The journey to prove God’s existence is a personal journey. He cannot be proven through a scientific study, although some studies have hinted at . Each person must take the journey for himself and find in his own way that God is real.Some who ask this question are interested in a sincere journey to find out whether or not there is a God. Others ask as a challenge, hoping to prove the faithful wrong. First we’ll deal with the concerns of the sincere seeker of truth. Then we’ll focus on the concerns of the challengers.
One reason God sent us here to live on earth was to gain faith. Mormon beliefs teach that we lived with God, as spirits,
before we were born. Because He was with us then, we didn’t need faith. The apostle Paul, who served as Jesus’ apostle during the Savior’s lifetime, taught, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, King James version of the Holy Bible)
Once we came to earth-something we voluntarily agreed to do-a symbolic veil was drawn over our memories, causing us to forget the previous life we’d led. This way, we’d be forced to seek out truth and learn to have faith. It’s easy to believe in something you can see, touch, and prove. Faith is a higher level of knowledge in many ways, harder to achieve and requiring greater personal character and strength. Because we must learn to have faith, it is very unlikely God will make it possible for every person to have proof-the world’s version of proof– of God’s existence.
A Book of Mormon prophet named Alma delivered one of history’s greatest sermons on faith. In it, he said:
27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. (Alma 32:27)
This scripture gives hope to a person who wishes he were able to believe in God. At the beginning level, faith requires no more than a desire to believe. From there, Alma outlines a personal experiment each person can take to find out if there is a God, if Jesus is the Christ, if the gospel is true, and if living the way the scriptures teach is the right thing to do.
With this desire as a starting place, Alma asked his listeners to imagine faith as a seed, a comparison that is also made in the Bible.
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves-It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
Religious people often describe feelings of faith or the presence of the Holy Ghost in similar terms-a swelling or a warm feeling in the heart. It is often similar to the feelings one has when experiencing strong love for a child or another person you care deeply for. However it feels to that individual person, it is a good and wonderful feeling, and the person experiencing it longs for it to continue.
Alma tells his listeners that receiving this first confirmation will increase the faith of the seeker, not to a level of perfect faith, but to a level that allows you to continue your experiment, gradually increasing your faith.
31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.
34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
Alma demonstrates that by continuing to nourish the seed, your faith will become perfect in the one area in which you were seeking truth. You can then move on to another step. For instance, after knowing there is a God, you will want to know if Jesus Christ was His Son. You will want to gain a testimony of the Bible and then you’ll want to know which church is God’s church, because you’ll quickly realize each religion contradicts the other. God isn’t a God of confusion, and truth is absolute, so you will use the tools you gained in developing a testimony of these other things to find His church.
Learning whether there is a God is much like learning other things. You must first study it out in your mind. Read the Bible and the Book of Mormon to find out who God is and what His relationship with His children has been. Learn what He wants of you. As you are studying, pray to God, even if you’re not sure anyone is listening. If you approach prayer with a hope that God is there, He will begin to make you aware of His presence. Once you know He is there, begin to develop a personal relationship with Him by continuing to study, to pray, to live His commandments, and to attend His church.
This is not enough for some people. Some, generally those who are not seeking truth, but are trying to discredit religious people, will argue for something more than a personal experiment. Boyd K. Packer is an apostle of the Lord in the modern church. Long before he received this call, he met an atheist on an airplane. Elder Packer bore testimony of God’s existence, but the man was not convinced. The atheist, a lawyer, demanded to know how Elder Packer knew there was a God. Elder Packer explained how he answered the man:
Such an idea came into my mind and I said to the atheist, “Let me ask if you know what salt tastes like.”
After several attempts, of course, he could not do it. He could not convey, in words alone, so ordinary an experience as tasting salt. I bore testimony to him once again and said, “I know there is a God. You ridiculed that testimony and said that if I did know, I would be able to tell you exactly how I know. My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like. But I say to you again, there is a God! He does live! And just because you don’t know, don’t try to tell me that I don’t know, for I do!” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan 1983, 51
From this object lesson, we easily see there are many things that are true that we cannot describe. In addition, there are many things that are true that we cannot prove in a laboratory. For instance, have you ever loved someone? Did you insist on a lab test to prove to you that you were experiencing this love before you spoke of it-testified of it-to the object of your love? Of course not, and yet, although you never took time to prove your feelings, you believed in them entirely, even knew they were true. In the same way, you know when you’re happy or sad, when you’re hungry, or when you’re tired. You don’t have to rush to a lab to decided any of these things. You simply know them to be true.
In the same way, those who know there is a God don’t need a laboratory to tell them so. They know.
There is indeed a God, and choosing not to believe in Him won’t make Him not real. Whether or not we choose to believe in God, He is real and the guidelines He created for us and that we agreed to live by are real and we will be held accountable for them. We will also receive the blessings that come from honoring His truths. God loves us-even those who don’t believe in Him-and He is only waiting for each of His children to make the personal journey to know Him.