Someone can say to me, “There is no God;” however what if I were to reply, “But I know God, therefore, of course, I know God exists.” I suppose the atheist could offer any number of rebuttals, such as: “No, you only think you know God, but that’s a figment of your imagination.” Or, perhaps being a bit more accommodating, he could say something like, “Well, you may deeply sense within yourself something that you identify as ‘god,’ but really that may very well be you getting ‘in touch’ with your deeper self…
“In other words, the human is complex, to say the least, and the human brain/mind is still largely uncharted territory. It could be that you’ve simply ‘connected’ with your more calm, rational self, lodged deeply within your own psyche, and you have mistaken that calm and rational, intuitive inner-self as being the voce dei, the voice of ‘god.’” And this individual may quickly add some kind of positive re-affirmation, like: “And that’s perfectly okay; I’m cool with that! If that works for you, and helps you make it through the day, then wonderful!”
Of course, the atheist may be very brutal in his reply, pointedly saying, “You’re nuts! No, really; you are the victim of a tragically, still-common psychosis that stretches back to the dawning of the homo sapien, and you desperately need help.” Never mind the fact that it may very well be the atheist who desperately needs help, this no-holds-barred, cut-throat reaction is not at all uncommon; nevertheless, this and the other two possible rebuttals do not change certain facts.
You see, I still know God as God as well as I know that my brother and sisters love me, that it’s most likely going to rain when there are dark clouds on the horizon complete with thunder and lightning, that my best friend is safe and sound in his home with his family. And, yes, all of this knowing could be called into question to some degree, but it all still counts as knowledge as we commonly understand knowledge. I may not be able to explain in an intellectually satisfying way just how I know God, but that does not mean I don’t know God.
Likewise, the fact remains that the overwhelmingly vast majority of homo sapiens, even in our enlightened scientific age, believe in God (or the divine, some higher power, etc.) And furthermore, that the vast majority of believers – theists, if you will – center a great deal of their lives in and around their heartfelt belief in God, many thousands of them fully willing to lay down their very lives for their belief in God. None of the replies given above change any of this one iota. Period.
Just like none of the rebuttals (and there are others, of course) change the fact that thousands upon thousands have given their lives for their belief in God, and that thousands more have lived out truly saintly lives, and that millions upon millions of lives have been radically changed for the good by a belief in and relationship with God. No, and none of these replies even begin to account for the ongoing existence (and strength) of the Church (not to mention Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, etc.) And they certainly do not take into consideration the doxological inclination – that is, the felt-need to worship – of most human beings.
All of this and we haven’t even gotten into the classical arguments for the existence of God. Yet the existence of God is not precisely the point, at least in the philosophical sense; rather, the point is my personally knowing God – the God who exists – and I have yet to hear an argument, however erudite, that has even begun to convince me to ditch my very real, intimate relationship with God, especially when I consider my own personal experience, including almost-unthinkable answered prayers and genuine miracles.
No, this God is not some figment of my imagination, nor is God my inner-self deeply rooted in my psyche, and I’m certainly not inclined to believe that I’m psychotic; I exhibit no other signs of any psychosis, so why should my belief in and relationship with God be counted as some horrid psychological illness? Of course, the atheist will reply however he’s inclined to reply (if at all), and in all likelihood I will be unable to convince him that God does, indeed, exist. However, no conceivable reply on his part will convince me otherwise, either!
Oh, and as for the charge of evil in the world and bad things happening to good people, I can only ask quite simply, “How do we know that evil is evil, and that the so-called ‘bad’ things that happen are really bad and that those ‘bad’ things happen to people who are truly ‘good?’ What, after all, does evil, good, bad, right and wrong actually mean in a world devoid of God and God’s standard of righteousness?” It seems to me that the very question(s) point even more to the existence of God. Thus, I say again, I know God – the God who exists – and, really, I need no philosophical arguments to prove this point to myself. Period.