Can Monotheism be proven?
The simple answer is no, monotheism cannot be proved. There is no mathematical equation, the end of which, if solved, would result in having "proved" the reality of monotheism. On at least some level, monotheism is believed on faith. To the Christian, monotheism is accepted by faith in the reliability and inspiration of the Bible which states, unambiguously and on numerous occasions that there is only one God. One example (among literally hundreds) is Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me".
If you asked a slightly different question, my answer would be somewhat different. Can theism be proved? (the definition of theism being the existence of some sort of personal supernatural transcendent being) The answer there is that we also cannot "prove" theism, but we can present a very strong case for theism. Neither theism or atheism can be proved in any mathematical way. The question of the existence (or lack of existence) of God is answered by asking which is the most reasonable conclusion, given the evidence and the rational arguments for and against theism. I believe that, although we cannot give an open-and-shut clear proof of theism, we can show that theism is easily the more rational conclusion than either atheism or agnosticism. I have lectured many times on this subject.
In order to answer your question, I am going to refer you to material at the web site. First of all, there are two lessons in the EFC "store" titled Existence of God (Sweden) and Existence of God (SDSU). In both lessons I go through a detailed analysis of the arguments both for and against theism. I believe that the case for theism is extremely strong, based on the moral argument, the teleological, the cosmological and other arguments. By far the most reasonable conclusion is that God does in fact exist, but we should be humble and cautious and admit that it cannot be declared as mathematically/logically proved beyond any reasonable argument whatsoever that God exists. I will also refer you to the power point and outline for the lesson in question. Go to the power point section of the web site and you will find one titled Power Point: The Existence of God. There you will find a detailed power point and outline on arguments for theism. Also, at ARS we have an entire 10 hour course on the existence of God which you can take. You should look at the ARS apologetics certificate for information on this.
I am also including an outline below.
John Oakes, PhD
The Existence of God
I. Atheism’s Arguments
II. Why Atheism Fails
III. Arguments for the Existence of God.
I. Arguments of Atheists Against the Existence of God.
A. You cannot see him.
Yuri Gagarin: "I don’t see any God up here."
people disbelieve in the wrong God.
A question to ask: What God do you NOT believe in?
(angry, vindictive, distant, vengeful, old man in sky, cosmic bellhop,…)
Guess what: I do not believe in that God either.
Can you see an electron? Can you see the wind? Can you see hope, love consciousness?
How do we know such things exist? Because from their effects we can logically and reasonably infer they exist.
B. Hypocrisy of Believers
First of all, we can acknowledge that much evil has been done in the name of Christianity.
But this does not logically invalidate the truth of the central claims of Christianity.
This is a smoke screen.
Christians claim that their God is perfect, not that they are without sin.
Besides, the most egregious acts were not performed by Christians.
The difference between Christianity and atheism is that when we abuse, steal, are arrogant, violent, etc. we have a standard which tells us that this is wrong.
C. The Problem of Suffering
If God is all knowing and all loving, then that God obviously does not exist.
This argument is based on false premises.
How do we know that God’s goal is to prevent suffering?
Given the existence of free will (which, admittedly, would have to be established) God allows, rather than causes most suffering. It actually is because he loves us.
Natural Causes of Suffering
Suffering is NOT evil or even a bad thing.
God suffered too
D. Unbelief is the Default Position.
Michael Shermer/Douglas Jacoby.
Says who? This is not even an argument. Given that the majority of intelligent, psychologically stable people in the world have some sort of faith, this is an unwarranted presupposition.
II. Why Atheism Fails.
A. Belief in Atheism is Based on Circular Reasoning.
God, by definition, exists outside of time and space. The only way we could prove he does not exist is to exist outside of time and space. (Flatland)
BBC TV show: How do you know that there is no supernatural-that the only real thing is that which is observable by experiment?
I just know it to be true.
There is no absolute truth!!!! How do you know that there is no absolute truth?
B. Atheism Cannot Answer the Hard Questions.
Science can answer:
When, where, how many, for how long, by what means?
Science cannot answer:
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
Should I do this?
