RICHARD Colledge, in his Question Box article ‘How do we know God really exists?’ (CL 27/7/03), says that his questioner ‘deals with an important issue that all Christians should at some stage confront’.
Allow me, then, to respond by confronting the issues raised by his article.
First, it is important to show doubters that God’s existence can be proven, though God’s nature and full attributes as an infinite and divine being are largely inaccessible to human reason alone but are accessible, within the limits of our finite understanding, through divine revelation and grace. This is where faith comes in.
Richard Colledge also says that ‘the very idea that it might be possible to ‘prove’ the existence of God through the use of merely human reason seems in itself to be a massive underestimation of what is really at stake in the ‘idea’ of God’.
Running through his article is an implicit denial that reason can establish a proof that God exists, and the way is left open to the false, modern notion that ‘scientific rationality’ is restricted to the physical or ’empirical’ sciences.
But while all experience feeds philosophy, philosophy is itself a science. The philosophical arguments which Colledge eventually presents are conclusive. You cannot have a causeless world and its cause must be in no need of a cause itself.
The only alternative to that reasoning is an infinite series of causes and effects which are blindly working through limitless time.
The ordinary man or woman is capable of seeing this even if he or she expresses it by saying: ‘Well, someone must have started it all’. It should require no expert to see this.
There is clearly a confusion in this matter between the fact of God’s existence and knowing God. The former can be known, the latter goes beyond mere human reason.
It in no way diminishes the mystery of God to ‘prove’ his existence. All it claims is recognition of the ‘evidence’.
Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (III, 36) states: ‘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’. Or, as the Penny Catechism used to say: ‘We can know God by the things He has made’.
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