Friday, December 31, 2010

why believe?

About 2 billion people around the world believe in christianity. Even if some belief is just nominal, there are still many millions who believe. But why do they believe?

There are many reasons why people believe, but many would say God has answered prayers, given them guidance, healed them or helped them, so it is clear that he is there and loves them.

Many non-believers criticise this, and tend to argue that one should only believe what can be established by clear evidence, often full scientific evidence. Clifford's principle is often invoked: "It is wrong always, everywhere and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

But this principle raises a number of questions, including the question of what is sufficient evidence for these questions (see my blog there is absolutely no evidence for God? and webpage is there no evidence for God?)

So how does Clifford's Principle deal with personal experience? If I tell you I feel sad, there is no way I can prove to you that I am telling you the truth, and yet I can know that for a fact. So if someone has an experience of God, others can say what they like, the person may still know. Of course they may be wrong, but they may also be right.

So I wonder whether these people's belief is contrary to Clifford's Principle, or not:

  • Winston came off a long addiction to opium in half an hour, simply by praying to God.
  • Jeff was pronounced dead by an experienced doctor after an expert emergency team had tried to revive him for 40 minutes, yet recovered after the surgeon prayed for him.
  • Jordan's life had fallen apart, yet when she turned to Jesus she found a new life.

It seems to me that these people have plenty of evidence that God exists and cares for them. What do you think?

PS. For more on people's experience of God, see visions of jesus.

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