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Note: what I have written in each Appendix is my own opinion, and not an attempt to represent Church dogma or doctrine.

Catholic Apologetics


Evidence God Exists


 

What proof is required to convince anyone that God exists?

If someone appeared before you and told you he was God, what response would you make? Would you doubt the existence of God altogether? Would you have some pre-conceived expectation of what God looked like, sounded like, smelled like, felt like? If the person before you didn't meet those expectations, would you doubt? What if he did meet your expectations, would you still doubt?

Some of us would consider his proposition to be so remote as to not deserve a response, and we would turn away seeking something else to occupy our attention. Others might be so desparate to find God, we would be open to the power of almost any suggestion. I suspect the vast majority of us would be willing to entertain the thought he could be God, given more proof.

Suppose, then, this man before us waved his hand, and day turned into night. Then he pointed at us and motioned up, only to have us float in the air wherever he pointed. He then made me look like you and you like me. Then he verbalized many things that were never before spoken and kept only in your mind. Finally, without doing any outward sign, all things returned to as they were before. Wow! Are you convinced? Are you ready to accept him as God?

I don't know about you, but for me there would still be some lingering doubt. This man may actually be God, but he may also be a demon of some kind, or a hypnotist, or magician, or something I know nothing about, but not God. I would still want more proof. And yet, what proof would satisfy me? Everything this man does, I could imagine was the result of demonic power, or hypnotism, or magic, or whatever. No matter how much I wanted to believe him, it would take something more to cross the line and believe he really was God.

There is the key. It would take belief; it would take some degree of faith. You could take me right up to the precipice of proof, but I would need faith to make the leap across. Once I make that leap, I can look back with complete understanding and conviction. In our limited understanding, there is no proof God exists or doesn't exist. We can be taken only so far, then faith is required to go any further. If we fight faith, we never get there.

If the viewer lacks faith, he can argue away the obvious, much like after jumping off a building, he could deny he will ever contact the ground. Nothing will convince him until it is too late. If he is predisposed to not believe, he will not believe. The question we must ask him, then, is "are you ready to accept the possibility God does exist?" If he is ready to accept the possibility, then he is ready to consider the proof below.

I leave the gift of faith to the Holy Trinity. I offer the following to help take the unbeliever to the precipice.

Efficient Causality

How do things exist? Take the example of a tree you can see outside your window (use your imagination if there is no tree or no window for you). Why does it exist? Looking at it simply, we could say it started as a seed and grew into a tree. But then we might wonder why the seed existed. The seed came from another, older tree. But, why did that tree exist? It came from an even older seed, which came from an older tree, which came from a seed that was older yet. Taking this to its logical extension back in time, there had to be a 'first' seed that grew the first tree.

But, where did that seed come from?

Nothing can change on its own. Something else must cause the change. Proximity to water, nutrients, sunlight will support the growth of the seed, but not cause it to grow. Something, other than itself, must cause it to change. Science calls this concept "Cause and Effect". For every effect (such as the growth of a seed), there must be a cause.

Some things may actually cause other things to exist. Sound exists because something caused air molecules to vibrate. Without the cause, there is no sound. I press my finger on a piano key, which causes a 'hammer' to hit a string, which causes the string to vibrate, which causes the air around it to vibrate, and sure enough, sound eminates. You and I exist because our parents cooperated biologically. Without that cause, neither of us would be here debating the existence of God.

Sound cannot cause itself. Something must cause it to be. Likewise, we cannot come into existence under our own devices. Something must cause us to exist. It is a basic corollary of science that for every effect, there must be a cause. Effects do not generate themselves, a cause is required for every effect.

Therefore everything that exists had something that caused it to exist. But, if that is true, and we go backwards in our time analogy, there had to be something that started it all, without a cause of its own, something that caused the first effect to happen. We call this uncaused cause "God".

Just a minute. My head is spinning. What was concluded here? Stated in another way, for every effect there must be a cause. If there is an uncaused cause (God), then He started the ball rolling by introducing the first cause. The first effect followed, and every subsequent cause and effect sprung from this. If there is no uncaused cause (God), then nothing caused the first cause, therefore the first effect never happened, and none of us exist (as well as the tree outside your window). Since we exist (I think, therefore I am), there must be an uncaused cause, which we call "God".

Hold on, you say. What if something (like all matter) existed for all eternity--had no beginning, but always was. Then there could be an infinite number of cause/effect relationships going back in time, thus eliminating the need for a first one. It's kind of like travelling in a circle for all time. Causes and Effects eventually just repeat themselves forever.

