The God who is the living God

Knowing God through reason

Child with prayer candles

For many today God is simply an hypothesis to account for the universe, or an idea that was once powerful in the history of humanity. Some actually see belief in God as weakness, as an easy or fantastical crutch to help walk through the difficulties and challenges of life. For the Christian God lives, and God’s reality is satisfying to reason and His presence, love and grace are operative in the world and are shaping history.

‘God’ is what people rationally recognize as the single, all powerful and unchanging cause and purpose of things. This knowledge can be attained through reason, but raises further questions about the life of God and our relationship with God. For Aristotle, ‘God’ was the unmoved mover. For Plato, he was the unchanging good. For Anselm, he was ‘that greater than which nothing can be conceived’. For Newton, he was the architect of the laws of nature. Einstein often referred to the first cause of the intelligibility of the universe using the language of ‘God’ or the ‘mind of God’.

All the things we see in the universe are caused by other things. Many thinkers have concluded that this chain of causes cannot go on forever. There must be a ‘first be-cause’, a necessary, eternal and unchanging ‘first cause’ which creates and sustains everything. People naturally call this ‘God’. There can be many reasons why some people do not believe that God exists. Nevertheless, most people do, in fact, believe in God, understood as some kind of ‘first cause’ of all other things. Indeed, the very fact that the word ‘God’ has some meaning in every major human language is indirect evidence.

Belief in God is natural for human beings. What is more, the existence of God is not, as is sometimes implied, a belief held exclusively by childish or uneducated persons. Among the great philosophers, scientists, writers and artists whose works affirm some kind of belief in God, one can include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Descartes, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Kant, Newton, Cauchy, Newman, Einstein and Mendel. This list includes some of the most subtle and creative thinkers in human history, including pioneers of entire disciplines of science and some of the greatest artists. In addition, many philosophers, both ancient and modern, have offered arguments for the existence of God.

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