Does God Exist?
The existence of God is too evident to need any arguments. Some saintly scholars have stated that God Himself is more manifest than any other being, but those who lack insight cannot see Him. Others have said that He is concealed from direct perception because of His Self-manifestation’s intensity.
However, the great influence of positivism and materialism on science humanity makes it necessary to discuss such arguments. This way of thinking reduces existence to what can be directly perceived and thereby blinds itself to the invisible dimensions of existence, which are far more vast than the visible. Since we must strive to remove the veil drawn by materialism and positivism, we will review briefly some of the traditional demonstrations for God’s necessary existence.
Before doing so, it is worth reflecting upon the historical fact that, since the very beginning of human life, the overwhelming majority of humanity has believed in God’s existence. This alone is enough to establish God’s existence. Unbelievers cannot claim intellectual superiority over believers, for the latter contain many innovative scientists, scholars, researchers and, most importantly, saints and Prophets (the experts in this field). Also, people usually confuse the non-acceptance of something’s existence with the acceptance of its non-existence. While the former is only a negation or a rejection, the latter is a judgment needing proof. No one has ever proven, and cannot prove, God’s non-existence. In contrast, countless arguments prove His existence.
This point may be clarified through the following analogy: Imagine a large palace with 1,000 entrances, 999 of which are open and one of which appears to be closed. How can you claim that the palace cannot be entered? This is what unbelievers do by confining their (and others’) attention only to the door which appears to be closed. The doors to God’s existence are open to everybody, provided that they sincerely intend to enter through them.
Some of those doors—the demonstrations for God’s existence—are as follows:
⇒ Creation is contingent. In other words, it is equally possible for something to exist or not to exist. Also, it is possible for something to come into existence at any time, place, and form, and with any character. No thing or person has any role in determining how, when, or where it comes into existence, or what character and features it will have. Some power has to choose. This power must be infinite, and have absolute will and all-comprehensive knowledge. Necessarily, this power is God.
⇒ Things are finite. Everything is changeable. Given this, everything is contained by time and space and therefore must have a beginning and an end. That which has a beginning needs a beginningless one to bring it into existence. As an unending regress through the originator of each originator is unacceptable, reason demands the existence of one who is infinitely self-existent and self-subsistent, who does not change. This one is God.
⇒ Life. Life is a riddle but transparent. It is a riddle that scientists cannot explain with material causes, and transparent because it shows or reflects a creative power. Through both of these characteristics, life declares: “God created me.”
⇒ Orderliness in creation. Everything in the universe, and the universe as a whole, displays a magnificent harmony and order. This is seen in every item and in their harmonious interrelationships. This is true to such an extent that one part’s existence necessitates the whole’s existence, just as the whole’s existence requires all its parts’ existence. A single deformed cell may lead to the whole body’s death. Similarly a single pomegranate requires for its existence the collaborative and cooperative existence of air, water, soil, and the sun, as well as their well-balanced mutual cooperation. Such harmony and cooperativeness point to a creator of order, one who knows everything in all its relations and characteristics, one who can put everything in order. The creator of that order is God.
⇒ Artistry in creation. All creation exhibits an overwhelming artistry of dazzling worth. Yet it is created, as we see it, easily and quickly. Furthermore, creation is divided into countless families, genera, species, and even smaller groups, each of which has so many members. Despite this variety and abundance, we see only orderliness, art, and ease. This shows the existence of one with an absolute power and knowledge: God.
⇒ Finality in creation. Nothing in the universe is pointless. As ecology shows in particular, everything in creation, no matter how apparently insignificant, has a significant role in existence and serves a certain purpose. The chain of creation up to humanity, the last link in creation, is evidently directed toward a final purpose. Since this requires a wise one who pursues certain purposes in creation, and since only humanity has the consciousness to pursue those purposes, the wisdom and purposiveness in creation necessarily point to God.
⇒ Mercy and providence. All living and non-living beings are in continuous need of many things, even a small portion of which they cannot supply by themselves. For example, the universe’s operation and maintenance demand the existence of such universal laws as growth, reproduction, gravitation, and repulsion. However, these “natural” laws have no external, visible, or material existence; their existence is completely nominal. How can something that exists only nominally, which has no knowledge and consciousness, be responsible for a miraculous creation requiring absolute knowledge and wisdom? How can it have the power of choice and preference? So, one who has all these attributes has established these natural laws and uses them to veil His operations for a certain purpose.
Plants require air, water, heat, and light. But they can obtain none of these on their own. Our needs are infinite. Fortunately, all of our essential needs, from the very beginning of our earthly existence to our death, are met by someone beyond our own capacity and intervention. We enter this world and find everything prepared to meet our all sense, intellectual, and spiritual needs. This clearly shows that one who is infinitely merciful and knowledgeable provides for all created beings in the most extraordinary way, and causes all things to collaborate to that end.
