There is No Proof of God’s Existence

Ever since I was in my mid-teens, I’ve been a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. And I’m still a follower today. I believe Jesus is both human and divine. I believe He is the Savior and Lord of the world. I believe that the New Testament witness concerning Him is true.

However, I can say without blinking that there is no proof for the existence of God. None. There are several evidences. But even those evidences can be debated, and not everyone finds them compelling.

In a future post, I will explain why I’m a Christian and follow Jesus. And in another, I’ll lay out why I believe God exists (even though there is no proof for His existence). But for right now, I want to say a few words to those who profess to be Christians.

I’ve met scores of Christians who were ready to give their teeth for Jesus in their 20s, only to turn their backs on Him in their 30s. Why? Because their commitment to Jesus was based on the supposition that He would perform a certain way. That He would take care of them and meet their needs in a certain way.

Get clear on this: God will let you down. He won’t meet all your expectations. He will allow things that will cause you to conclude that He is unfaithful and doesn’t keep His promises. If you haven’t met this side of God yet, you will. And at that moment, you will discover if you are serving Santa Claus or if you’re serving the God who is.

He will not always be faithful . . . according to your standards of faithfulness.

Isaiah 45:15 says, “Truly, you are a God who hides Himself.”

There was One person in history who deserved never to be forsaken by God. And that was His own Son. Yet in His darkest hour, God the Father forsook His own Son.

You may retort, “Yea, but He raised Him from the dead.”  True, but in His blackest hour, the Father forsook Jesus, causing Jesus to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The promises of God are true. But the Lord will see to it that He doesn’t fulfill all those promises in the way you think He should. At bottom, your God will not be followed, worshipped, or loved on the basis of His performance. Thus your faith – if it will endure – cannot be built on any expectations of God whatsoever. If it is, you’ve built it on sand.

God has determined to be known by faith alone. To simply believe that He is come hell or Hiawatha rather than in any personal expectations of Him. If you build your faith anywhere else, it will crumble in the day of trial.

Build your faith on Him alone and when you have grown old, you will look back at all the pain, suffering, trial, and mystery in your life and you will boldly declare, “He was faithful.”

“Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

~ Augustine

About Frank Viola

See my About page. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Google+

  • Pingback: Censored Religions | Wide Open Ground

  • Pete

    Did Jesus prove God exists?

  • Pingback: How Can a Good God Allow Innocent Children to Be Murdered?

  • Pingback: LORD NASTY There is No Proof of God's Existence | LORD NASTY

  • Pingback: News About My Upcoming FREE Book – I Want to Put Your Name In It!

  • blotonthelandscape

    Apologies for the rambling. I call you hypocrital below, but I don’t mean it in an ad-hom way, it is merely a description of the juxtaposition between two sets of statements you make above. TL;DR Your distinction between proof and evidence is specious at best, and your application of “evidences for no proof” leads to a god who can be partially falsified and otherwise dismissed.

    You seem to be distinguishing between “proof” and “evidence” in an odd way. As a statistician, I tend to use the words similarly, but with non-technical people I will generally explain that by “proof” I don’t mean “absolute proof”, which is only a reasonable goal when the statement can be reduced to mathematical formulae (1+1=2; All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Therefore Socrates is mortal); instead I generally mean that either we have enough evidence to reject a claim (or null hypothesis), or we don’t. This is a more adequate and rational approach when talking about existence claims from our human observational perspective, and encompasses a robust history of discussion on how to assess claims against expectation, uncertainty and confounding. When I talk about evidence, I generally mean a specific body of facts which I believe support my claim (along with the reasoning for why they support my claim and not some other claim).

    With that, I want to talk about two mutually exclusive kinds of gods; falsifiable gods and unfalsifiable gods. The first, which is where I find any adequately explained version of the christian god to fall at least in part, is a god whose actions and nature are predictable (i.e. not random, but determined, according to a plan or purpose or will), understandable (even partially) and have tangible results that manifest above the background noise of everyday variation (or significant). This is the god of miracles, signs and wonders, this is a god who is incapable of hate (or the embodiment of love, if you prefer), this is a god who is omnipotent, who desires relationship, and who punishes eternally those who fail to enter into that relationship. This god is falsifiable in one of two ways. In some ways, these characteristics can be shown to be inconsistent with reality or each other (c.f. The Problem of Non-Belief, or the contradiction between omnipotent and omniscience). This constitutes the strong mathematical definition of absolute proof, so long as we are sufficiently explicit in our definitions. In other cases, we simply cannot conclude from the available evidence that God is real, because the results of its actions fail to deviate from what we expect a universe sans god to produce. In statistics we would “fail to reject the null hypothesis”. The null hypothesis is by definition the simplest case, and another position can only be taken when we have evidence that the null is inadequate for explaining the phenomenon. In terms of proof, this means god’s non-existence is not “proved absolutely”, but it is demonstrated sufficiently to undermine any claim that belief is based on evidence (which is enough even if we grant your distinction between proof and evidence).

    The unfalsifiable god is more like the deist or philosophers God. We don’t expect it’s actions to result in observable effects. We don’t expect it to be relevant to our daily lives. The unfalsifiable God is Russell’s Tea-pot, or the invisible pink unicorn standing right behind you. We can claim it exists, and no-one can say anything to the contrary, but it is a meaningless assertion which we can dismiss without the need to refute it.

    Your distinction between “proof” and “evidence” appears to be trying to have it both ways. It appears to be trying to have the unfalsifiability of the latter with the comfort of evidence potentially found in the former. This is a recipe for cognitive bias, and you can’t have it both ways. If God provides “Evidence”, He is “provable”, or perhaps more correctly, “verifiable”. If He is unfalsifiable, he is also unverifiable, because evidence becomes meaningless. The risk you take in proposing evidence for God is having your God falsified; you’re clearly afraid to take that step, or feel it’s okay to claim that evidence for some aspects of your God Concept justify the concept as a whole.

    You undermine your assertions about God’s promises and His will; in your willingness to dismiss the construction of those 30-somethings who rejected God, you construct your own narrative for the way God ‘is’ in this very same post. This is, frankly, hypocritical. But it’s okay, because you’re wrong on a different point here. The fact is, we all construct a version of God. We have to in order to be sure we’re talking about something at all, whether real or imagined. If “God” is undefined, he doesn’t exist in any practical sense. And in most cases, we can form expectations based off that construction which are testable, or falsifiable, or checkable, or we can expect evidence to confirm those traits. We generally try to construct ideas which are testable because it is the only worthwhile way we as humans can be sure we’re right. When we don’t make testable claims, we don’t expect (or put forward) evidence for those constructions; we can’t. So in the case of those 30-somethings, their constructions led to expectations which were falsified by evidence, and they rejected their construction as a result. No doubt their construction differs to yours (in my opinion no God is completely alike between believers), but you mistake this for lesser to yours. But just because your construction remains unrefuted (or is unfalsifiable), doesn’t make it a superior construction.

