Is it possible even to determine is God real?

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Answered by: Robert, An Expert in the Does God Really Exist? Category
You tell me: Is God real? Since the earliest recorded human history, there have been arguments over whether or not a God or gods exists, how many of them there are, where he, she, or they might live or come from, if and how they interact with us mortals, and so forth. Wars have been fought and peace has been made based on the perceived answers to these questions. If it's an answerable question, then why so much disagreement? If it's unanswerable, then why not just agree to disagree? The answers might surprise you. We'll see what we come up with in just this short space.

Is God real? Does he, she, it, or they actually exist? How would we know? There's the rub. Before we can argue about it with any hopes of a final outcome, we have to agree on how we would recognize such a being, or beings, if they indeed did exist. We can see right away that it won't be something we can "know" through any of our five senses, otherwise it wouldn't be an issue. We don't fight wars over whether or not it's raining outside, because we can all look out the window and see it. We can also smell, hear, taste, and feel it, if so inclined, so there's no room for reasonable people to disagree. Not so with the question of God. There's plenty of room for argument there.

So, how do those who claim to "know" that God is real come by this knowledge? Most claim it comes through first-hand experience. Experience of the kind that can not be shared as we can share facts that come to us by our senses, or even by logical reasoning. But then, can this be actually be called "knowledge" of God's existence? If it is indeed knowledge, why can't it be shared and passed on? Maybe it can be. Let's try.

If someone I trust completely tells me that they have experienced something that I have not, and that I am not even sure is possible, what am I to do with that information? How do I process it? If I have always believed this person in the past and have never been disappointed, and if I have no reason to suspect they would mislead me now, should I accept as a fact anything they have learned through their non-communicable experience? If not, then we will disagree on something "factual," which has never happened before. There appears to be two choices. I can either accept it on "faith" or I can disagree and reject it.

The reason we can't go any farther is because we have to make a choice that is not based on any fact other than what we have experienced personally. We must accept or reject what we are told based on our experiences and reason, because that's all we have. Different experiences lead to different choices of belief. But, we can get close, through logical extrapolation, next time around.

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