How can we know there is a God?

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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby selderane » Sun Sep 14, 2014 7:36 am

So, why do I believe?

There are a few different reasons, and I can't really tell you when they coalesced, but I can tell you where they are today.

First, let me say that I value reason and intellect as much as anyone here. I've only said, "Because the Bible says so," when talking with other believers (and that's only when there's no better answer), and never in a million years would I expect that statement to carry weight with a non-believer. Furthermore, the Bible says what it says for a reason, one we can usually deduce (contrary to popular belief, Yahweh typically wants us to know why things are the way they are), so to even end a discussion with a fellow believer on, "Because the Bible says so," is deeply unsatisfying to me.

It's precisely because I value reason, intellect, and what is observable, that I find it inconceivable that one can look at our world, at the universe, and not see design and purpose. The vortexes that twist the galaxies across the vastness of the cosmos find kin in the twisting of our DNA. The finely tuned mechanism that is the universe demands that we look for a creator. We do not expect an earthquake to alphabetize a library, but we insist the greatest explosion of energy the universe has ever, and will ever see, arranged atoms into matter, matter came together to form stars, stars took hold of rocks to form planets, planets took hold of gasses to form atmospheres, atmospheres condensed to form into vapor, vapor condensed to become rain, and rain wet the face of a world to create life.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not more ordered cities when we threw a fraction of this power at them.

A billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion times this chain of events could have gone wrong, should have gone wrong, but didn't. And at it's apex? Man. The only creature in the universe capable of looking up and seeing the design, seeing the purpose, and gasp at the wonder of it all because it was made for us. Who else could it have been made for if not the only being gifted with the ability to perceive and appreciate it?

Some people say religion closes the minds of men. I'm sorry but I must respectfully say it is the atheist who lives in a world gone dark. They see only the watch. Theists see the hand which wrought it and presented it to us as a precious gift.

It is therefore only just we show our gratitude and follow the user instructions.

Second, I agree with Voltaire when he observed that if God did not exist it would be incumbent upon us to invent Him. Morality separated from the divine is (to borrow from Benjamin Franklin) two wolves agreeing it is just to eat the lamb. No one argues that a moral law of some sort doesn't exist, we all feel it in our bones that it does. We feel righteous indignation when we perceive we've been wronged. Or when a wrong is visited upon another. But it's the particulars that we disagree with. Additionally, what that wrong is, or who can be wronged, changed with the times.

It wasn't long ago a signification portion of America believed there was no moral quandary to be had with one man owning another. If we even granted that said man was indeed a man, we even concocted reasonable-sounding excuses to brush away any lingering objections. "They find true happiness in the work," some might say.

But to others they were less than even that, mere property, and less valuable than heads of cattle.

An adult man taking a young boy as a lover wasn't obscene. It was part of becoming a man.

And what god was invoked to justify Germany moving to take Europe? Or Mao to decimate his one people? Or America entering into Vietnam? I am reminded time and again how religion fuels war, but when I look at the wars across history I find few truly waged for the glory of a god.

Zeus may have brought the victory, but it was a general who got the statue.

Should all the gods die it is foolish to believe war goes with them.

What does this have to do with morality? Everything. We see throughout history that moral codes change a little less quickly than the fashions. But just a little. Morality becomes shaped by philosophies, politics, even climate. As these conditions change so do moral codes. We, for example, look back upon the Victorian age as rigid and oppressive and snicker. Most people end the observation there, satisfied that their moral code is far more enlightened.

But is that the correct lesson to draw? Why was the Victorian period as rigid as it was? We find the answer if we look a little further back and observe the libertine attitudes that preceded it. The people of Victorian England were quite convinced that things got a little out of hand and now they were living in a more enlightened age.

They saw themselves not as oppressed. But progressive!

Untethered from a divine anchor, unmolested by the shifting passions of men, moral law cannot exist because what men wish to be right and moral shifts with concerns, fears, and passions of the day. Moral law, if it is to be meaningful, must exist beyond the opinions of those it is meant to guide. If it is not, well then, you tell me who wins the football game when the referees are competing against the players?

Moral law must be beyond all men if it is to be of use to men. Untouchable. Absolute. Hewn from stone.

And for that to truly be possible we must, to get back to Voltaire, invent God if He didn't already exist.

TL;DR Points 1 & 2: I cannot look at the precision of creation and be intellectually honest and conclude there was no guiding hand. Moral law must be untouchable by men and if a divine creator doesn't exist then any code men create is merely the opinion of the age, destined to change in the next generation.

So, that's my intellectual argument for theism in a tiny, slightly cracked, nutshell. Everything I've summarized above keeps me grounded when my heart is raging.

