The desire for mankind to know God, implicates that all humans are designed to have a conscience in them that enables communication with their creator, as stated in (Genesis 1: 27). This essay will explain both arguments of knowing God by faith or reason, examples relating to both sides will be given in order to draw a conclusion of how mankind know God. It can be argued that God can be known through both faith and reason, and this can be demonstrated in scripture and nature also known as God’s two books in which He writes about Himself. Deepak Chopra wrote “God” and “Nature” as all-pervading and very impersonal laws in the universe that order things. The secret to life, he claims, is to know these laws.”
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The Bible testifies that God is spirit and He wants to fellowship with humans, according, to (John 4: 24). Since man is embodied in a physical body, an act of faith has to be applied in order to believe in an invisible God who has no physical body and therefore unseen. (Hebrews 11: 1) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith considered to be a gift from God, is a spiritual inner substance in human beings that communicates an inner know that there is, though one cannot see. That is why faith is considered to be a spiritual act.
Further, God proved Himself by incarnation being born of flesh as Jesus Christ and throughout the scriptures; faith is an important act that has to be applied by any believer. This was emphasised by Jesus Christ, the main representative of God on earth according to the Gospel of John. (John 1: 18) “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” So this gives clarification that God Himself in incarnation came to witness to mankind about Him.
God being Infinite, humans will never know His fullness, but through incarnation, Jesus Christ conveyed the greatest revelation of God to humans.
A person who has faith pleases God according to scripture. Abraham was an example because he used faith to know and believe in God when he was asked to leave his father’s house and promised to become a father to many nations. It was God who went to Abraham, and told him who He was. (Genesis 17: 1) When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.” Reading about Abraham’s testimony notifies the reader about the existence of God.
On the other hand, through the Human eye and surroundings of the world, it is evident that God truly exists, according to some points to be drawn from some elements of natural theology such as science. Evidence is a key element in reasoning. In other words proof is needed to show that God exists. Reason is a thought or a consideration offered in support of a purpose e.g. creation gives reason to speculate how God looks like. Through His creation there is wisdom and knowledge that gives humankind the reason to know God through the natural order. Natural theology gives a deeper insight on how one can know God, by what surrounds them, for example natural resources and sciences. Thomas Aquinas analysed that, “There exists a fundamental likeness to God within the created order as a consequence of God being the cause, in some sense of the word of all created things.” In other words all things were created, they don’t just happen to exist. Through, God’s wisdom and knowledge humans can discern God’s existence by things that occur around us regardless of their beliefs. For example, the birth of humans and their innate behaviour, or how plants grow from seeds. Science cannot give full explanation on how many things around us occur.
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Jean Bodin (1539-96) wrote, “We have come into this theatre of the world f no other reason than to understand the admirable power, goodness and wisdom of the most excellent creator of all thingsâ€¦” That’s why humans should appreciate the creator of such beauty displayed in the world through all creation, other than destroying the nature that was intended for human adoration. Theologians have described the manner in which God can be known through his nature. Hans Urs von Balthazar wrote, “The category of beauty is to be reclaimed as a description of the revelation of God rather than some human category which can be applied to God.”
From a spiritual point of view, not everybody believes that God exists, the bible says, (Hebrews 11:6) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Apparently atheists do not believe in the existence of God in other words they don’t have faith. Other aspects such as unanswered prayer can bring doubt to those who have little faith. But from a theological point of view, Karl Barth argued that natural theology wasn’t an adequate way of knowing God as this would bring conditions of humanity knowing God under their own condition whence creating their own concept about God.
A conclusion can be drawn from the above that Christians know God by faith and by visible evidence through the human eye, that indeed there is God. Even from human characteristics that are experienced through the flesh, lives no doubt in a human mind that God exists by both faith and reason. From a spiritual perspective, faith is very important to a Christian believer, because God demands this act in order to please Him. Finally God has made himself known in a general sense in the intriguing mechanisms of the created world, and he has revealed himself in a specific way by means of the written documents of the Bible. Therefore faith and reason are not a conflict; rather they complement one another as two modes of knowing God, through the natural order, and sacred scripture.
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