In the article “Proof of God can be found in core rational arguments,” Todd Carter argues that God’s existence can be proven by rational thought and logical argument.
However, in saying this, he also implies that everyone who does not believe in God is being irrational, or at least unthinking. I could not disagree more.
First of all, what is a rational argument?
A rational argument is a set of conclusions that logically follows from a set of presuppositions.
In order to construct a rational argument you start with presuppositions, apply logic and voila, you have rational conclusions (presuppositions + logic = rational conclusions).
Now, because presuppositions are by definition unproved assumptions, I can choose any presupposition I want and no one can say that I am wrong by logical argument.
All anyone can do is appeal to common experience.
For example, I cannot prove that 1 + 1 = 2 by logic; however, I can appeal to the fact that 1 + 1 = 2 is blindingly obvious because 1 + 1 always equals 2 as far as my experience tells me.
In fact, mathematicians have called into question the fact that 1 + 1 = 2 and there are whole systems built upon the assumption that 1 + 1 does not equal 2.
Therefore, by assuming a certain set of presuppositions an atheist can be just as rational as a theist having a different set of presuppositions.
In fact, I can rationally believe any wacko idea by just picking and choosing the right combination of presuppositions.
The point is that if you are smart enough you can use reason to support any action you choose to take; reason is a tool given to man, a tool capable of justifying the greatest good as well as the greatest evil.
The course of our history also supports this conclusion. Rationalism reigned supreme for some 300 years after the Renaissance until new ideas like evolution and Freudian psychology began to question human reason.
The last blows to rationalism were World War I and World War II, after which people could no longer believe in pure rationalism alone.
We see this in modern art, existentialism, mysticism and skepticism.
The history of man and the evolution of our own ideas have rejected the notion that reason reigns supreme, that it can arrive at something higher than man.
But if rationalism cannot prove God’s existence, then how can we prove His existence?
The answer is that we cannot because as finite, imperfect beings it is impossible for us to arrive at that which is infinite and perfect.
If there is a God we have no way of knowing Him unless He should choose to reveal Himself; we are completely helpless before God.
However, I do not believe that God is unknown.
As a Christian, I believe that God has revealed Himself to all men through the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ.
There is a story of a man who watched a bird bang into a window repeatedly in the middle of winter, desperately trying to get into his warm house, attracted by the glow of his fire.
He tried all sorts of things to get the bird to stop, to fly into the warmer barn, but the bird kept on banging away, oblivious to his intentions, becoming bloody and disoriented.
Frustrated and knowing the bird would needlessly die, the man said to himself, “If only I could become a bird so that I could tell this bird what to do.”
This is what God does for us. Man cannot reach God through his own efforts, but God has revealed who He is by living and walking among us.
According to Romans 10:9, this is how you can know God: “… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
Therefore, it is only by faith and obedience to Jesus that we are able to know God.
Rational argument alone will never arrive at God, except that it is coupled with faith and dutiful obedience.