    So even though [the traits that you assert are characteristics of your God] are unfalsifiable (and hence no amount of evidence could confirm them), the evidence you put forward will be on behalf of traits which are falsifiable, and as a result God, as you’ve constructed him, is at once disprovable (at least, those aspects which provide evidence can be falsified), and dismissible (at least, those elements which cannot be evidenced cannot be otherwise accounted for). I’ve rambled long enough at this point, I hope it makes sense.

  • Sunny Day

    Claiming faith allows them to sidestep having to verify anything they say even when common sense says otherwise.
    Less “enlightened” people would either call it lying.
    Kinder less “enlightened” people would call it telling Tall Tales.

  • Nox

    Wasn’t that also Paul’s definition of faith?

  • Pingback: The Myth of Christian Leadership

  • Neil Carter

    Thanks for the chat. Till next time :-)

  • Frank Viola

    Well … since you feel I’m being illogical in my responses to you — even though my observations about empricism have been detailed by postmodern philosophers (many of whom aren’t Christians) as well as other scholars — I don’t see the point in proceeding. Suffice it to say that you can look at my interviews with both Lamb and Copan on my other blog (I interviewed them both and they answer your question). And . . . I find your answer to my question on the resurrection to be quite flimsy.

    To compare @ 12 adult men who willingly died for their firsthand testimony of seeing Jesus in His resurrected state to someone claiming abduction from aliens is pretty poor. I am unaware of anyone who died for their testimony of alien abduction . . . let alone a group of people who claimed the same abduction. Again, alien abductions aside, to die for any false belief is one thing. But to die — even to be willingly tortured — for an event you claim to have witnessed firsthand is quite another, especially if an entire group of people make that claim and the claim can easily be refuted by one’s contemporaries. In short, one will have a difficult time explaining the rise of Christianity without the resurrection. Someday you should read Wright’s book . . . it may surprise you. But then again, you may deem that to be illogical also. ;-)

    Thx. for contributing, Neil. It’s good to hear from you. And I hope things are going well in your life.

  • Frank Viola

    Responded to in my other comment.

  • Neil Carter

    Which yes/no question do you mean? If you mean the one where you asked: “In closing, I’ve not offered anything illogical in anything I’ve stated in my responses. Would you at least concede that?” then my answer is no. Because you feel the need to characterize empiricism in caricatured ways, I would say we have left the realm of the logical and are now fighting straw men.

    A person makes an extraordinary claim (my pill eliminates belly fat) and I ask for evidence. There’s nothing wrong with that. Another guy makes an extraordinary claim (a guy came back from the dead) and I ask for evidence. Nothing wrong with that, either. It’s not arrogant or narrow-minded to require evidence.

    You say a bunch of people believed it. That’s not enough for me. I’ve seen how a bunch of people can believe things that aren’t true.

  • Neil Carter

    “…when someone dies for the sake of their own eye-witness testimony about something they attest that they saw, that’s a different matter.”

    Do you know how many people swear on their lives that they were abducted by aliens? Their stories get reeeeally detailed and specific. All’s I’m asking is that you appreciate that I approach the stories of the Bible with the same level of skepticism with which you would probably approach alien abduction stories. The superstitious mind is not a reasonable mind.

    And since time limitations will not permit me to read Copan and Lamb very soon, allow me to simply ask: Do you believe the Bible is correct in asserting that it was God who told the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child who stood in their way of possessing the Canaanite territory? And was that a moral thing for God to do?

    “In closing, I’ve not offered anything illogical in anything I’ve stated in my responses. Would you at least concede that?”

    Not until you characterized a desire for empirical validation as a straw man in pursuit of something called “certain knowledge.” You sidestepped my example about the fat-burning pills. Would you consider it arrogant or narrow-minded for someone to require empirical verification before he purchased a product? If not, how is this different?

    It would only be illogical if your response to these questions contradicted how you actually live (e.g. using empiricism in daily life decisions).

  • Frank Viola

    I’d be happy to write a concise remark on that question (as it’s an involved conversation since the NT says so much about faith). But this conversation is become murky and spread out all over the place. So why don’t you give some time to collect your thoughts and write a single post today or this week answering the questions I put forth. (I asked a yes/no question at the end of another comment within the hour.)

    Afterwards, I’ll respond to it with one comment also. If we can keep our responses to one comment per session, that will make it easier for people to follow. As well as easier for US to follow too! ;-)

    Thx. Neil.

  • Neil Carter

    Okay, you keep saying Jesus has a different meaning of faith and believing than it would seem. Now would be a great time for you to clarify it for me.

    “..all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matt 21:22)

    Explain what that means. What does “believing” mean? In what way does his “believing” differ from mine? And incidentally, I don’t define the word “belief” as synonymous with “mental assent.”

    (For some reason the “Reply” button isn’t showing up for some of your comments so I’ll have to try and answer them separately)

  • Frank Viola

    I’ve never been against empricism. But it’s grossly limited. Postmodern philosophers have effectively pointed this out, as well as the problem with foundationalism. The Enlightenment made empiricism the ONLY path to truth and promised a great deal, but those promises fell flat. Empiricism is great for disproving some things. But it’s incapable of bringing a person to certain knowledge. The idea that says that those things which are unfalsifiable (by the physical senses) cannot be known or are untrue is weak, limited, and narrow. Dare I say “intolerant”? ;-) But that’s really another conversation. Just saying . . . ;-)

  • Frank Viola

    The analogy breaks down because we’re not talking about said husband, said wife both living in the same culture and time where the meaning of words is assumed and understood. One example: faith is used in our time to mean mental assent or agreement. But that’s not how Jesus used it. Again, definitions and meanings are assumed here.

  • Neil Carter

    One more: “Numerous philosophers have critiqued what they regard as “Enlightenment arrogance” and the enshrining of empiricism as the only path to truth. A view that to their minds is (excuse me for cussing right now) both “intolerant” and narrow minded when it comes to accessing truth and acquiring knowledge. The only alternative to it is not superstition. Setting that up as the only alternative is an Enlightenment construct itself.”

    I never said superstition was the only alternative to empiricism, I am merely labeling the two alternatives which we are debating: The biblical worldview (which was pre-scientific and quite riddled with superstitions) and a modern one (which requires evidence before accepting claims).

    Do you really feel that wanting empirical verification for things is “arrogant” and “narrow minded”? It seems just the opposite. If I told you I’ve got a pill which melts away belly fat, would you not want to see a study that validates this claim before you purchased my product? How would you respond if I told you that was a narrow-minded and arrogant thing to ask of me? Would you not walk away, shaking your head?

    Why is this different?

  • Frank Viola

    People have died for false ideas in the past and present. Not unusual. But when someone dies for the sake of their own eye-witness testimony about something they attest that they saw, that’s a different matter. Especially when you have an entire group of people who willingly died for their first-hand testimonies. In addition, if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, His contemporaries could have refuted the whole movement then and there. It would have been discounted at that time, just like all the other failed Jewish Messiah movements before and after.

    There’s no comparison to Islam which isn’t based on the claim that someone rose against from the dead. A claim that could easily be refuted by the generation in which the claim is made.

