Thursday, July 19, 2007

Evidence for the existence of God

Dawkins-style evangelical atheists frequently say that it’s up to the theist to prove the existence of the Divine- “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.” Fair enough- but the most plentiful form of evidence is always dismissed out of hand, usually without discussion- or, at least without polite discussion: direct personal experience, also known (in the clinical, analytical language UUs love to use in discussion) as Unverified Personal Gnosis.

UPG comes in many forms; the shaking and quaking of the Shakers and the Quakers; the speaking in tongues of Pentecostals and others; being taken by the spirit in many Baptist and other Protestant congregations; drawing down the Moon for Wiccans; channeling a Loa for Voodoo. Sometimes it is an adrenaline rush of the soul, which leaves in it’s wake not words, exactly, but a sure and certain knowledge: “She will survive this”, or “You are loved”. Foxchild gives a wonderful description of such an experience in her blog The Unveiling Of A Pagan Spirit : “At the moment that realization took hold, it was as if something in my being shifted. It made room for something that had not been able to find its way in before. Somewhere deep in the core of me it spread. It was a fiery caress deep in the marrow of my bones that roared through me in a liquid burn. It was as if I were feeling every powerful emotion in that fire. Passion, hate, anger, ecstasy, fury, lust, desire, love. Not the sweet tender kind of love. It was the kind that could rip you apart if you tried to harness it instead of letting it run free. All were felt for what they are, neither positive nor negative, but gifts from the Universe.
Call it Goddess, God, Universe. Whatever “it” was, it was the flow of understanding what it means to let go and trust the Universe.”


Such evidence is rarely brought up in debate anymore as it is- at best- an invitation to ridicule. I have been told on more than one occasion that the proper term for this experience was “a psychotic break”. Such contempt for mankind the speakers of those words must feel; hundreds of millions of people have felt the Divine presence- and not just the “snake handling trailer trash” one of them mentioned, but some of the finest intellects to have ever walked this Earth, from Thomas Aquinas to our own Rev. Sinkford. Does the fact that this evidence cannot be weighed on a triple beam balance or register on a Radio Shack Multitester mean that it’s not real evidence? If so, I would argue that human intelligence does not exist- the evidence for it is every bit as subjective.

The problem may be the words we use- “faith”, and “belief.” I don’t believe the Divine exists- I know it. I know the Earth exists, I can touch it; I know the Divine exists, I have felt her touch.

10 comments:

Chance said...

Which raises interesting epistemological questions. Nice post.

Robin Edgar said...

Come on Joel,

Do you really believe that UUA President William G. Sinkford aka Rev. Bill Sinkford stands alongside Thomas Aquinas as one of "the finest intellects to have ever walked this Earth"?

Give us a break.

Or produce some convincing evidence. . .

Here is some rock solid evidence for the existence of God that can be weighed on a triple beam balance, so to speak. What excuses do U*Us, including UUA President Bill Sinkford. . . have for obstinately refusing to "weigh" thios evidence and for allowing obnoxious, intolerant, and outright hostile and abusive U*U clergy to dismiss it as nothing but "silliness and fantasy" arising from a "psychotic experience"?

Jaume said...

As our Unitarian humanist forebears said, One God is already a bit too much. Having to deal with more than one (not to speak about three!) is a real pain.

Joel Monka said...

Robin- I didn't intend to equate Rev Sinkford and Thomas Aquinas intellectually, and I imagine Rev Sinkford would agree- I was thinking of past and present.

Jaume- oddly enough I have never known, nor even heard of anyone who describes contact with the Trinity- it has always been a single entity.

Robin Edgar said...

I am perfectly aware that you were thinking past and present Joel. It seems that that is as far as your thinking got. . . There are any number of other contemporary figures who can be properly described as amongst the finest intellects to have ever walked this Earth. I am not convinced that President Bill Sinkford even comes close to meeting the criteria for being one of the finest intellects to have ever walked this Earth. So why did it even occur to you to present him in that context?

Joel Monka said...

Easy answer- most theologians work in relative obscurity, and many of my readers may not recognize a Wesleyan theologian, say, or a Prysbeterian by name- but as this is a UU blog, I assumed most would have heard of Rev. Sinkford.

Robin Edgar said...

So now you are suggesting that UUA President Bill Sinkford is a U*U "theologian" who stands alongside Thomas Aquinas as one of "the finest intellects to have ever walked this Earth"?

Curiouser and curiouser. . .

Can you provide some examples of Rev. Sinkford's brilliant theological insights?

Joel Monka said...

Give. It. Up. Robin. Didn't you read a word of my replies? Do I have to say it in French before you understand? D'accord!J'ai dit, "je n'ai pas eu l'intention d'égaliser tour Sinkford et Thomas Aquinas intellectuellement, et j'imagine que tour Sinkford conviendrait."

Robin Edgar said...

OK Well let's stick with the "theologian" bit then. You definitely have stated or implied that UUA President Bill Sinkford is a theologian so perhaps you can provide some examples of his brilliant U*U theology.

Robin Edgar said...

I guess not then. . .