Pascal’s Possibility

Though many may be happy there has been an increase of theological books, we can see that the interest in God has diminished a lot more.

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Theology has wide appeal, and books promoting it are best sellers, but by the common man we notice that he has drifted further apart from any connection with the Divine Creator.
Though the existence of order presupposes the existence of organizing intelligence. Such intelligence can be none other than God’s.” [Dieu existe? Oui (Paris, 1979), Christian Chabanis, quoting Pierre-Paul Grassé, p. 94.]
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It is not because scientifically we can not prove an existence of something that it doe snot exist. The same with God, we not able to proof He does exist or does not exist, makes it not that He would not exist.

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Our minds cannot fully comprehend the Divine Creator. He seems untouchable and incomprehensible. Though if we would look more to the things around us and listen to our inner soul, we would be more sure. Also when we would listen to the Words in the Holy Scripture and let them enter into our heart we shall come to understand lot more things. Listening to the heart will also give lots of answers.

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It is not our minds cannot fully comprehend it that we would have a sound reason for rejecting the existence of God.

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Levels of existence

Levels of existence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider examples: (1) Time. No one can point to a certain moment as the beginning of time. And it is a fact that, even though our lives end, time does not. We do not reject the idea of time because there are aspects of it that we do not fully comprehend. Rather, we regulate our lives by it. (2) Space. Astronomers find no beginning or end to space. The farther they probe into the universe, the more there is. They do not reject what the evidence shows; many refer to space as being infinite. The same principle applies to the existence of God.

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Other examples: (1) Astronomers tell us that the heat of the sun at its core is 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit (15,000,000° C.). Do we reject that idea because we cannot fully comprehend such intense heat? (2) They tell us that the size of our Milky Way is so great that a beam of light traveling at over 186,000 miles per second (300,000 km/sec) would require 100,000 years to cross it. Do our minds really comprehend such a distance? Yet we accept it because scientific evidence supports it.

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Which is more reasonable—that the universe is the product of a living, intelligent Creator? or that it must have arisen simply by chance from a nonliving source without intelligent direction? Some persons adopt the latter viewpoint because to believe otherwise would mean that they would have to acknowledge the existence of a Creator whose qualities they cannot fully comprehend. But it is well known that scientists do not fully comprehend the functioning of the genes that are within living cells and that determine how these cells will grow. Nor do they fully understand the functioning of the human brain. Yet, who would deny that these exist? Should we really expect to understand everything about a Person who is so great that he could bring into existence the universe, with all its intricate design and stupendous size?

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To remember:

  • criteria for God’s existence
  • to claim that there is no evidence = claim to knowledge which is itself already assuming a criteria of evidence
  • there already exists an unconscious idea
  • how should a God exist on their view
  • reasons for believing in God’s existence =  entirely pragmatic
  • formulate conception of God
  • our inability to truly conceive of perfect goodness
  • when thinking of God, one must think of a being approaching one’s highest ideals of Perfection
  • the better his idea of God => the better he will know God
  • the worse the man, the smaller and more shallow his conception of God will be +> therefore the further from the truth he will be ===> digression
  • Ontotological argument
  • trick of the mind to think that the goodness of a thing counts as positive proof against its existence
  • metaphysical possibility of God’s existence > no proof such a being is an impossibility -> possibility
  • Pascal was right in concluding that the infinite gain one receives by living in a world of objective meaning, in which at the heart of existence really does lie a Perfect Being who shall set all right, and who can ground all logic and truth, easily justifies the risk one takes in believing in something one thinks is even extremely improbable.
  • metaphysics, truth, science, morality, beauty, and a hope in ultimate triumph of good over evil
  • if our faith lasts till the end we shall die with about as much hope as it is possible for the human heart to contain.
  • We must not be tricked into thinking that just because we are gambling we are gambling on an impossibility. Remember, we are betting on a real possibility – a reality which thousands of years of human thought has not been able to prove impossible, and which there is actually good positive evidence for.

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Preceding articles:

Caricaturing and disapproving sceptics, religious critics and figured out ethics

Science, scepticism, doubts and beliefs

Is faith rational?

Why think there’s a God? (1): Something from Nothing

Why think there is a God? (2) Goldilocks Effect

Why Think There Is a God? (3): Why Is It Wrong?

Why think there is a God (4): And the Rest …

Why think that (4) … God would reveal himself in words

Does He exists?

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Additional reading:

  1. Science and God’s existence
  2. Did the Inspirator exist
  3. Christianity is a love affair
  4. When believing in God’s existence and His son, possessing a divine legislation
  5. Hatred and hostility against God
  6. Daring to speak in multicultural environment

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Further interesting readings:

Is faith rational?

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

Is faith rational?

Faith is confidence for a reason. Everyone understands faith in this sense, as applied to ordinary matters. It is the same in divine matters. There is no truth in the popular view that places faith outside the confines of reason.’[1]

A typical dictionary definition rightly informs us that faith is belief which is not based on proof.[2] However, this is not the same as saying faith is blind, or that faith is belief for no reason, or that faith is not based on evidence.