    Never heard Craig on that specific issue. On that subject, I refer to Copan and Lamb (Hebrew/OT scholars) who have put the issue to rest. Their arguments are reasonable and rooted in ancient history and linguistics. I reviewed their books in another blog. Craig, however, has demolished the arguments of many an atheist, leaving them to beg the questions he raises. You may not have seen all of his debates.

    I would take issue with your comment that Wright is only compelling to people who already believe. I’d encourage you to read N.T. Wright’s seminal volume “The Resurrection of the Son of God” from cover to cover and take an honest look at his line of argument. Many atheists and agnostics have responded to it by saying (in effect), “I don’t have an answer or an explanation for Jesus’ resurrection and the rise of Christianity the way you’ve sketched it out here, but I choose to believe it didn’t happen the way the NT authors describe.”

    That answer, to my mind at least, contains a lot of intellectual integrity. So if you’re at least open to the idea that you’ve not fully dealt with the issue of the resurrection on intellectual grounds, I commend you to Wright’s book. It may not convince you, but it will be exceedingly difficult to refute the data.

    In closing, I’ve not offered anything illogical in anything I’ve stated in my responses. Would you at least concede that?

  • Neil Carter

    Still chewing on your answer to my earlier challenge about failed promises of Jesus…

    Wife: You said you’d be home by bedtime. That was three days ago. You lied to me.

    Husband: You see, dear, I use the word “home” differently than most people do. While you did indeed hear me say I’d be “home” by “bedtime,” you have to take what I said in the larger context of everything I’ve said in other places as well. And at times, I use the word “home” to mean “America,” and the word “bedtime” to mean “when I finally get in our bed.’” So you see I didn’t lie at all. You just misunderstood me. My mind just works on a higher level than yours does.

    Wife: Get out.

  • Neil Carter

    This all seems circumstantial and beside the point. Do you feel obligated to account for the growth of Islam? Did you know that by 2030 Muslims will outnumber Christians? Do you feel you must give an explanation for the growth of that religion or else be forced to accept the claims of that religion?

    You’ve got a book, and it makes extraordinary claims (so do other religions). And you believe that the burden of proof is on anyone who does not automatically believe the extraordinary claims. of your particular book. I disagree. What evidence do you have besides that book which can validate that a man was raised from the dead and then went up into the sky? (And can you cite any evidence which cannot also be used to prove that Hercules, Saturn, and Jupiter were real people as well?)

    I have indeed heard Wright and Craig and while at least Wright is very smart, the stuff they say only sounds convincing to people who already believe the same religion. But have you ever heard Craig’s justification for the Canaanite genocide? It’s sickening. He perfectly illustrates how ultimately this always comes back to the fact that some believers (thankfully not all) are hidebound to defend at all intellectual costs whatever that book says, no matter how far-fetched or silly it may sound to modern ears.

    You can say things like “each individual has a deep-seated reason for their response to Jesus,” but that subjectivizes a question that is really a question about objective reality. Talking snakes, floating zoos, parting seas, women turning to salt, and people coming back from the dead. Great children’s stories. Not real life. Forgive me, it just doesn’t sound real at all.

  • Frank Viola

    P.S. You should check out my post on Finding True Friendship: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/friendships/ – related, sort of. ;-)

  • Frank Viola

    Thx. Neil. Numerous philosophers have critiqued what they regard as “Enlightenment arrogance” and the enshrining of empiricism as the only path to truth. A view that to their minds is (excuse me for cussing right now) both “intolerant” and narrow minded when it comes to accessing truth and acquiring knowledge. The only alternative to it is not superstition. Setting that up as the only alternative is an Enlightenment construct itself.

    Ehrman is a sharp cookie, but N.T. Wright and others eat his logic for breakfast. The same with William Lane Craig and his debates with various atheists (if you’ve not seen Craig in action, you should). My own feeling and observation about all of this is that each individual has a deep-seated reason for their response to Jesus, and the arguments they choose to find satisfying or unsatisfying are governed by that deep-seated reason. This true for everyone, I think, “believers” and “non-believers” alike. For this reason, with few exceptions, these discussions don’t change anyone’s mind. It’s usually life experiences that do.

    Anyways, I look forward to your explanation of the resurrection and the rise of Christianity. To my mind, this is the linchpin upon which everything else hangs, as far as external evidence is concerned. So said Paul himself, “If Christ isn’t resurrected, then our faith is in vain” or words to that effect.

    Your friend,

    fv

    Psalm 115:1

  • Pingback: Censored religions | My Musing Corner

  • Jason B.

    Fideism is “faith” without reason…that is to say ‘for no reason’ but for itself. What I read in the authors post is something quite different. He writes of evidence and of proof, distinguishing the two. But then, in his reasons, though he does not give what we would term “scientific” evidence, he appeals to something which all Christians know and experience but can rarely put their finger on…that mysterious existential evidence of God. It is like the moment when Thomas, who formerly unbelieving *saw* the risen Lord. Jesus invited him to “put your hand in my side”. But Thomas had no need. He believed. This is the essence of faith.

    Faith is above rationality. It does not depend on proofs or evidence. It is not able to convince anyone outside of the one having it. It’s existence is it’s own proof and evidence. Faith is that mysterious apprehension of the unseen and unknown. Faith is mystical knowledge of God and produces the virtue of Trust whereby we rest in the goodness, mercy, and kindness of God for all things.

  • Neil Carter

    Nah, I’m convinced with Ehrman that there was a historical Jesus, but that he has been covered by and interlaced with so many layers of legend that it’s virtually impossible to be certain what the historical guy himself was really like. I also believe Joseph Smith was a historical figure. But I do not buy the story that he found golden plates buried in a hill or that he translated them into English with the help of a magic rock in a hat. According to the Book of Mormon which resulted from that so-called historical event, these plates were seen by eleven witnesses, and we know their testimonies are true because they are written in the Book of Mormon. This circularity looks silly to those outside the Mormon faith, but the circularity of the Bible’s claims of the resurrection are equally circular. The size of the movement which resulted from either religion is irrelevant. What matters is that both religions (Christianity and Mormonism) are relying on a book. That’s not good enough for me anymore.

    And what’s so bad about being Enlightenment-oriented, anyway? Is it superior to subject ourselves to a superstitious, pre-scientific, magical mindset? I fail to see why it would be.

  • Frank Viola

    Thx. Neil. The first part of your comment makes some big assumptions (most of which are rooted in Enlightenment thinking, by the way) that faith as used in the Gospels has to be *redefined.* I’m suggesting that 21st-century readers of a 1st-century document must embrace the humbling idea that one must learn what the meaning of those terms meant to first-century authors. No need for a dissertation, just a grasp of authorial intent of an ancient document. I’ll await your addition to my resurrection question, but I hope it’s more compelling than what you’ve written here. But now I’m also curious in light of what you wrote . . . who you think Jesus of Nazareth was exactly. I hope you’re not going to tell me that He never existed. :-)

  • http://www.herenowkingdom.com Andy Catsimanes

    There is also no proof evolution is a good account of the observed phenomena it purports to explain. There is evidence, though.

