Question 9

These are not silly questions.

If there is a God, would there be 'physical' evidence? By definition God is a spiritual, not a physical being. For many believers it is religious experience which convinces them of God's existence, which is non-physical. Many founders of religions claim to have had an experience of God (for example: Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, Siddhartha, Nanak). Not only were they convinced, but they were also able to convince others of the validity of what they had experienced. This is how these religions began. Some say that looking for physical evidence for the existence of God is like trying to look for water using a metal detector - it is the wrong tool for the job.

Others might give a version of the Design Argument as physical evidence. The conditions necessary for life to exist on earth, determined by the Big Bang, are so finely tuned that if any of them were just slightly different, they would not produce what we have. Of all the possible ways in which the universe could have turned out, it seems highly unlikely that the conditions would be just right for life to develop as it has, on a tiny blue-green planet, in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Life on earth is so improbable, the argument suggests, that the earth must have been designed to be this way. Such evidence of design suggests a designer, which they call God. There are criticisms of this argument which we look at in Year 10.

The first part of your question asks about the Problem of Evil. Briefly, some would say that suffering is necessary for us to develop those human qualities which we value most - for example: unselfishness, self-sacrifice, perseverance, and so on. Would these virtues exist in a world without suffering? Some see suffering as the result of karma. Others see suffering as a test of faith from God. Some see suffering as a natural consequence of the fall of mankind from a state of Grace, as pictured in the Adam and Eve creation story. Again, we look at this in Year 10.