Because there was a time I was very, very angry and came close to calling myself an atheist. But those two points above, things I knew to be absolutely true and factual, wouldn't let me. Not the Bible. Not the church. Not a still small voice.

My mind said my heart was full of crap.

And now things get... involved (as if they weren't already!).

I've seen evil. Real, true evil. I can't watch films like Paranormal Activity because it hits far too close to home. It's real to me. As real as the room I'm sitting, and the laptop I'm writing.

Since I was a child I've seen things. But only ever darkness. In fact it's one of the items on my list I plan on talking to Yahweh about when I meet Him. I've been threatened, mocked, held down, menaced... It seems my family has a little history with the demonic.

My mother told me a few stories. Some were benign, like a refrigerator door opening and closing on its own. Others, a little unsettling, like when my oldest sister was a little girl and told my mom there was a black dog in her bedroom talking to her. There was one time she got out of the shower and heard and woman talking to the family dog. The dog yelped in pain and when she investigated the dog was simply cowering in the corner.

I think the worst I ever had it was when a friend was visiting and we were playing Shadowrun 2nd Ed. (my first RPG). He knew that I could sense things. Indeed I walked through his his before and called out locations that felt... off. He confirmed weirdness there. Is family was fairly emotionally abusive. Pretty such his father was an alcoholic.

Real good fodder for darkness. I saw a a few things at his house, a dark figure in his bedroom once. But what really stands out to me was this one day I was over at his house and it was just us there. He had this life size T-800 cardboard standee in his bedroom off in the corner.

We went outside to muck around as high schoolers are wont to do, but I needed to run back into his room to grab something. I open the door and T-800 is standing right there to greet me. When we left it was several feet away from the door and the way it was positioned could have only been there, as close as it was to the door, if someone held the standee with one hand while closing the door with the other as they left the room.

But, like I said, there was no one else in the house.

Anyway, I meant to talk about the worst thing that happened to me. So, yeah, playing Shadowrun, sticking it to the corps, when I see a black undulating mass float into the room. I jump up and flee several feet back. My friend is a little concerned now and I tell him what I see. He doesn't see it.

I have never felt such hate in all my life and it was coming from this thing right at me. Then my friend said his arm suddenly felt cold, and it was beginning to hurt. Something had touched him.

So we ran.

My mother and I once chased a demon through our house. That was actually kinda cool. Stuff had been going on, and I let her know. Being the head of the household she had spiritual authority over the house, so she rebuked it. And it ran. We couldn't see it, but I could feel it. It made its way into the basement and I couldn't sense it. I thought it was gone. My mom said she got the distinct impression it wasn't over and that she shouldn't stop rebuking it. The moment she started back up the thing popped back onto my radar.

I didn't know they could hide!

Saw glowing yellow eyes in the darkness leading into the basement once. That was a thing.

Another night I was being tormented, voices for the most part, and was told in no uncertain terms that if I told my mom she'd be killed. So when I went to her room and saw a wavy mass in front the door I opted to go into the other room, curled up into a ball, and wept.

A short time later she called out to me very forcefully. She told me a voice told her I needed her right then and woke her.

There's more, but you get the gist. Mostly it was voices and presences. Like once I was staying at my grandparent's home, it was night, and I was walking from the kitchen to the living room and got the distinct impression I was being followed. I beat feet to the couch (where I was sleeping) and bravely spun around. Nothing was there, of course. Then something changed.

You've been in a crowded room, right? You don't really need to see people to get a sense that they're there and where they're at. It was kinda like that.

The room came alive. It felt as though I had walked into a room full of people and they were all staring at me. Except I couldn't see them. And they didn't care for me.

By this time I was pretty adept at rebuking... though I did make a panicked phone call to my aunt before doing that. The room emptied with a howl.

That was a new one to me. I had seen demons do one last little trick in protest before leaving, but howling was new.

Keep in mind I'm giving you the entertaining highlight reel. Most of the time it was terrifying presences, black figures, voices, and a lot of unmanliness on my behalf.

It went on like this well into my twenties. My wife was there for it too. Then I met a man who had answers to larger theological inconsistencies I saw in mainstream Christianity. I wept when those pieces fell into place. Later he was laying on hands and asked for people who needed deliverance to come up. I did.

Mind you this was several years after I went to the pastor of my old church and told them what was going on and I didn't want to see that stuff anymore. He kindly informed me his church didn't believe that sort of stuff happened. And off I went.

