Can we know the existence of God by our reason?

“Yes.  Human reason can know God with Certainty [31-36, 44-47]” – YOUCAT (4)

The world cannot have it’s origin and it’s destination within itself.  In everything that exists, there is more than we see.  The order, the beauty, and the development of the world point beyond themselves toward God.  Every man is receptive to what is true, good and beautiful.  He hears within himself the voice of conscience, which urges him to what is good and warns him against what is evil.  Anyone who follows this path reasonably finds God.

What See you?

Look around you and what do you see?  How often do we take for granted what’s around us and what it can tell us about God?  The essence of this portion of the YOUCAT is almost simply that the existence of God is self-evident in everything around us.  Think about it.  Everything we see around us can help lead us to the realization of the existence of God.  He reveals himself to us in nature. St. Augustine says “Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky. . . question all these realities. All respond: ‘See, we are beautiful.’  Their beauty is a profession. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful Onewho is not subject to change?” (CCC-32)

We have two trees in our front yard.  Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what kind they are, but I’m told they are Ash Trees.  Every day I see these trees and really don’t think too much about it.  But this section of the YOUCAT made me think about those trees and how I can find evidence of God in them.  We don’t really do anything to cause them to grow, but they do.  Every spring the leaves come out and add to the beauty of our landscape.  Every fall the leaves fall off and I have to gather them together for pickup.  It’s just photosynthesis right?  But what drives photosynthesis?  Why does it exist?  Science has explanations for some of these things but the more questions you ask, the harder they become to answer and the more speculative.  We ask these questions because we are curious to know the truth.  And our conscience tells us that while God has allowed us to develop scientific explanations to have some level of understanding of the way things work, the source of it all  – the “root why” – can only be God.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it like this:

 The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God’s existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the “seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material”, can have its origin only in God.(CCC-33)

We know that God has placed a natural longing in our hearts to seek him.  And God has placed that longing in our hearts so that we can develop a more intimate relationship with Him.  It is this longing to seek God that causes us to ask the questions, to seek the truth.  God doesn’t just reveal Himself in the world around us.  He also does so through the people around us.  Admittedly, my tree story is not all that exciting, but if you think the growth of a tree is amazing and cool, how much cooler and amazing is the birth of child?

We were created in the “image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:26).  Unlike the other animals, God created one man and one woman and in the divine image of God and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:27).   Unlike the other animals, the man and woman participate with God, through the sacrament of marriage, in creating a brand new life that is different from any other.  Each one of us is unique, yet within each one of us is the image and likeness of God.  We are created with the ability to think and to reason, to love and to hate, to be happy and sad.  Most importantly, however, we are created with the ability to choose – in spite of consequences.

So God reveals Himself to us in the world through nature and the people around us.  As the Catechism tells us “the world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls God”.  He has instilled within us a a natural longing to seek and find Him.  We just need to look harder.  What see you?


Things to think about:

1.  What are some things that I pass by everyday and fail to notice?

2.  How do these things reveal the existence of God?

3.  What are some unique characteristics of three people I know that point to the image and likeness of God?


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