  • Neil Carter

    When belief has to be redefined in order to disregard any unanswered prayer offered in the sincerest faith, we call that “moving the goalposts.” It sets things up so that no matter what happens, Jesus is immune to criticism. Simply citing context does not significantly change the boldness of the promises I cited above. If a dissertation has to be written to clarify how those promises do not really say what they appear to say, then people can be forgiven for taking them at face value and walking away disappointed when they do not match with real-life experience.

    As for Jesus’ prayer for unity being still in our future, that’s easy enough to assert. But then once again I’d say that we should be forgiven for disbelieving his testimony (as delivered to us through second or third-hand sources) until such a time as this prayer actually comes to pass.

    And finally, as for the resurrection, I need more time than I have right now but the short answer is this: Do you know many people who are ruled by superstition? I don’t mean professional baseball players who refuse to change socks during a series, but truly, deeply superstitious people? They believe the most insane, unverified things with the slightest of ease. Ancient people (and some people outside the “first world” today) are very quick to believe things with very little evidence. From the moment they decide they believe something, it becomes impossible to sway them. I’ve encountered people like this, and it’s maddening. No amount of reasoning will change their mind once they believe something.

    And something led some of Jesus’s followers to believe he was raised from the dead. No question. And they went around telling people he was raised…and that they even saw him with their own eyes. They truly believed they saw and spoke with a resurrected Jesus, I am convinced of that. If the stories are true, they even died for their new faith. Many have died for faith in so many things over the years, this does not impress me. I know of 19 guys who flew a commercial airplane into two civilian office buildings because they believed something with their whole hearts. It didn’t make their beliefs true.

    Christianity remained a minority religion until Constantine, and the rest is history. From that point on, it is backed by the state government of countries all the way up until today, which explains its endurance and popularity. Even in our country, where it’s not supposed to be legal to demand our leaders be from one religion or another, candidates for public office try to outdo one another proving how legitimately Christian they are. That faith will remain a popular fixture in our culture for some time to come. But I’m digressing. And I gotta go. More later.

  • Frank Viola

    I don’t think we can safely presume to know what each of us “knows” — “you and I both know …”

    This gets back to interpretation. Matt. 21:22, “believing” is more than mere mental assent. That is another discussion entirely, but Jesus used the word “belief” and “faith” very differently than modern people do. Hence, just because someone thinks they prayed in faith doesn’t mean they did the way Jesus understood faith. As for Matt. 18:19, the context is key there with respect to binding and loosing. And no words that Jesus gave about prayer should be read in a vacuum apart from other things He taught about prayer, one of them being to pray in God’s will. Another being that faith is required. These are assumed since Jesus talked about them so much.

    As an author myself, people will often throw statements back at me from one of my books, wherein qualifications were made in other parts of the book or in other volumes. So certain things are assumed in various statements I’ve made to my audience. If not, then virtually every word has to be qualified and interpreted.

    Finally, there are different ways to look at John 17:20. One of which is that God hasn’t answered that prayer past or present. The Scripture also says that God is not willing that any should repent, but clearly many haven’t repented. So what God desires doesn’t always come to pass in our time-frame. Even so, we can do the interpretation dance all day, but all of it’s moot from my viewpoint until the resurrection question is answered. So I look forward to your response.

    To make the question clearer, how did Christianity begin and become a worldwide movement (even today, 2,000 years ago) despite the fact that everyone in the first-century was keenly aware that a crucified Messiah was a failure.

    Lots of Jewish movements ended with the violent death of their founder and in none of those cases did the followers claim that the founder of their movement rose again from the dead. Such a claim could have easily been refuted and the movement would have died.

    If the resurrection of Jesus did in fact happen, the rise of Christianity makes perfect sense. If it didn’t, it’s rather hard to believe that Christianity would have ever survived, let alone have the kind of influence it’s had even to this day.

  • Neil Carter

    I realize you don’t feel it’s necessary to go into what those promises are, but since your premise was that people misinterpret them, I figure it’s not getting off the subject to look at a couple of examples. I’ll grant that people distort and misapply some verses, but my contention is that no misrepresentation at all is needed in order to demonstrate that there are unambiguous promises which fail repeatedly upon giving them the reality test. (Don’t worry, I’ll address your other question, which is a change of subject, in a separate comment)

    Jesus would say things like “all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matt 21:22) but that’s clearly not the case. You could try to argue that when sincere prayers given in complete faith don’t come to pass, they just didn’t believe HARD enough. But the person who prayed in faith knows better. Instead, you are forced to rationalize by saying, “Ah, well. Must not have been God’s will.” But that’s not a condition Jesus put on this statement. It’s a misleading statement, as is.

    Elsewhere he sad, “if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them” (Matt 18:19), but you and I both know that’s not something you can rely on. Some kind of qualifier has to be inserted which makes excuses on Jesus’s behalf once this doesn’t work. See above.

    An entire discussion could be built around what I consider the most important failed prayer in history, which is the prayer of Jesus for unity in John 17:20ff in which Jesus banked his own legitimacy on the unity of his followers. I cannot conceive of a way in which that prayer was answered in the affirmative.

    So I find it pertinent and relevant to your very premise to ask, “Are those promises really being superficially interpreted? Or are they being taken as is, and trusted, only to end in disappointment?”

  • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

    Thank you for writing this. I could not agree more. We cannot prove that God exists. I still believe in him. But I am glad to have an honest answer.

  • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

    why is faith so essential to belief? why can’t we know?

  • Frank Viola

    Lol. MM strikes again. :-) Not necessary. I’m well aware of the words of Jesus and how they’ve been and can be interpreted.

    However, I am interested in one question where you’re concerned. How do you explain the resurrection (the narrative) and the rise of Christianity in the first century if Jesus wasn’t who the NT authors claim Him to be and the resurrection didn’t occur?

    I suspect you’ve had time to think this over and come up with a compelling explanation . . . one that is more compelling to your mind than what the the early Christians claim. Thx.

    btw/ it’s nice to hear from you.

    your friend,

    fv

    Psalm 115:1

  • Neil Carter

    The Great Connector ;-) Mike Morrell posted on FB with a link to something on Patheos and I saw you were on here. I’ve got plenty to say on the apologetics front as soon as I find the time.

    For now, I’ll state that one can completely eliminate the prosperity preachers from the matter (as well as those passages uniquely applicable to Israel) and still be left with bold claims by Jesus and others which are misleading. Maybe when I find a second I’ll list some examples.

  • Frank Viola

    Good points, John. Thx. for the comment.

  • Frank Viola

    True. And I don’t see anyone arguing the contrary. To put a finer point on it, God reveals Himself beyond the realm of empirical means.

  • Frank Viola

    Hi Neil. All good, logical points. Except that I don’t believe the Scriptures explicitly promise how God will do those things in every person’s life. For instance, the Faith/Prosperity Teachers routinely take texts that applied to OT Israel at certain junctures and make them applicable to every believer in a literal way. So it’s a matter of interpretation, and oftentimes, as failing humans we get it wrong.

