If God exists, what is the evidence of its existence?
This is a frequently asked question, and most religious lay men, regardless of their religious affiliation find it somewhat difficult to answer. That’s understandable because most people have not ever really asked themselves this question, so when it’s asked – they find great difficulty in articulating their answers.
However, the answer is simple, but there is a process one must go through in order to reach an amicable conclusion with the atheist. When they ask, “If God exists, what is the evidence that God exists?“, you need to ask, “What kind of evidence are you looking for, what kind of evidence would satisfy your question?“. Why do you need to ask this? From experience you’ll learn that the atheist will denounce every ‘answer’ as not accurately answering their question. Perhaps you may give them a verse or two from your religious scripture, perhaps you pointed to a prophecy, maybe a life experience or a historical occurrence. More often than not, the atheist will rebuke these responses as not answering the question.
The reason that your answers don’t answer the atheists’ question, is because the atheist themself, does not know what kind of evidence they are looking for. Evidences can be categorized into three general sets: theological, philosophical and empirical. The atheist will often answer physical or empirical evidence. Maybe they would like to see God, talk to God, or touch God. These are all empirical evidences. The next step in this process of answering the question at hand now diverges based on your belief. For the sake of brevity, I will be promulgating the Muslim view point. However, on request I can write on the Christian or Jewish viewpoint.
For the Muslim, we simply indicate to the Christian that we do not subscribe to the popular belief that God is a physical entity, for we believe He is unlike anything in creation (Qur’aan 42:11, 112:4). So asking for evidence of a physical God, when we as Muslims do not believe in a physical God, demonstrates that the atheists’ understanding of God is based on a flawed premise: an empirical one. An empirical God of which the Christians and Hindus believe in, will have to answer that they do believe in such a God and thus they will have to provide physical evidence. Since the Muslim does not, and we consider a physical God to be an antithesis to the very definition of the word God (an omnipotent being) – an all powerful God who is physical is limited to physical extremities and thus cannot be considered omnipotent.
We can then question their reasoning even further. If theists believe that God is uncreated, but that everything in existence is created, how can we use empirical tests which test created matter, to test an uncreated being? The likeness of this is to test the unknown with the known. We want to measure the size of the unknown, but we do not know what the unknown is, in what state it exists, how it exists. That’s a stupendous test! How can you test something, if you do not even know what the thing is? Therefore a perfect God, is 0ne which is not empirical and one which cannot be ‘tested’ by existing means. At this point, the atheist will either have to retreat from his position of seeking empirical evidence and settle for either theological or philosophical proofs. If at this point they still insist on empirical evidences, then they did not understand that they are arguing from the perspective that a physical God exists and you do not believe in such a God, this is arguing a straw man, this is fallacious reasoning.
Philosophically, we can say that if we exist, something had to bring us into existence. Since something cannot come from nothing, then we must assume that something brought everything into existence or being. We theists refer to this thing as God. So in summation, the proof that God exists, is that something had to bring everything into being. To prove this point, ask the atheist to demonstrate empirically, in front of you – something being produced, or derived from nothing. Since this cannot be done, we can then agree with the atheist that something exists and they are free to believe in whatever that thing is, but we simply ascribe that thing to be a God. As for the Christians and Hindus who believe in an empirical deity, they have to express their reasoning for belief in a physical deity and in arguing this, the onus (responsibility) is on them to provide physical evidence of this deity.
and God knows best.