A friend asked “Let us suppose it was absolutely certain there was no god but many people honestly believed there was – how different would the world look today?”
I could answer that if there was no God there would be no universe and no people to observe it.
Clearly, as we are both intelligent people we must be talking about something different when we say the word ‘god’.
The God that I conclude exists is a creator, and a God who sustains the universe. Clearly the universe exists and continues to exist. Ask a physicist why and he will probably say ‘because of the laws of physics’. A rose is a rose by any other name, so at minimum my God is the laws of physics – we just choose to give it different names.
Perhaps my friend’s question is going beyond that definition of God. Perhaps he is asking about a God who has ‘character’, a ‘me’-ness that I have. (I know that I exist, there is an essence that is ‘me’). What would things be like if there was not a God who had an essence of ‘me’?
It’s actually not easy to define what ‘I’ am. Science of course shows that my brain has massively complex computational ability, but that doesn’t really help. Literature and philosophy, and our daily experience tells me that there are things like love, joy, peace, thoughts, free will. Let’s consider these as parts of ‘me’, and think – what if there were not a god who also had these characteristics.
But once again, the same sort of argument applies. God is love, joy, peace. Therefore without God there would be no love, joy or peace. There would be no literature, there would be no mathematics, no equations, there would be not science.
Free will though is slightly different. We know we have free will, and yet it is inexplicable by science. It is inconsistent with the laws of physics. Free will seems a bit of a paradox. If God is the laws of physics, and free will is inconsistent with the laws of physics then how can that work? A rational explanation is that free will is something that is a gift of God, that is not constrained by the laws of physics. Therefore we begin to see what would be different in my friends question. Without God we would have no free will, we would not be able to choose right from wrong, we would simply be robots who respond to stimuli.
But to explore the question further. My last paragraph introduced right and wrong. We know that there is right and wrong – even if we don’t always know what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong are different from free will, so let’s suppose that we were able to have free will but had no knowledge of right and wrong. Clearly right and wrong exist. Goodness and evil exist. And yes, my definition of God includes ultimate goodness. So without God we would have no constraint on what we do, we would simply live to serve ourselves. The world would be governed simply by whoever was strongest. We would be like most of the rest of the animal kingdom. States like North Korea would be everywhere and left unchecked. Anarchy would reign. The world would be a very different place to live.
So have I proved God exists? I think so (but I would) – simply because my definition of God includes everything that we know exists. I define that it is not possible for anything to exist without God, and so anything which exists must be God.
My friend asked what if God didn’t exist but people believed that he did. I hope that I have shown that such a question is not directly answerable, it is like the “can god make a thing so heavy that he cannot lift it” question, or “can God make something that doesn’t exist”. But perhaps I’ve also been able to answer the questions behind the question. Will it satisfy my friend? I doubt it. If any of us really doesn’t want to change our views then no amount of logical reasoning will make a difference. But perhaps others will find the discussion interesting….
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