This belies the nature of cause and effect. In order for something to cause, it must exist. In order for it to exist, something else must cause it. It cannot exist and not exist simultaneously. To state the circular theory above in simple terms, A causes B, B causes C, C causes A. This is scientifically impossible. Once things exist, the circular theory works to continue existence, but not to create it.

Entropy

The Second Law of Thermodynamics introduces the concept of Entropy. Basically stated, left to their own devices, things will tend to go from a state of order to one of disorder (physicists among you, forgive my simplicity). A way to test this would be to go into the deep recesses of space, where no external forces (like gravity) could effect the test results, and release 27 basketballs. The question is: will the 27 basketballs come together to form a perfect cube?

Entropy says no. With no external forces acting on them, the basketballs will not come together to form a cube. In fact, if the balls started as a cube, they would likely separate into some random collection. In order for the basketballs to come together at all requires outside forces.

To make it worse, most outside forces also work towards disorder. When a perfect cube exists on Earth, forces work to tear it down, erode it, corrode it, weather it into something with less order--like a pile of dust. When random outside forces work on the same pile of dust, it is never turned back into a perfect cube. It's not even turned into an imperfect cube.

With the default state of science being that of disorder, how can there be so much order everywhere? Everything you see is an example of order to the greatest degree--from the smallest one-cell organism to the most complex weather patterns that work in perfect unison to keep everything in balance. It is staggering the amount of order all around us.

So, how can that be? Something has to counter the natural state of things. Something has to create and direct the forces that work to create order despite the tendency for disorder. We call that something God.

What if our initial premise is incorrect? What if the natural state is one of order? One could argue proof of that is apparent in the overwhelming amount of order. Nature creates order and creates disorder, but the default state is that of order. Order must be the natural state, otherwise there would be no order.

This requires a rethinking of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The non-scientists among us say it is possible science got it wrong on this one. Which lends one to believe you can't trust science when determining the existence of God. There are a substantial number of God-skeptics that follow this line of thinking. Look closely at the reason given for the natural state being that of order. The logic behind it boils down to claiming that since there is order, it must be the natural state, regardless of its opposition to any law of nature.

Intelligent Design

Just as it is staggering to observe the amount of order in the universe, it is even more staggering to witness how perfectly everything exists.

Let's start with something simple--the Earth. The size of the Earth is perfect for sustaining life. Any larger, and gravity would be too difficult to overcome; and the atmosphere would not contain life-sustaining gases; and weather patterns would be too severe. Any smaller, and there might be no atmosphere at all. Earth is the perfect distance from the Sun. Further away and we would freeze. Closer and we would fry. The Earth is tilted on its axis just the right amount to provide the changing seasons. Earth spins on its axis just enough to collect the right amount of the Sun's energy each day and cause the prevailing air currents. There is a lot of little perfections that go into making the Earth the perfect place to sustain life.

How about the human body? Look at all the things that go together to make a human being. The heart, lungs, stomach, liver, intestines, muscles, brain and every other component all work in perfect unison to support each other and support life. And look at how complex each organ is, like the eye for instance. Look at everything that goes into making an eye. And to provide us with depth perception, we have two of them.

We can study almost anything we can see, touch, smell, taste or hear and discover the tremendous intricacy in what makes it and how it relates to everything else. It is almost more than the human brain can comprehend. Either all this was the product of some intelligent design, or it all happened by chance.

Non-believers will steadfastly point to the latter. Matter existed for all time floating about in space and possibly after a nearly infinite period of time, produced the universe in all its complexity and order. The odds of this happening are so small as to make it virtually impossible, and yet there is a possibility, no matter how small, that it did happen that way, so atheists cling to that bastion of reasoning.

From a common sense standpoint, the intelligent design theory is much more plausible. It is much easier to comprehend that something put all this together. If something existed for all time, it is God. God's intelligent design is behind the complexity and perfection.

But, you might say, what about evolution? How about Darwin's Origin of the Species? Darwin's theory points only to how a given species may have descended from another species and how natural selection preserves it where others become extinct. His theory can not account for the omnipresent order and intelligibility of existence. Indeed, his theory requires order to already exist in its ubiquitous form. Evolution and natural selection further enhance the intelligent design concept.

With the evidence overwhelmingly in favor of intelligent design, it is the burden of the atheist to prove it all happened by chance.

Good and Evil

Why is there good and evil?