    So it seems to me, anyway.

    Thanks for your comment. How did you find this blog? I thought only 3 people knew about it.

  • http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com randi

    Here’s my comment! can’t wait to read the newest!!

  • Neil Carter

    Hey Frank.

    “…their commitment to Jesus was based on the supposition that He would perform a certain way. That He would take care of them and meet their needs in a certain way.”

    From where did they get such an idea? Merely from misguided spiritual leaders? Or from the testimony of the scriptures themselves?

    I would argue that 1.) If the idea of a God who will faithfully provide for, care for, and heal us originates with the scriptures themselves, then that idea should not be dismissed or simply reinterpreted in order to protect the divine status of said scriptures. And 2.) Any person who unambiguously promises to do certain things and then does not do them under any conceivable interpretation of those promises is not a person whose word can be trusted (or in this case is perhaps a fictitious person in the first place).

    For example: If a man tells his wife that he will be home before bedtime but then stays out all night long on multiple nights, what is his wife to conclude? Should she reinterpret his faithfulness to his word in order to protect his behavior from scrutiny? At what point may we excuse her for realizing it is foolish to continue to put stock in her husband’s word?

    A relationship of any meaningful depth must be based on an ability to know, trust, and rely on the other person to some degree. But it seems to me that your reasoning sets up a system in which it is impossible to critique the relationship or the faithfulness of the person in question. Back to my example, if a man were to reinterpret his own faithfulness in terms which are radically different from those of his wife, it would spell the end of the relationship, and few would fault her for feeling that way.

    But if she were to distrust this other invisible, hidden, unreproachable fellow? She would be the one judged as “faithless.” That don’t make no sense.

  • Robert

    But, just because there isn’t any universally accessible knowledge doesn’t mean that this knowledge can’t only be apprehended personally.

  • Robert

    Jesus said that those who seek find. Proof is eventually in your grasp, but you must find ultimate security in God to have it shown you ultimately in the future. It seems to me that all other sources of security fail dramatically.

  • http://www.religious-diplomacy.org/node/35 John W. Morehead

    Thank you for writing this, Frank. I think you are correct to recognize the limitations of knowledge and the need for epistemic humility. There is no “proof” of God’s existence, but this should not be understood by Christians or skeptics that you don’t believe there are not rational reasons for believing in God’s existence. Unfortunately, Evangelicals have accepted an Enlightenment rationalism even while decrying the use of it to tear down the intellectual foundations of the Christian faith. Both Evangelicals and skeptics would do well to consider the critique of foundationalism and metanarratives by postmodernity and have a little more humility where their epistemology is concerned. This is a good volume in this regard: http://www.amazon.com/Postmodern-Apologetics-Contemporary-Perspectives-Continental/dp/0823242749.

    Beyond these considerations, I appreciated your approach that focuses on Christ and his resurrection as a major focus of your approach, and to that I would add the inductive theological method of Peter Berger in his helpful little volume A Rumor of Angels where theology is informed by anthropology. There he looked at “signals of transcendence,” those instances in mundane experience that point to the transcendence and thus “transcendentalize secularity.”

    Just a few thoughts to add to this discussion.

  • Pingback: When the Pages Are Blank: How to Bring the Bible Back to Life by Frank Viola

  • Pingback: Wednesday Gumbo: Proof of God, a Mustache Logo, Religious Liberty and More | Mark Moore

  • bjedwards

    We are fortunate through science to understand that “faith” and belief in deities are simply a product of the human mind and nothing more. While many human beings find comfort in such religious beliefs, and are willing to ignore objective reality in conflict with those beliefs, it is objective reality on which we all depend and which allows the luxury to engage in any religious myths we so choose.

    Such is the nature of this very article. Of course there is no empirical evidence of “God”, no more than there is any evidence of the existence of the close to 3,000 other deities human beings have invented over the ages. Christianity is no different nor any more compelling than any other religion. It’s weakness is the notion that it has to insist on the existence of a deity and that “faith” proves the existence of a “God” in order to sell its message. Its

  • Monimonika

    You could just take out the whole “God’s creation” bit and still be left with the answer to “How do you know that there is a sun above you?” Using God in this way when mentioning/talking about Him furthers the impression that God is extraneous.

  • http://www.ontherhoads.org Brad Rhoads

    There are several proofs for God’s existence. The Cosmological Argument is a slam dunk. It’s obvious to everyone that there can not be an infinite regression. And it’s only the “stiff necked” would say that it’s better conclusion that something came from nothing than “In the beginning was the Word…”

  • Linda

    I really like this piece you shared about the existence of God. It particularly speaks to me personally in my current situation. Though it is hard to accept that God will not always be ‘faithful’ (according to our standards), it is the straight truth. He is the great I AM and our expectations of Him cannot determine His actions (it only when He decides to allow it). Thanks for sharing this hard truth.

  • Frank Viola

    Thx. for the comment. I’m using “proof” the way it’s defined normally. See one of the comments on that.

    Regarding your other question, the best answer to it is found in the response of 3 Hebrew children in the face of a royal mandate to commit idolatry. To the king — “We will not worship your golden image and God WILL deliver us from the furnace of fire. BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, we will still serve Him and won’t bow down to the image.”

    God will . . . but even if He doesn’t, we will still serve Him.

    “Blessed is he who is not offended in me.”

  • http://unapologeticallyspeaking.wordpress.com/ Kevin R.

    Hello Frank,

    This is my first time contacting you, although in the last few years I have read parts of several of your books. I find much about of your thinking familiar, and consonant with my own.

    As for this topic, there is a sense of the word proof which is very applicable to the Christian faith. That is, to prove means to put something to the test. God does invite us to prove him in this way. Paul indeed tells us to prove everything. This is the way scientists use the word. (I am a physicist) But how does one put God and his word to the test? By faith. The two are not incompatible.

    As you point out, if the God of scripture is the one who is (YHWH), then we ought to expect a God who hides. So we should expect God to be present and yet hidden from plain view.

    I agree that we must beware of false expectations. they can shipwreck our faith. But don’t we need some specific content in the object of our faith and our hope? And how can we build that content of belief in God without building false expectations?

  • Joyce

    I gave lip service to the concept that God was not a cosmic santa for several years before I had to face the reality of it. That’s why I fixated on that part of the post. He was silent as I poured out my pain, grief and anger, over “unanswered” prayer that ended with circumstances even worse that I had envisioned. It was scary to see the depth of my anger at God, but I did not scare Him. He would not let me go, and I could not let go of Him. Many years later, I try to learn my Lesson faster. I don’t ever want to ever give up on believing God’s ability to “prove” Himself . I’m with those who say, “He is faithful when I am not”.

  • Pingback: Tuesday – There is no Proof of God’s Existence, « Fish Food – A Fresh Sampling of News and Notes from the Christian Blogosphere

  • Bill S

    If you want consider everything tha God isn’t it is all laid out in the Niceness Creed which was agreed upon under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. “Consubstantial” was where things got really dicey. See Arianism.

