Rambling on God: Evidence?
Since I am a philosopher, people often ask me what I think about God. Also, religious friends are inclined to ask me what I think. Although I can present the views of various philosophers on the subject and have given the matter considerable thought, I have come to realize that my ideas of God are actually rather limited and underdeveloped. So, under the pressure of such questions and my inability to provide a proper answer, I’ve decided to ramble a bit about God.
The most common question I get about God is whether I believe in God or not. I always reply with a question: “what do you mean by ‘God’?” Since most folks really have no idea, they tend to have no way to answer beyond some vague stuff about God being God, all good, all powerful and so on. Of course, I must admit that all I have about God is that vague stuff. I, like Pascal, suspect that is about as good as it gets when it comes to God.
When thinking about this and the fact that so many folks believe in something they really have no idea about, I got to wondering about what sort of basis there could be to believe. Obviously, it is easy to explain why many folks believe: they were brought up that way and so on with the usual psychological and sociological answers. But, my interest is in laying aside what I have been told and seeing if I can find any evidence for God (whatever He is).
Naturally, people tell me that the bible will show evidence of God. But, the bible is just a book written by men. When I read it, I see no signs of a special avenue of certainty. After all, it does not glow with truth. It does not contain irrefutable arguments establishing God’s existence beyond all reasonable doubt.It contains nothing that the folks at the time did not know. To be honest, if I am going to believe on the basis of a book, it needs to contain real proof or at least do some magical glowing stuff to prove its supernatural bona fides.
As a source of proof it is biased and most of the key events in it are not properly documented in other historical sources. And, of course, there is no objective evidence remaining for the key claims: no sign of the garden of Eden, no remains of the ark, no signs of a global flood that exterminated most of mankind, no sign that the Red Sea destroyed an Egyptian army and so on. Also, even if the ark were, for example, found that would not prove that God exists.
People also point to the miracles in the bible as a sign of God’s existence. Of course, I can read about all sorts of impressive supernatural stuff in other books as well (such as the Lord of the Rings) and I have as much evidence for the biblical miracles as I do for the existence of Excalibur, vampires, and werewolves. Interesting, there are no real miracles today. True, people do talk about seeing the face of Jesus in grilled cheese sandwiches and folks do claim to be healed by miracles. However, there seems to be no objectively documented cases of miracles. As such, I have no more reason to believe in them than I have reason to lose sleep out of fear of being attacked by werewolves.
Looking at my own experiences, I have had no encounter with the supernatural or the divine, or so it seems. True, the existence of the world and its seeming design does provide a nice foundation for an argument from design for God, but this hardly points towards the sort of God most folks talk about in church. Of course, perhaps I am somewhat jaded by video games and role playing games. In these games, the fictional gods are active and grant significant powers. For example, my paladin in D&D can call on the power of goodness to smite evil creatures, to heal the sick and destroy the undead. In real life, priests are just dudes who have no powers at all. As such, there seems to be no evidence of a supernatural being that was said to answer prayers and grant powers to work miracles. Or maybe He just did that stuff back in the day, before the notion of objective record keeping and scientific investigation really got rolling. To be rather flippant, it is hard to believe that there is a miracle providing supernatural being when even the Pope can’t do so much as heal a paper cut.
At best, the world points towards a largely indifferent creator who set things up, got the planets rolling and then took an extended vacation. He doesn’t seem very concerned about our individual well being or happiness, since evil and misery strike the just and unjust alike. So, if there is a God, then He seems to be the God envisioned by the Deists.
Having rambled all that, I do believe in an objective moral order. So perhaps that points towards God. Of course, it need not. After all, Plato argued for the existence of the Good without accepting the existence of God. But, this will be the subject for another rambling on God.