Is it reasonable to believe in God?

Can we know that God exists through natural reason? Sadly too many refuse to engage in a true dialogue over this question. Some claim that faith alone is needed to affirm that God exists. Others do not understand what reason is – looking only for scientific evidence. Yet, this question is the foundation for any true exploration of belief in a deity. If it is possible for humans to use natural reason to prove that God exists, then the question of religion in today’s society remains imminently relevant. With a true understanding of natural reason, one logically concludes that God exists.

Richard Dawkins’ famous book the God Delusion believes the question of God’s existence relies on scientific evidence and cannot be proven. He writes, “Either he exists or he doesn’t. It is a scientific question; one day we may know the answer, and meanwhile we can say something pretty strong about the probability.” Dawkin’s argument is faulty for a number of reasons, one of which is that if God is immaterial how can his existence be reduced to a matter of empirical science alone? Dawkins casually dismisses Aquinas’ five proofs for the existence of God, ridiculing what he deems to be the simplicity of the arguments. Yet, Dawkins himself does not engage his human reason – primarily he makes use of what he considers to be counter examples based on science, not on reason.

Aquinas’s proofs for the existence of God are indeed (as Dawkins claimed) simple. They are simple, but also difficult to refute reasonably. Aquinas writes that everything that moves (changes) must have a caused by a mover. This is not only true in the scientific world (though this is how we know it to be reasonable) it is true in the world of ideas as well. This is a distinction that Dawkins does not engage – he looks only at the material universe. For example, natural reason allows us to conclude that 1 plus 1 is 2 without actually seeing one apple and another apple equally two apples. Aquinas engages proofs that using logic and reason (for the world itself is structured and reasonable) human beings are capable of knowing we can ascertain the existence of God. Sadly, it seems that those who either emphasize science to the exclusion of reason or deny the existence of truth or reality itself, which obscures the affirmation of reason.

The First Vatican Council insists that not only are faith and reason compatible, they actually support one another. Part of the difficulty for those who reject that God can be known by natural reason, is that who God is in Himself is transcendent and other in a way that we can not ever completely understand. Vatican I says that he is “completely simple and unchangeable spiritual substance” – His nature makes God different from any created thing. Faith is a gift from God which allows us to know Him in Himself. However, knowing who God is is different than knowing that He exists. We are able to know that He exists from the structure of the created world, not merely looking at scientific evidence, but using our natural capacity for reason to look at the scientific world and what it points to – a first mover, a supreme being, a first cause.

It certainly is possible to know through reason that God exists, but still not believe in Him. A reasonable person, however, is a theist.

4 thoughts on “Is it reasonable to believe in God?

  1. i studied astronomy in college, loved since i was a small child. if i needed proof of god all i have to do is look at the night sky and i see his fingerprint. the more i studied astronomy, the more i believed in a divine creator. the giant telescopes on the mountain tops remind me of cathedrals. i am blessed that i need no proof of god, my faith is strong enough. but, if ever i doubted that is where i would find him among the beauty, glory, and mystery of the universe we see when the sun sets. as blessed teresa of calcutta said “jesus is my all.” i could not agree more, mother teresa always put so much in so few words and made things so clear. i love my church. i am in awe of my religion. i find strength and peach in my faith. and, “jesus is my all,” too. my love for my faith and for god has only grown with the difficult and dark times in my life, it keeps me humble and grateful during the happy, eaisier times. i cant imagine not having my savior and the blessed mother in my life. sometimes i think if i had been catholic as a child i might have had a vocation; but, god knows what he is doing…all things in his time and are his will. i have patiently waited for him to lead me to where i belonged, where my family belonged. we spent so many years in the mormon church unhappy and in a spiritual desert. it was up to us to put jesus in our lives or he would no have been there at all. after several experiences that were all about control and manipulation, our children would not go back. my husband and i had been thru with their bullying a long time before the kids. on christmas we decided to attend a midnight mass…when we got in the car to go home my son and my daughter said in perfect unison “that was a whole lot of jesus!” they loved it and and my husband and i loved it, that easter my family came into the church together and our faith and love for the lord has grown tremendously. it was no longer used against us. we never didnt believe; but, now i can see why perhaps god wanted us to know what he was NOT before we found our way home. god has always existed and always been real and loved…the mormon ‘church’ was all about control and suppression, but coming home to the catholic church it is all about growth in jesus, faith and love unbound, infinite, and eternal. my experience with god and faith and love for the sciences, especially astronomy, have led me to know with uwavering certainty that belief in God is very reasonable. +++ becky

  2. But is logic actually a reasonable thing to you use? If our logic fails to understand something like our existence, then how can we trust it to prove God’s existence? The only thing I feel I can use is Pascal’s Wager (I find that this has limited reasonable options to just religions which believe in eternal Heaven AND Hell; so this rules out atheism, Church of LDS, and Buddhism). Yet find it hard to not be a somewhat personal agnostic, despite my Catholic upbringing. Can someone please answer to this? I believe atheism is unreasonable, but I find it hard to combat personal agnosticism.

  3. For many of the reasons previous commentators have mentioned. I just cant believe I God any more. ICal only see life, death and decay. If Gods will is the pain felt from illness, war, etc. It makes no sense. How can people say when a child dies that it was Gods will. Faith a gift, how can this be.. So now I need to leave theccatholic church. No more for me. No religion of any kind.

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