Can the existence of God be proven or disproven?
Quora is a fascinating web site in which people can pose questions, and other site visitors attempt to answer them. One of Quora's most popular topics is related to the existence of God. 1
Visitors to Quora have asked the same question multiple times, using slightly different words. Each typically has received over 100 answers. Among the questions that have been asked about God's existence pare:
This webmaster's personal belief:
On 2018-SEP-15, I posted the following on Quora in an attempt to answer the first of the above questions:
"I have been an Agnostic for the past 65 years. So I do not think that God’s existence can be proven or disproven with currently available knowledge. However, if God wanted people to believe in her/his/their/its existence then it would not be a difficult task for a deity to implement.
One method would be for God to predict the location, depth, and magnitude of the next dozen earthquakes of strengths over 6 on the Richter Scale. This would be an impossible task for humans at our current level of knowledge, but if God is all-knowing, then it should be a simple task for him. If he made a mistake and an earthquake didn’t happen when he predicted it, he could always initiate an earthquake, since he is, by definition, omnipotent." 2
Twenty-four hours after being posted, the answer received 27 views and one upvote.
I referred to God as a male in this posting. This is because, in North America, most people refer to God as a single male, a Father, etc. It is worth noting that Genesis 1:26 refers to God as plural:
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
Similarly, Genesis 3:22 states:
"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:" [Bold characters not in original]
The Hebrew word Elohim is one of the main titles of God in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) where it is used over 2,500 times. It is a plural term.
Some proofs offered for God's existence/nonexistence on Quora:
- Joseph Abraham, who studied at University of Delhi, wrote: "... Sir James Jeans wrote that in the light of advancing scientific knowledge, 'the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.' He also stated that 'the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician' and that it provides 'evidence of a designing or controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds'. ... Physicist Paul Davies
wrote: 'The overall organization of the universe has suggested to many a modern astronomer an element of design'."
- Earl Blake wrote: "Isaac Newton, a much smarter man than I will ever be, said that you should never argue over anything that you can't measure. Some people call this standard Newtons Razor, in the spirit of Occam's razor and Hitche's razor. (Fun fact: Isaac Newton was an extremely devout Christian who predicted that the 2nd-coming of Jesus and the end of the world as we know it would happen in the year 2060.) Consistent with his own wisdom, he never discussed opinions about God, which he couldn't measure."
- Abhishek Satheesh
wrote: "... I find no scientific proof for the theory that God exists. The following quote by Christopher Hitchens puts it quite well: 'What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof'."
- Yash Pathak, at the at Birsa Institute of Technology, Sindri, wrote: "...
before the great big bang occurred, we have been told that there was Nothing. ... But, the catch here is, even though we have many ideas about how the Big Bang was initiated, one can not just deny the existence of some supernatural power which had the extreme strength of creating the whole of the universe you look and wonder about right now. ... To initiate the Big Bang, there must have been something to start a reaction as big as that."
- Raymond Griffith at Southwestern Michigan College quoted the Greek philosopher Epicurus 341 - 270 BCE wrote:
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
- Bill Pack, concluded that the Christian God does not exist with the following argument:
- "Claim 1: God is omniscient, omnipotent, and all-loving, all-merciful, and just."
- "Claim 2: Hell is a Pit of Eternal Conscious Maximal Torture where God (from Claim 1) sends all those who fail to meet His arbitrary ethical requirements. ... This is the destination for the majority of all people who will/have ever live/lived. ..."
- "Claims 1 and 2 are logically contradictory, thus this God does not exist."
Pack is apparently using the criterion for salvation found throughout the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) which he considers arbitrary: that those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior will attain Heaven after death, and everyone else will go to Hell. That criterion is contradicted by the Sheep and Goats section in Matthew 25 which bases salvation solely on one's treatment of other people in need.
It also denies salvation to billions of humans alive today who are unfamiliar with Christianity simply because they were raised in a non-Christian family in a non-Christian country.
- Kevin Browne describes St. Thomas Aquinas' (1225-1274 CE) proof of God -- the cosmological argument for the existence of God. It starts with four premises:
- "The universe exists.
- It could not be the cause of itself.
- It could not come from nothing.
- It could not be an effect in an infinite series of causes and effects."
