In my brief journey into the unguided and purposeless world of atheists, the most common question I get is, “Where’s your evidence for God?” Or, more blatantly, “There is no evidence for God,” as if they are even addressing the question of God. They’re not because what they seem to be asking for is scientific evidence, and science is incapable of answering the question.
Demanding scientific evidence for God is a fallacious category error. And the fact that many don’t like this answer only shows how profoundly they don’t understand what is meant by “God” in classical theism.
Don’t get me wrong. Science has the goods when it comes to testing things in nature. But science cannot help us with the question of God. Besides, scientific evidence is only one kind of evidence. For instance, there’s also logical evidence that’s just as valid, like with mathematical theorems. And theist philosophers have developed robust and logically deductive arguments for the existence of God over the last 2,300 years. The problem is, many scientists and even philosophers who are atheists have shown that they really don’t understand the classical theist’s arguments, only a vapid caricature of them.
Another fallacious category error stems from what is meant when we use the word, “God.” It seems that many atheists and skeptics (even some theists) think of God as a “thing” in the universe. But God is not a being in nature, nor is He some “supreme being” among beings. (See my post, “God is not a god“.)
However, while God is not material or part of the cosmos, He certainly could interact with it if He created it. This would be similar to a builder interacting with his building’s construction or on-going maintenance. Now, you certainly wouldn’t go down to the construction site and look for the builder in the concrete or glass. That would be absurd. Likewise, the Builder of the cosmos won’t be found in the cosmos.
So, while we won’t find God Himself by looking in the universe, we will find His workings everywhere and every moment of every day we exist. As Paul said, His invisible attributes are clearly seen in our world:
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Rom.1:20 NKJV, emphasis added)
In fact, the most ubiquitous evidence of all is that we continue to exist. And if this is so, we must have an explanation for our continuing existence, otherwise we succumb to ontological incoherence. We violate the principle of sufficient explanation. As David Bentley Hart points out concerning the inescapable absurdity of naturalism:
“It is at the very point where physical reality becomes questionable, and reason finds it has to venture beyond the limits of nature if it is to make sense of nature, that naturalism demands reason turn back, resigned to pure absurdity, and rest content with a non-answer that closes off every avenue to the goal the mind necessarily seeks. The question of existence is real, comprehensible, and unavoidable, and yet it lies beyond the power of naturalism to answer it, or even to ask it.” (“The Experience of God,” p.95)
We will look at what classical theists mean by the existence of God in the next couple of posts. While it may take a little thought to fully comprehend the depth of their arguments and understand some of the metaphysical terminology, once you do you’ll see why the atheist’s arguments for a God-less reality are all non-starters.