⇒ Mutual helping. As mentioned above, everything in the universe helps everything else. This mutual helping is so comprehensive that, for example, just as almost all things (including air, water, fire, soil, the sun and sky) help us in the most extraordinarily prearranged manner, so do bodily cells, members, and systems cooperate to keep us alive. Soil, air, water, heat, and bacteria cooperate to keep plants alive. This cooperation and mutual helping, observed among unconscious beings but requiring knowledge and deliberate purpose, show the existence of one who arranges them in that miraculous way.
⇒ Cleanliness. Until we began over-polluting our air, water, and land, the natural world was cleansed and purified continually. Even now, it preserves its original purity in many regions where the ways of modern civilization have not yet taken hold. Have you ever wondered why nature is so clean, why forests are so clean although many animals die there every day? Have you ever considered that if all flies born in a single summer were to survive, our planet would be covered with layers of fly bodies? Have you ever noticed that nothing is wasted in nature? Every death is the beginning of a new birth. For example, a dead body decomposes and is integrated into the ground. Elements die and are revived in plants; plants die in animal and human stomachs and are promoted to the higher rank of life.
This cycle of death and revival is one reason for the universe’s continual cleanliness and purity. As well as bacteria and insects, winds and rain, black holes, and oxygen all serve to sustain the universe’s purity. This purity points to one who is all-holy, whose attributes include cleanliness and purity.
⇒ Countenances. Countless human beings have lived since Adam’s creation. Despite their common origin—a sperm and ovum, which are formed from the same sort of foods consumed by one’s parents—and although they are composed of the same structures, elements, organisms, every person has a unique countenance. This shows one with an absolutely free choice and all-encompassing knowledge, and He is God.
⇒ Divine teaching and directing. To direct our lives and learn what is good or bad for us takes at least 15 years. However, many animals acquire this knowledge soon after their birth. A duckling can swim as soon as it hatches. Ants start to dig nests in the ground when they leave their cocoons. Bees and spiders quickly learn how to make their honeycombs and webs, respectively, that are such marvels that we cannot produce them. Who teaches young eels born in the Atlantic Ocean to find their way to their ancestral home in the Pacific Ocean? The birds’ migration is still a mystery. How can you explain such astounding facts other than by attributing them to the teaching or directing of one who knows everything and has arranged the universe and its inhabitants in such a way that they can direct their lives?
⇒ The spirit and the conscience. Despite enormous scientific advances, we cannot explain life. Life is the gift of the Ever-Living One, Who “breathes” a spirit into each embryo. Our ignorance of the spirit’s nature and its relation with the body does not negate its existence. The spirit is sent to the world to be perfected and acquire a state appropriate for the other life. Our conscience is the center of our inclinations toward right and wrong. Everybody feels this conscience on some occasions. So, the spirit and conscience are strong arguments for the existence of One God.
⇒ Our innate dispositions and history. We are innately disposed to good and beauty, and adverse to evil and ugliness. We also are inclined to virtues and moral values. Unless corrupted by external factors and conditions, we seek the good and moral values, which are universal. The values we seek naturally are the same virtues and morality promulgated by all Divine inspired religions. As history witnesses, humanity has never lived without a religion. Just as no system has superseded religion in human life, the Prophets and religious people always have been most influential people and left indelible marks on human history. This is another irrefutable proof for the existence of the One God.
⇒ Human intuition. We feel many intuitions and emotions, which are a sort of message from immaterial realms. Among them, the intuition of eternity arouses in us a desire for eternity, which we seek to fulfill in many ways. However, it can be realized only through belief in and worship of the Eternal One Who inspired this intuition and desire in us. True human happiness lies in satisfying this desire for eternity.
⇒ Consensus. If a few people who never tell the truth come and tell us at various times the same thing, we may believe them in the absence of any alternative. But when thousands of Prophets who never lied, and countless saints and believers who adopted truthfulness as a most essential pillar of belief, all agree that God exists, how can we reject their testimony for that of a few liars?
⇒ The Qur’an and other Scriptures. Proofs for the Qur’an’s Divine origin are also proofs for God’s existence. The Qur’an teaches with great emphasis and force, as does the Bible in its uncorrupted parts, the existence of One God.
⇒ The Prophets. Thousands of Prophets came and guided humanity to truth. All of them were justly renowned for their truthfulness and other praiseworthy virtues. All gave priority to preaching the existence and Oneness of God.
By M. Fethullah Gulen