How can I prove the existence of God to atheists?

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Faith isn’t an argument. It’s a fundamental commitment we each make for ourselves.

Proofs for God’s existence have been regularly proposed by the learned. Christian apologetics—which doesn’t manufacture apologies, but rather justifications, for believing—has also been busy offering defenses for the faith since the second century. None of this is guaranteed to make your spiritually skeptical buddy fall on his knees and profess the Creed. Faith isn’t an argument. It’s a fundamental commitment we each make for ourselves.

Justin Martyr (100-167) was among the first apologists to present Christianity in a way his Greco-Roman culture might find both reasonable and appealing. Thomas Merton (1915-1968), with his autobiographical Seven-Storey Mountain, attempted to do the same for 20th-century skeptics. Folks as diverse as missionaries, scholars, fiction writers, and filmmakers have tried to make faith reasonable and attractive to those outside the church. See a recent attempt in the 2018 film “An Interview with God,” starring David Strathairn in the title role.

The watchmaker analogy is often invoked to demonstrate the plausibility of belief. Say you find a watch on the beach. Even though you don’t see a watchmaker, you know there must be one. A watch is too perfect a mechanism to have evolved on its own. So too, one might say, the world itself.

Saint Anselm (1033-1109) claimed God must exist since we can imagine the most perfect Being. What would make this Being even more perfect is to actually exist. Other scholars like Baruch Spinoza (1232-1677), Rene Descartes (1596-1650), and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) also formulated intellectual proofs. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) offered five possible proofs: there must be an Unmoved Mover at the back of all movement, an Uncaused Cause at the start of all being—and ditto for contingency, gradation, and design.

Blaise Paschal (1623-1662) offered a wager rather than a proof. We have the option to believe or not. If we believe and are wrong, we live a good life with the respect of friends, enjoy the consolations of religion, and are none the wiser after death. No harm done! If we don’t believe and are wrong, we have lots of explaining to do, and possibly face eternal damnation. If however, we believe and are correct, we receive eternal reward. Belief is a better wager than unbelief.

Perhaps the best choice of all is not to argue, prove, or bet. Just offer the example of a life of genuine discipleship, and see who’s attracted!

Scripture: John 20:24-29; 1 Corinthians 13:8-13; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:1; James 2:14-18; 1 John 1:1-4 

Books: Chasing Mystery, by Carey Walsh (Liturgical Press, 2012)
Holy Clues: The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes (Vintage Books, 1999)

Reprinted with permission from ©TrueQuest Communications.

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