by Matt Slick
When a person says that he does not see any convincing evidence for God's existence, he is appealing to his subjective experience and opinions for validating God's existence. Think about it. Whatever someone might present as evidence for God's existence must be subjected to the person's personal preferences, opinions, and experiences of the person doubting God's existence. Very often when I've talked to someone who claims there is no convincing evidence for God, and I give him some evidence (i.e. scripture, logic, morality, etc.), invariably it is dismissed but not because of logical necessity. Instead, it is for emotional and/or personal reasons. Furthermore, what would convince one person might not convince another, and vice versa. Furthermore, evidence itself is someone subjective because what is evidence to one person might not be evidence to another person for or against something.
But, is his subjective appeal the right one? He might say that he has no other option. He could appeal to logic, but his thinking is still subject to his personal opinions and wants. Therefore, it is almost impossible to convince him against his subjective will.
Nevertheless, let's take a deeper look at this after we define our terms.
- Subjectivity - the state of being subjective
- That which is subjective proceeds from the mind and is an opinion, a preference, dependent on the person.
- It means that all knowledge and truths are subject to the individual's interpretation and experience.
- Subjective values are based on a person's opinions and preferences.
- Objectivity - the state of being objective
- That which is objective is the quality of being external to the person, not a preference, and is not dependent on the person.
- It is existence not influenced by personal experience, feeling, intuition, beliefs, intentions, etc.
- Objective values and objects are based on something outside a person's opinions
- The quality of extending beyond a person's experience, that which goes beyond, and is not dependent upon personal preferences for actuality and/or validity, and not dependent upon the physical universe for its existence.
- The Transcendent Being whose existence is independent of the physical universe. The Christian God is the only supreme, eternally self-aware being, who had no beginning nor will he cease to exist (Psalm 90:2), who is non-contingent, transcendent (Psalm 139), immutable (Malachi 3:6), and of whom no greater being exists (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5). His attributes include holiness, omniscience, omnisapience, omnipotence, omnipresence, logic, righteousness, justice, mercy, grace, etc. He is revealed to us in the person of Jesus (Hebrews 1:3) as is described in the New Testament Scriptures.
I have not seen convincing evidence for God's existence
Point 1 - subjective appeal
- Being "convinced" is an appeal to the individual's experience and opinions in order to acquire knowledge about the transcendent God. It is therefore subjective.
- It would seem that the critic must understand that evidence of a transcendent God would itself display attributes of transcendence. If he were to ignore this possibility, then on what basis is he ignoring it....his subjective opinions?
- Therefore, in order to discover God, a person must affirm the possibility of transcendence. If not, then the critic is asking for the impossible; namely, non-transcendent evidence for the transcendent God that is to be examined via his subjective experience and opinions.
- If the person says that a transcendent God would naturally be able to reveal Himself with convincing evidence, then the person is again appealing to a subjective opinion about the transcendent God and requiring God to do what he wants God to do. Thus, we are back to point 1.
- In addition, how would he recognize transcendence if his knowledge is based on his experience which is not transcendent?
- Therefore, to appeal to subjective experience as a criteria for an objective God is an illogical approach because it is completely subjective. He must entertain the idea of transcendent evidence. For more information, see What kind of evidence should we expect from a transcendent God?
Point 2 - subjective evidence
- The appeal to "convincing evidence" is subjective to any particular person since what convinces one person may not convince another.
- Therefore, it would be up to the person to provide the conditions and/or types of evidence that would satisfy his requirement to be convinced.
- If he cannot provide what "kind of evidence" would convince him, then the discussion is over since there is no criteria which a Christian can attempt to satisfy.
- Furthermore, it would mean that the critic is requesting God to surrender to his subjective desires. We would have to ask if this is the right approach to find God.
- In addition, his subjectivism would deny the possibility of transcendent knowledge since it would imply that something is true apart from his personal experience and interpretation. But subjective experience is not transcendent.
- His subjectivism necessarily leads to skepticism because he cannot provide a basis for verifying objective reality since what is or is not objectively true is subjected to his personal preferences.
- Furthermore, no proof for anything is assured since he has only to subjectively reject it - again, based on his whims.
- Yet, to require evidence for God is to require an objective demonstration of God.
- But, his subjectivity stands in opposition to his request for objective evidence.
- When he requires objective evidence to fit his subjectivity, he is contradicting his own position.
- Furthermore, his subjectivism means he can't know anything for sure since his subjectivity undermines absolute knowledge.
- Is he absolutely sure about his subjectivism? If so, he contradicts his subjectivism. If he is not sure about it, then he can't be sure that his subjectivism is the right approach.
- How does one affirm absolute objective truth based on subjective experience? Is it possible?
- It would seem the subjective requirement is undefined, insufficient, and cannot demonstrate that God exists.
To appeal to subjective experience and opinions in order to determine God's existence is a self-refuting an impossible criteria. Normally, when I ask people to give me what evidence would work so that they would believe in God, I've never heard anyone give me a serious answer. It seems that the critic is looking for an excuse to deny God because God does not subject himself to their own subjective criteria.