How can you prove that God exists?
Personally, I never engage in arguments with atheists etc. It is waste of time and energy, sometimes doing more harm than good through exciting passions. The point is this:
Atheists argue from reason/intellect. We argue from life, living experience, from the heart moulded by daily life and prayer. So we have two completely different approaches. It could even be said that the fact that for us there is NO rational proof of the existence of God is proof that He exists. For us, He is Creator and we are creation. How can you expect the created human reason to understand the Creator, when our knowledge (so-called science/scientia) of the Creation is still minute, even though it increases daily? If we could understand God, it would be proof that He is a manmade myth. Only the real God is beyond human reason, meta-rational (though not irrational).
As you know, this whole concept of proving God’s existence really begins in the late eleventh century, with the rationalism of Anselm of Canterbury, ‘the father of scholasticism’. So their view is rationalistic, ours is experiential. The curious thing is that atheists and ‘anselmians’ alike argue in exactly the same way, with the same tool of the reason, putting themselves outside the universal and instinctive approach to religion through the millennia, which is ‘there must be something out there’. Anselm and his followers (rationalists, atheists or otherwise) represent an Edenic fall from knowledge, an abandonment of the eternal and immortal knowledge experienced through and imparted to the heart, in favour of the tiny, limited reason. (‘There are more things in heaven and earth…’).
Even the animals sense the presence of good or evil. We can say therefore that animals believe in God. The same is true for the demons, who believe and tremble. It is only man who can persuade himself not to believe – and the angels are amazed. But if you put ten convinced atheists in a ship that is about to sink in a storm, you will find at least five of them on their knees praying before the ship goes down. An atheist woman (and that is rare, because instincts are stronger) is usually convinced by going though childbirth.
The point is that when it comes to the crunch, most confess their innate belief (‘the soul is naturally Christian’ – Blessed Augustine and other Fathers). In such circumstances, only a few harden their hearts, curse and so side with the demons. Countless times in the Second World War, hardened Red Army pilots, shot down, were heard on radios to say their last words: ‘I give up my soul into your hands, O God’. It is all very well for spoilt brats to deny God in the polite enclosures of an English public school, where all are comfortably fed and sheltered and have their ‘personal entertainment systems’ to hand. But that is not where life is at. I have never yet met an African atheist, despite the fact that (= because) they hardly know if they will live to the end of the week.
Atheism is irrational, because if you can’t prove that God exists, you can’t disprove it either. Atheists do not argue from theological reasons (they cannot know what real theology is, because they do not pray and, as it is said, only those who pray are theologians), they argue from psychological or sociological reasons. Thus, the man who was molested as a child by some pedophile dressed as a priest is an ‘atheist’ for psychological reasons. The Spanish or Russian peasant who became an ‘atheist’ 80 or 100 years ago because he saw some hypocritical and hard-hearted bandit dressed as a priest, taking the Church’s money and spending it on himself, is an ‘atheist’ for sociological reasons. I remember someone 40 years ago saying to me that ‘religion is a medieval con-trick’. I still thoroughly agree with him, providing that we qualify it with three words - religion ‘in his experience’ is a medieval con-trick. But, of course, this was not religion lived and experienced; he was talking about religion deformed into a manmade institution, which, of course, is not religion at all.
So, I would simply answer as below to modern, brainwashed, British children who ask the inherently atheist question ‘How can we prove that God exists’ (and it is atheist, because it presupposes that He does not exist, because throughout history, except in modern Western civilisation, everyone has always, automatically believed that God exists - the only Areopagitic question was the identity of that God):
It is impossible to prove that God exists or does not exist, because God the Creator is beyond the petty rational proofs of the creation. Live your life a little, experience, and then you will decide.
Of course, it is also true that if we continue to live in impurity and therefore will have no experience, then we will not find faith in God. (‘Seek and ye shall find’). Atheism can be defined as the result of not having a way of life according to the commandments – loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves. And love means a way of life, it is not some purely passive, verbal agreement about ‘sentimental’ love. In other words, our perception of God depends on our way of life.
If you invert the Beatitudes, you will understand this:
Cursed are the rich in spirit (= proud-minded), for theirs is the kingdom of hell.
Cursed are they who do not mourn (= have the spirit of contrition and self-reproach inside themselves), for they shall not be comforted (= shall fall into depression and mental illness).
Cursed are the arrogant ( = those who do not acknowledge the dominion of God and take themselves for dominators), for they shall lose the earth (destroy it through pollution, contamination, ruthless economic asset-stripping etc).
Cursed are they which hunger and thirst after unrighteousness, for they shall be emptied (live in spiritual emptiness, despair and suicide).
Cursed are the merciless, for they shall not obtain mercy (live in the ruthless dog eat dog society which they have created today).
Cursed are the impure in heart, for they shall not see God (shall declare themselves atheists, that is, devoid of faith in God).
Cursed are the warmongers, for they shall be called the children of the devil (Hitler, Blair, Bush…).
Cursed are they which persecute for unrighteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of the demons.
Cursed are ye when ye shall revile and persecute men and say all manner of evil against others falsely, for the devil’s sake.
Lament and be exceeding sad, for great is your deprivation from heaven (loss of faith, self-isolation among the demons).
Only the pure in heart shall see God and it is the dogmas of the Church, which were revealed to the Fathers, i.e. to those who are pure in heart. And what are the dogmas of the Church? They are the revelations of God about Himself, given to man to express in human language. For behold, Thou hast loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom hast Thou revealed to me (Ps. 50, 8).
The reason is the tool of pagans, inherited from pagan (so-called ‘classical’) Rome and Greece. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote so harshly of ‘the Greeks’ (‘unto the Greeks foolishness’). Philosophy is what happens when people stop praying to God (i.e, doing theology, theologising) and start playing with God (with the idea/hobby of) God. Philosophy is the history of the Western Middle Ages (1000-1500). Secularism is the history of the Western Modern Ages (1500-2000). Atheism is the history of the post-Modern Ages (2000-).
In a word, if you ask a false question, you cannot get a right answer because the way the question (does God exist) is posed, actually excludes the right answer. We Orthodox Christians, members of the Church of Christ, do not so much believe in God, we know Him and He lives in our hearts like a flame, sometimes flickering according to our human weaknesses, sometimes burning brightly, according to our repentance.
If others do not know God, then it is time for them to get a life and begin living and discovering the spiritual dimension, of which they are so far ignorant or have lost. Atheists are the ultimate losers. But this is only because they have been insulated from the spiritual dimension, cocooned in the ego-bubbles of modern consumption (self-indulgence) for their personal material and sexual needs. And these are catered for by an atheist society, which is geared up and exists only for this, because it sees man as a mere animal, whose destiny is compost.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips