The Most Difficult Question
Answering this question is hardly an easy thing to do. After all, the existence of God is a subject that has always attracted a lively debate. Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians and scientists for thousands of years. A wide variety of arguments exist on this topic.
The God Debate
To begin with, the great God debate itself is divided into more philosophical schools than an average person knows: Agnosticism, Apatheism, Atheism, Deism, Henotheism, Ignosticism, Monotheism, Panentheism, Pantheism, Polytheism, Theism and Transtheism. God himself is seen as the Father, Great Architect, Mother Supreme, The Holy Trinity, and what not.
Does He Exist or Doesn’t He?
St Anselm, a Christian theologian, formulated the earliest argument in favour of God. Then, french philosopher Rene Descartes said that the existence of a benevolent God was logically necessary for the evidence of the senses to be meaningful. German philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that proof of the existence of “God” could be deduced from the existence of everything “good”.
Thinkers, who argued against the existence of God, included David Hume, Kant, Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell. Scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Francis Collins, Richard Dawkins, and John Lennox, and philosophers like Daniel Dennett, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga also ruled out the existence of God.
Atheists versus Fideists
Atheists say that arguments providing evidence of the existence of God are not sufficient reason to believe. In addition, some have even said that it is possible to disprove the existence of God. Fideists, on the other hand, say that belief in the existence of God is not amenable to demonstration or refutation, but rests on faith and faith alone.
Theists, the Believers
Classical Theism describes God as the ultimate being – the first, timeless, simple, sovereign metaphysical being who, however, could not be defined because mere humans could not define such a colossal personality. Robert Barron, a Catholic priest from Chicago, put it succintly: “It seems impossible for a two-dimensional object to even conceive of a three dimensional being.”
Eastern Religious Thought
In contrast, Eastern religious thought (mainly Pantheism) positions God as a force present in every imaginable phenomenon. Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza uses the term God in a philosophical sense to mean the essential substance of Nature.
Monotheists believe the concept of God relates to a monotheistic, supreme, ultimate and personal being, as found in Christian, Islamic and Hebrew traditions.
Hindu Concept of Ishvara
In Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, God is seen as a single, unchanging Brahman, who is both sarvavyapak (omniscient) and antaryami (omnipotent)…he is both nirgun (not having a specific form) as well as sagun (with distinct features) that his followers recognise and love.
View Of The Doubter
The existence of the doubter remains a fact even in the Nastik traditions of the Mayavadi school of thought. Here, it is believed that God, or Isvara, cannot be established by logic alone, and often requires not mere proof, but superior proof.
God As Absolute Truth
In Vaisnavism, or the Hindu sect which believes Vishnu to be the absolute form of God, He is described as Sat Chit Ananda, or Absolute Truth, where ‘sat’ relates to eternal existence, “chit” relates to knowledge and “ananda” relates to bliss.
Karma As Proof Of God
The school of Vedanta says proof of the existence of God lies in the law of karma. Adi Shankara, a saint who taught the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, said that the fruits of labour had to be administered through the action of a conscious agent, who would naturally be a supreme being – or Ishvara, who is God.
God As Judge
The Nyaya school of thought seconds this philosophy by giving the example of disparity in existence: why are some people happy while others are unhappy, why some are rich while others are poor. It can only be a result of people having to pay for their deeds.
The Greek word “atheoi” means those who are without God. It appears on an early 3rd-century papyrus.
Famous physicist Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, in their new book, “The Grand Design”, say that God did not create the Universe and the “Big Bang” was, in fact, an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics. They quote the law of gravity to say that the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. They say spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. Their self-styled ‘M-Theory’ makes a Creator of the Universe – redundant.
Contrary to popular belief that the resurrection of Jesus is something you accept on faith or don’t, the New Testament explains that the resurrection of Jesus, as proved by his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearance and his disciples’ wait for his resurrection, all point to Jesus being what he said he was: the son of God.
The One Who Created Nature
The Bible (Psalm 19:1-4) further states: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands… and elsewhere: “Looking at the stars, understanding the vastness of the universe, observing the wonders of nature, seeing the beauty of a sunset—all of these things point to a Creator God.”
A Supreme God
The ontological argument uses the concept of God to prove God’s existence. It begins by defining God as “a being than which no greater can be conceived.” It is then argued that to exist is greater than to not exist, and therefore the greatest conceivable being must exist. If God did not exist, then God would not be the greatest conceivable being, and that would contradict the very definition of God.
The Divine Designer
The teleological argument states that since the Universe displays such an amazing design, there must have been a divine Designer. It also says that if the Earth were significantly closer or farther away from the sun, it would not be capable of supporting life the way it does. If our atmosphere were even a few percentage points different, every living thing on earth would die.
Cause And Effect
Then, there’s the cosmological argument. Every effect must have a cause. The universe and everything in it is an effect. There must be something that caused everything to come into existence. Ultimately, there must be something “un-caused” in order to cause everything else to come into existence. That “un-caused” cause is God.
Only The Spirit Can See God
St Gregory of Nyssa of Turkey, an early Christian theologian, was one of the four great fathers of the Eastern Church. His view was that only our soul can see God. “The soul leaves all surface appearances, not only those that can be grasped by the senses but also those which the mind itself seems to see, and it keeps on going deeper until, by the operation of the spirit, it penetrates the invisible and incomprehensible, and it is there that it sees God. The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all.
In 1945 a scroll was discovered in Nag Hamadi. It was a Coptic translation of a Greek translation of Jesus’ oral Aramaic sayings. Scholars agree that it is the closest record of the historical Jesus. It says: “The Kingdom of God is inside you and all around you. Not in a mansion of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and God is there. Lift a stone and you will find God.”
Courtesy: Speaking Tree