So I'm in the deliverance line and the nice man asks me what did I need deliverance from. "I see things," I replied. He didn't so much as blink (I later heard him tell a story where he had a possessed man float three feet into the air right in front of him, so my comment really wasn't impressive in the scheme of things) and put his hands on me and broke the curse.

More or less things have been quiet since then. I get things once in a great while, but before where the dial was at 11, the speaker just sorta flickers at a 1 once in awhile. And I think I know why...

Anyway, that's my tale. That's why I believe what I believe.

And maybe now you can see why I get a little intense and, admittedly, monochromatic in my posts.
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby Truthseeker » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:35 pm

Thanks for sharing that. A lot of that was cearly extremely personal, and since personal stuff is a little out of my comfort zone I'll just let you know that I read it and appreciate it and I'll leave it at that.

Regarding your more general points, the first being that the existence of a divine creator is obvious when you look at the universe. I'll leave the bigger scientific debate to someone better suited to it, but I have a couple points. You say that man is the only creature in the universe capable of standing in awe of the universe, and that's because it was created for us. Why do you think we're the only ones in the UNIVERSE? That's a big conclusion for someone to make after visiting only one of the trilions of star systems that exist. As an observer, it looks like you are filling in gaps in your knowledge with the conclusion you want to reach. This would fall under my caveat about thought process where you can't reason to the conclusion unless you've already accepted it.


Surely the wish for a cosmic source of morality is more of a reason to wish that God is real than a reason to believe that he is. When I talk to theists, sometimes I honestly cant tell whether they understand the difference.


I appreciate that you acknowledge that there is not fully rational thought process that leads one to Christianity without a leap of faith. The reason I have not taken such a leap myself is that I fail to see any merit whatsoever in faith as a means to figure out what's actually real. You can dress it up in as much poetry as you want, but faith is only a voluntary lapse in analysis.
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby selderane » Mon Sep 15, 2014 6:48 pm

Regarding your more general points, the first being that the existence of a divine creator is obvious when you look at the universe. I'll leave the bigger scientific debate to someone better suited to it, but I have a couple points. You say that man is the only creature in the universe capable of standing in awe of the universe, and that's because it was created for us. Why do you think we're the only ones in the UNIVERSE? That's a big conclusion for someone to make after visiting only one of the trilions of star systems that exist. As an observer, it looks like you are filling in gaps in your knowledge with the conclusion you want to reach. This would fall under my caveat about thought process where you can't reason to the conclusion unless you've already accepted it.
As an observer, have you observed other life in the universe? Could I not argue you too are filling the gaps in your knowledge with the conclusion you want to reach? It seems clear that you're implying that if intelligent life does exist elsewhere in the universe it would make a strong case for no divine Creator.

And since you wish there to be no Creator, you'd prefer to entertain the possibility of undiscovered life in the universe, over the observable fact we've found none, and the statistical fact that we ourselves shouldn't even exist.

Now, you may disagree on my characterization, but you have to agree it's at least as reasonable as your assertion that I may be doing the same thing, do you not?
Surely the wish for a cosmic source of morality is more of a reason to wish that God is real than a reason to believe that he is. When I talk to theists, sometimes I honestly cant tell whether they understand the difference.
It's a conclusion based upon evidence. To rephrase, if God doesn't exist, morality can't exist. So, do you believe such a thing as a moral law is real? If the answer is in the affirmative then such a thing can only be the fruits of the Divine because we see no such parallel in nature. Indeed the only law nature argues for is natural selection, an unkind way for man to treat man, I'm sure you'd agree.

That man can even conceive of such a thing as moral law argues strongly for an author of such law!

But I quoted Voltaire for a purpose that I'm not sure you've taken in. If you want to say justice and morality is real, and God isn't, you must logically invent God. But you do not. So therefore I must conclude your authority to make moral declarations derives either from yourself (a biased source, you must agree) or consensus at large (a fickle source known for wildly different values from one generation to the next).

Even if God doesn't exist it is a better world that acts like He does.
I appreciate that you acknowledge that there is not fully rational thought process that leads one to Christianity without a leap of faith. The reason I have not taken such a leap myself is that I fail to see any merit whatsoever in faith as a means to figure out what's actually real. You can dress it up in as much poetry as you want, but faith is only a voluntary lapse in analysis.
I would say it isn't merit you've found lacking, but need. Oh, the merit is certainly there but it will not be seen by someone who doesn't feel the need for it. Which is why, to use a Biblical example, nations heavily blessed by Yahweh fall away from Yahweh over time.

People find no need for Him. It's an old pattern.

But we can go back and forth about this forever, can't we? We've all revealed a bit more about ourselves in this thread and, I think, come to a deeper understanding about one another in the process. That's a good thing.

