Is There A God?
Aristotle, a "major contributor to the development of Western thinking about rhetoric" (Herrick, 1997, p. 72), spoke of proofs, both artistic (rhetorical) and inartistic (such as facts and figures), to examine the probabilities in all things, all ideas, all events. Aristotle's ideas of the proofs can be used to their utmost when attempting to prove the existence of God. The idea that there is something larger than ourselves out there is not new; for millennia, humans have tried to make sense of the grand scheme of things through any means possible; one of the more fundamental methods of this is by attributing all that we see and experience to a higher power. Though God in this society has become synonymous with the Judeo-Christian belief system, the idea of God is much larger than the box of that religion. Throughout all Western culture-regardless of time period-the notion that there is Someone or Something beyond our perception controlling destinies and fate to a divine end or purpose is the keystone to civilization. It is only in more modern times that the existence of a higher power has been questioned; first during the Renaissance when science and religion split and continuing through today's "religion" of Egocentrism.
To begin, I will work with what Aristotle called "inartistic proofs (atechnoi pisteis)" (Herrick, 1997, p. 81). Scientists overwhelmingly believe in evolutionary theory as the mode by which all life-everything on the earth that lives-began. Mathematically, "any event that has one chance in just 1050 is dismissed […] as never happening" (Gurin, 1981, p. 17); despite that, evolution as it is accepted by today's science has only one chance in 10113. That number is "larger than the estimated total number of all the atoms in the universe" (Gurin, 1981, p. 17). In fact, many evolutionary scientists cannot provide proof that evolution did occur; they often describe their own science as one of faith. If the beginning of life as science sees it requires faith, why does science scoff at the faith required to believe in a Creator, a loving God? They make claims that the Bible-the foundation of Christian belief and one of the oldest surviving historic texts-as well as other religion's texts are nothing more than a collection of folklore. Suppose you were to ask 40 different writers to write a book for you. For this book, you chose people from all walks of life: religious leaders, farmers, tax collectors, fishermen, and doctors, among others. They are to write on a variety of subjects: poetry, science, ethics, philosophy, law, and the creation of the universe. They are also to add a bit about where they think the world is going, all of this without any communication other than word of mouth over the course of centuries. After fifteen hundred years, you collect all these writings and put them together as a book. What you would end up with would not be a tome of any significance, but unadulterated gibberish with no cohesiveness whatsoever. Science claims that this is what was done with the Bible and other religious texts, but that is not how these books read. They are unified and detailed; clearly there had to be a singular, driving force behind it, but without scientific proof, who would believe that supposition?
In 1882, Ivan Panin, a Russian immigrant and devout atheist, graduated from Harvard University. A mathematician, Panin taught at the university level and could read and write seven languages and was familiar with up to fourteen; among those languages, Panin could both read and write Greek and Aramaic, the original languages of the Bible's composition. Panin set out to prove that the Bible could not have been written by any sort of higher power, but, instead, discovered elaborate mathematical patterns in the Greek and Aramaic writings, two languages that have no known number system but "instead use the letters of their alphabets to represent numbers" (Pratney, 1979, p. 3). Instead of proving the Bible as a fake, he "showed […] that the Bible, in its original language, is a skillfully designed product of a mathematical mastermind-far beyond any human possibility of deliberate structuring" (Pratney, 1979, p. 4). What Panin found, specifically, was that patterns of prime numbers (11, 13, 17, and 23)-especially the number 7-were found in clusters within the text. When the numerical values for words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, passages and whole books of the Bible were summed the same patterns were found in each of the forms. Additionally, the number of words in a vocabulary were divisible by seven; the number of proper names divided by seven; the number of words beginning with a vowel divided by seven, as did the number of words beginning with a consonant; and so on. When Panin supplied 43,000 pages of his research to the Nobel Research Foundation accompanied by a statement that this was "his evidence that the Bible was the Word of God" (Pratney, 1979, p. 4), they replied, "As far as our investigation has proceeded… we find the evidence overwhelmingly in favor of such a statement" (Pratney, 1979, p. 4).
But scientists continue to reject inartistic proof such as this, even though it (mathematics) is the basis for all their beliefs. So, perhaps, more artistic proof is required. If we are to assume that nothing exists if it cannot be proven, perhaps Gorgias of Leontini was being literal when he suggested, "1. Nothing exists. 2. If anything did exist, we could not know it. 3. If we could know that something existed, we would not be able to communicate it to anyone else" (Herrick, 1997, p. 39). It has been said that if you do not want to believe, there is nothing that can be said to convince you. In this way, Gorgias' theory can be taken at face value: I cannot communicate anything to you and make you believe that it is real. But because I believe that God exists, He exists. My belief brings Him into existence. Because the idea of God dwells inside my head, the reality of God's existence is, therefore, proven.
The simple act of believing in anything automatically brings it into reality. If you believed-truly believed with all your being-that you were being followed around by a purple elephant, then, even though no one else can see it or believes that it is there, it is real. It exists because you say it does. This is the basis of all beliefs: scientific, religious, political, sentimental, amicable, philosophical, or psychological; if any one person believes in the existence of a thing, idea, event, or person, it exists. Most logical people will say that this principle is undisciplined and not scientific, yet it could also be said that science and belief are not mutually exclusive: as I said earlier, many evolutionary scientists believe in evolution based on the faith of the theory; in the same vein, many people believe in the existence of God based on faith of heart and soul.
Gurin, J. (1981, April). The Creationist Revival. The Sciences, 17.
Herrick, J. A. (1997). The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Murphy, J. J. (2003). A Synoptic History of Classical Rhetoric (3rd ed.). New York: Random House.
Pratney, W. (1979). The Holy Bible - Wholly True. Lindale: Last Days Press.