The challenge of trying to prove God's existence

This is a response I gave to an atheist asking for proof of God's existence on the Daily Telegraph's Religion blog, "Holy Smoke":

If I asked you to prove that a relative of yours loved you, there would be a number of experiences that I am sure you could mention, if you so wished, to back up an assertion that "person A" loved you. What if I then said, "How do you know they are not faking it/lying/acting out of predominantly selfish motives, ie. not truly loving you?" I could counter ANY of your arguments to justify the existence of this invisible love with such a statement. It wouldn't give me any pleasure, but I could do so and feel secure that I had "won" the argument. You would KNOW deep down that the person loved you... you would have so many clear memories and feelings to drawn upon.

Maybe that person actually saved your life and in the process sacrificed theirs.. "There you are! There's proof!" you would say... But I, being oh so cruel, could turn round and say, "But they could have done that out of a moral sense of right and wrong, that it was the right thing to do... does that equate with love? I don't think so."

Well I (and the rest of us "deluded" Christians) are in a similar situation. Many of us could say that we had experienced God's presence in our lives. Great philosophers and theologians throughout the centuries have grappled with the question of trying to give a rational proof for the existence of God and are generally considered to have failed. Who am I to presume I could do any better?

The nearest I feel one can get is the testimony of the lives of those who sacrifice all for their faith in God, starting with Jesus... hence my reference to the belief in the resurrection of Jesus by his followers in a previous post... But you would say, "What about Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers...? What God is it that demands of such people the sacrifice of innocent lives?"

No-one can give you an answer you would be happy with, based on what I have learned about you on this blog, and I am sure you realise this. All I (or anyone else) would be left with at the end of every possible argument is the testimony of who I am as a person, what I stand for... my sincerity, my wish to do God's will in all things, the desire I have to share the love God has shown me in his infinite mercy and kindness with those I come in contact with.

If you cannot respect what I believe, then at least respect me as a person.

**********

(And....)

I have myself experienced "strange" phenomena as well as know of umpteen (generally more dramatic) events in the lives of intelligent, rational people whom I trust deeply.

But can I prove that such things are miraculous in the religious sense/come from God? No, of course not. It would be an insult to the intelligence of others (inc. atheists) to try.

However, I DO CHOOSE to believe that a great many such happenings have been God-inspired. Why? Well, I don't NEED to believe in them to support/sustain my general faith in God. I just choose to (silly old me, hey?).

Let's just say that I'm prepared to stake my life on the fact that God does exist... I wouldn't have joined a religious order if I didn't. The evidence (yes, evidence) that piled up in my life in my late teenage years that something/someone/some external force was prodding/pulling/calling me in a particular direction just became too compelling to ignore. That evidence has continued to pile up ever since. In terms of rational thought, for me (and I say deliberately FOR ME - I cannot presume to speak for anyone else) it would have been illogical to ignore such compelling evidence forever and not at least test out whether or not I was really up to living in community as a teaching Brother.

'Cos, you see, to start with, I didn't believe I was. I had far more doubts about my ability to live up to the calling I felt sure I was being offered than that the calling was real. I shouldn't have doubted, because God will always give you whatever you need to cope with whatever he calls you to do.

eg. My 2 least favourite subjects at school (+ the ones I did worst in) = French + RE. Boring!!! Took RE O-Level a year early at 15. Good riddance, I felt. Scraped a 'C'. French a year later, again scraping a 'C'.

I since joined a FRENCH religious order, obviously involving extensive theological + philosophical study, all of which I did IN FRANCE and IN FRENCH!!!!! Now don't tell me God hasn't got a sense of humour...
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