Unless you don't believe a Divine exists.

Then it's just a thing. :-P
Last edited by selderane on Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby Truthseeker » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:00 pm

I love the wit and eloquence with which you write, Selderane.

I said nothing presuming that there is definitely life in the universe besides on Earth, so I do not agree that I am filling in gaps in knowledge with my personal wishes. I don't know what's out in the great unknown.

And I don't know about moral law either. Perhaps it is something handed down from the stars. Perhaps it is something that we need to create ourselves to keep us from devouring ourselves. I agree that human made morality is subject to change, but change is not a bad thing if it's informed by the wisdom of experience. If we keep using our reason and learning, perhaps we can refine the rules we live by and find happier ways to live. But even if I am naive and morality is impossible without God, then that is relevant to the question of whether we should want a god and not relevant to the question of whether we have one. I can't stress enough how important this distinction is in order to not get lost in the darkness of wishful thinking.
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby selderane » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:38 pm

I love the wit and eloquence with which you write, Selderane.
Thank you! I am ever in awe of the majesty of the pen and I endeavor to master its deadly potential.

Especially as I desire to be compensated for the thoughts that tumble from my fingertips one day.
I said nothing presuming that there is definitely life in the universe besides on Earth, so I do not agree that I am filling in gaps in knowledge with my personal wishes. I don't know what's out in the great unknown.

And I don't know about moral law either. Perhaps it is something handed down from the stars. Perhaps it is something that we need to create ourselves to keep us from devouring ourselves. I agree that human made morality is subject to change, but change is not a bad thing if it's informed by the wisdom of experience. If we keep using our reason and learning, perhaps we can refine the rules we live by and find happier ways to live. But even if I am naive and morality is impossible without God, then that is relevant to the question of whether we should want a god and not relevant to the question of whether we have one. I can't stress enough how important this distinction is in order to not get lost in the darkness of wishful thinking.
Fair enough.
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby BallisticRapture » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:54 am

How can I know that there is a God? I have faith in what Gods word says. I search for God an I find him. I ask and it is given, I pray and he answers even if the answer is no he still answers. God speaks to me in a way that only i can understand. I strive to see him so I do. It is not easy to have faith in something you can not see but the reward far outweighs the risk. That is how i know God is real. In short its what he does for me on a daily basis that proves his existence to me. God Bless.

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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby selderane » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:58 pm

How can I know that there is a God? I have faith in what Gods word says. I search for God an I find him. I ask and it is given, I pray and he answers even if the answer is no he still answers. God speaks to me in a way that only i can understand. I strive to see him so I do. It is not easy to have faith in something you can not see but the reward far outweighs the risk. That is how i know God is real. In short its what he does for me on a daily basis that proves his existence to me. God Bless.
As a fellow brother I am pleased Yahweh is that real to you, even a little envious. But all of those experiences cannot help someone come to Him who isn't a believer already. They're real and vibrant to you, but they're just a story to anyone else. Maybe even a delusion to those disinclined to be charitable.

All of the above said, if everything you describe is true, the people around you are blessed. There is never a more convincing evidence of the hand of Yahweh to a non-believer than the peace and blessings they should see flowing out of a believer's life. Indeed it's my firm belief that no one ever came to or was pulled away from Yahweh because of an incisive argument. No, it all flows from the heart first. If your heart will not, or cannot see, your mind never will.

You come to Yahweh because your heart walked that way first. And you leave Yahweh because your heart left first.

The mind comes along later.
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby BallisticRapture » Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:51 pm

How can I know that there is a God? I have faith in what Gods word says. I search for God an I find him. I ask and it is given, I pray and he answers even if the answer is no he still answers. God speaks to me in a way that only i can understand. I strive to see him so I do. It is not easy to have faith in something you can not see but the reward far outweighs the risk. That is how i know God is real. In short its what he does for me on a daily basis that proves his existence to me. God Bless.
As a fellow brother I am pleased Yahweh is that real to you, even a little envious. But all of those experiences cannot help someone come to Him who isn't a believer already. They're real and vibrant to you, but they're just a story to anyone else. Maybe even a delusion to those disinclined to be charitable.

All of the above said, if everything you describe is true, the people around you are blessed. There is never a more convincing evidence of the hand of Yahweh to a non-believer than the peace and blessings they should see flowing out of a believer's life. Indeed it's my firm belief that no one ever came to or was pulled away from Yahweh because of an incisive argument. No, it all flows from the heart first. If your heart will not, or cannot see, your mind never will.

You come to Yahweh because your heart walked that way first. And you leave Yahweh because your heart left first.

The mind comes along later.