    I believe in one God,
    the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.
    I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
    the Only Begotten Son of God,
    born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
    through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
    he came down from heaven,
    and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
    and became man.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
    he suffered death and was buried,
    and rose again on the third day
    in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
    and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
    to judge the living and the dead
    and his kingdom will have no end.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
    who has spoken through the prophets.
    I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
    and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
    and the life of the world to come. Amen.

  • Pingback: Breakfast Links for 11/13/12 - God's Wild Mercies, God Will Let You Down, Stages of Religious Persecution

  • John I.

    Having been out of steady work for almost 2 years, I can agree that God does not meet our standards of faithfulness. Yet I believe more strongly than ever–not because I vainly hope that stronger “faith” will help me to nonsensically name it and claim it, nor because I need to believe in something, anything, so that I don’t despair–but because he and I have grown closer. Despite my sin and failings, I get to meet Jesus every day. This growing closeness has led to me seeing those times and places where he has indeed done something out of love for me, and has given me new insights into his character and love and into how I translate this into my being and doing and thinking in this present world.

    Ever since my first year of Bible college (which I entered as an unbeliever), I learned that one cannot put God into a test tube and that basing one’s faith on apologetics just ends in despair and apostasy. Paradoxically, however, I have continued to read and learn about evidences for God’s existence and relationship to this world. I have never been disappointed in God in all my apologetic thinking and searching; he is consistently revealed as a more than adequate reason for all that is even though it is never conclusive. God didn’t argue me into his kingdom, he loved me into it.

    John

  • Pingback: Why I Am a Christian

  • Frank Viola

    *walks up to stage*
    *picks up mic and reassembles it’s two detached pieces because the last speaker dramatically dropped it on the floor*

    Whispers: Ahem . . . read what Summer wrote. And all the other people who commented after you did. They got the point.

    *gently places mic on the floor to ensure it doesn’t break a second time*
    *walks away shaking head*
    :-)

  • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

    Thanks for the post, I was intruiged when you anounced that you would be writing under this title.

    Even in empirical science, there are no certainties, things are argued by induction, and we just accept that the more something happens, the more we expect it to keep happening in the same way, but you’d not prove God by induction. One could say there’s a low probability there is no god, by the fine tuning argument infinite odds against it, but the mistake people make is then assuming this is evidence for God, which is a false alternative, it could be any deity. The same mistake happens with many “proofs” like cosmological arguments (which are terrible anyway) or biogenesis, & even moral arguments, whci point to something more like the Biblical God, but could still point to anything beyond what a deist believes. Ontological arguments generally centre around something of the magnificence of The Biblical God, but there is nothing compelling about defining things into existence. The fine tuning argument itself, could be used to argue against an almighty God who could produce an infinite number of universes, & therefore it is infinitely improbable that we would get this universe given such a deity (this is problematic because random probability doesn’t work where choice is). So basically the fine tuning argument could be used to say the evidence favours a very powerful non-omniscient being.

    I suppose one could use arguments similar to Peter Stoner’s, but even those are contentious. So I really look foward to what evidence you believe exists for the Biblical God. Perhaps I should end by pointing out that I am a Christian who believes faith must be reasonable, if I was prone to blind faith I could think of easier ideals to put my faith in than the Christian God.

  • Naim

    So true. Believing God is not a business proposition … that he will help you in this world. You will be tested. But after death the reward will be yours.

  • http://www.adventuresofbrian.com Brian Eubanks

    I grew up in a church in which God was treated like Santa Clause. It was always awkward when God “didn’t come through.” Asking why God didn’t come through was always a taboo. I had many friends fall away, because they couldn’t follow “a God who failed them”.

  • Leighanna

    After reading this, i can really agre with the statement of “God will let you down.” becasue He will. He lets us down based on our desires and our expectations. From my limited experiance at 23 many people want to blame God when things go wrong or to say that He doesn’t exist becasue otherwise they’re lives would be fantastic. I disagree based on my own trials. Its true that God does not allow bad things to happen to good people but they do because of the hopeless broken world we live in that is full of sin. And when people say they are christian they have an idea that they think is true. That if they beleive in God everything will jsut get better and life will be one un ride but its not true. If one becomes a christian or Christ follower then it takes time to build a relationship of trust and faith. Having faith in something that there is no proof or evidance of is a hard thing to do sometimes. Especially during trying or troubling circumstances. It is in those moments of reaching some kind of low that one either decides to keep the faith that God is there or that He isn’t. At least to me this is what I got out of it, which has given me a lot of food for thought so thank you for this!! :)

  • rvs

    G.K. Chesterton quite rightly argues that the only part of Christianity that has been proven is original sin. …That’s funny.

  • http://lifewithlonnie.blogspot.com Lonnie

    Without wading into all of the comments before, I think you have hit something serious. People are leaving the “God” that does everything they wanted because He is not that God. It seems to me, that, the Westernization of the Gospel has made God into a genie that grants unlimited wishes and allows us to escape all pain and suffering. (not unlike Timmy Turner on the show Fairly Oddparents… I have two boys, thus the illustration ;) ) When this “God” is ‘outed’, these people suddenly stop believing in him. Their faith and motives of “self first” are wrongly placed. I can’t see anywhere in the Bible that God says he will provide for our every whim, nor does He even suggest that pain and suffering are not part of the human equation. I have watched people fall away and then come to the realization of what they believed and then realize that God was there, He just wasn’t using their rules and doing things the way THEY wanted. I understand that thinking. I’ve been at the point of “God, if this is how it’s going to be then I’m ready to quit.” God seemed to be silent in my situation. He broke the silence in a way I never expected. He sent a woman to where I was working who asked me abruptly, after 5 minutes of small talk,”Do you love Jesus?” My response was immediate and certain, “Yes, I love Jesus.” I had never met that lady before and have not seen her since. For me, that was another confirmation of God’s existence and His reminding me that following meant just that, following. I empathize with people who placed their faith in God and then walked away. My heart breaks for those people because I know that God is not finished with them, even if they feel they are “finished” with God.
    Good stuff there FV! Can’t wait to see where you take this.
    Lonnie

  • Peter Johnson

    Many may leave the faith, or have major doubts, but that doesn’t mean God is finished with them yet. In reading Ruth this last week, I’ve been pondering the troubled faith of Naomi. In her mind, God’s actions went against her belief of what the God of Israel is and how he should act and relate to her and meet her needs.

    Why call me Naomi (tr. Pleasant), she asks? ‘Call me Bitter, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.’ She had left the community of faith with happy expectations given her husband and two sons. But, after their deaths, she says ‘the LORD has brought me back empty’, i.e. in an ineffective condition without any men-family. She felt she was nothing. ‘The LORD the Almighty has afflicted me; and brought misfortune upon me.’ In her mind ‘God’ had done a nasty job on her and made her good for nothing – she felt forsaken by God. (see Ruth 1:20-21). Just one nice little package of irrefutable proof of God’s existence in the here-and-now, and that he was trustworthy, would have been what she wanted, but she didn’t get it.

