47. Can we “just know” that God exists?

I just know God existsI often hear believers say that they “just know” that God exists. This seemingly innate awareness of God’s existence can be used as grounds to override and dismiss any and all evidence to the contrary.

My own wife uses this as her basis for her faith. For her, she “just knows” that God exists, and that’s enough.

And admittedly, the concept of “God” is so ingrained in our society that it can be a difficult idea to shake, especially for those (like myself) who are experiencing serious doubt for the first time. 

But is it true that God is communicating a message of his existence to us, and can we prove it? And if he’s not, can we disprove it?

“Deep down, everyone knows that God exists!”

Believers sometimes claim that, deep down, everyone knows that God exists (see Romans 1:18-32). They will cite as evidence that many diverse cultures have independently arrived at some form of belief in a god, or gods, or spirits.

While true, these disparate cultures came to drastically different conclusions about what “god” is. Quite often there are plural gods. Sometimes they are ancestral spirits. Sometimes they have a specific gender. Sometimes they are animals or natural objects (e.g. the sun). And some cultures have no gods at all (such as some Eastern philosophies — which should give us pause to wonder why God didn’t prompt them into thinking theisticly).

While these gods may differ, the one thing they have in common is they were invented by humans — humans who were all sharing a similar experience.

Surely our ancestors must’ve wondered where the first humans came from. The first humans couldn’t have given birth to themselves, so something else must’ve created them.

They also must’ve also been deeply troubled by death. What happened to people when they died? Where did they go?

And they must’ve wondered why nature behaved the way it did. What made the volcano erupt? What caused the lightning storm? What is the source of the wind and the rain?

All these things led humans to wonder about causes, which led them to invent stories about the intelligence that must have brought these things, and why.

It is reasonable that our ancestors would’ve deduced the need for some sort of cause.

But if it is true that God implanted knowledge of himself in all these humans, it’s curious why he did not universally impart the same basic details. There is a cause, but the causes are different. If God were imparting this knowledge to all men and women, we should be able to arrive at conclusions that cannot be logically deduced. 

For example, why didn’t all cultures intuitively know that God is three persons in one? Why don’t they all share the same ten commandments?

(Note that many cultures also invented monster stories, but we don’t use this commonality to try and support the claim that monsters actually exist.)

What else might God reveal to us?

People also have strong feelings about their particular religion. They “just know” that God exists, and they “just know” that their religion is true.

I once asked a young Mormon missionary, “How do you know the Book of Mormon is true?” He answered, with a contagious zeal, “I just know, that I know, that I know! I prayed about it and felt God’s peace — a peace that Satan cannot imitate — and I knew that God was telling me that the Book of Mormon was true!”

But can I trust his feelings?

Watch these three short testimonials, and note how these people feel after reading the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Quran:

All of them “just know” that their religious text is correct, because of how it makes them feel, and how it has changed their lives for the better.

But if these religions are mutually exclusive (i.e. you’re not allowed to believe in all three), then what some of these people “just know” must be “just wrong.”

At least two of these men (and possibly all three) are being mislead by their feelings. This tells me that I can’t trust my own feelings when it comes to religious matters. As much as we’d like to believe that we can trust our feelings, they can mislead us when it comes to determining truth.

Are you certain you’re certain?

There are also other problems with having certainty about God’s existence. 

According to Hebrews 11:6, it is impossible to please God without faith. If we are absolutely convinced, can we still please God? Is our free will destroyed once we obtain this high level of certainty?

Also, is it possible to “just know” something and then un-know it?

There are former Christians, pastors, preachers, priests, etc. who also once “just knew” that God existed, yet these convictions didn’t prevent them from later concluding otherwise. 

“If God isn’t giving me this message, then why do I feel so strongly that he exists?”

These feelings may exist, and persist, for a couple of reasons.

1) Natural selection may favor the religious brain

Geneticist Dean Hamer postulates that a more religious disposition can be be triggered by a single God gene, and that “spiritually minded” individuals are favored by natural selection (an idea first proposed by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man).

Inheritable traits that foster empathy, compassion, cooperation, optimism, and an ability to learn, may have helped us to survive. But they may have also made us more susceptible to believing whatever religious dogmas that happened to be a part of our culture. This ability and willingness to embrace communal and cultural thinking (religious or otherwise) may have helped to ensure our survival.

“The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology.”
— Edward O. Wilson

2) Cultural indoctrination

If we are raised from childhood to believe that something called “God” exists, that perception becomes our reality.

If our entire worldview is wrapped around the idea of God, it can be a difficult idea to escape. Years of indoctrination, repetition, Sunday school classes, sermons, Christian schools, emotional songs, the perception of answered prayers, religious experiences, and even casual conversations about God (like this one), can all serve to reinforce the idea that God exists.

Eventually, we may come to “just know” God exists because our brains have been  hardwired to believe it. And because this idea cannot be easily disproved (which shouldn’t be mistaken for actual evidence), the idea is not readily dispelled.

These physical wrinkles in our brain are not easily overwritten, and won’t be, unless we willfully and actively seek out alternative explanations. However, doing so goes against our instinct to conform to cultural beliefs, and so we may feel uncomfortable about rebelling against our culture, and possibly against God himself.

We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large; after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify, and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations. Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow.
— Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain, 2012

All of this may lead to us feel as if God’s existence is intuitive and obvious. But think about some of the other things our cultures teach us, and how they too might seem intuitive and obvious.