While it is true that what i experience can not save someone's soul( that is Jesus's job) I can plant the seeds of righteousness. Weather they accept Jesus or not that is between Jesus and that soul. But As a believer I can share my testimony and be a light to a world full of darkness. Thank you for your input It has built me up more in my Faith! God Bless

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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby selderane » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:16 am

And in reverse, I also want to be understood as well. I see how many Christians talk about Atheists. I recall how my old pastors use to refer to them as. The images are almost comically bad. Just watch "God is Not Dead" to see how much of Christianity looks at us. I'm not going to lie, I lost a lot of respect for a number of my friends, family, and acquaintances, when they were lauding the movie.
I wanted to talk about this but I forgot about it until listening to Glenn Beck talk about it just now.

I never saw God Is Not Dead. I didn't have to. I knew what kind of film it was going to be and I didn't need something like that in my life. I knew it was going to be unsympathetic to atheists. I never doubted that for an instant. It's because of this reason even Glenn Beck didn't like it. He's friends with athiests, even prominent ones, and it's not a reflection of reality.

But I understand where the movie was coming from. I understand the impulse. To cut to the quick, Christians are suffering from a sort of battered person syndrome as it relates to how they're depicted in popular media writ large. Christians, white Christians in particular, are the only social group in the West that media can bash without fear of reprisal.

So I understand the instinct for Christians to paint attack groups in unflattering lights when it comes for them to tell their own tales to one another. Which is another thing that turned me of to God Is Not Dead.

It's for the choir. First, that bores me. Second, that's a bad indicator for entertainment that ostensibly wants to talk about serious things. Heck, want to make a movie that Christians will like, but also deals with real issues of pain, loss, and grief, and examines the conversion of an atheist to a Christian in honest terms? Give me a C.S. Lewis biography.

I sympathize with your disgust. I truly do. I have no idea who that film was supposed to serve.

It's been my long observation that Christian media (and conservative media overall) needs to be focused far less on Christians, and more interested in simple, honest, storytelling. Less preaching, more storytelling.
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby ccgr » Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:29 pm

Well here's what I got out of the movie:

I doubt a teacher could get away with forcing students to declare that God is dead, if such an incident were to occur would I take the easy route and comply? Or would I stand up for my faith and risk my grade, romantic relationship and my reputation. That's the challenge I took away from the film. It's easy to stay off the radar but as Christian's we're not called to do that, in fact we're told to do the opposite.

I do acknowledge that it portrays atheists in a negative light, many of them were stuck up, annoying or complete jerks. Most of them converted back to Christianity, but by doing do, their earthly problems did not disappear so I'm glad the movie didn't make it sound like choosing God will take away all of your problems.

That's my 0.02

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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby JCstateofmind » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:43 am

If God doesn't exist, then what happens when we die?

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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby ccgr » Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:32 pm

darkness, perhaps a life over screen? We become worm food and nothing more.

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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby JCstateofmind » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:51 pm

I think I would rather believe in heaven. More interesting.

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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby oregorn1997 » Fri Sep 26, 2014 5:10 pm

I think I would rather believe in heaven. More interesting.


The problem with saying that, is, as I think Arch said, that it makes it look like you believe in God, only to help you sleep at night.

I am a Christian. I believe God is real. I have placed my trust in him.I know I am going to heaven.

I do, however have a problem with "Christians" who say that their reason for being Christian is merely because they would rather go to heaven.


Something to be made clear: Christianity isn't the belief that you are going to heaven. Christianity is the belief in Christ. End of story.

If you are Christian, only so you can say that you are going to heaven, rather than the alternative, there's something wrong there.

A good question for Christians to ask themselves, is "Why do I believe in God?" Is it because you want to go to heaven, or because you believe God is your God?

The entire point of Christianity, and even the purpose of God creating humanity in the first place, is to bring glory to God. That was his intention. To believe only so you get into heaven, is in a sense, "cheating" Him. We were created to spread his glory to the corners of the earth, not create small bubbles of safety around ourselves, and say "became christian - check. Now I don't have to worry about a hell, or being eaten by worms."

That is where I start to question someone's faith.

To be clear, I'm not accusing anyone on here of not being a Christian. That has nothing to do with me. That is something solely between yourself and God. Only He knows your heart.


In ending my reply, here is something to remember. God is a jealous God. Don't forget that. He knows if He's the one getting the glory.
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JCstateofmind
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Re: How can we know there is a God?

Postby JCstateofmind » Fri Sep 26, 2014 5:13 pm

Oh I understand what your saying. I believe God is God. I'm just saying where would our soul go if God didn't exist. I find it hard to believe it would just disappear or something like that.


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