Atheism vs. God Experience

I have a reason for delaying this post on the fifth and last argument for God by Dr. William Lane Craig. It holds more potency than immediately obvious. While it is easy to write it off because it is a subjective, experiential argument, the lack of credence we attribute to subjectivity is in itself a result of our similarly subjective acceptance of what we consider objective reason and rationality. I hope that this point will become clearer as you read this post and the next one.

5. Immediate Experience of God: Prof. Craig mentions almost in passing that he has had a deep, personal experience of God, but doesn’t present that as a strong argument for the existence of God. To me, on the other hand, it is one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God and against atheism. A seasoned atheist might dismiss this personal experience argument as hogwash. To him, the believer is experiencing something akin to a delusion, or is deliberately misrepresenting his experience. But I don’t think that is the case at all. I can see that Prof. Craig is an earnest man, highly intelligent and educated, with no reason at all to misrepresent anything. However it is not my trust in his integrity or credentials that prompts me to take his experiential argument very seriously. It is the fact that I also implicitly believe in certain things merely because of my immediate personal experience of them.

I am talking about my mind. I know that I have a mind because I can feel it, experience it every waking moment of my life. It is the one that is doing the thinking process behind these posts. It is the one that feels the pain when personal losses occur, or when I walk into a coffee table. It is the one that takes pride and pleasure in my little victories. So it is real. But how do I prove it to anyone that I have a mind?

This, of course, is the basis of solipsism that a lot of philosophers grappled with. How do you know that there are other minds? Sartre concluded that he could prove to you that he had a mind, essentially because he could embarrass or shame you. Granting that the French are pretty good at it, feeling of shame as a proof for the existence of other minds is not totally satisfactory. But of course, about the existence of my mind, I don’t need any proof. I know that I have a mind.

So it is with the believer. Or so it could be, because I don’t know what it is like to be a believer. To a believer, no proof for the existence of God is necessary. He can feel it, he knows it. As arguments go, I think this one based on personal experience is probably the strongest one for the existence of God. It is when the theist enters the realm of logic that he falters. Faith and logic are not compatible, by definition.

In the next post, we will expand on this argument a bit further, giving the theist camp even more ammunition, before trying to tear it down in subsequent posts.