We can prove something exists by evidence of its existence. Similarly, we can’t prove something doesn’t exist through a lack of evidence. So, what evidence exists supporting the existence of God? That depends upon what you believe qualifies as evidence I imagine.
Oddly, for a believer, belief itself appears to qualify as evidence. This kind of ‘evidence’ is remarkably foolproof. For example, a believer in God will point to the world around him and say how else could all this be? A believer will see this in itself as evidence. And if that weren’t enough, there is the “Word of God” in the Bible. A believer knows the Bible is the word of God because the Bible says so. It is a failsafe loop. Round and round… it is enough to make me dizzy.
Belief, like eating popcorn, is very compelling. When eating something tastes good, you can’t help but continue eating it. Belief works similarly. If believing in something makes you feel good, you will likely believe it even more. Beliefs, like our soul food preferences, are established in childhood and then reinforced over the years.
Nevertheless, some people drop some of their core beliefs as they age. Why? These simply cease to taste good enough to continue eating. At this point, they are open to a more satisfying belief. This is certainly my story. Around the age of seven, I recall believing in the common, up in Heaven watching over me, kind of God. Soon that belief failed to satisfy my hunger for meaning, which left me open to search for a theory that might quench my spiritual thirst. I eventually found that in the Taoist theory. However, like the theory of God, the Taoist theory has no proof either. Clearly, proof lies in the eye of the beholder. So what is the difference? The recognition of that simple fact is the difference… profoundly so! Believers in God believe their belief is objectively true and not merely true in the eye of the beholder. “Believers” in the way (道 tao, dao) can’t possibly do that because as chapter 1 says…
The way that can be spoken of, Is not the constant way;
The name that can be named, Is not the constant name.
Although, as chapter 21 observes…
As a thing the way is, Shadowy, indistinct.
Indistinct and shadowy, Yet within it is an image;
Shadowy and indistinct, Yet within it is an essence.
This essence is quite genuine,
And within it is something that can be tested.
So, who knows?
You state your case well cuc. Now let’s see what I can pick on. 😉
As I see it, you are putting the cart (belief) before the horse (state of being). I find we tend to choose the belief that bolsters our state of being. Deep emotional states of being, particularly the sense of need and fear (the horse) pull thought (the baggage cart) along . Of course we wish it were otherwise, with our thoughts directing our state of being. In that wishful longing lies our belief in free will. Although, to some extent, thought certainly does feed back into and influence our emotional state of being. It can become something of a vicious circle requiring medication and therapy, or if worse come to worse , suicide. Now, you may say, “See there, therapy is an example of thought redirecting state of being. True, but that is only to fill in the emotional hole we dig for ourselves into in the first place (no thought = no hole).
Try substituting the word ‘love’ for ‘happiness’. I imagine you can idealize the possibility of 100% love all the time. This corresponds to the Judeo Christian ‘perfection in heaven’ I suppose. In that ideal belief, one can die and go to heaven and experience 100% love, happiness, bliss… all the good stuff and none of the bad.
The innocent childlike quality of this view is stricking. Children are very adept at fantasizing a magical realm where all is perfect and good. The only draw back on believing in that, is the shock of living in the real world, where in we experience both sides of the coin: good-bad, life-death, pleasure-pain. I find that the more I hold out for one (i.e., my agenda), the more the other tags along behind in the shadows.
The cure I’ve found for this mental affliction is impartiality. The only way I’ve found to get there is through unlearning the view that the whole world recognizes as true. The Taoist world view helps. It attempts to neutralize the unintended consequence of thought, and the consequential beliefs which follow, by challenging the basis of thought itself. Here are a few passages that exemplify this:
The way that can be spoken of, is not the constant way;
The name that can be named is not the constant name.
To use words but rarely is to be natural.
Only when it is cut are there names.
As soon as there are names
One ought to know that it is time to stop.
To know yet to think that one does not know is best;
Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.
When your discernment penetrates the four quarters
Are you capable of not knowing anything?
Something is definitely going on. Whether or not you believe in God, you know the word ‘God’ and your thinking creates all kinds of associations with this concept. Not only is believing in God a proof for the believers, non-believers possibly know more about God, because they just might think more about what it could mean!
But that is not really what is going on. Beliefs, whether in God or in the next day, make us spin round and round according to those beliefs. In fact, if your beliefs support you and help you to arrive at a positive state of being, you shouldn’t be too worried about their truth or falseness; your brain can’t distinguish truth and falsehood anyway. But if you have trouble with certain beliefs – in fact you will have trouble because of certain beliefs – you are able to change them into ones that help you get out of trouble. What is going on? If you change your beliefs, your reality changes to reflect them!
I am describing a kind of tuning of your beliefs into a system that gives you the expressive power in your life to live according to your beliefs. However, if the match between your life and your beliefs is perfect, you do not necessarily live a happy life! Only if happiness itself is part of what you believe in, you may experience happiness.
Added to that is your concept of happiness: when do you know that you experience happiness? Do you compare it to something in the past, or is it something that you ‘just know when it happens’. In the last case, you have no way of knowing when or why you are going to be happy.
In fact, deciding when or why you are going to be happy postpones it. You look for a trigger to make you happy in this way. However, if you believe you can experience happiness, why not experience it right now? Sit down, concentrate on this feeling and there you are. What is the condition? When and why did it happen? Because you allowed yourself to be happy. If you believe that you can feel happy right now, you are half way of achieving it! If any or all situations around you are linked to concepts in your mind that make you happy, there is no reason why you can’t be happy all of the time. Of course, you won’t be happy all of the time, but the time you spend happy may increase to ever higher percentages of the time and why not reach that magical hundred?
As a reference to this extensive subject, I would like to recommend the book ‘Who knows? A study of Religious Consciousness’ by Raymond Smullyan, to be found at amazon.com. It touches on some subjects that should become more widely known and it shed some light on some of my own discoveries.