The existence of God

Previous sections have discussed the theist's belief of a God and how that belief forms an important part of the theist's subjective world. We now look specifically at the issue of the existence of God itself. A common view of the theism-atheism debate is to think that everyone needs to decide if God exists or not.

However, this view misses something important. It does not address the question of why the existence-of-God issue arises. Knowing why the issue arises is important for understanding the context and the meanings of the two possibilities, existing or not. One way to establish the context is to consider the difference between God existing and not existing. The existence of God is irrelevant to the objective reality because the objective reality can be defined without reference to God. Indeed, by the definitions of the Bible etc., God is not objectively real. In contrast, the God of the Bible offers things of religious and cultural value. Those things are different or absent if God does not exist. So the existence of God clearly has relevance for people who seek the subjective things that God can provide. For them, however, God is less about actually existing and more to do with belief.

The belief in God stems from particular religious and cultural heritages which are inherently subjective. Vast numbers of theists exist despite there being no objective evidence of the existence of the God of the Bible. Clearly, objective evidence is not required for a belief in God. To say this another way, the belief in God can persist despite the lack of the actual existence of God.

In summary, the issue of the existence of God is often viewed directly in terms of the question of whether God exists or not. However the issue has a broader context which is revealed by considering what is gained by God existing. The existence of God has no benefits for resolving issues regarding the objective reality. In contrast, God is relevant to people who seek the subjective things that God can provide. For these people, a belief in God can persist even without God actually existing. For a theist, that belief is interpreted as if God does exist (even though, by the definition of the Bible, God is not objectively real). The picture is very different for those seeking to understand the relationship between the subjective world and the objective reality. Because God does not have objective existence, these people are atheists by default.