Does God exist? This is the question I’ve constantly discussed with Atheist academics. The discussion is often put forward in different guises but the premise is always the same; does God exist and what evidence is there to support this belief?
In fact, I would argue that we don’t need any evidence for God’s existence. So the question itself needs debating. It shouldn’t actually be "does God exist?", but rather "what reasons do we have to reject His existence?"
Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe we have many good arguments which support a belief in God. The point I am raising here, however, is that we don’t require any evidence for His existence: God is an axiomatic belief. In other words, God’s existence is self-evidently true. Also known as a ‘basic belief’ in the language of philosophy.
The idea of self-evident truths are accepted by all. Take science for example: science takes the world’s reality as a self-evident truth; it believes that the world is real. In other words, the physical world is separate and external from our minds and our thoughts.
So you may be thinking, ‘I believe that the real world is real, as I can touch and feel it. I believe the world is real because other people also say that the world is as tangible to them as it is to me.’
However, this doesn’t prove anything. Touching and feeling something doesn’t prove that what you touch and feel is external to your mind. The thinking and feeling could simply be happening by the workings of your brain. Consider this; maybe your brain is in a jar on the Moon. There is an alien who has placed probes in it, who is making you think and feel what you’re feeling right now.
You don’t actually have substantial evidence for the reality of the world you experience. Evidence based on experience is unreliable as the experience could simply be produced in the brain. Evidence based on philosophy or complex logic is also a product of the mind. The external world may have no real existence apart from what is going on in your skull.
On reading this you may demand proof, proof that the real world is external to the brain… but we don’t have any proof. Actually, we don’t need it. That’s why we call the belief in the real world an axiom, a self-evident truth or a basic belief. Therefore, I would argue, that rejecting God’s existence is equivalent to rejecting that the world is real because they are both self-evident truths.
This is not a type of special pleading for God because there are a myriad of other self-evident truths and axioms that we believe in. These include:
• The existence of other minds
• The existence of objective moral values
• The existence of logical truths
• The validity of our reasoning
• The law of causality
Self-evident truths, axioms and basic beliefs are cross cultural in that they are not culturally bound. They are also innate in that they are not acquired via any form of information transfer, and they are also foundational. What is meant by foundational is that they provide the basis for a coherent worldview. These aspects of self-evident truths will be explained further while addressing the key objections to this argument.
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