For example, we all “just know” that words like “shit” and “fuck” and “cunt” are “bad” words. This seems intuitive and obvious. But what makes these words any worse than “poop” or “sex” or “vagina”? Nothing. The “bad” words are only bad because someone decided they were bad, and eventually our culture came to came to accept it. Every generation informed the next that these were “bad” words, and it became true.

But the opposite could’ve just as easily been true. Words like “shit” and “fuck” could’ve become the socially acceptable terms, while words like “poop” or “sex” may have become curse words.

Instinctively, we “just know” that these are bad words. But this has more to do with how our brains were programmed, rather than what is actually true.


Nature readies the brain for survival. It’s quick to learn and conform to social norms. Our cultures define what these truths are, and our brains soak them in. We come to intuitively “know” that God exists because that is what we have been programmed to believe.

But while people may feel they “know” that their beliefs are true, it is clear that feelings and intuitions alone are not reliable tools when it comes to discovering. If they were, we wouldn’t need things like science, detectives, or juries — we would all “just know” the truth in every case.

But clearly, feelings differ on many important topics, and so they are not always useful in determining truth.

The inherent danger in assuming that one “just knows” anything is that it stops one from thinking. It discourages further education, and inhibits well-informed decisions.

“A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

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48 Responses to 47. Can we “just know” that God exists?

  1. Garbonzo says:

    Thanks, this is excellent yet again.

  2. rautakyy says:

    The difficulty in disproving any particular god claim lies only in that people have been taught to believe in them. And they have been reared to shun in fear any critical thinking towards these suggestions about gods. Even religious people have no difficulties in disproving gods they do not believe in. Exept, if some of these other gods are based on similar false and silly ideas as their own. In that case the indoctrination causes more problems, but then again the part about gods being mutually exclusive comes to help them.

    I suck at mathematics (I am not half bad at geometrics, but that is more concrete to me, as it can be visualized). Hence, I do not have a very analytical mind, but since I have not been indoctrinated to any religion they all seem illogical to me. Religiosity is a cultural meme. What religion means to a modern western cultural Christian is totally different from what it meant to a medieval priest, or a Hindu, a Buddhist, or an animist in the Siberian taiga. The only connection between these separate cultural experiences is that they are traditions inherited from authorities every individual once trusted, such as their parents. And that they are models of explaining stuff people have no explanation for. Not all of them are projections of human wishfull thinking on naturalistic reality, that does not allways yeild to our hopes. Though, that seems to be a big part of most of religiosioty.

    It is quite natural for us to seek emotional feeling of safety and projecting that hope through cultural inherited “knowledge” to ones own experiences sure seems to be a big part of human cultures both in beliefs about the supernatural and the natural. But we are not only accepting at face value everything our forebears gave us. We also come up with new ideas all the time and select and apply the parts of the “wisdom” of our ancestors that fit our own experiences and information that we personally and as communities aquire. That is why the Biblical morals is outdated even by the standards of the most hard core fundamentalists.

  3. john zande says:

    Peel away the carnival-like outer layers, bypass the guidebooks and dive through the dogmatic sludge to the core within and anyone curious enough to look will find that there are but two ostensible, universal truths pervading all religions:

    1) They all claim to be true
    2) Not one has ever emerged twice on the planet

    That’s it. There is nothing lurking any deeper than that, and as the second truism annihilates the first claim there’s no need to even litigate the petitions forwarded by any single religion as it’s already perfectly clear that any allusion to authenticity is entirely groundless. If this were not the case, if any single religion were in fact true, we’d expect that religion to have arisen naturally and fluidly wherever humans were found, regardless of their isolation or epoch. We would expect the deity (or deities) anchoring that single religion to speak a single language and whose word penetrated all tribal, domestic and international legal code. No religion has however emerged twice anywhere on the planet, no single deity has been envisaged by two populations separated by time and geography, and not a solitary person in history has arrived independently at Mithraism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Scientology or Judaism without it first being taught to them.

  4. David Salter says:

    Very well argued.
    The only common denominator in all Deistic beliefs is the human mind. A study of neurology and behavioural evolution reveals more about belief in the supernatural than any study of the real world. Therefore it is more about the “unreal” world that exists in the mind. The brain creates a model of the physical world, in a form that is most beneficial to our survival. That doesn’t make it true.

  5. Alpha says:

    Also, not many people have considered that in the centre of many religions is HUMANS. Scriptures talk of the afterlife for humans, not for any other sentient beings. There are doctrines and commandments about interaction between humans only. We were made in the image of God. And so on. If you think about it, it becomes more obvious that it was probably *God* made in the image of *humans*, not the other way around. It suggests that humans created religion and hence were the ones to put humankind in the centre of religion.

  6. Anonymous says:

    was it ever considered that these people know god exists because they them selves contain god with inside of them as an inherent facet of their sentiant being? we are sentiant essentialy because we think about thinking. Perhaps the first stories of god(s) are our first… thoughts about thoughts… Well that thought came from here… but where did the thought that made that thought come from? god? inno you have fun with that

  7. Ashana M says:

    I have this idea about standards for evidence of truth: the greater the consequences for believing it, the higher the standard needs to be. There are no here-and-now consequences for my belief in God. There might be for an afterlife, but that’s pure speculation. There is no evidence an afterlife even exists. If I had a belief in God that involved harming others or myself, or taking important risks in my life, the standard would need to be higher. But I don’t live my life because I believe in God in a way that is any less satisfying than I would if I didn’t believe in that God. So, I can just believe in God without any evidence. I wouldn’t need any higher standard of evidence for believing in fairies, either. I want evidence when it comes to choosing retirement plans, effective medical treatment, or how best to help keep our planet life-sustaining. I can believe in God just because I feel like it. And I do.