    However, after the birth of Obed, to Boaz and Ruth, ‘The women say to Naomi, ‘”Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!’ (4:14). Frank’s last thought reflects the admonition and long term perspective of these faithful women: ‘when you have grown old, you will look back at all the pain, suffering, trial, and mystery in your life and you will boldly declare, “He was faithful.” ‘ The baby in her arms was not that package of irrefutable proof of God’s existence, rather, Naomi should build her faith, indeed her life, on God and his promises — One cannot praise the Lord unless one believes that he exists — and we don’t need promises if we get everything in hand here and now.

    Please prove with irrefutable proof that God exists? Sorry, but I am way too busy negotiating the mine field, and the mind field, of life here on earth. Yet, I am confident of this: God exists and he cares for and rewards those who believe in him, and like Naomi my faith is perfected through suffering. Come join me if you dare. Others may not believe, to their loss, but then they cannot prove he does not exist.

    And thanks Frank for the article.

  • Rusty

    On a personal note, I have been very disappointed with God. I have had several ministry assignments not go well. I have been made homeless by the church. Our kids had to go through this. I am not going to say I was without fault, but this was certainly without merit. Long story short, I came to realize that my biggest challenge was the way that I felt toward God. I felt abandoned. My root of bitterness was toward God far more than toward others. I now know that many have felt this in failed marriages, businesses and relationships.
    The falling short of expectations may be the real trial of faith. As I look back, I can clearly see I was not abandoned. I always had my needs met. Today, we are blessed and we still love God through it all.

  • Frank Viola

    Correct. But we enter into the fellowship of His sufferings. And we taste a bit of the cross in our own experience, though not in an atoning way. Even so, every Christian will experience a trial where they feel God has let them down. Some even feel abandoned. What they do in that hour will reveal volumes as I’ve suggested.

  • http://www.missionchurch.name Manny

    Question…where did that expectation come from?
    How did you arrive at that expectation?
    Note!…Faith is substance and evidence. (Heb 11:1)…that is Jesus Christ.
    It is not a leap off a cliff, or ones own imagination…it is substance and evidence, your arugment is not with me nor man but the revealed written Word…Jesus Christ
    Expectation… is that God will fulfill what He has said He will do as written in the scriptures.
    My hope is to be comformed to His image daily. I fall short daily, I find my heart being deceptively wicked and it is only through our Lord Jesus Christ that I can move on to the next day. I assume it is the same for everyone else.
    May point is we need to be consise as to who Jesus is…not that I have exhaustive and infinite knowledge…there are too many different Jesus’ flooting around in “churches.”
    As followers of Christ Jesus do we sweep error under the rug or do we try to correct and adminsh? Are we to hold to a world view or biblical view? Where do we get our answers, from thin air, man’s philosophy, or scripture, what underpins our answer, reason or the bible? I can claim I heard from God but what proof do I have…unless it is wholly biblical?

  • Steve

    *Walks onto stage*

    “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” – Romans 1:19-23

    “Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason. Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God”. – Catechism of the Catholic Church 36

    *drops mic*
    *walks away*

  • ben

    My belief why Jesus cried to His Father ‘why have you forsaken me’ is because Jesus became sin on the cross. As he was divine and like Adam before sin, Jesus could not have died without sinning as death is the result of sin. Jesus was tempted in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g !! but didn’t fail therefore he could not die. He had to go into the most abject thing possible for him and that is the separation with the Father. Jesus choose to do it in obedience to the Father who loves us!

  • Frank Viola

    Bingo! Yahtzee! You nailed it!

    Now let’s move on to the main point of the post, which I’m intrigued that few are talking about.

  • Summer Smith

    It would seemt to me, that if proof is available – everyone would believe and faith would not be necessary.
    Even the definition of faith tell us that there is no ‘proof’:
    faith – [feyth] Show IPA noun -
    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
    2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
    3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
    4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
    5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

    Faith is knowing there is no proof that is visible to everyone equally and accepting that its personal to you, based on your relationship. Faith is solid. But faith does not mean something can be proved to anyone else publically or without experience personally.

    My expectations of God are simple these days… I exect that he teaches me in the midst of this life. I expect that He be with me through all I face. I do not expect my way, my will… or an easy life. I have seen far too many think that Christianity means life is beautiful and the way is smooth. While my life is beautiful, that beauty is often first ashes. I suffer and grow in Character and relationship is not always easy, even with God.

  • Frank Viola

    Proof = something that induces certainty or establishes validity. The Bible and Israel have not induced certainty or validity for God’s existence for millions of people. I have debated with many atheists, one of them being the head of the Atheist Association. For them, Israel’s history and the Bible compels them *not* to believe that God exists. Again, evidence and proof aren’t the same things. I am unaware of any Bible scholar who teaches that God’s existence can be empirically proven, so this conversation truly perplexes me.

    What is more, proof is not required to believe in God or follow Him. People do things every day without proof. No one has proof that their airplane is going to land when they step on board; they trust that it will not go down.

    To all: I’d like to hear your comments on the main point of the post. Which has to do with following God based our expectations of Him. Have you met Christians who followed God based on His performance, only to fall away from Him when He didn’t perform the way they expected? I have met many, unfortunately.

  • http://www.missionchurch.name Manny

    Proof that God exists…
    Jesus Christ
    Israel
    The Bible
    Act 17:31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” NASB
    Joh 5:46-47 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. (47) But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
    Why People do not believe…
    Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil….
    Rom 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.
    All empirical truth is founded on Jesus Christ. We start with God as revealed in His Word, our asolute!
    Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

  • Frank Viola

    Thanks for your insight here, Lisa. It’s refreshing. Wow.

  • http://lisanotes.blogspot.com/ Lisa notes

    Love your premise here. It’s almost heresy to admit God has disappointed us at times. But if we’re honest, haven’t we all felt that? The more solid my faith grows, the more comfortable I am with my unanswered questions about God. Who can predict–or direct–God? Our belief has to be placed outside of our own expectations. It’s faith or nothing; all else that we can “reason” will fail.

  • Frank Viola

    Be careful not to read into a person’s words. I’ve not said that the Father “possibly” exists. Just that His existence cannot be proven. This isn’t a novel idea. Again, I will be writing a post as to why *I believe* in Jesus and another that outlines the *evidence* for God’s existence. Be careful that you don’t miss the main point of this post. It’s not faith in faith, but faith in the God who is. And I’m sorry, but He refuses to meet our expectations all the time. That’s just the truth. Failure to let people know this has led to many turning away from Him. So I won’t back down from declaring the truth. And if you can empirically prove that God exists, please do so. Proof means that it cannot be refuted.

  • http://www.missionchurch.name Manny

    How can you say this, “I am convinced that God exists. I just can’t prove it and neither can anyone else.”??
    Please explain…you are a voice in Christendom and have a responsibility to us, especially when you publish. You leave the door open for those that are weak in faith and the non believer to the possiblity that God, of the bible, does not exist…it is the possibility that you have left open and that is not a Christian position. Jesus never said my Father possibly exists, or that possibly He spoke to the Moses or the prophets, etc..sorry…it is a curious response?

