Catholicism 101: Knowing God Is There
Catholicism 101: Knowing God is there
Does God exist? We might believe that God exists, but are we sure? The Catholic Church states we can be sure by way of reason, as taught by Vatican Council 1. We Catholics believe that we can know truth by faith and reason. We can know things by reason alone and we can know things that reason cannot tell us. For example, we can know the Big Bang, existence of Pluto, formation of a star, and mathematics from reason alone. We do not need God to tell us these truths. However, there are some things which we cannot know by reason like the Trinity, Virgin Birth, and Incarnation. We can only know those if God told it to us, like revealing them in Scripture. Reason is like the eye. We can see a lot of things with the eye, but we cannot see everything with it.
Faith is like a microscope or a telescope. We cannot see a cell from the naked eye, but we can see it with the help of a microscope. This is like the relationship between faith and reason. When people think of faith, they immediately think of something that cannot be reasonable. This is not true. Though reason does not produce faith, faith can be based on reason. It can be a reasonable faith.
With other truths we can know by reason, we can know God's existence by reason. How? From the world. From the effect, we can know the cause. Scripture says, "Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made." (Romans 1:20) So we can be sure if God really exists by looking at the world and even ourselves (CCC 31). So we believe that since God's existence can be demonstrated, we can be sure if He exists or not. Here are some examples of demonstrations for the existence of God.
We can know God exists because of order in the universe. Let's imagine a clock. Break it apart. What do you have? You will have materials that make up a clock. Now, put all the materials into a box. Shake it for 15 billion years. Will you have a clock? You will probably say no. Now, what if you leave that box for an ice cream and then come back and see that there is a clock. Do you think the clock created itself? Probably not. Why? Because it is too improbable. There must be certain conditions met, like where the screws go, in order for the clock to be made.
This is what scientists have found out about the universe. There are certain conditions that have to be met in order for it to be life-permitting. For example, if the Big Bang was a little bit more hotter, there would have been no life. Or if the Earth is a little bit closer to the Sun, there would have been no life. Or take the example of evolution. Scientists, like Barrow and Tipler, have said that there must be certain conditions in order for macro-evolution to occur. They say it is so improbable that before it could have happened, the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have burned out the earth. Just like you probably thought that the clock was made by a designer, there must have been a Designer of the universe.
You might then ask, "Who then designed the designer?" If something or some being designed the designer, what happened to the designer? The designer became a design since it was designed. Now take this into infinity, a design designed by a designer, designed by a designer, etc. It is like having an infinite number of clocks. You know they must be designed and made, but that thing that designed and made it is designed and made as well. Having an infinite number of clocks does not explain the clock at all! This is also like having an infinite number of paintings. It's like saying, "Well, this painting needs a painter, but there are an infinite number of paintings without a painter." This is of course absurd in our minds because a painting, because of its complexity and order, needs to be painted. Only when we can find a painter who is not painted, do we have an explanation of the painting. So too, only when we can discover an undesigned Designer can we explain the universe. To say there is no Intelligent Designer would be like saying there are many paintings without a painter. Therefore there needs to be an Intelligent Designer to explain the order and complexity of our universe.
We can also know God from ourselves. We have an innate desire for happiness. Everything we want is the good for ourselves, for the better good. Even a person who commits suicide believes that it would be best for him to do so. But we don't want happiness that lasts for three minutes or five days, but forever. We all want everlasting happiness. But we cannot find it in this world. We all have problems and it seems like nothing in this world, no glory, wealth, pleasure, or friends can give us perfect happiness. Maybe it does not exist. But why would we desire it if it does not exist? When we hunger, there is such a thing as food to satisfy that desire. When we thirst, there is such as drink to satisfy that desire. So where is that perfect happiness? Since we cannot find it in this world, it seems that the best explanation that we were made for another. This is what we call "life with God."
From the demonstrations above, I tried to explain the design of the universe and our human nature. From those, we have concluded that God must exist. The universe points to an Intelligent Designer. And our nature points to a Being that can give us perfect happiness.
These might not be airtight proofs, but they are sufficient for us Catholics to justify our belief in God. We believe that God made the universe so that we can appreciate Him more. And we also believe that you, like us, were made for God and your hearts will be restless until you find rest in Him.
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