No one can prove God’s existence (or Jesus’ existence, or that the Bible is God’s word, etc, etc…just toss in any number of Christian staples). There is no evidence whatsoever. It’s all belief and faith.
You ever get that one thrown at you? I sure have. Really bugs me, not because it’s a good retort, but because it’s difficult to know where to start. There are so many issues and missteps and blatant assertions tied into one that it’s quite a gnarly knot. I get tongue tied just thinking about it.
It is important that when someone says that to you, that you never let them off the hook. It is just too easy to throw it out there without backing it up. It is a particularly convenient one liner for those who aren’t really interested in God and for those who have not thought deeply about God. That’s not to say that everyone who says that hasn’t thought deeply about God, it’s just that it’s easy for folks like that to resort to it. Rather than launching into disproving the “no proof” belief, force your conversation partner to shoulder his responsibility: he made a claim, now he must back it up. No reason for you to launch into Kalam mode.
Here are some very good questions you can ask, questions that your conversation partner needs to square with in order for the “no proof” assertion to be more than a mere smokescreen:
- Describe the God that you don’t think exists.
- what would count as “proof” (i.e. scientific evidence, God writing “believe me” in the sky, or something more reasonable)?
- what would you do if you came to know God existed (i.e. would you follow him and obey, or continue in your disinterested state?)? What would you do if I “proved” to you that God existed?
- what, specifically, are the arguments and evidence you’ve heard so far, and why do you reject them?
- similarly: great minds have been writing about evidence and reasons for God’s existence for milennia. Scientists, philosophers, and historians have all had their say. Who have you read, and why do you reject what they have to say?
Can you add any?
The third bullet is especially pertinent. I’ve encountered a good number of folks who admit they would not bend the knee or make a change in their lives, even if they knew God existed.
Actually, all bullets are important. For example, when you hit on the second one, chances are the person has an unreasonably high bar for proof of God’s existence (example: seeing God, having God appear to him/speak audibly to him,etc). The bar he sets for all his other beliefs (including his skeptic tendencies, atheistic/agnostic beliefs, or beliefs in any other religion/philosophy) aren’t nearly as high. By asking the question and then following up with some more astute queries, you can suss out that he’s cheating.
The last two will most likely bring about a most surprising thing: perhaps the person has read and considered a lot of arguments about God’s existence, but most likely, they haven’t. Some haven’t even read one book! Some have read strawman arguments set up by their own crowd (like the ones Richard Dawkins sets up), but precious few have read and deeply analyzed the great theistic minds themselves. Some have read snippets of the Bible summarized in “New Atheist” books, but many haven’t read the whole Bible. Some have objections to what they find therein, but precious few actually try to seek out and research answers to those objections.
Let’s face it: the “no proof” statement is a bold one, and most people can’t bring what they need to bring in order to strut that statement with confidence.
Keep those questions above in mind when talking to the “no proofers,” for chances are, they will dig up some very interesting and revealing behind-the-assertion information. My hunch is that a majority of the time, you’ll get more assertions, blank stares, or an evasive changing of the subject.