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007 How do we know that God is there?

I was sitting one day in my mother's kitchen while she was cutting vegetables, and we were talking about philosophy (my mother was well-educated woman). It was during my teen years, and I was toying with silly notions the way teenagers do. At one point in the conversation I said to her, “I do not even know whether you and I are actually sitting here talking.”

Instead of answering directly, she reversed the paring knife in her hand into a stabbing position, and stabbed it into her cutting board about an inch from where my hand was resting on the kitchen table. I yanked my hand away, alarmed, and stared at her, slack-jawed.

“Real? Or imagined?” she asked pointedly.

The point she was making is an important one, and it stuck with me: we can ask about how real our lives are, but we live as though they were real... and to do otherwise makes no sense.

Philosophers call the belief that our experiences connect to reality “properly basic.” It can't really be proved, but it makes sense to live as though it is true. We actually cannot prove that what we experience has any connection with reality. We cannot prove that we were not created five minutes ago with the perception of age and memories of a lifetime inserted into our five-minute-old brains. We cannot prove that we do not live in The Matrix. But none of us lives as though those things were possible. We live as though what we perceive is real.

The first reason that I give people when they ask how I know that God is real is very much like that. Most of us have tangible experiences with God. We pray, and He answers. We have needs, and He meets them. Ideas pop into our heads that we know are not our own. We change in ways we could not have imagined, to become more like Him.

Millions of believing people have such experiences, and they span all time periods since Jesus lived and all cultures on earth. We can pick up letters written by Church Fathers in the 2nd century AD and discover experiences just like ours. We can read testimonials from believers in Burundi or Bangladesh and discover experiences just like ours.

We can also identify with the millions of people who look at the complexity and beauty of our world and say “This could not have happened by accident.”

So even if you are not a philosopher and cannot cite any of the twenty-odd arguments that prove the existence of God, it is not true that you believe merely because of faith. Believing that your experiences with God are real is properly basic. You encounter Him daily, and you know it; living as though He were real is the rational response to that, because, in fact, He is real.

Spend some time this week reflecting on the experiences that you have had with God. Remembering what He has done is important, and we should rehearse those things lest we lose sight of why we committed our lives to Him in the first place. What He has done reminds us of who He is.

Enjoy God, and I'll see you next time.

 

Phil Weingart

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