Does God exist, and does he answer prayer?
Why is the universe ordered and understandable?
Why does anything exist?
How valuable am I?
Is there absolute truth? What is that truth?
If Materialism/Naturalism is right then:
"I" do not exist. Consciousness is just random moving around of chemicals.
No soul, no spirit, no non-physical reality.
Belief in God is just a "meme" the unfortunate accidental result of brain evolution.
Life has no value. Human beings have no value. What is value?
Love is chemicals moving around (vs
C. The Bankruptcy of Atheism.
Has the experiment been done? Can a society thrive when it takes atheism as its basic belief?
USSR, Red China, North Korea, Pol Pot, Myanmar, French Revolution..
III. Arguments for Theism.
A. The Moral Argument. (Classical)
If an absolute moral truth exists, then there exists One who defines that moral truth. Ie. God.
1. Absolute moral laws exist.
2. Such laws must be promulgated by some authority.
3. That authority is God.
Moral laws are much like natural physical laws. They are no less real.
That moral absolute exists implies a source of this moral absolute, which is, by definition, God.
Do the words good, evil, right and wrong have any objective meaning?
If so, then there must be a metaphysical authority.
Alternatives: Naturalism and Postmodernism.
In his Letter concerning Toleration, Locke contends that one of the few religious stances that the commonwealth cannot tolerate is atheism for non-theists have no motive to act upon their promises and oaths. So they cannot be fit participants in civil contracts or be trusted when they appear before courts of law. Minus a belief in God, there is no reason to suppose that ignoring moral norms will not pay. Indeed, there is every reason – given the way the world goes – to assume that it can often pay to take no account of moral norms.
Without absolute moral laws, what is the meaning of justice? What does a crime deserve?
Atheists betray the fact that they also believe in moral absolutes in their language.
"It is wrong for a church to interfere in the state." Religion is evil.
B. The Cosmological Argument. (Classical)
Everything which exists has a cause.
The universe exists.
Therefore the universe was caused.
That cause is God.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument. (Kalam is Arabic for word, discussion, discourse)
1. Everything which begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe was caused to exist.
Conclusion, the uncaused cause of the universe is what we call God.
Atheist’s question: Well, then, who caused God?
Atheist’s argument. It requires something more complicated to make something simpler. Obviously God is more complicated than humans, so who caused God?
Answer: Who says God is complex?
C. The Teleological Argument. (Classical)
The argument from design. Teleos = purpose
How do we know something was designed?
The Anthropic Principle.
The fine-tuned universe is very strong evidence for purpose. The universe did not "just happen."
Fred Hoyle: …a super-intellecthas monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology.
Ex: 1×10-60 = probability of the gravitational constant having the correct size. This is like the probability of someone winning the super-lottery eight weeks in a row. If that happened, the person would be in jail.
Is the multiverse speculation a better explanation than design?
D. The Ontological Argument. (Anselm) (Classical)
Because we can conceive of it, a greatest being must exist.
One of the properties of a being, that than which no greater can exist is existence.
Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being exists.
That being is God.
Of questionable value for apologetics.
E. The Argument From Desire. (C. S. Lewis)
Everything which humans have a desire for has a corresponding real thing which is the object of that desire.
Every known human desire has a corresponding real thing which can fulfill that desire.
The desire to know God and ultimate truth is as basic as any human desire.
Therefore God, the object of that desire, exists.
F. Valid Experience. (Reformed Epistemology)
Is it rational to believe in something which cannot be absolutely deductively proved?
G. Changed Lives. (Reformed Epistomology)
Tens of millions of rational, well educated people have experienced God through prayer, revelation, etc.
Changed lives: For what it is worth, Christianity works.
•- Marriages saved
•- Lives lived with purpose and meaning
H. Inspiration of the Bible. (Evidential Apologetics)
If the Bible is supernaturally inspired, then God exists.
•- Fulfilled prophecy
•- Fulfilled prefigure and foreshadow
•- Historical/Archaeological accuracy
•- Scientific accuracy
•- It works