1a Can we know God?

Is there a god and if there is what and who is god? This is the central topic of theology and Christianity as a whole, and ultimately, for the Christian, this question should always be at the forefront of the mind as it represents the center of our belief, lives, and practices of faith. I would first like to begin with this post, ‘Can we know God?’ And I shall seek to do this first by addressing the question of whether or not a god exists, and if one exists can we know this god.

I must first tell everyone that, contrary to popular opinion, faith is not blind. Indeed, blind faith is not any faith at all. Faith is, rather, a belief in that which we have reasonable assurance for. By this I mean that the Christian’s faith in God is not irrational, it has, rather, been thought through by some of the greatest minds in human existence, from Augustine and Origen, to Anselm and Aquinas, and Calvin and Barth. God is believed by some prominent scientists such as Francis Collins, former head of the genome project and current head of  the NIH and another 40% of scientists are theistic, against the loud shouts of people such as Richard Dawkins [1]. Christians have a reasonable faith in God, and I hope to be able to show at least a little of that in this series.

Why do I believe there is a God? There is no one reason, even though I suppose you can say I have inherited my faith, but at the same time, I haven’t because I have thought deeply about this question, and I have made the Christian faith, my own faith and I, today, accept its core tenets without reservation, the same core tenets that this series will seek to present to the world at large. I have come to the conclusion that I believe in a god for three main reasons: the argument from contingency, the teleological argument [2], and an argument from morality [3], but I will only seek to show one here, the argument from contingency, the one I myself find most powerful [4].

The argument from contingency is one classical proofs of God drawn up by one of the greatest medieval thinkers, Thomas Aquinas. This is a variation on the cosmological argument and states (1) everything that exists contingently has a reason for its existence, (2) the universe is contingent, therefore (3) the universe must have a reason for its existence, (4) if the universe has a reason for existing, then that reason is god. Therefore (5) god exists. This is to say that because the things in the universe do not exist for the purpose of existing, a necessary existence, they are contingent on the existence of other things. Ultimately all things in this universe is made of matter, and this argument finds that the source of matter, ultimately, is god, who in the Christian tradition made the world out of nothing, ensuring that everything in the universe is contingent on himself. God himself, however, is a non-contingent being whose existence is necessary allowing him to be the causative agent of this universe [5].

These arguments are merely some of the few that theistic philosophers have used to logically justify the existence of a god, but I also recognize that for each of these arguments, philosophers have come up with counter arguments, and counters ad nauseam. There remains at some point where we must switch from mere argumentation to belief. Indeed, argumentation alone is not sufficient for a complete set of evidences for Christianity; it is merely the basis for our reasonable belief in the existence of a god. However, I hope this does show that the argument for a god is not merely a thoughtless belief, but it is a belief that has been defended logically from Plato to the present day.

Now, having provided a basis for the existence of a god, can we then know this god? Christianity says yes and that while the world and universe can explain that there is a god, God himself has revealed himself to us in his Word to humanity, the Bible [6]. The Bible is then, necessarily, the basis for orthodox Christian theology and main work I will be using throughout the remainder of this series exploring the basics of Christian theology, the study of God through his Word, the Bible.

A final note, this post hardly covers any of the reasons Christians believe in God, or the character of God and I merely wish to present a cursory glance at the rationality of Christianity and a beginning of the understanding of God. Countless books have been written on these topics, and I can hardly do justice to them all. I would highly recommend Tim Keller’s Reason for God, and C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, as helpful introductions to Christianity, its basis, and its rationality.

Notes

[1]http://ncse.com/rncse/18/2/do-scientists-really-reject-god
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/#CosFinTun
[3] http://usminc.org/images/MereChristianitybyCSLewis.pdf, http://www.philosophy.ucsb.edu/faculty/anderson/moral_arguments_for_the_existence_of_God.html
[4] I am not a philosopher, though I at times wish I could have had more training in philosophy. I have just found these arguments to be most convincing for me in showing that the existence of a god is, at the very least, not merely a thoughtless argument, a god of the gaps thrown in so that I may not have to wrestle with deeper issues.

I am skipping over the other two arguments for brevity in this first post.
[5] I think the best example on youtube showing this argument is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_Yjue8MXAI

and a further explanation can be found at http://ofdustandkings.com/infinite-regress-dawkins-on-theology/

[6] I also fully realize that this is a rather large leap, but I hope to show the basis of that leap throughout this series

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One thought on “1a Can we know God?

  1. You make a classically evangelical assertion by jumping from God to Scripture. I wouldn’t argue with that too strongly, but the question must be put forth: what is God’s primary revelation to creation? A book, or a community? ‘Cos from the historical perspective, Israel existed before it had Sacred Scriptures, as the Church existed before it had the New Testament. After all, how would we know [today] what the Bible is without the Church [through history] telling us?

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