Reasons for Faith Part VI:
by PastorErick | 9/19/17, 7:44 AM
An Argument From Experience
WARNING: Of all the arguments for God’s existence that have been presented thus far in our “Reasons For Faith” series, today’s argument may be the weakest. It’s not that it is an invalid argument or doesn’t hold any weight (it does). Rather, it is simply that it can be the most easily dismissed by those you engage with. Nevertheless, when put in combination with the previous arguments (Cosmological, Fine Tuning, Regularity, Moral, Beauty, etc.) it can be helpful. The argument I’m writing about is of course the argument from experience…..
It goes something like this:
If God exists, we’d expect people to have an experience of him.
The vast majority of people claim to have had some experience with a God.
Therefore, some God exists.
Let’s take it apart piece by piece:
“If God exists we’d expect people to have an experience of him”-
We are not here validating all experiences (or even most experiences of God) with this first premise. All we’re pointing out here is in a world governed by a Deity we’d expect the vast majority to have some sort of “religious” experience.
“The vast majority of people claim to have had some experience with God.”-
Throughout history the vast majority of human beings on planet earth (I mean, we’re talking like 95% of all humans ever) have worshipped some sort of deity. Now, we are not saying they worshipped the right Deity necessarily. We are not now claiming that they all had the right ideas about the Deity. All we’re saying here is that nearly everyone has had some sense that Something exists outside of them. Even in our day, full of the loud and proud "New Atheism", the numbers of those who believe in some sort of Deity simply dwarf those who don’t.
On top of this, history is chock full of people that started off as skeptics that because of some experience with God, ended up having their whole lives changed (The Apostle Paul Is the most prominent example, but certainly not the only one).
Are they all crazy or delusional as Richard Dawkins says? Are Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, Martin Luther, John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, Frances Collins, etc. all idiotic, delusional nutters?
This leads to the conclusion:
Therefore some God exists-
Since so many throughout history have claimed to have had some knowlede/encounter with a deity, it follows that some sort of deity actually exists.
Now, like I said earlier, I’ll be the first to admit that this argument for God’s existence is easily ignorable and maybe even refutable (especially standing on its own). One can simply say, “Mankind has believed lots of nonsense throughout their history, but Science has corrected us. The same is true with our view of God."
My response: It’s true that science has corrected very many things we’ve had wrong (ex: we no longer believe in a flat earth, we have much better medical care, and we now know conclusively that abortion is actually the kiling of an human life, etc.). However, science has not proven one way or another anything about God’s existence; after all, He cannot be fit into the nifty parameters of the scientific method (lots of things we believe in can’t: Love, Beauty, Ethics, and most other things we find vitally important for living a fulfilled life.)
Also, if our evidence for God’s existence were merely based on opinion and experience you might be right to dismiss it. But since there are so many logical/historical arguments for God’s existence beyond man’s experience of Him, it is not rational to simply dismiss ALL of these events as mere delusion.
So there you go: A few arguments for the existence of God. There are many more arguments that could be made to simply show the rationality of believing in a God. But as I’ve said before, these arguments don’t give us very specific information about this God. Therefore, next week we’ll begin looking at the reasons for why one should specifically trust in the Christian God.
- 31 - Reasons for Faith in the Bible Part I: Jesus Said So
- 24 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part V: The Uniqueness of the Resurrection
- 17 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part IV: The External Evidence
- 10 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part III: The Birth, Rapid Expansion and Martyrdom Of The Early Church
- 03 - Reasons for (Christian) Faith Part II: The Counterproductive Gospel