Even though I have 42 arguments for the existence of God (42 = answer to God the universe and everything) I feel that making God arguments is beneficial but not necessary. Atheists often react with chagrin when told this. But the fact is I don't ever claim to "prove the existence of God." I really do believe that God is beyond our understanding and thus, would be unnameable to objective proof. This flys in the face of the way most atheists see things. Most atheist tend to orbit around the concept of objective proof, empirical science, absolute demonstration and on. In fct most atheists use a warfare model of discussion.They don't discuss beliefs, they "attack arguments." It's all about proving and that means conquering the enemy.
I want to side step that entire attitude. God is beyond our understanding, but not beyond are experience. We can't prove objectively that God exists, this is far form meaning that it's not worth it to believe or that belief is irrational or makes you stupid if you believe. There are many beliefs atheists take for granted that can't be proved, but that doesn't even give the pause since these are essential to getting by in the world: like the concept of other minds, or the idea that the sun will come up tomorrow. That we are not brains in vats. Atheists scoff at this stuff all the time, but they rarely stop to consider what it means. It means your mockery of it due to the fact that you take it for granted. You don't have any scientific evidence that proves you exist, or that other minds exist, or that the future will be like the past and so on. all of that is obtained through the very means that people of faith use to belief. You mock their beliefs and take your own for granted. That's because that warfare model of argumentation doesn't allow for a searing self examination.
The basic model would be not to argue for the existence of God, but to realize that God is reality. It's a matter of opening your eyes to see something that is already there, that you know it there you just never bothered to understand it before.It's just that, open your eyes and realize God is there. How is this done? By expanding the categories of knowledge so that they now include the relevant information necessary to see things in a new way. Here are the categories required:
the transcendental signifier
(and with it deconstruction and postmodernism)
these things are not augments. They the basis out of which arguments might be made, but more importantly, they are fields of thought which include both logic and data the apprehension of which will help one understand why people believe in God. Once understanding that one will see the reality of God is plain. God's reality has been masked by Western thought since philosophy and modern science has segmented our understanding, breaking up epistemology from metaphysics and ontology, make seperate categories so we can't connect globally to different categories of knowledge that make it possible to see connections.
I am not saying that if you read all this stuff you will agree with me. But to understand why belief with being able to prove it "objectively" is not irrational you have to expand your understanding of what knowledge is and what it means to have beliefs.
Belief in God is not merely adding a fact to the universe. Yesterday I did not know there is a God now I know there is one. So the universe yesterday had swizzle sticks and pop corn and tooth brushes and combs, and today it has those things and God. This is not what belief in God is. It is not just adding a fact to the universe. It's understanding the nature of being in such a way that we see the holy aspect of being.
Paul Tillich said "if you know that being has depth you cannot be an atheist." What does this mean? That's what reading this stuff is about.If you expand your knowledge categories and broader your understanding then you see that being is more than just a fact of existence, you come to realize God is reality; The ground of Being.
Please read that link there, several pages to get the idea of what I mean by saying that God is the ground of being. When you realize the nature of being you can't help but understand that God has to be. Now to explain about these knowledge categories.
this is an approach to ontology (the study of being) through which one allows the sense data to suggest it's own categories.It was pioneered by Brintano in the late nineteenth century but is best known for its two major thinkers: Hulleral and Heidegger. Science, and all forms of metaphysics (in Heidegger's sense of the term) sense data is pre screened into pre selected categories. This is what the atheist is doing when he says "I want objective evidence." Hes saying I have already decide what evidence I will accept and what I want accept. Any evidence that doesn't tally with his pre set ideology is automatically discounted. What one needs to do is allow the experiences of the divine, or so we don't beg question, experiences which some might take to be the divine--the sense of the numinous to suggest their own categories.
Philosophy made famous by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. But it has a strong Christian wing the van Guard of which was led by Kierkegaard, and brought up in its main body by Gabriel Marcel. Existentialism starts from the premiise of the individual's own understanding of the authenticity of his existence and it's meaning in the universe.
The idea that any idea that can or must be put into language is a cultural construct, that is an idea constructed by previously constructed meaning in society. These ideas are found in all language because all language is an artifact of culture. So everything we can rationally talk about is a cultural construct.
this means that science is not absolute knowledge, It' not objective, objectivity is impossible. Science is just another culturally bound language game.
this comes much closer to real truth anything in science. but of course it depends upon pre selected premises. Yet is essential for understanding concepts about God.
the transcendental signifier
(and with it deconstruction and postmodernism)
The "TS" as I will call it is essentially God. That is to say God functions in the economy of a religious tradition as a Transcendental signifier. This is a very complex idea and requires a lot of real close reading. I have two blog spots in which I explained it pretty good.
Here's the "argument" (except now it's not an argument but it's why the TS is a connection Between the TS and God.
these are background to understand the idea of the Transcendental Signifier.
