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Proofs of the existence of God

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 5:13 am
by brettz9
Hello everyone,

While I personally don't have a lot of time/energy to participate in the discussion, I think, I thought I'd try to see if a good thoughtful discussion might be started on the proofs of the existence of God. While some Baha'is may be familiar with the proofs offered in Chapters 1 and 2 of Some Answered Questions, I find these further talks of 'Abdu'l-Baha below can complement and give further background on the type of proof introduced in these chapters.

(There are other proofs in the Writings for God's existence (or the soul, etc.), relating more to the hunger for God, proving His existence, but I wanted to first focus on these conceptually similar talks. This is also not to speak yet of the corollary issues of addressing the suffering of innocents which often come up in such a discussion...)

You can find the references below also in the "Further References" section of the study outline at http://www.bahai-library.com/study/saq/ . Depending on the participation, we might continue a focused discussion here along such a theme...

Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 64-65)
Tablet to Auguste Forel
Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, section 21 (paragraphs 6-11)
'Abdu'l-Baha on Divine Philosophy, pp. 103-107, starting at the bottom of the page)
Promulgation of Universal Peace, Talk 1, Talk 2, Talk 3

I'd really love to see a good discussion going here... Our Writings urge us strongly to study such proofs (see all of the many quotations at http://bahai-library.com/zamir/sm/?11 ) and I hope it is recognized by my fellow Baha'is that we cannot just read a chapter and understand this deeply enough to explain to others or even ourselves...

Brett

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:22 pm
by British_Bahai
Hatcher's proof is a good one
(the mathematical proof for the exitence of God)

This is a good link http://www.mit.edu/~hooman/AtheismAndGod.html

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 8:29 pm
by brettz9
Thank you, BB, for that reference, and while that may be interesting, in this case, I'm really looking more to analyze 'Abdu'l-Baha's own proofs in more depth. There are perhaps parallels with Hatcher's/Avicenna (Abu Sina)'s proofs, but I'm more interested in examining the proofs 'Abdu'l-Baha offered.

My own analysis of the logic (or underlying logic) of one of the arguments presented in Chapter 1 of Some Answered Questions (and in the cross-referenced talks/Tablets) is this:

1) Nature is highly organized and under one law.
2) In order to create something organized (from scratch), that thing must be intelligent.
3) Nature does not have a will or intelligence.
4) Therefore, nature could not have created itself.

('Abdu'l-Baha also uses the example in one of the passages cited previously to the effect that man, while having some will and intelligence, obviously does not possess the ability to create something which would break the law of the conservation of energy and mass...)

Another proof covered in the chapter and elsewhere is, as I can understand it, essentially this:
1) One part cannot contain something of which the whole is potentially deprived.
2) Man has some intelligence while nature does not really.
3) If man is the part come from nature, nature ought to have intelligence.
4) Therefore, nature cannot be said to be the sole creator of man.

It would be nice for others to confirm whether this is in fact the logic being presented. If you read the various portions I cited, I feel you will get a better appreciation of each individual talk because sometimes 'Abdu'l-Baha abbreviated the discussion of one point or another.

best wishes,
Brett

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:05 pm
by Fadl
Hi brettz9!

I like your topic and haven't jumped in because I was curious to see what others might say first, but now I would like to share my opinion.

I think there is something about "proving god" that is impossible from the outset. I believe in God, but I believe in God as a matter of faith, and have never obtained any proof of it. I have often pondered the reality of God, and read the writings, and considered the logical and philosophical arguments. All of this has led me to to the conclusion that, in my opinion, the existence of God is much less absurd than the non-existence of God, and this is reasonable enough for me.

The problem of proving God, as I see it, is that there is no way of any proof being had in any way that our physical and finite reality could experience it. It seems to me that even say "God exists" or "There is God" is somewhat of a fallacy since that which "is" or "exists" is created and God "is" creator.

The greatest proof of God for me personally, is Baha'u'llah. His reality is experienceable, and what he has done is so miraculous as to leave me little doubt about God, while also being content with the fact that:

"So perfect and comprehensive is His creation that no mind nor heart, however keen or pure, can ever grasp the nature of the most insignificant of His creatures; much less fathom the mystery of Him Who is the Day Star of Truth, Who is the invisible and unknowable Essence. The conceptions of the devoutest of mystics, the attainments of the most accomplished amongst men, the highest praise which human tongue or pen can render are all the product of man's finite mind and are conditioned by its limitations. Ten thousand Prophets, each a Moses, are thunderstruck upon the Sinai of their search at His forbidding voice, "Thou shalt never behold Me!"; whilst a myriad Messengers, each as great as Jesus, stand dismayed upon their heavenly thrones by the interdiction, "Mine Essence thou shalt never apprehend!"  63  From time immemorial He hath been veiled in the ineffable sanctity of His exalted Self, and will everlastingly continue to be wrapt in the impenetrable mystery of His unknowable Essence. Every attempt to attain to an understanding of His inaccessible Reality hath ended in complete bewilderment, and every effort to approach His exalted Self and envisage His Essence hath resulted in hopelessness and failure"

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 62).

