People kept pointing it out to us, but we still couldn’t find it. “Do you see the white rock on the side of the near cliff? Well, just go up from there and you’ll find it…from here it looks like a brown spot about a quarter inch long, but up close it’s probably a hundred pounds.”
And lo and behold- there it was- we spied the mountain goat as it edged its way along the cliff. It dislodged a rock which fell a thousand feet below.
We were looking out over Waimea Canyon, known as ‘the Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. It looks like the real Grand Canyon, only much greener. A few miles further down the road was the Kalalau lookout where we could see the edge of the Na Pali Coast, with the Pacific Ocean 4000 feet below. The sights of Kauai are miraculous.
The question is whether this beauty is a miracle created by God or just a fluke of nature. Do miracles happen or is it just coincidence? Some Chicago Cub fans would argue that it’s a miracle for the Cubs to be in the World Series this year; others would say they just got lucky or long overdue… maybe even good.
I enjoy learning from The Great Courses, a product of The Teaching Company, which features outstanding university professors teaching various subject matters. The most recent course that I’m doing discusses the big questions of philosophy. More specifically, Dr. David Johnson, of King’s College, discusses pro and con arguments for whether or not there is a God.
The basic premise of the discussion is that it’s very hard to prove one way or the other for the existence of God. Moreover, it is more complex to say there is a God than not. For instance, some maintain that the universe evolved, but we’re unsure what started it. Others say God created the universe, but don’t know where God came from. In the lectures, the argument is that the simpler theory, which is that there is no God, is probably the correct one. Dr. Johnson argues that things we can’t explain are more likely due to our lack of knowledge and understanding. This is the simpler explanation so we should go with it. There have been lots of instances throughout history where man initially lacked understanding and later discovered the cause without attributing it to God:
- An apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head. This led to the development of the ‘core’ (bad pun intended) concept of gravity.
- Hurricanes form by warm water evaporating into a low pressure system over the ocean waters, rather than ‘the gods’ blowing real hard.
- Modern medical science
- Pretty much anything that we have learned through modern scientific technique was once unknown and often attributed to God
Now, there have been many stories of miracles occurring with people testifying as to their veracity and using that as evidence for God’s existence. Once again, Dr. Johnson reasons that these are things we can’t explain and that it is simpler and more believable to just chalk it up to our lack of knowledge or understanding, as we cannot prove it. Actually, I believe Dr. Johnson it correct, we can’t prove miracles; we can’t prove with the certainty of modern scientific technique that there is a God.
So why can’t we prove God’s existence? …the remarkable answer is that God designed it that way!
Think about it: God gave us free will. We can pick and choose what we want to do and what we want to believe. We can make good life choices or poor life choices. We can choose whether or not to believe in God.
Now, if we could actually prove beyond a doubt that there is God, then we would lose our free will. If there was absolute proof of God then we couldn’t choose…we would just have to believe.
Similarly, if we could prove there is a God, we would follow everything He commanded for who would defy Him? Our free will would be gone. It is better to have free will and choose God’s way out of our love for him.
This is analogous to having kids grow up. When they are young, we control everything they do. As they grow up, we give them more and more free will over their lives. Hopefully, once grown, they will choose our way out of love and respect for us rather than being forced to do things our way, quite likely with a resentful attitude. Although free will allows for potential negative outcomes, it also leaves the potential for even greater happiness.
We cannot win an argument for proof of God with a philosopher. However, as shown in earlier blogs, the belief in God can lead to improved happiness and physical health. Also, for those of us who believe, it is easier for us to experience the joy of seeing evidence to strengthen that belief. St. Augustine said:
Faith is to believe what you do not see. The reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
For those believers out there, you know what he means.
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