We have all encountered someone who says that they do not “believe in God,” or that, “God doesn’t exist.” The underlying reasons many people do not believe in God, unfortunately, doesn’t have to do with empirical evidence, logic, or rational analysis. There are many reasons why people reject God and religion. They could have been repelled by an overburdening fear of sin, serious hypocrisy from family or church members, or the lack of reason in Protestant theology, such as sola scriptura or predestination. Or they may simply see religion as a waste of time, and in order to justify their rejection of it, they call upon science as the reason, without even bothering to consider what science illustrates about God and creation.
Because people’s lack of belief in God may not necessarily lie in scientific or philosophical reasoning but is rather caused by a personal reason or misconception, there is no one way to convince people that God exists. However, just as it is good to know the various methods for integration, it is good to think through for oneself how we can see that God exists.
Some people bring up the Big Bang as proof that God doesn’t exist. This claim cannot be further from the truth. In fact, the Big Bang theory was developed by a Catholic priest and physics professor, Fr. Georges Lemaitre. The Big Bang theory simply states that, due to observable realities in astronomy and applied mathematics, the entirety of the universe has been expanding outward from a single ‘point,’ called a singularity, that used to contain the entirety of the universe.
People who deny the existence of God probably bring up the Big Bang because it states that the universe began expanding about thirteen to fifteen billion years ago, which contradicts a literal interpretation of the creation story in Genesis. However, as Catholics, we are not required to believe the creation story of Genesis in a literal sense. Pope Francis himself stated that the theory of the Big Bang does “not contradict” God’s involvement in creation. This is because the Big Bang theory in its purest understanding doesn’t state how the universe came into existence, only that it expanded out from a single point.
Others may claim that the world has no evidence of God and that if there was a God we would be able to empirically observe him. However, a lack of empirical evidence does not prove nonexistence. For example, take a car engine, place it in an empty room, and observe and consider nothing but the engine itself. You notice that it is intricate, with its cylinders, intake, camshaft, exhaust, pistons, and body. There is likely various materials and metals used in the car engine as well. You can only make conclusions based on what you see, which is the engine and only the engine. Despite the fact that the engine exists, there is no empirical evidence derived from the engine that a designer exists. Yet reason tells us that a designer must exist. There may not be empirical evidence of the designer, but that certainly does not mean that there is no designer. Rather, the fact that it exists, with all its intricacies and order, alludes to the existence of a creator.
Despite the supposed lack of empirical evidence of God in the physical world, when we look inward at ourselves, we cannot help but notice a link between us and God. All humans have wants, needs, and desires. Some wants are different from others. For example, the desire to eat is much different from the want to know what the purpose to life is. The desire to go on an exciting roller coaster ride is different from the want to be genuinely happy. We have desires that the physical world cannot satisfy. We desire more than a good meal and pleasure. The Catechism states that the natural desire for happiness is, “of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it” (CCC 1718). Not from quantifiable evidence, but from experience, we know this to be true. The world physically cannot fully satisfy human desire.
We are all left with the freedom to chase this desire in whatever way we like. We can observe what happens when one does seek to fulfill this desire for happiness by drawing from the world. We can work hard, acquiring money so that we may purchase whatever we want at any whim, hoping these goods will fulfill our desires. But we will ultimately find ourselves enslaved by work, only to buy things which bore us after three months of use. We can seek sensual pleasure, abusing sex, drugs, and alcohol so that we can ‘feel good.’ Yet quickly does that ‘good’ feeling leave when we find ourselves used, abandoned, and sick.
This desire for happiness, in the context of the Catechism, is not like our other desires, such as the desire to survive, either as individuals or as a species. Our other desires, such as the desire to survive, exist because of a physical condition and can be fulfilled physically. However, the desire for happiness is not due to a physical condition and cannot be fulfilled physically. Since this desire cannot be fulfilled by the natural world, then our attention is called above the natural world, to that which is called the supernatural.
So does God exist? God’s love seems to be the only solution to our desire for happiness. In fact, it is that desire which acts as a compass, directing us to God. That is one of the reasons why that desire exists. God has done much better than placing mere ‘evidence’ of Himself at some point in the world. He does not want to be an equation to be solved, only to be ‘proven’ and then put away like a homework problem. Rather, He wants to be with us, and He wants us to love Him. He has placed a desire in each of us, and the only way to fulfill that desire is to seek love with God. God does not want to be solved, He wants to be loved.
Author- Eric Smoorenburg
Born in California and raised in Colorado, Eric Smoorenburg is a mechanical engineering student. He was a Totus Tuus teacher for the Archdiocese of Denver. He was Homeschooled through the Seton Home Study program and has an AS from the Community College of Aurora. Eric likes to write and go hiking in his free time.