It appears to exist only with people. Even the most complex animals have a natural reason for everything they do. They feed themselves, rest, procreate, care for their young and try to survive from one day to the next. Animals don't kill for sport--they kill to eat, or protect their young, and no more than is necessary. Animals don't act on love, they act on instinct. Animals are not guided by morals, they are guided by survival. Some animals, even within the same species, appear to be "meaner" than others, but viewing animal behavior in human terms is not always as it seems. Even if there is a measurable degree of good and evil in animals, it is of no comparison to that found in people.

So, how do we scientifically explain good and evil? What combination of chemicals and bioelectric signals produces a "good" response in a person? It would be cool if you could hook a person up to a machine, push a button, and make them "good". I'm not denying the possibility that could be done, I just don't see it from my 21st Century American perspective.

Good and evil are attitudes unexplainable by science. Given all the molecules that make up the human brain, even given the exact sequence of connections and chemical dependencies necessary for life of the brain, science cannot explain how the brain can produce an attitude.

Good and evil are the very essence of the images of God and Satan. If good and evil existed prior to man, it makes sense that God would infuse man with the knowledge of good and evil and allow man to choose. This infusion we call "Natural Law". God wrote His laws of good and evil into the nature of every man. Thus, there is a propensity to do good. Man has to deny his God-given nature to do evil. (So, is refusing to believe in God an evil act?)

If there is no God, each man would do by instinct what is best for himself. There would be no love of another, no compulsion to do good deeds for another, no sacrifical choices of any kind, let alone the ultimate sacrifice. All these things occur in abundance. This can only be if something is predisposing man's attitudes. God is the answer.

Life and Death

All bodily organs and bodily functions work in perfect harmony to sustain a living being. But what gives that being life? And when life is taken away, why does the being cease to function as a being?

When we die, something signals every aspect of life to stop. The heart stops beating, lungs stop breathing, cells stop reproducing. And, it is almost immediate. Similarly, when a sperm fertilizes an egg, something signals every aspect of life to start. A living human being is not just a collection of molecules; there is also a spirit of life.

There is no scientific explanation for this spirit of life--it just is. It exists in all things organic, and it does not exist in anything inorganic. You can put a collection of molecules together that form a perfect person, yet without the spirit of life, it is just a collection of molecules.

Death is equally puzzling. What happens to the spirit of life when the being dies? What turns it off? If a person dies, in that very instant of death, the spirit of life leaves. If the body is put on perfect life support, wherein the brain would be able to tell the rest of the body what to do to keep alive, the body would go on living, but without the spirit of life, it would just lie there. It would not communicate, or go bowling or speculate on the silliness of reality TV.

If the dead body is resuscitated, the spirit of life returns. But there is no scientific reason for this. Blood flowing through the brain does not of itself kick-start the spirit of life, otherwise no one would be in a coma. There is something else controlling when a being is given the spirit of life and when it is taken away. That something else we call God.

Bet Your Afterlife

Let's make a wager. Let's bet our eternal souls on whether or not we have a soul and if God exists. We can wager that we have no soul, and God does not exist, and when we die we simply cease to exist in any fashion. Alternatively, we can wager that we do have a soul, and God does exist, and when we die we go to Heaven or Hell for all ETERNITY.

If you wager that you have no soul and God does not exist, and you are right, what do you gain? For the few short years you live on this planet you have the comfort that you were not fooled like the majority of other people. You can avoid tithing and moral theology and live a devilish life, then you cease to exist. If you are wrong in your wager, you spend an ETERNITY in torment. What little torment you might attain from tithing for a lifetime is nothing compared to the degree of torment you will endure FOREVER.

If you wager that you have a soul and God does exist, and you are right, what do you gain? You spend an ETERNITY in Heavenly bliss. There is no happy place on Earth that can compare with the most destitute corner of Heaven. If you are wrong on your wager, you lose nothing. Why is this? When you believe there is a God, tithing and doing good deeds is not a burden, it is a pleasure. You have no desire to live a devilish life. You are much happier in the short life you have here on Earth than the guy who suffers from unyielding attraction to worldly goods. If you die and cease to exist, you lose nothing since you don't exist anyway. It is win-win regardless.

So, if you wager for God, you are happier during your life on Earth and you are happier in the after-life. If you wager against God, you suffer more during your life on Earth and you stand to suffer immeasurably in the after-life. What a simple wager. On one side, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain, and on the other side you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. This is a no-brainer.

