  2. George

    Yes, the atheist believes, by faith, that there is no God. Not really because there is no proof, but by faith. We all believe things that are not provable, but we all choose which un-provable things we believe. Typically, we are clever enough to know the end of our reasoning and choose our assumptions to avoid or acquire the desired result. Thus anyone who so desires can maintain a belief in no-God, and of course, any “extra-bubble experiment” done desiring a negative outcome will typically acquire that outcome.

    Many things deemed imaginary are indeed imaginary; many others are most certainly not — note “complex” mathematics (which studies imaginary numbers), for an interesting perspective here. But to discover that which is beyond my current understanding, I must be willing to do so… and accept the consequences.

    One more element: “…imaginary (to them)…” suggests that things may be imaginary to some and real to others. I suggest that reality is real whether someone agrees to it or not.

    1. Priest

      I just hope wohveer writes these keeps writing more!

  3. Jonathan

    Hey – great dialogue! I like your reasoning of a null hypothesis and doing a test that falsifies your hypothesis. That is the way to turn the burden of proof to the skeptic. I also liked your straw man criticism of the typical “how could a ‘good’ God do…” skeptical argument.

    1. Veron

      Worsti is my word verification.I don’t argue about the eexstince of God – its nonsensical. It’s not possible to prove the eexstince of a god or the nonexistence. I call myself a non-theist because it reflects my feeling that a belief in god is not necessary to live a good, moral life. But I don’t care if others believe as long as they don’t use it as an excuse to do harm to others. Love is what I believe in.

  4. George

    I’m with you… I look at meaning and at a sense of transcendence… and sure love, hate, personhood… all these argue beyond biology… and therefore beyond the bubble.

    Oh, to be sure, there are arguments… hand-waving about how love is an evolutionary blah blah that helps the species blah blah. But the real issue is for the hand-waver… do you act like you actually believe in love? Or just that it is an evolutionary blah blah? And if you can manage to operationally believe what you say is true, have you managed to get closer to something good in your life? Meaninglessness rarely promotes good, however one may define the terms.

    1. Lucy

      I’ve never understood the hsteiat blog concept. They spend a lot of time talking about why they don’t believe in God. Why? Seems like a lot of effort for nothing. A lot of time refuting nothing. Why not just not believe in stuff and carry on with your life? Why do you have to talk about not believing in stuff? It makes my head hurt to think about it.

  5. George

    EVERYthing that happens in our lives is surely designed by the Father for our good. Sometimes it is pretty hard to see up front (ask Job) but in the end, Daddy makes EVERY single thing work together for good for those that are called and loving Him… That is right perspective. :)

  6. Sara Lang

    In fact it is hard to find a true atheist in the physics and chemistry department. Just because someone does not believe in the Christian god that does not make them an atheist. By definition an atheist is someone that believe in no god, and most phd scientists believe in a creator of some sort.

  7. Jesse Phillips

    There’s an obvious and important parallel with the way religious believers think about God.

  8. Eldon Terry

    The theistic conclusion is that there is sufficient reason to believe that god or gods exists, or that arguments do not matter as much as the “personal witness of the holy spirit,” as argued by preeminent apologist William Lane Craig. The Catholic Church , following the teachings of Saint Paul the Apostle , Saint Thomas Aquinas , and the First Vatican Council , which affirms that God’s existence “can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason”.

  9. Mariana Haney

    naaah.. I can’t see how you could unless God magically appears before a group of scientists and scares them half to death. Using only theory and no physical data, I believe it is impossible. I agree with one of the last posts I read in that the whole point of a faith-based religion such as Christianity is to give God’s existence the benefit of the doubt and have faith that God is there without requiring any proof. For a Christian to try to prove God’s existence by any means kind of defeats the purpose of believing at all.

  10. Miranda

    ~Fun read, George : ) I love this stuff!
    So, this dialogue made me think of love. We have all felt love before, right? It can stir our emotions like not much else can… sometimes from joy to tears! How can we prove it’s existance? It’s not tangable and we certainly can’t prove it’s existance through science, it is experienced with our spirit… our God given spirit that dwells within us. How do scientists rationalize love?

    Also, if feeling of love is an extreme positive feeling, so there must be an extreme negative feeling (hate). Where would a scientist explain that these come from? Do scientists love or hate… because if they love, they have to be able to explain love’s existance. If a scientist hates, they would have to admit that their extreme existing feeling at the other end of the spectrum… which would be acknowledging the existance of love. Hmmm. let me know what you think. Am I explaining this the way I’m thinking it… hmmm.

  11. Sheila

    I think this may be the central gtsugrle of our time and culture, which is even more interesting given that never before has a people experienced as much wealth and stability as we have. When men and women are faced with the worst hardships, their faith is strongest because they have no choice but to trust God. When we have affluence and time to think, we have to decide whether we can trust God despite what we know to be true of the world and its brokenness.We’ve been studying Habakkuk at church these past few weeks and he starts with, For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. (Habakkuk 1:4) And yet, even facing the destruction of his nation, he ends with, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18) If only I could have such faith when I face the little trials of my life.

  12. Paulo

    Mr Jazz – Stist indeedGeewits – you wise wise woman you.XUP – Just like a God Is Great blog, you’re right, there doesn’t seem to be much point, just do your thing.SAW – True, why does it beohtr people what others believe or not. In my experience it’s the Christians who seem to feel obligated to question my beliefs.Furball – when you make that FB page let me know!BB – yes, and I recall your sending giving our address to mormons so you could talk with them. And they kept coming (you, obviously, were never home) – I eventually had to tell them you’d died to get them to go away. You evil atheist you. Though probably you just did it to annoy me.Suldog – I didn’t even get the bunny!!!

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