    • DanD says:

      As long as you are not someone who feels that your beliefs should be taught in school, or that they should drive what is and isn’t legal in your country, then most non-believers have no problem with that.

      The problem occurs that far to many believers do feel that they have a right to dictate what others can or can’t do.

  8. That ballsy/awkward moment when you post a link to your religious historical fiction on an atheist blog because this is your first published story and you are excited and you want honest criticism#youknowyouwanttoreadwhythehellnot


  9. Garbonzo says:

    Hey 500Q,

    I submitted your post to /r/atheism and it got 55 comments. =)


  10. People seem to have more fear than the faith which guide their belief towards the existence of some supernatural force.

  11. heathersr says:

    I prefer to think of God in the way that Eckhardt Tolle teaches. God is not separate from us, god is us, the inner being that is in all of us, not in our bodies and minds. God is not religion, but the inner light (soul?) that is in of us and connects us all to each other. When you let go of your thoughts, let go of time… past, future… you are filled with a peace, that many attribute to God, but is really the peace that comes from being fully connected to yourself, letting go of external needs, and just be… Religion is not god, it is culture. It comes from the need to understand our life, to explain our suffering. But religion is just another external thing that does not guarantee a life of peace. Quite the opposite, religion has brought much suffering to the world. When one connects to their inner self and lets go of anger, expectations, and fear… and just excepts, then there is no more suffering, just acceptance and peace.

  12. Delightful questions and exploration 500Q! Thank you!

    My personal quirky way to raise this subject’s biased-nurtured subjectivity (word-play intended) is to state claims such as “I know Mother Goose exists because I know I know! I know Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle exist because I know I know! I know Big Foot exists because I know I know! But please don’t ask me if O.J. Simpson is a murderer!” 😉

    As you and Nietzsche wonderfully point-out, we didn’t LEARN the Earth wasn’t flat until we set sail and stayed in the boat! We didn’t LEARN the Earth wasn’t the center of our existence until Copernicus and the Apollo astronauts and the necessary science confirmed it. Clinging to ancient beliefs and systems is risky:

    “History [faith?] is a child building a sand castle by the sea, and that child is the whole majesty of man’s power in the world.” — Heraclitus

    • Alpha says:

      Actually, unfortunately for the English they were thousands of years behind in discovering that the Earth was round. Eratosthenes proved in the 3rd century BC that the Earth was round.

      • Alpha, great point! Indeed, Western civilization/history has an overly HIGH opinion of itself & greatness, so your specific detailed correction (e.g. Columbus – a European -was not the 1st to discover America/North America) further shows we typically “KNOW” (as 500Q is pointing out) less than we really do when we constantly push ourselves & be open to learn more & admit our mistakes & limitations….like the ‘creations’ know all about the Creator (God), or the statue knowing all about the Sculpture; an extremely flawed logic.

        Thank you for pointing out my oversight! 🙂

  13. I n I says:

    God is innefable. Our knowledge quantifiable. Many words bring little comfort, but just one word, and I shall be healed. Peace neighbor. 🙂

  14. zqtx says:

    Thanks for the post, 500 – now I know where the inspiration for http://siftingreality.com/2013/06/21/atheists-do-believe-god-exists/ came from.

    The author there loves trying to deflect any burden of proof for his beliefs.

    Like I said on his blog, I propose that deep down, theists really know that heaven doesn’t exist.

    After all, if you truly believed that such a place existed and it was waiting for you after you died, why do we have such a strong instinct to survive? Why would you make any attempt to prolong your life here on earth, especially if it meant more discomfort or great expense, if you’re anticipating such a paradise? Why bother resorting to medicine when an eternity of bliss awaits you in heaven? No, deep down, theists know it’s just not true and they’re fearful of death because they know it’s all over.

    • Interesting point; what’s wrong with a little reckless endangerment? Why get vaccinated or go to the hospital? If God has a purpose for your life, I’m sure he’ll see to it that you don’t get sick and die. 😉

      • Daniela says:

        The answer to your questions lie with the understanding of the purpose of life. If you understand the nature of a river or lake, you will understand why rocks are round at the beach.

        • zqtx says:

          Rocks and pebbles are round because of the physics of erosion due to constant abrasion and movement. Please feel free to explain to us what you feel is the purpose of your existence and life in general. I would sincerely like to know.

          • Daniela says:

            The question of why are we here or what is the purpose of life does not apply to evolution. If you’re an evolutionist then you need to be convinced of the fact that evolution is a fallacy at certain point, before religion can make sense.

            • zqtx says:

              No one has mentioned anything about evolution and it has nothing to do with the question. All I’m doing is asking you to answer what you feel the purpose of your existence and life in general is – that’s it.

              • Daniela says:

                I mentioned “evolution” because if you’re an evolutionist (as your previous posts seemed to indicate) you’re unlikely to read the bible or any book that talks about god’s creation, and you won’t find it in evolution as I’ve mentioned. It’s in those books. Knowing the purpose of life is knowing god’s agenda or mind which I am not about to give it away. I suggest you read the book or books.

                • zqtx says:

                  Wow – what a dodge.
                  I’m just asking you what YOUR purpose is and what YOU think the meaning of life is.
                  If you can’t answer it, just say so.

