In our very Westernized society, we need, seek, demand even, PROOF! Especially for those things we are to be convinced of, not things we already believe. We have a strong confirmatory bias, that we only believe evidence or information which confirms what we already believe. We demand a much higher degree of evidence for an opposing viewpoint.
I suspect that most people who are Christian (at least in this country) are so because they were raised in Christian environments, homes, with grandparents, etc. We have a strong legacy of Christianity in this nation. It is inherent in our government, corporate systems, even social culture. Why else would be have hospitals?
Hospitals exist because we do not believe that the weak ought to be culled from the herd. We believe the weak ought to be helped. If our culture did not have a cultural sense of Christianity, we would have no desire to call the ambulance when someone gets sick. We would simply kick them and say, “Be done with it. I’ve got better things to do than watch you die!” Christianity instills the expectation that when someone is sick, we seek to get them help and treatment. Christianity offers hope, that even if this life is awful, there is hope for a better world after death.
But is that proof of God? No. Just because a culture adopts in principle the underlying assumptions that life is valuable and ought to be protected, doesn’t prove that God exists. It may show that being Christian is more reasonable, but not necessarily better.
The better proof is what inspires Christianity. When did it start? Where does it begin? Of course, the answer lies in its namesake, Jesus Christ, or, Jesus the Christ, since “Christ” is a title rather than a name. The passage of time tends to forget that. He was called “the Christ” because Christ transliterated from the Greek “Xristos” and means “messiah” or “Anointed One”. How was this man so anointed? You might remember that in the four books written about him, he was anointed not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit. The clouds parted at his baptism and a being like a dove descended upon him. A voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son in whom I am well-pleased.” Now, is this proof of God? Well, it’s better, but it’s still an old document, established by the presence of eye-witnesses (a., because it was written so close to events of the story that eye-witnesses would still have been around to corroborate or deny it, and b., eye-witnesses attested to writing it, not someone who wrote centuries after it happened). If eye-witnesses can say they say the clouds part, heard a voice and a dove, and what the voice said, that is better proof of God, is it not?
But perhaps the better proof, especially if you are not a Christian, is the man Christ Jesus Himself. While the New Testament documents could have been faked (though the evidence is much stronger for the New Testament than against it, and those who deny the veracity of the New Testament documents as authentic have a much harder time establishing any other document from antiquity), it is much more likely that they are genuine, and are written by people who saw and heard the Christ. That being the case we have a good idea that Jesus lived, worked and ministered in first century Palestine, performed miracles that could not be explained scientifically, and died on a Roman cross (as attested by Roman historians, namely Tacitus) and yet inexplicably rose from the dead a short time later. All of these elements combine into a powerful proof for God, for as atheists like to remind us, no one rises from the dead. Dead is dead. Such an occurrence is impossible and unlikely. So for anyone to do it, with a number of eye-witnesses to attest to it, must be proof that a higher, directive power exists. That Jesus both predicted and fulfilled this death, burial and resurrection, established this higher power as intelligent, and may even be Jesus Himself. No one else could do the things He did. And while some may argue that other gods of other religions have done these and similar things, I would counter by asking if the evidence is as good. While with Jesus we have eye-witness testimony, all other “god” stories rely on hearsay, documents wrote long after the events in question and so forth.
But you may again counter that of course the documents were written long after, because writing didn’t exist until then. Okay. Does that make the events they describe more likely or less likely? While some like to apply the “telephone” analogy (i.e., messages degrade with transmission) to the gospels, they don’t like it when applied to Osiris, or Zeus. While there has been a corruption of the text of the gospels, the degree of corruption is known, since much older documents exist which can be checked. Anyone with a casual knowledge of document transmission and the 5000 New Testament documents, copies and early translations extant can verify this. The New Testament is a very well established document of history.
Proof of God? A better proof than I can think of. But there is something I always notice about God. God never provides 100% proof. Despite the volume of evidence that He provides us about Himself, there is always, always a certain percentage of faith required. Because the truth of God is never acquired by scientific truth, evidence, or even vaunted reason. God is Spirit. And those who approach Him must do so with a degree of faith. It is the “leap of faith” that gets you from evidence to trust.
Something to think about on your Thursday. Thanks for reading.