Blind Faith (film)

Blind Faith (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Proof is a body of evidence which demonstrates a belief or statement to be conclusively true (typically through testing); evidence is a body of facts which provide rational reason for belief, without being conclusive. Faith is belief on the basis of evidence, where actual proof is absent.

There are many aspects of our faith which we cannot prove: we cannot prove the existence of many of the characters of the Bible, and many of the events recorded there; we cannot prove the resurrection took place; we cannot even prove the existence of God.

In each of these cases we have no opportunity to test the claim and prove it conclusively. However, in each of these cases there is sufficient evidence to warrant belief. We do not hold these beliefs without any evidence whatsoever. Throughout the Bible repeated appeals are made repeatedly to evidence, in support of truth claims; eyewitness accounts,[3] [4] verifiable historical monuments,[5] and direct personal experiences.[6] Blind faith is never encouraged.[7] [8] [9]

Early Christians appealed to evidence in order to argue that their faith was rational. Accordingly, the earliest defenders of Christianity (known as the Apologists), presented it as rational and worthy of belief,[10] and in harmony with science,[11] which appealed to thoughtful non-Christians.

The 4th century Latin commentary known by the name ‘Ambrosiaster’, identifies prophecy as ‘the first proof that our faith is rational’.[12] The famous 13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas likewise argued that faith is rational and that reason could be used to demonstrate theological truths.[13] Christian belief, if it is to be both rational and defensible, must be based on a faith which is not blind. [14]

‘The certainty of and trust in the Christian faith cannot be made hard in a scientific, deductive or inductive way. But neither is it based on arbitrary opinion.’[15]

 

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[1] Roberts, ‘The Visible Hand of God Or Miracles, Signs, And Wonders’, The Christadelphian (18.199.16), 1881.

[2] ‘1 complete trust or confidence. 2 strong belief in a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.’, Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11th ed. 2004).

[3] John 3:11 I tell you the solemn truth, we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.

[4] Acts 5:30 The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

[5] Deuteronomy 3:11 Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaites. (It is noteworthy that his sarcophagus was made of iron. Does it not, indeed, still remain in Rabbath of the Ammonites? It is thirteen and a half feet long and six feet wide according to standard measure.)

[6] Acts 10:39 We are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen, 41 not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

[7] ‘It required a robust faith to undertake a journey of four months, cumbered with women and children, and the valuable vessels of the temple, lying through a country infested with robbers and enemies of the Jews, without making every possible arrangement for protection. But theirs was not a blind faith. God would not be pleased with such.’, Roberts, ‘Sunday Morning at the Christadelphian Ecclesia’, The Christadelphian (54.633.109), 1917; Roberts is referring to the Jewish exiles who returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

[8] ‘In other words we rightly endeavour, as the early brethren did, to find the real meaning behind the English words we read and so come to the true message of God for man. This approach marks us as distinct from Fundamentalists; it has, I believe, always commended itself to  people of reason who are not prepared to follow a blind faith.’, Draper, ‘Fundamentalism’ (letter to the editor), The Christadelphian (121.1437.109), 1984.

[9] ‘But Bible faith is not blind faith. We are given more than sufficient evidence to prove that Christ was raised from the tomb.’, Cresswell, ‘Proving the Resurrection of Christ’ The Christadelphian (137.1634.296), 2000.

[10] ‘In addition to the refutations of calumnies and the presentation of Christianity as a rational faith the Apologists were also concerned withthe questionings of thoughtful men.’, Barnard, ‘Justin Martyr: His life and thought’, p. 3 (1967).

[11] ‘According to the early Fathers, science and Christian doctrine were to be developed side by side, each on independent grounds, and each in harmony with the other.’, Mahan, ‘A Critical History of Philosophy’, volume 1, p. 483 (2003).

[12] ‘Paul begins with prophecy, which is the first proof that our faith is rational, for believers prophesied when they received the spirit.’, Ambrosiaster, in Bray (ed.), ‘Commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians’, p. 96  (2009).

[13] ‘For Aquinas faith is rational; it involves, like all knowing, the assent of the intellect. And reason can demonstrate the truth of some theological propositions.’, Hicks, ‘The Journey So Far: Philosophy Throuth the Ages’, p. 201 (2003).

[14] ‘We believe this, and that the Bible teaches thus and so. Both these propositions are topics of investigation, and the man accepting them as true, and acting them out in his life, is not justly chargeable with fanaticism. It is not “the blind faith of a fanatic” that impels him, but the resolution of a sane man who acts from the perception of the facts.’, Roberts, ‘Rejoinder to MacMillan’s Notice of “An Obscure Sect”’, The Christadelphian (27.316.369), 1890.

[15] Stoker, ‘Is Faith Rational?: A Hermeneutical-phenomenological Accounting for Faith’, p. 199 (2006).

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Preceding articles:

Where is the edge

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

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