Proof Existence of God
CAN WE KNOW THE TRUTH?

We live in a modern Western world where more and more truth is known and more and more advances are made in the areas of science and technology. On the other hand, questions concerning God, religion, faith, morality, and even the meaning and goal of human life are regarded as unknowable. Compared to former ages, the realm of truth has expanded in the physical and material spheres, while it has contracted in the moral, metaphysical and theological spheres. We know how to store huge amounts of information on a microchip, but we do not know how to decide what is the purpose of life.

The central question is the question of God. Is God an objective reality which we must deal with in this life and the next? Is God unknowable in an objective sense, but can only be experienced in a subjective sense and perhaps only by certain people? Can we know the truth about God? Many people now think of God as well as questions of doctrine and morality much more in the second sense and not the first sense.

A good example of the way many people think of God comes from the famous Indian parable of the elephant. In this story, a ruler brought several blind people to an elephant and allowed each person to feel only one part of the elephant. The blind people started to argue and even fight about the nature of the elephant. In the story, the elephant stands for God and the blind people stand for the various world religions. While this story comes from the East, its moral has been adopted by many in the West to stand for the idea that God has many "faces" and Christianity is the "European face of God".

It seems like we have used reason to find objective truth as we look "down" into the physical and technological spheres but have abandoned it as we look "up" to the moral and theological realms. Is this abandonment of reason to deal with the important questions of life "rational"?

We know that all truths, even scientific truths, are partial. You can learn a lot of truths about light from a physics textbook but not know all there is to know about light. Nineteenth Century ideas about light have been shown to be correct but incomplete. Current ideas about light do not encompass the totality of what light really is. Yet by using the human capacity for reason, much truth about light has been discovered. The same holds for other areas of physics, and other areas of science.

If we can use reason to find truth in the areas of science, why not also in the areas of theology and religion? You may argue that science and religion are very different realms and what works in one realm will not work in another realm. The realm of religion is a personal and subjective realm whereas the realm of science is objective. The previous statements contain some truth but are not the entire truth. It is true that you cannot experiment with God in the way that you can experiment with a chemical or light. But is objective truth limited to only what we can directly observe and experiment with? Is reason only limited to what we can directly observe?

Suppose you are driving on a backcountry road and are totally lost. You want to get back to the main highway, but there are no signs. What is the rational thing to do? You could keep driving until you find the way yourself, but that could take a very long time and waste a lot of gas. Your could also ask some local person how to get back to the highway. The person you ask could, of course, be a liar, but should that be assumed? We cannot directly observe the way back to the highway but someone can tell us the way.

It seems more rational to ask someone who knows than to keep going in a direction which can lead us very far out of the way. However, is there anyone who can tell us the way to go?

This brings us back to the elephant story. Perhaps we can only get a partial "feel" of the elephant, but what if the elephant "talks" to us. The elephant can tell us things which we can never get from our own reason or observation. This brings us to the question of Divine Revelation. Divine Revelation is God telling us things about Him we could never get from reason or observations as well as things which are already written on our hearts but have been clouded by sin, in other words our "talking elephant" or the "local person" who can tell us how to get back to the main highway. The hidden assumption in our modern secular society is that if Divine Revelation exists at all it is a subjective experience of individuals. There is no objective knowledge that can be obtained from Divine Revelation. This is the assumption of modern society, but this assumption should be examined by reason.
 

Jim Nugent

© 2016 by The Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN USA 46803   www.penitents.org

 

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