Therefore it must have been created, and this requires a creator with supernatural abilities. Unfortunately premise 3 may not hold up. The physics of the Big Bang is still being worked out by scientists.
- Scott Schafer, a "lifelong atheist and student of religion," argues against God's existence:
"We are finite. The speed of light is finite. The age of the Universe is finite, as is the weight and charge of an electron, etc. How does an infinite being create a finite creation? With an infinitely small fraction of its power? It's a divide by zero problem."
- Josh Abel argues that"
"Scientific arguments against the concept of God are useless and inherently inapplicable because God is immaterial by definition, putting him far outside the empirical domain of inquiry that composes any and all science. 'God' is not a scientific question, thus there is not a scientific answer."
- Jon Jeremy wrote::
"Science works by testing null hypotheses. A scientific approach to testing the existence of god would work like this.
- Assume gods don't exist.
- Look for any occurrence which suggests that this assumption is false.
- If you do find such an occurrence, calculate the probability that it would arise if the assumption was true.
- If the resulting figure is sufficiently low, you have scientifically verified that gods exist.
In practice the exercise always stops with step 2, because there is no evidence; and without evidence you can't do science. But you don't need to, because something for which there is no evidence doesn't need testing."
- Carlos A. Sardá Sardá wrote:
"Only empirically observable, falsifiable, repeatable (and susceptible to experimentation) natural phenomena can be scientifically studied.
Science can't disprove, nor prove, let alone study impalpable, unfalsifiable claims like Pink Unicorns, Fairies, the Invisible Blue Dragon who lives in my basement, gods, etc.
Things of faith, and fantasy are not science's business."
Does prayer prove God's existence?
A 2011 article at ChurchLeaders.com stated that:
- A Barna Research poll found that 84% of U.S. adults claim that they have prayed to God during the past week.
- Beliefnet funded a poll to find out details of people's prayer life. They found that 38% say that the most important purpose of prayer is intimacy with God. 3
Many, perhaps most, of active prayers sincerely feel that their prayers involve a two-way communication between themselves and God. This would certainly be evidence to them of the existence of God.
On the other hand, public opinion polls have indicated that a small percentage of U.S. adults are either:
- Agnostics and see no way to prove or disprove the existence of God.
- Atheists, and have no belief in God. Jörg Sattler is an Atheist who posted the following message to the Quora web site:
"... 'The assumption that there is a 'GOD': ..."
"The popular belief that a celestial Jewish baby who is also his own father, born from a virgin mother, died for three days so that he could ascend to heaven on a cloud and then make you live forever only if you eat his flesh, drink his blood and telepathically tell him you accept him as your lord & master so he can remove an evil force from your spiritual being that is present in all humanity because an immoral woman made from a man's rib was hoodwinked by a talking reptile possessed by a malicious angel to secretly eat forbidden fruit from a magical tree.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Sounds perfectly plausible ?? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>"
"... the concept of god in its entirety resides in the imagination of its adherents... It is just a fantasy of some individuals."
This web site -- www.religioustolerance.org -- designed a pilot study to inquire whether prayers actually involve a reliable communication channel with God. We asked a group of about 80 volunteers, all of whom had an active prayer life, to assess the will of God via prayer about a controversial topic: recognition of same-sex marriage. We found that most felt that they had made contact with God through prayer and were able to determine his stance on marriage equality:
- 100% of those volunteers who approved of gay marriage before the prayer found that God agreed with them.
- 100% of those volunteers who disapproved of gay marriage before the prayer found that God agreed with them.
We concluded that prayer is not an accurate method of assessing the will of God. So prayer might not be a good method of proving God's existence.
This small pilot study badly needs to be replicated with a larger number of participants in order to verify these findings.
On 2018-SEP-16, we placed a question on the Quora web site titled: Can one assess the will of God through prayer?
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- "Belief and Beliefs: Can the existence of a god be proven or disproven?," Quora, at: https://www.quora.com/
- B.A. Robinson, Answer on Quora to the above question, 2018-SEP-15, at: https://www.quora.com/
- Toni Ridgaway, "Statistics on Prayer in the U.S.," Church Leaders, 2011-MAY-05, at: https://churchleaders.com/
Copyright © 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2018-SEP-17
Author: B.A. Robinson