                  • Daniela says:

                    You want me to give you the answer to a hard test? And if I don’t then you’re going to accuse me of not knowing the answer, how nice? You should thank me for showing you where to find the answer. My purpose and yours are the same. The question is whether you know it or not. Let me just tell you this; your mortal life determines the future of your immortal life, so use your mortal brain wisely.

                    • zqtx says:

                      I have politely asked you three times a straight-forward question and you simply tell me to go read the bible and then have the nerve to say I should thank you for it. This, dear readers, is why conversations with theists is so often futile.

                • DanD says:

                  Most atheists I’m aware of (which is an entirely separate but somewhat overlapping group from people who believe in evolution, since many theists, including the entire Catholic church accept evolution) have read the bible. They’ve also read the Koran and lord of the rings. At least the last one of those has a consistent story without internal contradictions.

              • daniela says:

                You do realize that you don’t give out your password so why would any one else. I told you, knowing the purpose of life is knowing god’s agenda. Study His words and you should have a good grip on His purpose.

        • DanD says:

          But if god has a purpose for you remaining alive, surely he won’t let you die from illness or accident.

  15. Sal says:

    When I believe in God, I can count on the fact that I have proof of who my God is. I do not have blind faith as others do, and I do not believe in other different Gods that offer no proof, and I did not create my own God. I have a rational intellectual reasonable logical faith supported with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Only a good educated student will know for sure who the real God is.

    I am a skeptic person, and being that I was an engineer, I have always learned that to find the proof of any theory we start by being rational. Then through sound principles, logic, evidence, and reasoning we can come to a conclusion. Consider this. If a person opposes even the slightest possibility of a God other than their god, then any evidence can be explained away. It is like if someone refuses to believe that people have walked on the moon, and then no amount of information is going to change their thinking. Photographs of astronauts walking on the moon, interviews with the astronauts, moon rocks…all the evidence would be worthless, because the person has already concluded that people cannot go to the moon, and one will concluded there is no way to prove God.

    If someone truly wants to know if God exist or who wants to know who God is or what He is like, then they should study this man called Jesus. If you believe that this man did indeed exist and if you believe in his words then you know that God exist. I can justify the existence of God by presenting overwhelming irrefutable evidence of a Man who actually claim to be God. Some will say I know that God exist because there is proof that He came down in Human form and became the voice of God in the flesh. He is an authentic historical Person.

    Not one religious leader has ever claimed to be God. Not Moses, Paul, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, etc; that is with the exception of Jesus Christ. Christ is the only religious leader who has ever claimed to be deity and the only individual ever who has convinced a great portion of the world that He is God. This story of Jesus is either the greatest event in history or the cruelest deception. If it is a fraud, then the whole of the Christian message crumbles together with the hopes of those multitudes of lives built on his name. But if the story is true, then this world has been hit with extraordinary news of earth-shaking consequences. Have you taken the trouble to decide which it is? Is it in your interest to explore the truth or falsity of Christ? Amazingly however, many people never bothered to explore the evidence in support of Jesus, but to the contrary, often run away from it. At the same time, many Christians themselves are not sure whether the claims of their faith are solid. Is the Christian claim a swindle? Is it just wishful thinking? Or is it actually true? I will try to demonstrate that the story of Jesus rests on solid historical grounds. So wherever you may be in terms of belief, unbelief, doubt, or indecision, I invite you to take a look.

    What was it that made him so famous? What was it about Jesus Christ that made the difference? Was he merely a great man, or something more? Why within three short years of his life did Jesus changed the world for the next 20 centuries. Other moral and religious leaders have left an impact—but nothing like that unknown carpenter’s son from Nazareth. How was it that a carpenter, of no special training, ignorant of the culture and learning of the Greeks, born of people whose great teachers were narrow, sour, intolerant, pedantic legalists, was the supreme religious teacher the world has known, whose supremacy here makes Him the most important figure in the world’s history?

    Although these questions get to the heart of whom Jesus really was. Some believe he was just merely a great moral teacher; others believe he was simply the leader of the world’s greatest religion. Still others label him as a revolutionary, liar, lunatic, crazy, cult leader, prophet, deceiver, mythical, rebel, protester, human rights leader, Impostor, fictional and so on…The list is endless of all the labels given to Jesus. Are any of theses labels valid?

    Many believe something far more. Christians believe that God has actually visited us in human form. And they believe the evidence backs that up. It was primarily Jesus’ unique claims that caused him to be scrutinized. Could this be the reason why He became so famous, or did His legacy come about from people who need hope or for something to believe. Will the real Jesus stand up? As we take a deeper look at the world’s most controversial person, we begin by asking: could Jesus have been just a merely a great moral teacher that made such an impact to the world, or was he something greater?

    Did you know that there are many ancient transcripts other than the bible recording the accounts of a man called Jesus? These reports show that a virtuous person named Jesus did live in the early first century A.D. and authored a religious movement (which still exists today). This Person was at least called Christ – the Messiah. Christians in the first century also appeared to consider Him God. Finally these writings support other facts found in the Bible surrounding His life. The claim that Jesus never existed and His life is a myth compromises the reliability of all these ancient history. Aside from the ancient biblical manuscripts we have other numerous ancient historical examples of writers, philosophers and historians who lived during or not long after the time Jesus is believed to have lived and who testify to the fact that he was a real person. There are nearly 50 sources, other than the bible, within 150 years after Jesus’ death which mention his existence and record many events of his life. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Author of Hebrews, James, Peter, and Jude, Clement of Rome, 2 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Didache, Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, Fragments of Papias, Justin Martyr, Aristides, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Quadratus, Aristo of Pella, Melito of Sardis, Diognetus, Gospel of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Epistula Apostolorum, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Truth, Apocryphon of John, and Treatise on Resurrection, Josephus (Jewish historian), Tacitus (Roman historian), Pliny the Younger (Roman politician), Phlegon (freed slave who wrote histories), Lucian (Greek satirist), Celsus (Roman philosopher), Mara Bar Serapion (prisoner awaiting execution), Suetonius, and Thallus. The Acts of Pontius Pilate and Phlegon,Talmud, Toledoth Jesu. With today’s resources you can certainly find and learn what they had to say about this man.

