I have shown that God could indeed possibly exist and that His existence or non-existence is certainly worth the effort to investigate, but how can we investigate something that cannot be detected directly by our physical senses? Fortunately, God wants us to know Him (II Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:32) and is indeed near us (Psalm 139:1-10; Acts 17:27, 28). If all of this is true, then God must reveal Himself and that is exactly what He Himself says that He will do. What we cannot perceive by our physical senses, He reveals by His Spirit (I Corinthians 2:9-10). It is my contention that the Bible presents God as revealing Himself so that He may be known. However, this knowledge can only be had as an individual exercises faith (Hebrews 11:6). But, as we have seen, we can never know anything for certain without exercising faith somewhere, either in one’s perception or paradigm or sources or criteria or even in one’s own thinking.
How does God reveal Himself? Obviously, our perception of His revelation must include our physical senses. Even Jesus appealed to His disciples senses of sight and touch to prove His bodily resurrection. However, even in operational science what cannot be detected by direct observation can be understood indirectly by building models, conceptual descriptions, often mathematical, to explain observable phenomena. This is done when dealing with the very small, such as the quantum world, or the very large, such as in astrophysics, and that which is in the past as in forensic and origins science. These models are necessarily based on the paradigms accepted by those who develop the model. There is always of necessity some circularity involved in this for the paradigms that are used to develop the model are then used to interpret the data used to validate that model. Models are then accepted as long as they “work” explaining what is observed and predicting what should be observed. When they no longer do this well, then the model is discarded and replaced with a new model. Good examples of this process can be seen in the transition from the geocentric theory of the solar system to the heliocentric theory and in the various models of atoms that have been developed over time. Often there are competing models and even lively debates as seen historically in the competing models used to describe light and the controversy over spontaneous generation. Models are usually compared by looking at which model explains the most data the most consistently and makes the best predictions, but even this is not perfect because different scientists will use different paradigms in evaluating the data used to decide such questions.
I propose that God reveals Himself through observable phenomena that can best be explained by the model of God’s self-revelation. Since God’s existence is possible and the effort worth the investigation and millions have claimed to have experienced Him and many have been persuaded by evidence, then the self-revelation of God model ought to be considered. Scientific methodology ought to follow the data to wherever it leads. If the self-revelation of God model works, it ought to be considered seriously. If the data points to God’s existence, then we ought to follow the data to God as many, including former atheists, have found. One thing that cannot logically be done is to dismiss it without investigation. One cannot complain that God has not given enough evidence of His existence merely on the basis of presumption having never seriously investigated the evidence in light of the self-revelation of God model.
One could argue that there is an essential difference between what I have proposed and scientific models because my proposal appeals to a non-physical entity working in a supernatural way neither of which can be studied by scientific methodology and so cannot be considered a legitimate scientific model. Certainly, just because something cannot be directly observed does not invalidate a model as being unscientific because the very point of a model is that it explains what cannot be directly observed. The Standard Model of cosmology, for instance, cannot be observed and speculates such things as the acceleration of space-time beyond the speed of light. It is based on an interpretation of observable phenomena that can be explained by different paradigms producing different models. If, then, the self-revelation of God model is wrong, one needs to give reasons why it does not work as well as other models and not dismiss it scientifically because it appeals to something that cannot be observed or repeated in a laboratory. I would be glad to have that discussion. Future posts will investigate the phenomena that I believe displays God’s existence as He reveals Himself. My methodology is to look at the evidence and then compare the atheist model’s interpretation to the theistic model’s interpretation asking whether or not that which is observed can better be explained by random, purposeless activity or by the revelation of God. Any reasonable person ought to be willing to have that discussion.
I should also address the common objection that if we evaluate the data using a model such as I have suggested, then we should also evaluate data based on all proposed models including models based on Hinduism or on the ancient Roman pantheon. No scientist would suggest using such models and so none should be concerned about a theistic model either. I would first answer this by pointing out that many nuclear physicists do use Hindu models, but even more importantly, the theistic paradigm was the standard paradigm of science from the beginning of modern science. Most of the great scientists of the past had a theistic worldview. The same cannot be said of the other worldviews often mentioned in this objection. The theistic worldview has shown itself to be very fruitful scientifically as scientists sought to “think God’s thoughts after Him” and so should not be rejected merely because there are other religious worldviews none of which has shown such fruit.
Having written all this, I would point out that part of my proposed model is that ultimately God Himself impresses His reality on an individual by the working of His Holy Spirit (John 16:7-14; I Corinthians 2; II Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:15, 16). He indeed works through His servants and through evidence that can be directly observed. This needs to be done not only by the arguments of believers, but even more so through their lives. God’s reality needs to be seen in our lives as we shine our lights before a lost and dying world (Matthew 5:13-16; II Corinthians 4:1-7; I Peter 2:9). However, God Himself ultimately reveals His presence and His reality to individuals personally. Even so, though I can support my experience with evidence and arguments, I know there is a God because He has revealed Himself to me personally. I know there is a God because I know Him (Romans 8:15, 16).