We can’t see or touch God. We can see and touch the Bible but that’s not proof of the existence of God in many people’s opinion. And Christ’s miracles are arguably mythological.
I hope you’ll forgive me if I approach this slightly obliquely. And I hope you’ll excuse the “tour-de-force” on a subject which just happens to be a particular interest of mine. AND I’m sorry this answer is so long! But it’s your fault for asking!:-)
You may need to grab a bible.
I want to start with “…proof of the existence of God…”.
As I read the bible I don’t sense that God is interested in proof. He demonstrates himself, rather than proves himself.
Jesus tells a story about a rich man who ill-treats a poor man, Lazarus. He then ends up in a place of torment and calls to Abraham across a huge gulf. He asks him to send warning to the rest of his family, so they don’t end up as he has. Abraham replies, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
The man realises that he himself had already ignored this huge weight of evidence when alive, so he asks for more, “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ And Abraham says, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
God has no illusions about the capacity of man to ignore proof even if it stares us in the face. The Pharisees saw the miracles which Jesus did, and the effect was to make them realise that here was a dangerous guy who needed to be eliminated. The poor people saw the same miracles and had a life-changing experience of their Messiah.
His disciples asked him for proof, “Show us the Father” (John 14 8) Jesus answers, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?
Knowing him is not an intellectual exercise which needs proof, it is a relationship, built on the selfless love Jesus talked about.
My wife and I are very much in love, but neither of us has ever been able to prove it. We can only go so far as to demonstrate it to each other. And we don’t need much demonstration, because our hearts are turned towards each other. Sadly some relationships founder because one doesn’t trust the other. When one heart turns away from another, all the so-called demonstrations of love count for nothing.
God is only interested in a heart which turns to him in repentance. And if the heart turns, it doesn’t seek proof per se, demonstration IS enough.
And if the heart doesn’t turn, then God behaves surprisingly oddly. When Adam and Eve had disobeyed God (and it doesn’t matter for this if you regard the story as literally true, or just a story, it was put there by God to instruct us) God excluded them from the Garden. He put an angel at the entrance with a flaming sword. Think about that. God WANTED to PREVENT people getting in! Astonishing!
And when the disciples asked Jesus why he taught in parables, he said it was so people wouldn’t understand! (Mark 4 11) This is also astonishing! As a child I was always taught that he spoke in parables to help us to understand, but the opposite is true. Why?
The clue is in what Jesus said to his disciples,
“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
What on earth is God doing?
He is ensuring that nobody gets back into the Garden of Eden without reversing the sin of Adam and Eve. What was the process of this sin? They 1) listened to satan, 2) believed his assertion that God had misled them, 3) discarded in their mind/heart the clear instruction of God, 4) experienced the shame of nakedness and separation from God
The reversal is that we:
- realise our shame and separation
- choose to accept in our mind/heart that what God says is true
- turn our back on the life which followed what satan wants
- take of the Tree of Life (symbolising Jesus) and then live a new life without listening to the voice of evil.
And the big no-no is getting back in to the tree of Life without going through the heart-turning process. (Check out Genesis 3 22)
It’s a heart-turning thing rather than an intellectual exercise thing – you know that!
The upshot is that God can only accept those who willingly surrender to him in their hearts; it would be totally unjust to force himself intellectually upon people who wished no part of him. This is the seed-thought behind the “train” analogy. Yes it’s simplistic; like any analogy, it doesn’t fully and exactly embody the truth it speaks of. Yet it does have a simple truth. God does consider he has demonstrated himself for “anyone with eyes to see”. (Check out Romans 1 19-20)
And for those who don’t have eyes to see at the moment, he still loves them as much as he loves us, and he still hopes to woo them into surrendering and loving him in return. Simple? Not complex enough for such a complex world as ours? Well yes, but getting to know someone is essentially simple, it requires you to become willing to spend a lot of time with them, but that’s about it. And getting to know God is no different.