    When we believe in the Roman Empire and historical figures like Caesar, Aristotle, Napoleon and Alexander the great and so on, none of us were there to see them. Our belief is based solely on the written accounts of eyewitnesses. We firmly believe that these famous men did indeed exist even though we didn’t see them. If we wanted to know what these men were like we would have to study the written testimonies and then make a judgment. If we really want to know who Jesus was we also must look at the written testimonies. If we reject many of the written accounts of Jesus of eyewitnesses who saw Christ then we would also have to rule out the testimonies of other great men. If we set aside the testimonies of Christ and at the same time we believe in the Caesars’’ of Rome who lived at the time of Christ then we are prejudice against Christ. There are more written testimonies of Christ than all of the great men combined.

    The evidence for Jesus outside of the New Testament is far from no extant So, regardless of whether or not the New Testament can be trusted, there are many other ancient non-Christian sources which confirm the existence of Jesus. As such, the theory that Jesus never existed is plainly unreasonable. After all, how could sources which are entirely non-Christian in nature just happen to coincide with the New Testament records on all of critical points if the ultimate focal point of those records never even existed.
    There is much ancient documental proof still in existence today of Jesus Christ – and this is NOT from Christian sources. In fact, there were many letters about Jesus between Roman authorities who certainly were NOT sympathetic to the Christian cause. There are over 40,000 ancient pieces of literature to support details of Jesus Christ, yet we only find 9 acient text to support the fact that Julius Caesar lived, and there is even less to support that of Napoleon Bonaparte, yet no one doubts their existence.

    There are now more than 5,300 known greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin,Vulgate manuscripts, and at least another 9,300 other early version manuscripts of Jesus. We have more than 24,000 manuscripts copies of portions of the New testament or recordings of christ in existance today not to mention the other 20,000 acient secular written accounts of christ. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers. In comparison, the writings of homer is second with only 463 manuscripts. The ancient historical works of Caesar’s Galic war has 10 ancient manuscripts, and of the 142 manuscriptsonly of the roman history of Livy only 35 survived. Of all the manuscripts found from 12 other historian roman writers we have nearly 400 manuscipts about the roman empire. When we study ancient history we look to these manuscripts. When we study Jesus we can look to 40,000 manuscripts.

    Of course this does not prove that he was God in the flesh. My pointis here is that you first must know if He existed. Once that is establish then study your label you put on him. If you claim he was just a mere teacher, then you need to study his words and his life to learn what he was teaching. If you claim he was crazy or a revolutionary, then prove it. Make sure you know what cazy is or what are the crtirias of revolutionary. Study him and study your label and through sound principles, logic, evidence, and reasoning we can come to a conclusion that he was more than a mere man.

    • Hi Sal,

      I don’t doubt that you are an intelligent person, nor do I doubt that I was intelligent when I believed. But as Michael Shermer says, “Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed,” and “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.” It’s difficult to separate our culture, emotions and biases from the equation and just base our conclusion on pure logic and reason.

      My guess is that you, like so many others (including myself), set out to confirm your own bias without realizing it. You’ve obviously read up on all the evidence in favor of Jesus, as most of your “overwhelming irrefutable evidence” seems to come right out of Lee Strobel’s “The Case of Christ”. Do you (honestly) dedicate equal time to reading material questing the historicity of Jesus?

      I haven’t questioned the person of Jesus much yet (short of question #37), but I’m willing to give a brief rebuttal to these claims of evidence.

      1) Firstly, I won’t dismiss the possibility of God out of hand, the possibility exists. But likewise, believers should not be so quick to dismiss the possibility that God doesn’t exist.

      2) “This story of Jesus is either the greatest event in history or the cruelest deception.” The same could be said for Muhammad. If you’re not Muslim, then you believe that he has fooled over a billion people into believing that he was a prophet. Do these numbers make it true? Of course not, being able to convince billions of people that you’re something you’re not is only as difficult as deceiving one person at a time. In fact, if we’re going strictly by the numbers, then we all have to agree that Catholicism is the truest religion.

      3) Muhammad was also a relative nobody who also became well know. But part of the reason Jesus became well known is because Christianity was an especially effective tool for getting the word out. Part of what it meant to follow Jesus was to go out unto all the world and spread his message. Most people don’t have such an effective PR campaign.

      4) “The list is endless of all the labels given to Jesus. Are any of theses labels valid?” How about the label of “legend”?

      5) “There are nearly 50 sources, other than the bible, within 150 years after Jesus’ death which mention his existence and record many events of his life.” I don’t doubt that Jesus may have been a real person, but few (if any) of these accounts were actual eye-witness accounts, including the gospels. Most of what was written about Jesus was hearsay — people regurgitated details that were passed down to them from others. It’s also an inconvenient truth that so much of what was written about Jesus was complete fiction. Some of it was easily dismissed, and other accounts are still debated today.