Derridian Background of the TS
TS part 2
Finally, you need to know about the vast body of scientist work surrounding mystical experiences. When all of this comes together you realize there's really point to deny the reality of God. the nature of the universe takes shape around God and you realize that concept is the center.
And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not.
Soren Kierkegaard, “The Sickness Unto Death”
The atheists have been totally incensed on this. Christians have expressed that it is a very good post that really says a lot of things they have felt they wanted to say but could not put it into words, atheist have gone ape shit over it. It's made them seethingly angry. Now in the hell can anyone be angry and misunderstand the simple idea that "I find something about the nature of existence that makes it more than just mundane, but meaningful and special." Why is that such a threat? They also have formulated many misconceptions about what I was saying:
(1) That belief makes you feel good so it's justified in and of itself.
(2) God is proven becasue I believe in him
(3) That I'm saying that we can believe things for no reason.
There are many more but this is all the gist of it, its quite stupid. I wanted a way to shut them up form their little juvenile game of saying "there's no proof for your God" so they can goad Christians into making God arguments. Then of course they will laugh and deride all those arguments. They wont listen to the evidence, they wont understand what's being said.
Mostly I was just attacked by illiterate vermin who can't think and whose only response to thought is lynch mob mentality.
Even though some Christians seem to think this post said something, I have expressed similar things before, maybe this was one of them:
Once again I am driven to examine my hobby of making God arguments. No atheist will ever admit that they prove anything. Actually that's not quite true. There have been a couple of people on message boards, although they may not have called themselves "atheists" who came to admit that my argument proved to them that there must be a God. While these two are rare, if they were willing to do that, there must be more who are toying with the idea. The problem is, God arguments really don't prove God's existence in the way that full blooded empiricists would like to have proven. We will prove the existence of bigfoot before we prove God that way. That's because God is not a "thing" in creation. God is not another item alongside light posts and swizzel sticks; God is the framework of reality, god is off scale for any sort of measurement. This would be like trying to prove the universal constant with a speedometer from a car.
God arguments are a take on reality
God arguments do something else entirely, something other than "proving" the existence of God in an absolute and undeniable way. In fact it really contradicts my theology to try and prove God in that sense. I proposed the soteriolgocial drama theory, which says that God wants us to have to make a leap of faith. Thus it would be self defeating if the kind of proof existed whereby God could be proven in such a way that it would be undeniable. God arguments offer rational warrant to believe. That means only that it is not irrational to believe in God. While this can be parled into a strong sense indicating a good probability, it is not the kind of undeniable proof the atheists are seeking. Atheists really want to be forced. They want to be dragged kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God in such a way that they are overwhelmed and forced to give up and admit God is real. Of course this will never happen because it's not what God wants.
God doesn't refuse this level of proof to be mean, or to test people, or to play games. it's a simple necessity. If that level of credulity was met and atheists were forced to admit there msut be a God, even though I don't like it, they would not like it. They would resent it. God wants free moral agetns who willingly choose the good. That means they cant' dragged into it agaisnt the their will. The only way to get that is to search. Only those who have searched out the truth in their hearts, wrestled with dobut and come to make the leap of faith, can internaltize the values and seek the good because they want the good.
Belief in God is much more than just a factual question about the existence of a particular item in the universe. Belief in God is more than just a proposition to be weighed according to evidence. Belief in God is a value, an orientation toward Being. Religion is the identification of the human problematic, and the resolution of that problematic through the mediation of an ultimate transformative experience. God is that aspect of Being which forces us to face the problematic of being human and to seek ultimate transformative experience. God is that ultimate transformative power. God is the object of our ultimate concerns which we sense in our apprehension of the numinous. Thus God arguments can't possibly provide the kind of empirical evidence most skeptics seek but neither is it fair of them to expect it. That's why God arguments are ways of forcing us to evaluate and come to understand the nature of Being and our relation to the ultimate.
The only real proofs of God are those we each find in our hearts when we seek out the nature of our lives in relation to their goals and ends, and their ultimate ends. Those are not the kinds of ideas that can be subjected to objective sorts of proof. They are phenomenological apprehensions. They are existential. God arguments are existential clearifiers. They enable us to understand our own relation to the ultimate. When we make a God argument we are saying something about the rational nature of being, the meaning of what it is to be. We are making judgments about reality as a whole when we talk about reasons to believe in God. Thus, it's not a matter of proving some argument per se, it' snot a matter of demonstrating some fact, the impossibility of naturalistic cosmology, or the need for targets in anthropic fine tuning, but an understanding of reality that superceeds any particular fact or demonstrable bit of information.
