John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Can You Prove It?

I had a conversation with a guy last night who says his boss at work is trying everything he can to maintain his belief that there is no God. From the description, it sounds like the boss is really grasping at straws. The guy was earnestly asking what I would say to the boss, and how he could try to pursuade his boss that God does exist and has spoken into human history. It's an interesting thing to think through. How do you prove anything?

2 + 2 = 4

Can you prove it?

I love my wife.

Can you prove it?

Water freezes at 32 degrees fahrenheit.

Can you prove it?

God exists.

Can you prove it?

Proving something means demonstrating certainty where there has been uncertainty. Anyone who watches CSI knows that the show usually hinges on proving something. Today, in labs across the world, people are doing research, trying to prove some theory before their grant money runs out.

Some kinds of proof are easier to accept than others. Mathematical proof, for example, is generally accepted as certain. You can demonstrate that two plus two is four. Scientific proof is merely considered "highly probable". You can demonstrate that an experiment works out the same way every time you've performed it in the past, but you can't demonstrate that it will continue to work out that way every time you perform it in the future. In science, there's always room for doubt; so, you can't ever really say something's scientifically true for absolute certain.

Now, what about philosophy? Is it possible to talk about "philosophical proof"? Philosophy deals with all the different ways of thinking in the world. These ways of thinking have morphed and mutated as cultures have given way to other cultures, and our understanding of the world has changed -- sometimes for the better -- sometimes for the worse. We may still ask some of the same questions the Ancient Greeks or the early Christians did, but it's unlikely that we'll accept their reasoning as infallible. We have different presuppositions than they did, and it's going to take some interpretation of their reasoning before we accept it.

So, where do we begin?