~ Tuesday, August 19, 2003 ~
This is an article someone sent to me about the existence of God. I was so disturbed by it that I'm writing an informal critique.
Prove to Me that G-d Exists!
Many times we have come across people who state that they refuse to believe in G-d unless some one will prove that He exists. The person being challenged to provide such a proof will generally respond with one of many various statements that this agnostic has already heard and rejected.
But perhaps to answer his question, perhaps we should take a step or two back and ask him directly, "What would you accept as a proof?"
Let's start with the very basics. If we were trying to prove a thing that was verifiable to the doubter, such as "Is uncle Tom in the next room?" The resultant proof would be clear and irrefutable to both the doubter and the claimant. "Let us go into the next room and see!"
But if the results are not visible or apparent to the doubter and claimant, such as "Did the suspect murder uncle Tom?" Irregardless if the doubter is convinced or not, he could not apprehend the truth himself, but must rely upon second party evidence to support the claimant. Such is the case of murder trials. The judge and jury hear evidence and make up their decisions - but these decisions are always subject to review and revision, because the evidence presented is only second hand. The judge must believe that the witness is telling the truth.
The same thing must be understood when trying to explain the existence of G-d in the universe. It must be realized that we have no possibility of revealing the physical existence of G-d. We only have the ability of explaining His workings in the universe, or his manifestations.
There is no one amongst us who can be accepted as having a G-dly experience, that we could or even would accept his word that G-d does exist. So we are limited in that we can not draw on any living person to present positive that would be admissible.
It is like trying to prove that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo, or even fought that battle. How do you know for certain that Napoleon really existed and is not merely a myth? No one living has ever see him!
This is similar to the holocaust deniers. They contend that the holocaust did not exist. We, who have met people who were there accept the reality of the holocaust. We have seen the pictures. But in several generations, there will come a point when evidence will be brought against the holocaust and these coming generations will have to deal with this slowly growing problem.
People who had gone through the holocaust will have told their offspring's what they had suffered. In turn the first generation of holocaust survivor's offspring will have told the next generation of the holocaust. Perhaps the holocaust deniers in the distant future will include distinguished professors, statesmen and authors. It could be that the evidence will be over whelming against the holocaust ever having taken place.
It will then be a matter of belief in the tradition that the great grandchildren of the holocaust survivors possess which will keep them believing in the great and terrible holocaust. But for others, unaffected by the trauma of history, they could very well shake their head and deny that it happened. Or perhaps, like agnostics, they can not make a decision because there are various opinions and they can not reach a logical conclusion, therefore, perhaps the holocaust did not exist.
The only people who have claimed to see G-d were those who stood at Mount Sinai. Here an entire nation were witnesses to the revelation of G-d in Egypt. In other religions, only one or two people claim to have had revelation, subsequent followers have had to believe in their testimony.
The Jewish nation celebrates that revelation of G-dliness that happened over three thousand years ago. It is this very celebration, both Passover and Shavout, that has been part of the national character of the Jewish people that gives testimony to the existence of G-d. This is our tradition and our tradition is the very testimony that indeed G-d exists.
The ability to prove something that can not be seen is dependent upon the doubters ability of accept evidence which is indicative of the phenomena which is doubted. Although electricity can not be seen, the majority of the world has accepted this concept as true, based only on seeing light bulbs and refrigerators. Yet few, if any, have seen electricity.
G-d, like electricity, can not be seen with physical eyes. Unlike electricity, He can not be even comprehended. To make matters more difficult, G-d is a historical occurrence that can be debated.
No proof can be positive in the first party type of proof, such as: "I can see Him now." Proofs can only be of the second party historical proof, yet few are willing to accept, this history as proof, unless of course, like the holocaust, they are children of those who endured it.
Next time some one challenges you "prove to me the existence of G-d". Ask him first, what type of proof are you willing to accept? You might save yourself a few hours of wasted argument.
The first disappointment is that "The Existence of God" doesn't offer proof for God's existence. Instead, it attempts to show why, when looking for such proof, we ought to lower our standards and be more easily swayed by ideas that would otherwise be disregarded. The second disappointment is that in arguing for this position, rather than present a well-developed logical sequence of ideas, the author's primary argument attempts to persuade by appealing to our emotions surrounding the holocaust and our indignation toward those who deny it. I consider this to be cheating. The third disappointment is that the author seems to have a rather tenuous grasp upon English grammar, which I found distracting. It's unclear to me why this article found its way into a professional publication; really, it seems like an amateurish conglomeration of familiar facile arguments for God's existence heavily marinated in sentiment. I hope that this wasn't the author's best effort.
...phooey. I had several pages of intelligent commentary which I no longer have, and while I don't think it was Blogger's fault, I'm really not sure how it happened. Reconstruction of said commentary will occur when I stop being quite so disappointed. In the meantime, you know, feel free to record your own reaction to the article.
~ prattled by Miriam at 12:14 p.m. [+]
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