Evidence of God
How do we know God exists?
Some of the world's best thinkers have debated this question, with varying results. Books have been written on just this topic. So how might one make an argument for the existence of God?
Let's look at what science has to say:
High-energy nuclear physics is the study of sub-atomic particles. These are so small they cannot be directly seen, but that hasn't stopped scientists from trying to study them and learn as much as they can about them. And they are learning a lot from observing the effects of these particles when subjected to experiments. The accumulation of data has led to an accumulation of likely results. Over time, a consensus has emerged. Scientists may not be able to prove a particular interpretation, but the odds favor certain ones over others, and they no longer question the existence of the "invisible" particles.
How about the Big Bang theory? This claims that conditions in the universe initially were very hot. There was a big explosion. If that's true, then there should be observable effects of that explosion. Indeed, radiation and other atomic particles have been discovered. Their existence nicely supports the theory, as does the fact that faraway stars seem denser. The fact that their light has taken billions of years to reach us means we're seeing them at a young stage. Again, no one can prove the Big Bang theory, but the argument makes more and more sense to scientists because of the effects that have been discovered.
Perhaps your question about God is like that. We can't see Him, but we can look for the effects of God in our world. And, in fact, some people are doing just that. There have been several studies in recent years exploring the question of intercessory prayer in healing diseases. They want to know: does praying help? One study done at Duke University in the mid-80s showed a "significant reduction in heartbeat abnormalities and no heart attacks" during the period of the study for the group of men that were prayed for.1 Another done in San Francisco found that "intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients admitted to a CCU."2 A similar study in Florida in 1999 found patients in the "prayed-for" group were 11% more likely to do well than patients in the "not-prayed-for" group.3 Skeptics question some of the methodologies involved in the studies and results from a major study in Boston are yet to be made available. However, a 1999 CBS poll revealed that 80% of respondents believed prayer helps in recovery.4If healings happen, then this would seem to be evidence for God -- God directly intervening and having an effect in the world.
The Bible would certainly support this. Biblical authors believed that NOTHING happened apart from God. There are far too many stories to mention in which God intervened directly in the characters' lives. But let's talk about one -- perhaps the greatest miracle of all - the resurrection. Four different authors tell virtually the same story -- Jesus died. Many people witnessed this event. But later, when women went to visit the grave, they found it empty. Peter and John were called to the scene and remembered the situation in exquisite detail, as though it made a huge impression upon them. When Jesus appeared to several of them after his resurrection, they admitted they didn't even recognize him at first. His resurrection caught them all by surprise (despite the fact that he had told them several times this is exactly what would happen). If the disciples wanted to make up this story, they surely wouldn't have done it in a way that made them look so bad. Women had no standing as witnesses. The men would never have allowed them to break the news -- unless that's actually the way it happened! And clearly something remarkable happened to all of them. The disciples went from cowering in a room behind locked doors to proclaiming Jesus openly in the streets within a matter of weeks. And they never looked back. Something transformed them completely. They said it was seeing Jesus after his resurrection, and we have no reason to doubt their word.
Perhaps the strongest argument for God, however, is the fact that you're reading this answer. You exist; we all exist. The traditional argument is that if you found a watch lying on the ground, you would not doubt that a watchmaker had made it. The Bible is explicit in saying that God is not only creator, but that He created us in his "image" and "likeness." That doesn't mean that God has blond hair or blue eyes; it does mean that we embody the qualities of God. Some of those would be intelligence, kindness, love, trust, honesty, beauty, etc. The list could go on forever. Is it not harder to believe that all these things happened as a result of complete chance than to assign them to a Master Creator?
Ultimately, however, this question is not one that can be answered by fancy rhetoric or scientific arguments. It is one that has to be answered in your heart, in each and every heart. We all know that we can't see God, but those who believe in God can experience Him. Many intelligent people have had experiences that have convinced them of God's existence. Perhaps it has been a moment of healing, a random act of kindness, an unexpected love. We can see the effects of God. We can feel His presence. We can know that he is with us, strengthening us, encouraging and loving us. Jesus devoted his life to revealing God's nature to us and teaching us that God is good and that He is Love. He also told us how we could live so that we could know God better. Knowing God, however, isn't just an intellectual exercise. Knowing God is our work for a lifetime. It is our entire reason for being -- to show forth God's nature, His presence, and His essence. As we do this more and more in our thinking, it will be reflected in our daily experiences. And we will know Him in the way that speaks to us.
1 Miethe, Terry and Anthony Flew. Does God Exist? San Francisco: Harper, 1991.
2 O'Malley, William. God: The Oldest Question. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2000.
3 Stannard, Russell. The God Experiment. Mahwah, NJ: Hiddenspring, 2000.
4 Swinburne, Richard. Is There a God? New York: Oxford Press, 1996.