Arguments for a belief in God
Younger generations will reach a crossroads in their own outlook. And unless they simply adhere to the religious beliefs of their parents or culture, they will most likely reject the religious view and then accept the more rational scientific view. So this contemporary spiritual metaphysics can become an alternative. It is just as convincing as scientific materialism, and it includes science and scientific methods.
What we are saying, in opposition to scientific materialism, is that spiritual metaphysics and devotional seriousness is a viable alternative. It cannot match the scrupulous empirical testing of scientific theories, yet it surpasses its opponent in its heartfullness and significance upon daily life. Scientific materialism is for one who is skeptical about overall personal experience and would rather embrace an impersonal scientific objectivity based on collected facts and mathematical reasoning.
Spiritual metaphysics is for one who would rather embrace human experience, in oneself and also with the natural world, and thus allow for the subjective experiences of non-material presences and speculative beliefs about spiritual purposes. Overall, there are those who are either comfortable with metaphysical speculation or else skeptical about anything that is not completely tangible and provable.
Rational arguments for the existence of God, vs. scientific atheism
First of all, let me make a concession to the atheists that their belief is rationally valid and one cannot disprove absolutely their view. Nor is it possible to rationally prove absolutely the God belief. Each of the beliefs have some valid supporting arguments, but at some point in a rational conversation both beliefs require a leap of faith.
Two categories of argument have weight in this: the cosmological argument and the moral argument.
Argument of First Cause. We can notice in every part of existence and in our own lives as well that every thing and every trait did not merely arise on its own but was contingent on some kind of cause. In other words, everything that is was caused by something else or some other energies. So in any theory of cosmological genesis, that is consistent with its accepted theories or laws of physical causation, will have to suppose that the very beginning was itself a result of some previous causes or previous powers that be, since the very beginning of energy/matter dynamics must be in the same laws (or consistency) as any other moment in recent time. Therefore, what is this cause? Science could only suppose that it could, in theory, explain an infinity of physical causes. And this cannot really be logically refuted. But how much simpler is this kind of theory than supposing an Absolute First Cause of Intelligence-Power? First of all, neither can equally be verified with any absolute certainty. Second, this theory of infinite causes is no better than a theory of First Spiritual Cause – by Almighty Mystery (known as God).
Still, there would be a question of if this First Power has intelligence and purpose, or else completely dumb and without any purpose. I suppose that some people will think it is more believable that the universe began with absolutely no intelligence or purpose or reason for its existence, and that the Initial Cause of this existence was simply dumb and without any purpose. But others will believe that this theory of the dumb is just too dumb to believe.
The cosmological biological argument
The cosmological argument has most weight in regards to biological evolution on earth.
1) if Darwinism were all there were at play, then it would seem that there would be more surviving examples of life that are strewn in between two similar kinds. For example, if modern people were slowly evolved from more primitive species, then why did all these die out? They could have been that bad at survival, since they would have already been survivalists. (of course, there could be more quantum leaping than normally expected)
2) It does seem that there is more progress going on in evolution than would be expected from mere accidental mutations.
3) why don’t we see more accidental mutational diversity in animal and plant life. Why wasn’t this noticed more throughout written history?
4) And how did consciousness all of a sudden emerge into the evolutionary scene?
Next, a cosmological argument is relevant in regards to cosmological theories of astrophysics. The astrophysics theories are just as much a faith belief as is the God belief. Can you really believe this: that the chances of our universe exploding into existence with just the right proportion of elements so to make for the possibility of intelligent human life on this lush planet are so far out, the chances are so far out, billions upon billions to one, that it really seems laughable to believe that this universe exists by such accidental chance. Gosh, weren’t we lucky? And then to believe that there is no real purpose for this whole existence; it just came to be by accident and with no purpose at all. And then to believe that no kind of intelligence had anything to do with the cause and organizing of this universe. And then to believe that intelligence and consciousness accidentally came into existence, evolved from un-intelligence and un-consciousness. And finally, to believe that intelligence and consciousness have no cosmic purpose, (only a utilitarian kind of human purpose), even though it would seem to any objective-observer of the Cosmos that intelligence and consciousness are actually two most primary purposes for the Cosmos.
The moral argument
This shows that some sort of God-Power or Spiritual Intelligence is needed to explain many kinds of moral experience.
