Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The "Aha" moment

A common occurrence in arguments with atheists is discussing the notion of "proof." One of the common arguments that atheists assert is that "there is no proof" that God exists. While some of the more thoughtful atheists realize that their current assumptions do not allow for such proof to exist, there is another difficulty with this argument. That there is such a thing as a proof or argument that on its own is decisive.

To take an example that material atheists should be familiar with, consider how science establishes a "law." Now a scientific law, at least in the traditional understanding, is a proposition that is consistent across all physical data available that is relevant to the proposition. That is, that each and every experiment performed in relation to the law is consistent with the law. There is no data that contradicts it.

While some may argue with my definition (and they are welcome to) the core concept in the definition is the notion of a multitude of data to confirm the theory, and thus establish a law. Scientists do not perform one experiment and that is the final word. Such experiments are repeated to generate data that is consistent. After such theory is postulated, others will verify, confirming or contesting the data.

The point of this discussion is that in science it is the case that vast amounts of data are accumulated in order to establish a proposed law or truth about the physical world. While one may point to a particular person as the discovery point, vast amounts of data are used to confirm the theory.

All those who believe in Divine Providence, almost to a man, would argue the same (and often do) regarding their own beliefs. That their lives are a testimony to the notion that there is a Divine Will acting in their lives. Much like scientific inquiry, those who believe often do so because they have accumulated data to confirm to themselves that there is a thing called "God."

In my own life for example I see the hand of God in my life. Reflecting on where I have come from I can see work in my life leading me to the concept of God. Some are more significant than others, but all have a story to tell and a conclusion to reach.

But the main point is that neither in faith nor in science do we radically alter our beliefs and assumptions based on a single idea, argument, or event. St. Paul was already a devoted servant of God before God threw him off the horse. He simply needed correction. Indeed I would be very afraid of a person who's entire worldview revolved around a single experience. This to me is why God works slowly, to give us time to adjust and understand.

Thus for those who are asked what proof one should provide for one's faith remember that it took a lifetime to accumulate. And that if the one asking is looking for a single decisive argument he is looking for a phantom that doesn't exist in his own view. And if it does, it is most probably wrong.

No comments: