Do you believe in God? If yes, can you prove that God exists? While some may use scientific means to try and prove or disprove the existence of God, for most of us, it is a matter of faith. We have a strong belief or trust that God exists, even if we don’t all agree on the definition of God or the role that God plays in our lives.
In the book Rethink God, Nadiez Bahi offer us a modern-day parable about faith that gets to the crux of what it means to be (or not be) a believer. I will paraphrase it here.
You’re visiting with a close friend. She tells you about a park where the jasmine flowers have the most amazing scent on earth. Her story is so compelling that one day you decide to visit the park for yourself.
You enter via the park’s main entrance and follow a footpath that is lined by tall trees and colorful wildflowers. Suddenly, after walking about a half-mile, you begin to smell the scent of jasmine. The fragrance is fantastically aromatic, just like your friend said it would be. It is amazing. There’s just one thing.
As you look around, you see no jasmine bushes. No jasmine flowers. But the scent! The path is curved and you think the jasmines may be just around the bend, but as you come upon the next vista there are still no jasmines in sight. Yet, the beautiful, aromatic scent remains, as strong as ever.
Is it possible the fragrant jasmine bushes lie just beyond the trees, hidden out of view? You are tempted to leave the path to see for yourself, but there are strongly worded signs along the way telling all visitors they are required to remain on the footpath. You follow the path back out of the park, the aromatic scent of jasmine imprinted on your mind.
What if, upon your arrival back home, you were asked, “Are there jasmines in the park?” And what if you could only answer yes or no. How would you answer? You have experienced the strongest sign they are there, the amazing scent of fresh jasmine flowers, but you did not actually see them. Do they really exist? Yes or no?
I think that how you answer this question goes a long way to telling if you believe in God or not. Like the visitor to the park, we must rely on all of our senses to determine the answer for ourselves, especially since the picture is incomplete. Just like we cannot leave the path to see if the jasmines exist, we cannot escape the limitations of our own brains and bodies to know for sure that God exists. We must proceed with the tools we possess.
As Bahi points out, “seeing” is usually our accepted method to confirm or deny the existence of something. But who put sight in charge? What about our other senses? In the case of the jasmines, should sight overrule our sense of smell? Those who would doubt the existence of the jasmines do so because they have not seen them, sight being their “accepted tool” to confirm their existence. So it is with our belief in God.
We may not be able to “see” God, but for many of us there is an inner sense that tells us that God is there. Perhaps it is the sixth sense known as intuition, that informs us that God or a divine presence is here amongst us. For those of us who believe, just like we don’t need our eyesight to know that a piece of toast is burning in the kitchen, we do not need our eyes to verify the existence of God.
Do You Have Personal Proof of the Existence of God?
Has there ever been an incident in your own life that could not be explained away by rational thought? Maybe it was an oddly synchronistic event or an outcome you considered a minor miracle? Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe this was the sign of a greater power in the universe interceding in your life?
I know it has happened to me, yet we often tend to dismiss these incidents, or bury them deep within ourselves, without giving these events the recognition they deserve. They could be proof that God lives and moves amongst us. In the book Discernment, Reading the Signs of Daily Life, author and spiritual teacher Henri Nouwen explains it like this:
We all have the deceptive tendency to live selectively, choosing to see only those experiences we can identify with as our real experiences and pushing the rest aside.
We sell ourselves, and our experiences, short, when we might be looking at them with awe and wonder. Part of this may be our rational, overthinking minds, which can tend to try and insert logical answers where none truly exist. The antidote? Nouwen believes that through “quiet meditation and reflection,” we can slowly learn to see that “we are more than our individual selves.” We come to realize that “within our very own hearts is the reflection of the one who breathed life into us.”
Nouwen writes that we are all “the beloved sons and daughters of God.” He tells us that this idea is something you cannot see with your physical eyes, or hear with your physical ears, but that you must feel it “in your gut.” When our belief in God is sure and we realize that God has been with us all along:
We gain new ears to hear, new eyes to see, and new hearts to discern what is really happening.