Let's Invent God

Suppose for a moment there is no God. Everything that exists now came together by mere chance. There is no afterlife. There is nothing other than nature and instinct to guide our every thought. No human being has yet considered the concept of a God. The laws of physics are the only consistent truth you know.

Now suppose in your self-centered existence, you stood something to gain by tricking all of humanity into believing there is a God. It doesn't matter what you stand to gain, just suppose it is enough to get you to give it serious thought.

What God would you invent? What qualities and characteristics would you give your God? What powers and skills would he/she have?

Have some fun with this. Spend about a half hour and come up with a list of things that describe your God. Keep in mind, you have to convince a significant number of other people that your made-up God is true, so there has to be some degree of believability to what you tell them.

Go ahead. I'll wait. Come back when you are done.

. . .

. . .

Finished? Chances are good you did not invent the God we now profess. No matter how many atheists you ask, none of them will concoct anything like God is perceived today. That is because no atheist would ever want a god like God. God demands mercy, love, servility, obedience. God shows no favortism. God is perfectly just. God honors chastity and monogamy and a culture of life, not fornication and bigamy and abortion/euthanasia. God is not politically-correct. God seeks worship every Sunday. God is Heavenly-oriented, not Earthly-oriented; He grants Heavenly rewards over Earthly rewards. God will humble Himself to the point of becoming one of us to die for our sins. God will offer us eternal bliss, but give us the freedom to choose.

Chances are you did invent a god that is strikingly similar to many of the other gods invented over the millenia. Men who were ignorant wanted a god to explain what they couldn't understand. Men who knew God already wanted a different god, one that allowed them to live the life they wanted. These men invented other gods in the way they wanted them to be much in the same way you invented your God.

The concept of the one, true God existed, unchanging, since the time of Adam and Eve. Many didn't like God, thus they invented gods with other characteristics, but God didn't change. He was always as He is. If the concept of God lasted all this time, long after other gods came and went, and despite the fact that no one would invent a god like God, what does that say about the existence of God? Why would God continue to exist when His characteristics are so unwanted? Who would have invented Him in the first place--Adam?

Atheists may point to the fact that Christians can't agree on the characteristics of God. This is an unfortunate truth. Every Christian faith in existence today, and there are thousands of them, perceives at least one aspect of God to be slightly different from every other Christian faith. That doesn't deny that God is unchanging; it suggests that several thousand of the faiths are incorrect in their concept of the whole truth.

Suppose You Were God

Let's look at this from another perspective. Although He is infinite and we are finite, although He is all knowing, and we know little, we can look at His actions in terms we can understand. Let's suppose you are God.

You, God, are all alone in existence. There is no matter, no space, no time, no others in existence--only you. You are all powerful, so you know you can create companions. What kind of companions would You create? What kind of existence would You have for them?

You could create highly intelligent beings who love and respect you and each other. But, for You and them it is a shallow love and respect. You made them such, so they only repeat the existence You want them to live. What if you gave them free will?

If they had free will, they could choose whether or not to love and respect You and each other. That is a more rewarding existence for all. But, there are drawbacks.

If they have true free will, You must allow them to choose. No matter how much You know what is in their best interest, You cannot interfere without destroying the free will. They don't have to exist with You in Your paradise, they can choose otherwise. You must give them an opportunity to decide, then they must accept the consequences of their decisions. You could give them life on Earth, and interact with each other, and teach them The Way, then let them live their lives in one, big, unending test. They must make their decision at some point, so You create death to be that point. They have all there is in the world with only a promise of all there is in Heaven, and they have to choose.

While existing here on Earth, they must suffer the consequences of their earthly choices, and the consequences of their choices may affect others as well. If one chooses to kill another, the victim may be innocent, but will suffer the consequences of the killer's decision. If a nation's leaders choose to push You away (as God), all citizens must suffer the consequences of their actions. If one chooses to lie or cheat or steal or bear false witness, there must be consequences for them, otherwise there would be no choices.

After their test is over on Earth, You can judge them and accept those who chose You to live with You for Eternity. Now You have companions who have true free will and freely choose You. Those who did not choose You can live without You. That works.

Isn't that how it is?

Parting Comment

As was stated at the top of this page, there is no definitive proof God exists or does not exist. All one can do is try to have an open mind, make the arguments, and leave it up to the Holy Spirit, if there is one, to carry the unbeliever the rest of the way.

We saw arguments of efficient causality, entropy, intelligent design, good and evil, life and death. With each additional argument, it becomes more likely God does exist, and harder to argue He doesn't. I will bet my soul He does exist.


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