  • http://www.missionchurch.name Manny

    I am quite familiar with your writings, especially before they were commercially published. I find them to be thought provoking and encouraging in our faith. You are definitely not a universalist, however the article does lean to a fidiest view, faith in faith. Today this veiw, married with relativism, seems to be dominant in the the church. (espescially in the country I now live in). Just a thought!
    Thanks for writing, it has been a blessing over the years.

  • Frank Viola

    Since I believe that empirical proof is not unavailable for God’s existence, I’d say that there are many more interesting questions. Yet it does capture the interest of many still. Oh, and just for those who missed it, I am convinced that God exists. I just can’t prove it and neither can anyone else. ;-)

  • Frank Viola

    Thanks Jen. I’m glad you understood and resonated with that statement.

  • Frank Viola

    Thank you David for pointing out that I’m a poor writer or I’m having a bad day. Please rewrite the post the way it should be written so I can improve. Because right now, I honestly don’t understand what you’re talking about. So an example from you would be very helpful to me and perhaps to any one else who might agree with assessment.

    Oh but first, what’s the main point of the post … the take away? You didn’t answer that.

  • http://christthetao.blogspot.com David Marshall

    I think, Frank, if you’re going to force that choice, I’d say you’re a poor writer. You lead the reader in one direction, but don’t put up clear fencing to keep him from going off the cliff into fideism or what I call the “blind faith meme.”

    But really, that’s not the best way to put it, because a good writer can have a bad day.

  • http://www.jenmulford.com/ Jen Mulford

    Loved it. ” And at that moment, you will discover if you are serving Santa Claus or if you’re serving the God who is.” Truth!

  • http://livingbycovenant.blogspot.com/ Rusty Lester

    If God met all our expectations then we would think we are god. He would be the puppet on our strings. Regardless of our theology, we have all had that experience where expectations and reality collide. There is proof however, it is internal not external. The ability to believe comes from God. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” We will never find Him in external verifications. I was blind but now I see.

  • Craig

    more interesting than the question of whether there is a sound and publicly accessible proof of God’s existence

  • Frank Viola

    Good questions, but “more interesting” than what questions exactly?

  • Craig

    Here’s maybe a more interesting question: in this world, is it ever unreasonable to withhold faith in God? If it is, then under what conditions? Are these conditions prevalent? If it isn’t, then it is ever reasonable for God to make faith in himself a condition of salvation?

  • Sally Roach

    I know my Redeemer lives! He revealed Himself to me in such a way that I know my faith is based on a real person, but, it isn’t anything I can prove to an unbeliever. I believed before this happened, but when things get dark, I can look back on this and it pulls me through the shadows.

  • Frank Viola

    Hi Jeff. The Blog Manager removes posts that promote links to other blog posts. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/rules/

    I like your point. 1 Corinthians 1 talks about the foolishness of humans being the wisdom of God. God likes to invert the pyramid. Thx. for your comment. Don’t be a stranger.

  • Buck

    Ouch!!!

  • Frank Viola

    Thank you for your comment, Bob. May I ask what you think the main point of my post is? It seems you’ve completely missed it. That either means I’m a poor writer or you’re not reading very carefully. I’d be interested to know which.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    We can only God if we know ourselves and we can only know ourselves if we know God.
    Peace, Jeff

  • Double V

    If we ask a blind person, ‘How do you know that there is a sun above you?’ He might answer something like this, ‘Well, first I just need to sit outside on a sunny day for a moment and I feel it’s warmth. I know by experience of God’s creation. But I also know because of others who have seen it have told me so, and I believe it.’ I think in a way we are like that with God. Creation and conscience speak of him, we have no excuse. “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” (Romans 1:19, and vs.18-32, 2:14-16).

  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    I guess I want to demur a bit from you thesis. I certainly don’t think that there is absolute proof of the existence of God in the sense of being irrefutable — atheist can deny anything. But I don’t like the way that you are contrasting “proof” with “faith.” It sounds too much like the atheist argument that “faith is belief of something for which there is no evidence.” In other words, your position sounds like fideism.
    I think that there is abundant evidence for the existence of God, and faith is person trust in something for which there is rational evidence. There is a fundamental difference between believing in God and believing in Santa Claus.

  • Summer Smith

    God is perfect, but we are not…. we are being perfected (maturing), being made whole in relationship with Him. Our perspectives are not always truth, but He is. He is always, was always and will always. Admitting we are growing, changing and the way we define God, see God and experience God is very dependent on our personal and intimate relationship with him is not a door to universalism but the recognition that all that we are trying to prove is limited by us.

    In my experience and relationship with Christ… this has been my conclusion (thus far) as well. Not that God is not faithful, but that He knows just when its time to teach us something… He is our good Father and though He could give us everything thing we want… He doesn’t. And though He could protect us from every difficult thing – He won’t… because in those lessons are life and maturity.
    I’m grateful my view of God has always been in relationship with Him. Since I was a small child I have felt Him, heard Him and did everything I could to hear His heart beat.

    I feel like I rambled a bit, but this post just stirred up what I know to be the Goodness of my heavenly Father.

  • Ron Land

    Looking forward to your ‘future article’. This one is great and has my mental wheels turning… Love the provocative title, which made me have to read it. Tha ks

  • Frank Viola

    I don’t see the door open to universalism at all in this ever brief post which only makes two simple points. Evidence and proof are two different things and there’s no discussion on future eschatology.

    As the post suggests, there are forthcoming posts on the evidence for God’s existence and why I have faith in Jesus. Can’t do it all in one post unless it’s bookish. As I promised yesterday, I’m seeking to write short posts. Easily read and easily shared. Thx.

  • http://www.missionchurch.name Manny

    This article seems to leave the door wide open to universalism. That belief in a god is relative, you decide what is or is not god. (Frank mentions he will address his belief shortly.)
    This is not the Christian position, God has given us general (natural) revelation and special revelation…the Bible.
    This will leave us with the question why is our “faith” better than anyone else’s? We do not simply believe for the sake of believing but because God has revealed Himself to creation from the begining. Rom 1, Heb 1…for starters. Faith is and always has been built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Frank wrote in one of his books that “truth is a person,”…So is faith!

  • Frank Viola

    Thanks. Yes, proof and evidence are two different things. And even the evidence is in dispute. God has chosen to hide Himself, as Isaiah says, and reveal Himself by faith alone.

  • Rene

    If there was proof, we wouldn’t need to have faith.

  • CGC

    Hi Frank,
    Christian apologists will balk at your words here but what you are saying is so true. God gives us pointers to himself, not proof of himself. One does not have to have faith when it comes to proof. And I am reminded of a scripture in the book or Romans that says anything done without faith is sin.

    PS – I am reading through your ‘Jesus: A Theography’ book (I’ve enjoyed what I have read so far. I just started reading the book).


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X