William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alma, Korrihor, and objective evidence for God's existence

One person asked:

"'But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.' Is this really a sound argument? Should Korihor be persuaded by this argument? Would any atheist be persuaded by this argument?"

To which I responded:
These arguments are not scientific arguments, and are virtually certain to fall on deaf ears of anyone looking for objective proof of God's existence. However, I have always liked the reference to the observable universe as being a witness that there is a Supreme Creator, because I believe that this highlights one of the important characteristics of religious faith- willingness to believe in something colors our perception of the objective evidence. When viewed through the lens of faith, the universe does witness God's existence. Who has ever stared at the heavens and not contemplated its infinite vastness, complexity, and beauty? Who can do so and not feel a connection to something greater and more eternal than ourselves? I believe there is divinity in each one of us, which prompts us and enables us to have faith and perceive more than what our physical senses are capable of sensing. But for various reasons, these spiritual tendencies in each of us are overpowered by other powerful factors, not all of which are bad per se, such as skepticism, discouragement, grief, fear, stubbornness, ignorance, prejudices, mistrust, etc. Can I blame an atheist for refusing to believe in God? Only to the extent that he betrays his spirit telling him to give faith a chance. But I am incapable of judging the extent to which this occurs in the case of each individual atheist, and so I believe I should refrain from passing judgment on individuals.

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