      6) The difference between Jesus and other famous historical figures is that people don’t usually make extraordinary claims about these other futures, and when they do, we immediately question their authenticity. No one ever claimed that Napoleon could walk on water or raise the dead. But people are known to create folk tales and legendary stories about people, just as we know they did with Jesus. (If early members of the Mormon church went around telling people that Joseph Smith performed miracles, would you believe THEM?) Reading the Bible, you can see that the people were much more superstitious than they are today, and were more open to believing claims that would seem absurd today.

      7 ) “When we study Jesus we can look to 40,000 manuscripts.” So… we went from 50 sources within 150 years, to 40,000 manuscripts. I know we like to throw out large numbers because numbers make our arguments seem more legit, but just because people made copies of the same story, doesn’t make it any more true. No matter how many copies of Harry Potter are printed, it doesn’t make it any more true, it’s just popular fiction.

      Perhaps most astounding is that Jesus himself never bothered to write any of these sources. Why not write down your own words so future generations could read them first-hand? Perhaps Jesus never bothered because he expected his kingdom would be established right away (Matthew 16:28).

      8) “Of course this does not prove that he was God in the flesh.” So… there is no irrefutable evidence for the existence of God… only evidence that some people once claimed Jesus claimed to be God.

      I don’t think Jesus was crazy, but we can’t deny that a number of crazy folks back then did believe they were destined to become the Jewish messiah. I think Jesus was possibly campaigning for this same office, before he started claiming he was the son of God, and was promptly executed, never to be heard from again.

      Unfortunately none of his miracles left any real evidence behind, but luckily, Jesus was pretty clear that we could pray for healing, or ask for anything else in his name he would do it (John 14:14). But unfortunately, God doesn’t like to be tested, so he refuses to do any of these things lest he provide evidence. (Convenient.) You just have to take it on faith that the extraordinary claims that some guy made about Jesus 2,000 years ago weren’t made up, even though OTHER people around the same time period were making up stuff about Jesus.

      But there is much about Jesus to be explored, and I plan to take a much closer look in future questions.


  16. Ben Roos says:

    I base my belief that a creator god exists purely on logic, fallible as logic is, but it is all we have to reason with. The existence of our intricate but orderly universe calls for intelligent design. Chance is not reliable intelligence because it is random and therefore fickle A god is per common belief/definition superior and intelligent. But the god I believe in is not one of those fabricated by men in their own image to serve their own purpose. Let me explain “my” god : We know via science that e=mc2. Everything that exists that is known to us is Energy at a specific rate of vibration. The sum total of all energy is the entity who manifests in all that exists. It is a “god” that manifests itself as all that is known to us. He/she/it is All in All = Energy= also Life and Light and Truth and Love and more, all of it forms of Energy and manifestations of the Source of it all.

    • Garbonzo says:

      Have you researched the arguments against a fine tuned universe?

      Such as imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”

      • Alpha says:

        I find that the argument “the universe is so intricate/perfect/complicated that it MUST have a creator” rather illogical. First of all, as 500Q mentioned, if you say that the universe is too complex to exist without a creator, then it is not illogical to say the God himself must have a creator and so on. Of course the argument here is that God is everything that is anything, therefore no creator of God, but then why couldn’t the universe be that way?

        Second, the universe is really not perfect, not even close. Outside of Earth and a few (if any) choice planets, you will literally find empty space, filled with random lifeless rocks, gas balls (which of course we better know as stars), black holes, and… more empty space. So have we actually found any life forms on another planet (apart from some bacteria, which in Christianity is inconsequential anyway)? If a star explodes a billion light years away, does it affect humans, the centre (almost, of course God is always at the centre) of the Christian religion, in any way? Of course, the rest of the universe could just be part of the often mentioned “God’s plan”. Obviously God wanted said star to explode because… well, just BECAUSE. (stop asking :P) And that is where you get to a dead end. Maybe God wanted to make another planet with life in it.

        And what if we did find life on another planet? Maybe Earth isn’t so special after all, huh? Maybe humans aren’t so special after all. I’m actually curious as to what Christians would do when that happened.

  17. Ben Roos says:

    I agree it is not illogical to say that God has a Creator and that Creator also has a Creator and so on ad infinitum. The human mind has limitations of understanding so let us be humble enough to accept that we do not know it all and can only reason so far.. An uninformed cursory look at the ‘debris’ on a forest floor could create the impression of random disorderliness until you discover that it is a wonderworld of microbial life existing as an orderly part of a greater whole obeying specific laws of nature. It is infinitely better planned and constructed than the finest manmade clockwork and it has LIFE. Why should something look ( appear to be ) orderly to be orderly ? The best of science disagrees with the statement that space is empty. It is only empty of the few things that we have learned to weigh, measure and observe with our limited perception.

    • Garbonzo says:

      Yes, the human mind has limitations currently. That doesn’t mean we won’t be able to understand the universe at a later point. Anyway, it’s easier to believe in things we have evidence for than to believe in a creator we just can’t comprehend. Before we know of the life on a forest floor, we WERE right to not believe anything was there. If we did that, then there would be no stopping what we can believe in. Why not believe tiny unicorns are on the forest floor too? We believe it once we have evidence for it. So while you may use the forest floor as an analogy to say that we MAY not know everything about the universe, you can’t use it as an analogy to say for SURE there is more to the universe than we have evidence for (even if it is likely).

