I cannot prove to you or anyone, undeniably, the existence of God. If that were possible, everyone would not only believe in God already, but it would deny the possibility of having true faith in God. This is not to say, however, that I do not believe God hasn't left any proof of His existence. The intention of this post is to present some evidences that, I hope, will provide you with a reasonable foundation for a belief in God. I would still mention that I believe there to be a path to undeniable evidence of God's existence if one allows for spiritual evidence, but that will not be my main focus today. For now, I will center the discussion on “logical” reasons for a belief in God. And, of course, you are free to deny any points I bring up. After all, just because something is true or reasonable does not mean one will accept it. The possibility to deny something will always exist to anyone with free will. Indeed, part of the conditions upon which true faith is possible is the existence of reasonable doubts. At the end of the day, I believe it is who *we* are that makes the difference (i.e., if we are in a state of rebellion towards God, we will gravitate to and hold on to—at the exclusion of other facts—those evidences that reinforce our belief that God cannot exist, but if our fundamental state of being is humble and honestly desiring Truth, we will find more than sufficient evidence for God’s existence).
The Proof From Existence and Meaning
First, I ask you to consider the phenomenon of existence itself. The world around us is home to expansive landscapes, beautiful horizons, vast oceans, and vibrant jungles and forests--all teeming with a complex variety of animal, human, and wild life. The outside universe is similarly impressive and complex, filled with extraordinary splendors. These magnificent miracles scream for explanation: “How does this grand universe exist? And why?” I submit that God holds the simplest and best answer. Science, I'll admit, has come up with some impressive answers to the “how” question. Indeed, between the Big Bang and Darwin, science offers arguably satisfactory explanations as to how life and even the universe have developed—though, I would add that, none of them prove that God couldn't have had a part in those processes. But even still, the best of scientific thought does not offer a satiating explanation as to why a universe exists at all. Allowing for an intelligent, loving designer fills this void, gives meaning to life, and provides possibilities as to an ultimate purpose for why life exists at all.
The Problem of Evil
Stating that God is the architect behind creation brings up an important and valid concern. One may understandably ask, “If our intelligent existence wasn't the result of a random process, but of a loving, all-powerful God, then why does He allow so much hate and evil in the world?” This was the most common objection I received as a missionary in Argentina. It is a timeless question and one that similarly cries out for explanation. Indeed, I believe it to be a strong argument against an intelligent designer, and sufficient for many people to hold on to and conclude that God does not exist. As one prominent philosopher asked, “Why is there any misery at all in the world? Not by chance surely. From some cause then. Is it from the intention of the Deity? But he is perfectly benevolent. Is it contrary to his intention? But he is almighty. Nothing can shake the solidity of this reasoning, so short, so clear, so decisive.”[i] Allow me to share some of the reasons I have come to account for this seeming inconsistency.
As I alluded to in the first part of this letter, I believe we exist on this Earth, in part, to develop faith. The ability to choose is a requirement for development itself to be possible. None could truly grow unless each could not think and act for his or herself. Thus, God gives to all men the unfettered ability to choose for themselves. As C.S. Lewis responds to the above-posed question:
“. . . how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?
“. . . anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, 'I'm not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You've got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.' Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.[ii]
The ability to choose, therefore, carries with it the immutable implication that men and women can choose wrongly. This is the principal explanation for the existence of evil: People use their God-given agency to act contrary to God's preference. More important than mere explanation, however, the existence of evil serves many purposes. First, happiness is not possible without challenges to it. How much would we enjoy a meal without knowing the feelings of hunger? If we were ignorant of what it felt like to feel miserable, would we even have the capacity to recognize and appreciate joy? I submit that we could not.[iii] I have come to think of it as God valuing our higher or ultimate happiness over our immediate happiness at any given moment. In other words, there could be no supreme sweetness without biting bitterness. Second, character development is not possible without evil. Adversity can increase the amount of empathy one has toward one's fellowmen, foster humility toward and unity with loved ones, and lends itself to the tendency to remember and turn to God more often and with more heart. But beyond tempering temperament, I believe God wants to mold us into a people of a certain overall character. He wants people who not only do good things (an admirable, but ultimately insufficient, end), but eternally more important, to do good because they are good: their internal will and desire is to do good because it is good. This type of character development is only possible in an environment where we not only have an imperfect knowledge of God and the hereafter, but also where evil can entice us, even appeal to us. Each time we resist such enticements and choose righteously, we become morally stronger—our inner character becomes better, more holy. This is the central purpose for life. If evil did not exist choice would not be truly viable, and thus, no real development of inner goodness. This is what our Intelligent Designer intended for each of us.[iv]
The Proof of Uniformity in Nature
I next invite you to consider the phenomenon of order. When one reflects on the world around us and the advancements of chemistry, biology, physics, and other forms of scientific knowledge, one fact stands out with striking conspicuousness: the world obeys certain laws with almost tiresome predictability. These laws can be described in often surprisingly simple formulas (e.g., Newton's laws of motion). The universe might have been naturally chaotic. But it is not. It is amazingly orderly. This is beyond the scope of science to explain. Science can describe, even predict phenomenon. It does so by applying formulas in accordance with scientific laws. When an aberration in the formula exists, a higher law of science is evoked to explain it. For example, at very high speeds, Newton's laws seem to break down, and so are explained in terms of Einstein's higher law of field equations and relativity. But the nature of science cannot explain why or how the law itself exists.
Additionally, “natural” laws heavily favor the existence of life. This is hardly random. Consider that, in the Big Bang theory, the initial explosion was exactly the right amount of force when, if the strength differed by as little as one part in 1060, the universe would have either experienced a quick recollapse or an expansion too fast for stars to form?[v] Why is the neutron 1.001 times the mass of a proton, when if it differed, would cause all protons to decay into neutrons, making life impossible?[vi] Why was water given the property to become less dense when solid (when, if it acted like most substances and became denser, the heat of the sun could never have melted the oceans from the ice age)? Why are gravity, the electromagnetic, and strong nuclear forces exactly as they are when any difference of 5% or less would make life impossible (in the case of gravity, all that would be needed is a difference as little as one part in 1040)? Why is precisely .007 percent of a hydrogen’s mass converted to energy when it transforms into helium when any difference would either make the transformation impossible (making the universe consist entirely of hydrogen) or so inefficient such that all of the universe’s hydrogen would have been depleted by now? Science has no sufficient answer. For science, laws simply “are” with no implications.
God, however, provides—quite rationally—most satisfying answers. Laws don't simply exist. They exist because they were calculated by a being with infinite ability to calculate. The colossal amount of uniformity in nature is not likely due to coincidence, but to intelligence. Just as we naturally explain similarities of quality in a series of paintings by their being made by the same artist, or commonality of design in clothes by a common designer, so too is it rational to attribute the common laws of the universe to a common Lawgiver.
I know many think that they trust wholly in rationality, forgoing the need to invoke a Divine Creator. If one takes these reasons together, however, I believe they provide more than a sufficient rational basis for belief in His existence. Of course, I know many will reject these reasons. At the very least, though, I believe, it compels one to consider the possibility.
[i] David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext03/dlgnr10.txt
[ii] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 52.
[iii] See 2 Nephi Chapter 2
[iv] See The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 77
[v] See Paul Davies, The Accidental Universe (Cambridge University Press, 1982), 90-91.
[vi] See John Leslie, Universes (New York: Routledge, 1989), 39-40.