The Facts of Life: God

The existence of God is a bold question of fact.  So too is the general nature of God.  These are matters of basic fact first before they are matters of faith. But, it is a hard sell nowadays to convince anyone that God existence and nature are matters of fact.

For many in the modern West, God is merely a matter of belief, usually supported with selective  evidence rife with confirmation bias.  It is an unscientific belief driven by personal needs for meaning and moral certainty unmet by a mechanistic, material universe and psychological comfort in the face of the terror of life in an empty, silent, purposeless cosmos of matter and energy alone. 

To many moderns, religion, any religion, may be what weak people use to cope with this grinding material reality.  And, so long as religion confines its assertions to the realms of belief, opinion and perception and makes are no assertions of objective truth and matters of fact, the modern world is skeptically and suspiciously tolerant.  But, religious claims of truth  is where the secular West draws the line on God and religion.

According to many moderns, God can only be a belief, a hope, a personal perception, a psychological crutch all leading to a leap of faith that defies modern progress and science, as well as logic and reality.  Because God is not a scientific fact nor a scientifically provable reality, God can only be a matter of opinion.    

 

But, that is not the general path for most believers.  There is ample essential evidence for God.  And, because of this evidence we can believe and place our faith in Him.  For most Christians, it is usually facts first, then faith.  Because God is real, we can believe.  And, this sequence contradicts the modern premise that faith is belief driven rather than fact driven.

Much of this modern perception of God as a mere belief arises from four foundational flaws of the modern secular mindset.  The first flaw involves a deep distortion of how truth can be known.  For the modern world has come to believe only science can get to the objective truth of anything.  And, if the questions asked cannot be explored and demonstrated scientifically, then those questions and answers are merely matters of perception and opinion, matters of philosophy and  faith.

Science, so conceived, is the sole source of certainty, the first and final foundation for any and every factual truth.  Unless some truth can be proved empirically and demonstratively replicated, it is just a theory, not a fact.  All other assertions of fact and truth are remanded to the realm of relativism, where rhetoric becomes the primary means for promoting and persuading, not proving intangible truths.

The second flaw directly derives from  the first.  For if science is the only way to ascertain fact and truth, then  reason, particularly deductive  reasoning and common sense are remanded to the realm of subjective opinion, personal perception and religious belief. 

As a result, any and every attempt to prove the faith and its many foundational aspects with reasoning and logic, the modern world reflexively rejects.  This dismissal denies reason’s ability to prove things through reason, through the deductive process.  It denies reason’s rightful role as our fundamental source of truth.

For the scientific method is replete with reason’s requisite use every step in the empirical process from observing phenomena, developing hypotheses, selecting appropriate research methods, examining data, formulating conclusions and conducting replication studies following the  rigorous empirical process.  The scientific process uses reason all along the way.  For science is an inductive process that finds truth and fact as it observes phenomena.  But, science also has to adjust its findings as aberrant information sometimes occurs that challenges and changes earlier conclusions and accepted fact.

On the other hand, deductive reasoning, when its premises are sound and accurate, can prove things definitively, factually.  This is why there are many proofs of the existence of God.  These proofs are deductive truths arising from premises that are undeniable. 

One brief example is Aquinas’ “uncaused causer” proof.  It begins with the absolute fact that every effect must have a prior cause which caused the observed effect.  If this chain of effects and prior causes is followed back in time it must lead eventually to an “uncaused causer.”  This “uncaused causer” , as Aquinas said, “is what we call God.” 

This proof is implicitly evident in the common scientific truth of the “Big Bang.” And while scientific consensus is not universal, as there are those searching for evidence of a “god particle” that caused the “big bang” and the resultant existence of space and time, matter and energy, the “god particle” would be an effect arising from a prior cause too, which still leaves us with the necessity of an “uncaused causer.”

The modern myopia about the hegemony of science overstates science’s true ability and induction’s explanatory power and utility.  It also denies reason and deduction’s rightful role in the scientific method.   Science’s exclusivity and hegemony reduces reason to a subordinate role in establishing facts and truths within the scientific method and it relegates reason, particularly deductive proofs, to a form of universal sophistry. 

The third flaw also derives from science’s erroneous exclusivity.  From this explicit emphasis and its implicit implications comes a disregard and dismissal of reason’s champions and its noted practitioners from earlier eras.  It is an historical bias founded on science’s faulty view of knowledge.  People like Aristotle, Augustine, Amselm, Aquinas and Albertus Magnus are all dismissed and ignored as ancient and  medieval, obsolete and irrelevant, subjectively biased and woefully ignorant by modern science’s standards. 

This historical bias and disregard of the history of ideas, particularly those founded on deductive processes, flows naturally from a solitary emphasis on science’s absolute dominance.  Why would any modern person consult such authors for truth, when they already know science is the only place where truth and fact are empirically investigated and professionally proved. 

The fourth flaw flows from this scientific exclusivity too.  For when moderns review the religious landscape, they see many religions and implicitly conclude that such a range indicates the absence of any truth.  All religions are contrived, a product of human desire for order, meaning and morality. 

This scientific bias makes the many religions categorically equivalent, despite their different truth claims, evidence and apologetics.  For with science’s exclusivity, there is no reason to seriously consider the content and case for each religion.  Science’s exclusivity precludes any such consideration.

 It is all too easy to ignore the actual dogma of each religion because their distinctive differences  are of little real worth.  These religions are just different fictions about things that are, in reality, merely contrivances that meet some psychological human needs, that provide some form of moral and metaphysical grounding, that provide a haven for the weak minded and weak willed to face the tough, but true and relentless reality of an empty silent universe and the biochemical truth of human nature head on.

But, it is an odd and arresting reality of science’s dominance that its believers are not compelled to prove their assertion of science as the only avenue leading to the only actual truths.  They expect this to be a common sense axiom requiring no defense as science’s claims are self-evident. But, were they to try to justify their philosophy of knowledge they would have to articulate the case for science by employing reason, not science. 

For science cannot prove its case as the exclusive source of truth with science.  Only with reason, can this be done.  And isn’t that a contradiction with their basic premise that science is the only way we can know?  It seems science’s exclusive assertion about fact and truth is founded on a contradiction and is indefensible by its own definition. Sure sounds like a fallacy to me.

To read more about this and other subjects by Mr. Cronin, check out his latest book, The World According to God: The Whole Truth About Life and Living, which is available as an ebook or paperback from your local Catholic bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.

F.X. Cronin

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Mr. Cronin has studied on a graduate level in education at Harvard University and at the University of Connecticut, in leadership at Columbia University and in theology at Regent University and Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He also writes regularly for The National Catholic Register and appeared on EWTN’s The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi following his 2007 reversion to the Catholic faith from atheism and evangelical Protestantism.

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