  18. Alex says:

    God is real, know that for a fact. Messages to me always and forever… see constant messages in my mind that turned to invisible messages I just know.. Not voices at the slightest. Read the Bible one day and it LITERALLY was all meant for me like He was talking to me at the time SERIOUSLY every page… talking to me… “I was”. still see messages.. but yeah.. he’s there.. believe it.

    • Garbonzo says:

      If you are “seeing” message that no one else does, even those that profess your own faith, something is wrong there, no? You may have a medical mental problem. Seek help as soon as possible.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I just “know” that I am the reincarnation of Napoleon. And it takes the same kind of deluded thinking, and ignorance of reality to maintain that belief, as it does to close my eyes to the world around me and convince myself that the whole universe was designed with me in mind.

  20. Peter says:

    On one hand, if “God” is used to describe the gods of humans, then the answer is “Yes, in my imagination/dream since all this is a dream (or better, nightmare!).”

    Only humans/ top of the food chain/crown of creation could choose to give their makers/creators (from A(Allah) to Z(Zeus)) the pleasure of killing (sacrifice), raping/incesting (virginal conception) and allow themselves to be killed (suicide bombing) and raped (physically, emotionally/psychologically, intellectually, and financially) over and over again whereas the rest of the food chain/creation can give a damn about these idols. But what else to expect when we have sadistic gods/creators and masochistic creatures? One necessitates the other and vice versa.

    On the other hand, if “God” is used to describe perfection, totality, completeness, all-encompassing, then the answer is “Yes, if you have a logical mind.” Perfection necessitates existence, reality, therefore “God” (exists). Spock knows.

    And what is all-encompassing, total, complete, perfect can have no opposite. And since all of this (the material universe) is the opposite, none of this exists or is real. As Spock says, “It’s illogical.”


  21. Sal says:

    Can we know God exists? How can we prove God?

    The truth is, there’s nothing I can tell you, describe to you, or present to you that’s going to convince you, without a shadow of a doubt, that God exists or not. That’s just the truth. In fact, the world isn’t capable of proving the existence of God. There is nothing in the world that can prove whether God exists or not. Science can’t prove the existence of God. Philosophers can’t prove the existence of God. Priests, monks, or spiritual teachers can’t prove the existence of God. If you were to asked every single person in the world who believes in God to tell you who or what God actually is, you would probably get a different answer from nearly everyone.

    Of course there are many theological theories of about how we can prove God. For example we have the 5 theories of St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas’s five proofs for God answers the question “Does God exists?” by offering five arguments drawn from observance of the natural world to support the existence of God. They are: 1. an argument from motion 2. an argument from cause 3. an argument from existence 4. an argument from goodness 5. an argument from design. The creation or big bang theory may offer some proof there is a God. But even creationist can not truly prove God. No one can say for certain what happen at the beginning of the universe therefore we can not definitely prove God through creation. Also, I can find no solid valid scientific evidence to support God as well. We can admire all the beauty of the universe and of earth and come to a conclusion there must be a god. Yet others would say a random act. Others would shove the bible in my face to prove God. A book written by infallible imperfect humans does not prove God. On and on I can list all the theological theories that are used to validate god’s existence, yet none are absolutely solid. Nothing comes close to prove God.

    Religions can not prove God either. We have a zillion religions in the world all believing in god different ways. All religions say they have the right god, yet their entire gods are different. We all know that the faith of others and their belief about God does not and cannot prove that God is real to us. When I look at the zillion religions not one has a foundation to prove their God other than the founders themselves, which of course are not Gods. I find it very difficult to credit any one religion as being True or any one God as being True when there have been so many throughout history. We can easily conclude that all of these diverse deities are purely human creations. That is: God did not create humanity — humanity created Gods. The fact is there are no 100% absolute truths about God, and that we created our own Gods. I find it very difficult how one can logically and honestly choose to believe in anything if there is no evidence to support his or her beliefs. I personally can not believe in any kind of a belief system that offers no proof. There is no way you can absolutely prove to me anything about your belief or your God. When people share their beliefs with me, they have no evidence to support it. They simply just believe in what they believe. This has always bothered me because I am a very skeptical person and I believe that one cannot logically and honestly choose to believe in anything if there is no evidence to support his or her beliefs. I personally can not believe in any kind of a belief system that offers no proof.

    In the end when it comes to the question of God, I find there are really only two possible conclusions: God either is, or He isn’t. There’s no half-way. There is no in between. He is or He isn’t.

    When I question people if there is a god I get so frustrated with their answers. I am tired of hearing “You just have to believe.” or “you just have to have faith” or “It’s in the Bible” or “Go to church”. – I want to hear the real proof. Not one can offer me any solid evidence of their true belief other than their faith or religion. How can your God possibly exist without it being based upon something? I am now certain that to find out if God is for real, I cannot go to the faith of others, or study religion doctrines, or do research in science, or go to church, or study theology. When you get to thinking about it, it seems to me that there is only one source of information about God, if such a being exists. I believe there is only one answer to know if God exist. That’s it. There is no other way. There is only one way to find out. I think what most people get wrong is that they try to find God by intangible means. They all overlook the one source that can actually prove god.