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 12:12 pm
by Dorumerosaer
Here are a couple.

Brent

1.
Today, at table, let us speak for a little of proofs. If you had come to this blessed place in the days of the manifestation of the evident Light, [Baha'u'llah] if you had attained to the court of His presence, and had witnessed His luminous beauty, you would have understood that His teachings and perfection were not in need of further evidence.
Only through the honor of entering His presence, many souls became confirmed believers; they had no need of other proofs. Even those people who rejected and hated Him bitterly, when they had met Him, would testify to the grandeur of Bahá'u'lláh, saying, "This is a magnificent man, but what a pity that he makes such a claim! Otherwise, all that he says is acceptable."
But now, as that Light of Reality has set, all are in need of proofs; so we have undertaken to demonstrate rational proofs of the truth of His claim....
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 10, p. 36)


"Know thou, that letter sent to thee by me, was only because of my perfect love for thee and my pity upon thee, for I had the desire that the fragrance of the Holy Spirit, which hath perfumed all regions and imbued the entire body of the world with the Spirit of Life, should pass over thee and abide with thee. Notwithstanding the high position it occupieth, still, with an eloquent tongue, through which the Spirit moveth, hearts are attracted and bosoms burn, it speaketh to the pure hearts and to the good and righteous souls in every spot of the earth. This is the powerful Spirit, the dazzling light, the brilliant star and the overwhelming and universal abundance. And, from its traces, spread and divulged everywhere, thou wilt know and realize its influence and comprehend its radiance. I ask God to expose thee to its fragrance, move thee by its breeze, enkindle thee by its coals of fire and illuminate thee by its brightness. Turn thyself wholly to it -- thus thou shalt be enabled to ascertain its influence and power, the strength of its life and the greatness of its confirmation. Verily, I say unto thee, that if for the appearance of that Divine Essence thou desirest to have a definite proof, an indisputable testimony and a strong, convincing evidence, thou must prepare thyself to make thy heart empty and thine eye ready to look only toward the Kingdom of God. Then, at that time, the radiance of that widespread effulgence will descend upon thee successively, and that motion rendered thee by the Holy Spirit will make thee dispense with any other strong evidence that leadeth to the appearance of this Light, because the greatest and strongest proof for showing the abundance of the Spirit to the bodies is the very appearance of its power and influence in those bodies.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 369)

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:50 am
by brettz9
“Day and night you must strive that you may attain to the significances of the heavenly kingdom, perceive the signs of divinity, acquire certainty of knowledge and realize that this world has a creator, a vivifier, a provider, an architect,–knowing this through proofs and evidences and not through susceptibilities,–nay, rather, through decisive arguments and real vision; that is to say, visualizing it as clearly as the outer eye beholds the sun. In this way you behold the presence of God and attain to the knowledge of the holy, divine Manifestations.”

(From the utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 65, quoted in Pearls of Wisdom, p. 40)


I get and agree with what you're saying, Loren, but I think that we are not supposed to either give up on providing logical proofs for those who need them (as according to the above and a whole host of other quotations which I think are very worth reading) prove God in the sense of bringing Him down to anything we can comprehend--in fact, if we try to, we'll fail miserably. All we're saying when we try to prove Him, is simply that there must be Something Independent, the Most Great, etc., but as 'Abdu'l-Baha says in Some Answered Questions, we don't say these qualities to prove the qualities of God, except to deny that God is capable of imperfections. Even, for example, "singleness", 'Abdu'l-Baha points out that God is above this. Another meaning of referring to these qualities is that the qualities revert to the Manifestation. The Oneness of God is a whole fascinating subject by itself...

Thanks Brent, for those. Hadn't seen the 2nd one before.

best,
Brett

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:23 am
by British_Bahai
brettz9 wrote:(as according to the above and a whole host of other quotations which I think are very worth reading)

I was actually going to start ask you about this website.
Ive seen it before and thought it was really useful but couldnt copy and paste it correctly...
Do you have a pdf version of this which you could email please ? :buch:

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:49 am
by brettz9
Hello BB and all,

BB, the only other format I have for the files is a slightly outdated (but more formatted) version in HTML: http://www.bahai-library.com/zamir/sm.html

I'd also suggest going to this page and reading that. (you can't edit the wiki pages it references now though)