By just Darwinian thinking one would expect that moral behavior and even moral feelings serve a utilitarian need. They would also be the mere result of accidental mutation and the usefulness of such traits for adaptability and survival. For example, some early humans, or pre-humans, must have accidentally acquired moral feelings, such as empathy, sympathy, and compassion for others, as well as developing other traits conducive to moral behavior. Then, for some reason, these traits gave those people a survival advantage throughout human evolution. The advantage could have been related to a building of human group communities with caring and cooperation as the advantage in survival. This does make sense. Yet it would seem that there would then be a strong utilitarian sense to these feelings and behaviors; for example, I would be loving others and doing good for others so to serve the survival of my community. This is of course evident in many instances.
However, the moral feeling of love and doing good, for just its own sake, let alone mystical experiences of merging into love itself, have no explanation in Darwinian survival, because they lack any utilitarian sense. One would expect through a strictly Darwinian evolution the existence of love and goodness would be primarily utilitarian – being thought of as either a means for my own self-survival or else a means for the survival of my human community. Yet what about pure feelings of love and being good?
How does an idea or feeling of intrinsic good come to be?
The mystery of this is God.
Unless one were to argue that this arises spontaneously as an evolutionary adaptation (or as a genetic accident in our species that has survival value).
The human psychological argument:
Notice the anthropologic history of religious experience, religious inspiration, and religious devotion, and how important all this was and is in the psychology of many people, and also in communities of people.
The epistemological argument (Defense against scientific reductionism)
Direct personal experience cannot be dismissed in personal beliefs.
There is no sufficient reason for a person to deny the evidence of their own experience - whether it be by intuition, feeling, or inductive reasoning. People might well dismiss other people's experience, but not their own.
Some people believe they have, or have had, a direct experience of the Divine, or of God, or of a transcendental Presence beyond the normal physical senses and even beyond the rational mind. This could be called an intuitional experience of God or of spiritual energies. There is no doubt about these claims throughout religious and shamanic history. The question, then, is whether these claims can be counted as evidence for the existence of God and also for what God is like qualitatively. By scientific objective standards, they cannot count as evidence because they are only subjective claims, and nothing can be measured about them objectively. So by the rules of the scientific belief model, these subjective experiences cannot be regarded as evidence. But what if the religious belief system does not have these same rules? It would seem that the scientific argument is dismissing religious evidence, on grounds that it is not following their own special rules for admitable evidence. This like one country insisting that universal justice be only tried in their own country by their own rules, even though the opposing country holds different rules of justice. But having reminded the scientific community of their own special epistemological bias, we shall back down from this part of the argument, to admit that objectively gathered evidence should have more weight than subjective evidences.
However, and this is the real argument, if you are one of those who directly experience the Divine, or God, or a transcendental Presence, then it would be ridiculous to deny what seems quite objective to yourself. In other words, to an outsider my claimed experience of God would be regarded as merely subjective – as merely in my own individual mind – and this would be regarded as dubiously non-objective. But that is only because you have not directly experienced it. If you could directly experience what I experience, then you would think it is objective and not merely subjective. Because remember that objective just means it is observable. It does make things more scientifically objective to use technological instruments; but first hand sight is usually acceptable in science, so religious experience is simply an extension on this acceptable premise.
The final crux of it all is this. If a person has a religious or God experience, or direct intuition or vision; then this is direct experiential evidence for the existence of God, and the same would hold true for one’s direct experience of God’s qualities or description.
There is of course a possibility that this person might be delusional or crazy, or maybe they are just mis-interpreting their experience. But these are possibilities in any cases of admitting human experience as evidential. The fact is that this person has a direct experience of God, and from their perspective this is directly real and true. So there is no good reason to not believe in the experience. And thus, for this person, there is no good reason to not believe in God. It would, in fact, be quite irrational of this person to deny and not believe in their own direct experience. Thus, it is perfectly rational for those who have had experiences of God to believe in God. And for those who have not had any such experience, it is quite rational for them to not believe.
Granted, this is subjective evidence, but from the perspective of the person involved in the experience, or from the angle of the person having this direct intuition, this subjective evidence is as good as any objective evidence. And what is the difference anyway? If someone sees a shooting star, that direct seeing is good enough to believe there was a shooting star. The person does not doubt their own perceptive experience just because it is not objectively verifiable by others. The person does not dismiss their experience just because no one else saw the shooting star. Inner vision is of course not exactly the same as outer vision and is more susceptible to mental factors than sensory eyesight, but both are the similar in that both are one’s own experience, and there is no good reason to doubt one’s own experience.
The question here is whether or not there is sufficient reason to believe in God or some kind of transcendental intelligence or presence, which is unverifiable by science. From the perspective of a person who has experienced God or has direct feeling of divine presence, this is the sufficient evidence, whether one labels this subjective or not.