I've written many times in this blog about the nature of God arguments and the need for a phenomenologicla approach. This view point must be maintanied by a stark realism about the lmiiations of empiricial science and the socially constructed nature of a materialist outlook.If beilef in God is the expression of a value about the meaningful nature of rationality in being, then the expression of lack of God belief, and it's justification thorugh empirical science must be a cyncial statement about the limiations of our ability to come to terms rationally with our own being.
God is not subject to Empirical Proof
Atheists demand proof of God as though God were some fact in nature. God is not a thing along side other things in creation. It is not strange that we can't prove God with some empirical fact because God is not given to empirical study. As I said in another post:
"There are somethings we can say about God that make sense relative to our understanding of things. God is the foundation of all that is, so we know that God can't be compared to anything else. God is off scale for all attributes because God is the scale. Trying to measure and compare God to anything would be like trying to compare our single sun to the big bang. Even that is not apt because the BB was finite."
Traces of God
People don't come to belief in God because of arguments, and we shouldn't expect them to.
Humanity finds God in a million different places. It finds God in flowers and trees, in brooks (and in books), in grass, in each other. It finds God in storms and scary things, and in the night. It finds God in the sky and the stars in the darkness of a vast and endless expanse. It reaches out for what is there because it has been put into it to do so; not because God sat and said "I will make men and men will seek me" but because God provided for the reality of the Imago Dei to evolve and develop in whatever species reached the point where humanity has come to. God did this automatically as an aspect of self expression, as an outgrowth of consciousness. This kind of God would make a universe of the type we see around us. This type of God would also place in that universe hints so that whatever species reaches that level that God's manifestation would be waiting to show them God's solidarity with them. God would plant a thousand clues, not as a matter of deliberation like one plants Easter eggs, but as the result of being what God is--self communicating and creative. Thus we have design arguments and fine tuning arguments, and contingencies and necessities and the lot. We can find the God Pod in our heads that lights up when it hears God ideas. We can do studies and determine that our religious experiences are better for us than unbelief, because the clues are endless because the universe bears the marks of its creator.
Yet these marks are sublet for a reason. This is where the Evangelical view of God can also be a sophisticated view. The Evangelical God can also be the God of Tallish and the God of process, after all, these are all derived from the same tradition and the Evangelicals have as much right to escape anthropomorphism as anyone. The Evangelical God seeks a moral universe. This God wants believers who have internalized the values of the good. We do not internalize that which we are forced to acknowledge. Thus God knows that a search in the heart is better to internalizing values than is a rational formally logical argument, or a scientific proof. Thus we have a soteriological drama in which we can't tell if there is or is not a God just by looking at the nature of nature. That must remain neutral and must avoid us because it is not given to us to have direct and absolute knowledge of God. Knowledge of God is a privilege. We must seek it through the heart, that's where it isthmian to be found. It's a privilege but faith is a gift.
Thus we should be speaking of the technology by which we can find God. Here I use the term "technology" in the Foucaultian sense, not as a machine or hardware, but as the manipulation of a technique. My God argument work as a God finding technology, but one must know how to apply them. You can't expect an empirical demonstration. We must find the co-determinate and demonstrate the correlation between co-determinate and divine. How do we know when we find it? The Co-determinate will that thing which leads us to God.
God is accessible to all. We can each find God at an any time. What guarantee do we have that we have found God? Our lives will change. Atheist will baulck because it's not empirical proof. and it is not. But it is close enough that it leaves us into a transformation. The proof is in the pudding. We know we have found it when we find it, becasue we turn on to it, our lives change, God becomes a reality to us. The that makes God a reality to us is the co-determinate. All questions about "how do you know that's really what it is" don't amount to anything, they are not negations of the experience of transformation.
God finder Technology: Co Determinate
Co-determinate: The co-determinate is like the Derridian trace, or like a fingerprint. It's the accompanying sign that is always found with the thing itself. In other words, like trailing the invisible man in the snow. You can't see the invisible man, but you can see his footprints, and wherever he is in the snow his prints will always follow.
We cannot produce direct observation of God, but we can find the "trace" or the co-determinate, the effects of God in the world.
The only question at that point is "How do we know this is the effect, or the accompanying sign of the divine? But that should be answer in the argument below. Here let us set out some general parameters:
(1) The trace produced content with specifically religious affects
(2)The affects led one to a renewed sense of divine reality, are transformative of life goals and self actualization
(3) Cannot be accounted for by alternate causality or other means.
(1)There are real affects from Mytical experince.
(2)These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena.
(3)Since the affects of Mystical consciousness are independent of other explanations we should assume that they are genuine.
(4)Since mystical experience is usually experience of something, the Holy, the sacred some sort of greater transcendent reality we should assume that the object is real since the affects or real, or that the affects are the result of some real higher reality.
(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transfomrative power of the affects.
so rather than arguing about "Proofs" we should be discussing how to seek God in your heart.