The Best Proof For The Existence of God?

The 'Wailing Wall' in Jerusalem when I visited.
I had the honour of reading at Mass this morning, a powerful reading from 2nd Kings 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-36. One of those passages that had me reaching for my study Bible as soon as I got home because it mentions a couple of things that always fascinate me. One is 'the Ban', the ancient custom of slaughtering every man woman and child of a people in order to avoid retribution. The other is the survival of an Israel loyal the to the Covenant despite overwhelming odds. The Assyrians suffer the loss of one hundred and eighty-five thousand men and struck camp without firing an arrow. Wow! My analytical mind immediately wonders what is the history behind this passage? Did this really happen? Psalm 91 seems to say that the Assyrians were struck by plague and thus decimated. The theological ramifications are serious. Think about it in this context:

Today, more than half of the six billion people alive in the world trace their spiritual descent from Abraham. In all honesty, how probable is it that a tiny people, the children of Israel, known today as Jews and numbering less than one fifth of a percent of the population of the world, would outlive every empire that sought its destruction?

Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948) was a Russian Marxist who broke with the movement after the Russian revolution and its aftermath, becoming a Christian (although somewhat unconventional). In The Meaning of History, he explains why he abandoned Marxism:

"I remember how the materialist interpretation of history, when I attempted in my youth to verify it by applying it to the destinies of peoples, broke down in the case of the Jews, where destiny seemed absolutely inexplicable from the materialistic standpoint...Its survival is a mysterious and wonderful phenomenon demonstrating that the life of this people is governed by a special predetermination, transcending the processes of adaption expounded by the materialistic interpretation of history. The survival of the Jews, their resistance to destruction, their endurance under absolutely peculiar conditions and the fateful role played by them in history: all these point to the particular and mysterious foundations of their destiny."
This is similar to what Mark Twain has to say about Jewry:
"If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
Consider this one fact. Somehow the prophets of Israel, a small, vulnerable nation surrounded by large empires, were convinced that it would be eternal. 'This is what the Lord says, He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night..."Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the Lord, "will Israel ever cease being a nation before me"' (Jeremiah 31:35-6). They were certain that their message of monotheism would eventually transform the imagination of humankind. There was nothing to justify that certainty then, still less after a thousand years of persecution, pogroms and the Final Solution of the Nazis. Yet improbably, Jews and Judaism survived.

King Frederick the Great once asked his physician, Zimmermann of Brugg-in-Aargau, 'Zimmermann, can you name me a single proof for the existence of God?'

The physician replied, 'Your majesty, the Jews.'


  1. Hi Mark.

    I don't believe the existence of God can be 'proved' categorically. More experienced and no amount of logical argumentation can avert the evidence of the heart:

    Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:
    "Fool," said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart, and write."


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Pope Francis: we planned it all before the conclave

Pope Francis: Dismantling Marriage

Establishing a New Object of Worship