Let is clear up a frequent confusion in this issue, regarding subjective and objective evidence. If we are looking at this question regarding the existence of God1, and we are seeking complete Proof for everyone, as if it could be shown that God must be real by objective standards agreed by everyone, then the God conclusion will not be reached. That is, if we are seeking to prove the existence of God, with an objective method that is apart from personal and collective human experience, then this is bound to fail. It is bound to fail if it is absolutely required that God be verified from an objective perspective above individual experience, in the classical quest for an Absolute perspective. But, this is not necessarily the goal at all. Some people may be interested in that classical absolutist goal, yet many other people are not even considering this.
Once it is realized that no one will ever be persuaded to believe in the other way, because each party is holding a different verification rule.
Fact is that we are not each going to look at some objective book of knowledge to know what we ought to believe. The debate tends to be about what shall be in the Objective Book of Truth. But really, this is about personal belief. Each person will be deciding on their own what is true. So, it would be ridiculous to suppose that anyone will dismiss their own personal experience. Each person will cherishly hold faithful to their own feelings and experiences – to their subjective experiences – for this is the ultimate evidence in such an inquiry.
The previous “reasons” for belief in God existence, in the name of rational philosophy, were trying to be objective – without personal feeing, sentiment or mere intuition. This was pre-science, the true beginning of science. Yet modern science has now surpassed these medieval musing.
Does the scientist think that God has to first be measured or observed by instruments, before this is believable?
The very issue in question here is about the existence of God or a spiritual dimension, which by its own special nature is distinctly different from physical phenomena and physical causes. So it would be quite unfair to insist that this be proven under the rules and premises of physical and biological science. For science to ask this is, of course, logical to science. Therefore, science should be expected to ask for its own kind of proof, and then not accept as real anything that is not verifiable by its own methods. But simultaneously, science ought to see that the religious perspective has its own special set of verification rules, as well. Science may not agree with those other rules, but it ought to realize that the religious compendium might have a different set of rules. In other words, the religious community does not have to prove to themselves the existence of God by the rules of physical science. This is because the verification methods of physical science are completely irrelevant to religious belief. And logically this makes sense, because the subject matter at hand is not physical. So its verification method will be qualitatively different – it will be of a completely different sort. The verification method for the religious thesis is not like that of physical science. It is verification by personal feeling and intuition, along with some rational thinking. But rational thinking, reasoning, was never sufficient by itself alone to reach the conclusion of God, or the belief in God. The necessary and sufficient evidences for God were always, and will always be, personal feelings and intuitions. Science has labeled these subjective and inadmissible for conclusions. But in order to reach a real belief in God there has to be favorable feelings and intuitions, and these have to be regarded as admissible for the belief. In fact, these are the essential evidences for the belief.
What we are coming to here is that each side of the argument has its own unique premises and rules about what is admissible and sufficient evidence, which are respectively based on the kind of subject matter in question. Thus, physical and outer sensorial verifications are essential to physical inquiries; whereas, mental-emotional-intuitive and psychological verifications are essential to spiritual inquires. What this means, then, is an insoluble standoff. No one can ever prove God and spiritual essences if they use physicalist premises and rules for verification; yet using such rules is logically necessary for science. As well, no religious centric person will approve of scientific conclusions without accepting the scientific method and its rules for admissible evidence as valid. Many spiritual minded people, though, accept and even admire scientific knowledge, while also accepting their own spiritual experience as true as well.
The reality of any debate is that God and spiritual matters cannot probably be proved by objective instruments nor seen by the naked eye. Because we are speaking about a completely different sort of phenomena, which could be best described as invisible. It may be that science will need to infer some kind of invisible intelligent force to causally explain certain aspects of physics, yet even this would never lead to God conclusion for the simple reason that within the premises or presuppositions of science any mysterious forces or energies will necessarily be inferred to be physical. One can notice that gravity has never been regarded as a non-physical force, even though there has never been any materialistic or particlistic explanation for it. Or what is the causal explanation for there being any energy-convertible-to-matter in existence required for the Big Bang?
Finally to note. There is no possible absolute certainty attained by any of rational arguments, whatever side they come from, since each have their own presupposed premises or rules, and also the supporting evidences for any of these arguments is never absolutely conclusive. So at some point in the rational dialectical inquiry there has to be a leap of faith in order to reach a solidified belief.
1 (or of Transcendental Intelligence throughout the universe)