    When people ask me if there is a god, I say to them “well if Jesus is God then God exist. Why not consider this alternative for a few moments. I know most of you think Jesus is mythical, or something else, but please bear with me for a few minutes. I am not at this moment saying Jesus is god, but it is this: Let’s imagine that God may have entered the Universe and told us true things about him, morality, meaning and how to have a relationship with him. This source of information is that God may have taken the initiative and stepped into our time to reveal himself. He may tell us true things about his nature and purposes and about human meaning and morality. God may have entered the physical universe through the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth and told us about himself. If someone truly wants to know if God exist or who wants to know who God is or what He is like, then perhaps they should study this man called Jesus. If you believe that this man did indeed exist and if you believe in his words then you know that God exist. Perhaps I can justify the existence of God by presenting evidence of a Man who actually claim to be God. I know that God exist because there may be tremendous proof that He came down in Human form. Jesus could have been the voice of God in the flesh. Jesus is who he says he is: God in human form. Jesus is God and He lived on earth in a human body. Whatever belief system you choose whether it is God or no God, none of them will have any foundation to prove that your belief is real. However if Christ is actually the proven God, then immediately I have solid proof. I have a foundation. I have words. I have answers. No other deity belief system can offer that. There is only one way to prove God. The first requirement is that He has to reveal Himself. The only way is to appear in Person in the likeness of flesh as a person and He has to say He is God. Once He does this He has to prove it with a substantial enough proof that it is undeniable. We know others had claim to be God, before him and after him, yet Jesus was the only one who validated His Claim.

    Right now, I know exactly what most of you are thinking: “Jesus is not god”. He is not real. He never existed. He is just folklore, a legend, a myth or just one of many mythical gods, or Greek gods, or roman gods, or perhaps even a cult leader, or just another proclaimed prophet, just plain nuts. When one considers the faith about Jesus Christ, one must face the fact that it is either true or one whale of a lie. Born of the virgin birth, God entering time and space in a manger, no less, walking on water, bringing sight to the blind, raising the dead, dying for our sins on the cross, teaching about love in the midst of a world of hatred, a dead man getting out of a cave and talking about death, ascending into heaven in a cloud, coming again. YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING! … Who in their right mind would believe such a tale…And yet that is exactly what Christians believe. Because it is so unbelievable, so wild, so gigantic, there is no way we would believe it unless it is true. Why would they make up this absurd fairy tale if they wanted us to believe in it? You world think It would not have strayed too far from reality. Again, maybe this is just a tale of a mythical God.

    Whatever you call him, my point is that we have to focus on all the arguments about him, cause as I have just stated, there is nobody else and nothing else that can even come close to prove the existence of God. There is nothing else in this world that can offer any other concrete evidence of God other than Jesus himself. That’s it. Jesus is god or not. It is that simple. If Jesus is who he clamed to be then we know God exist. If Jesus is not who he said he was then God may not exist. We do not have any other options. We do not have any other solid method to prove God other than Jesus Christ. To know if there is a god we have to know if Jesus was God. The question on whether Jesus is god or not, is the only way, yes the only way, to know if God exist. Again, there is absolutely no other way to prove God beyond reasonable doubt. Our goal here is not to prove God, but to prove Jesus is real, because if at the end Jesus is actually a person who he clams to be, then we have found our God. Only then will we know for certain without doubt that God is real. I repeat, there is no other tangible physical evidence. No other religion or faith can provide a solid foundation of their belief. Yet Jesus can offer a foundation if he is true.

    But how can we know for certain Jesus is real and not just another fictional character, or not just a god of many mythical Gods, and how can we know his claim to be God is true. Is Jesus God or not. This is the only question we should be asking about the existence of God. Yes or no is the only answer. There is no other choice. All other questions about God are irrelevant. If you say yes then you know that God exist. If you say no then you have your doubts about God. Whatever your faith is or whatever your belief is or whatever your religion is, or whatever your spiritually is, there is only one way to get rid of your doubts and that is to find the truth about Jesus. I know a lot of you have already written him off as a fake. But, do you know beyond a shadow of doubt he is fake, do you have solid evidence to prove he is a fake If you tell me I just know he is a fake, then is that any different then a believer telling me he just knows that Jesus is real. Where is the actual evidence? What evidence can you show me?

  22. consultgtf says:

    Yes, we can JUST KNOW, that God exists, starting from, Are we living then God exists…How?
    Am I joking?
    Pumps made by humans last for few years, as they come with expiry dates, but there is one pump that I know, works from the time I was born through out my life time and takes rest only after I die?
    Every organ in my body ONLY, gives proof the God exists, just like that!
    As only I see, hear, taste, feel and last but not the least, I breath it is not just inhale and exhale… but I take in Air and only oxygen is absorbed into my blood and I throw out carbon-Di-oxide … in a fraction of second, and this happens to every living and not living? I hope? Is this not just knowing that God exists?
    Next time, you see, hear, feel and breath, just know that God exists that too only for you.

  23. imactuallyprettydecent says:

    Hi 500Q,

    Interesting article. Do you have a source for this claim?
    “and some cultures had no gods at all (such as some Eastern philosophies — which should make us wonder why God didn’t prompt them into thinking theisticly).”

    • Hi imactuallyprettydecent,

      No single source in particular, no. I had in mind the more non-theistic Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Jainism, and some forms of Hinduism, as well as philosophies such as Daoism.

      These religions tend to emphasize spiritual beliefs over belief in any God or gods (if they exist at all).

      Jainism, for example, posits that the universe was never created, and therefore doesn’t require a creator. Humans can become “gods,” but there was no creator god.

      If a belief system were to teach the non-existence of gods AND spirits, I think it would cease to be religion and might start to fall into some other category, such as philosophy.


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