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The Proofs for God’s Existence

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 10 July 1985 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish  

"1. When we ask ourselves "Why do we believe in God?" our faith provides the first response. God has revealed himself to humanity and has entered into contact with it. The supreme revelation of God has come to us through Jesus Christ, God incarnate. We believe in God because God has made himself known to us as the supreme Being, the great "Existent."

However, this faith in a God who reveals himself, also finds support in the reasoning of our intelligence. When we reflect, we observe that proofs of God's existence are not lacking. These have been elaborated by thinkers under the form of philosophical demonstrations in the sense of rigorously logical deductions. But they can also take on a simpler form. As such, they are accessible to everyone who seeks to understand the meaning of the world around him.

2. In speaking of the existence of God we should underline that we are not speaking of proofs in the sense implied by the experimental sciences. Scientific proofs in the modern sense of the word are valid only for things perceptible to the senses, since it is only on such things that scientific instruments of investigation can be used. To desire a scientific proof of God would be equivalent to lowering God to the level of the beings of our world, and we would therefore be mistaken methodologically in regard to what God is. Science must recognize its limits and its inability to reach the existence of God. It can neither affirm nor deny his existence.

From this, however, we must not draw the conclusion that scientists in their scientific studies are unable to find valid reasons for admitting the existence of God. If science as such cannot reach God, the scientist who has an intelligence, the object of which is not limited to things of sense perception, can discover in the world reasons for affirming a Being which surpasses it. Many scientists have made and are making this discovery.

Whoever reflects with an open mind on what is implied in the existence of the universe, cannot help but pose the question of the problem of the origin. Instinctively, when we witness certain happenings, we ask ourselves what caused them. How can we not but ask the same question in regard to the sum total of beings and phenomena which we discover in the world?

3. A scientific hypothesis such as that of the expansion of the universe makes the problem all the more clear. If the universe is in a state of continual expansion, should not one go back in time to that which could be called the "initial moment," the moment in which that expansion began? But, whatever the theory adopted concerning the origin of the universe, the most basic question cannot be avoided. This universe in constant movement postulates a Cause which, in giving it being, has communicated to it this movement, and continues to sustain it. Without such a supreme Cause, the world and every movement in it would remain "unexplained" and "inexplicable," and our intelligence would not be satisfied. The human mind can receive a response to its questions only by admitting a Being who has created the world with all its dynamism, and who continues to maintain it in existence.

4. The necessity to go back to a supreme Cause is all the greater if one considers the perfect organization which science has ceaselessly discovered in the structure of matter. When human intelligence is applied with so much effort to determine the constitution and modalities of action of material particles, is it not perhaps induced to seek their origin in a superior Intelligence which has conceived the whole? In face of the marvel of what can be called the immensely small world of the atom, and the immensely great world of the cosmos, the human mind feels itself completely surpassed in its possibilities of creation and even of imagination. It understands that a work of such quality and of such proportions demands a Creator whose wisdom is beyond all measure and whose power is infinite.

5. All the observations concerning the development of life lead to a similar conclusion. The evolution of living beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and to discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator.

The history of humanity and the life of every human person manifest a still more impressive finality. Certainly, man cannot explain to himself the meaning of all that happens to him, and therefore he must recognize that he is not the master of his own destiny. Not only has he not made himself, but he has not even the power to dominate the course of events in the development of his existence. However, he is convinced that he has a destiny and he seeks to discover how he received it and how it is inscribed in his being. In certain moments he can more easily discern a secret finality which appears from a convergence of circumstances and events. Thus he is brought to affirm the sovereignty of him who has created and directs his present life.

6. Finally, among the qualities of this world which impel us to raise our gaze aloft, there is beauty. It is manifested in the various marvels of nature. It is expressed in the numberless works of art, literature, music, painting and the plastic arts. It is appreciated also in moral conduct - there are so many good sentiments, so many stupendous deeds. Man is aware of "receiving" all this beauty, even though he cooperates by his action in its manifestation. He discovers and admires it fully only when he recognizes its source, the transcendent beauty of God.

7. To all these "indications" of the existence of God the Creator, some oppose the power of chance or of the proper mechanisms of matter. To speak of chance for a universe which presents such a complex organization in its elements, and such a marvelous finality in its life would be equivalent to giving up the search for an explanation of the world as it appears to us. In fact, this would be equivalent to admitting effects without a cause. It would be to abdicate human intelligence which would thus refuse to think, and to seek a solution for its problems.

In conclusion, a myriad of indications impels man, who tries to understand the universe in which he lives, to direct his gaze toward his Creator. The proofs for the existence of God are many and convergent. They contribute to show that faith does not humble human intelligence, but stimulates it to reflection and permits it to understand better all the "whys" posed by the observation of reality."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di espressione francese

Chers Frères et Soeurs,

Je voudrais saluer particulièrement aujourd’hui un groupe de religieuses Marianistes qui fêtent à Rome le vingt-cinquième anniversaire de leur profession religieuse. Je les encourage dans leur apostolat inspiré par la foi de la Mère du Seigneur. Je leur souhaite d’être heureuses dans leur vie consacrée et leur service ecclésial.

A tous les pèlerins de langue française, j’adresse mon bien cordial salut. Que leur visite à Rome en ce temps de vacances soit un jalon positif sur la route de la foi et de la participation à la vie de l’Eglise! Je vous donne ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I extend a particular welcome to the musical groups that are present today, in particular to the Framesby Choir from South Africa, the Park Forest Singers from Chicago, the Choir of Saint Philip the Apostle Parish in Pasadena, California, and Saint Hallvard’s Choir from Norway.

I greet very cordially the group of pilgrims from Egypt, the Korean Catholics from Saint Agnes Parish in Los Angeles, and the pilgrim group from Benin City, Nigeria.

It is a joy to welcome the priests of the Congregation of the Resurrection who are participating in a renewal programme in Rome. And I offer special greetings to the members of the American Justinian Society of Jurists. May God enable you to contribute greatly to the well-being of the Church and all humanity.

Upon all the English-speaking visitors, I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ai fedeli tedeschi

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Mit diesen kurzen Überlegungen grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher herzlich, insbesondere die katholischen Familienhelferinnen aus der Diözese Graz, die zusammen mit ihrem Bischof Johann Weber auf einer Pilgerfahrt die heiligen Statten Roms besuchen. Ich wünsche euch allen einen frohen und auch geistig reichen Aufenthalt in der Ewigen Stadt. Dafür und für eine gute Rückkehr in eure Heimat erteilte ich euch und euren Lieben daheim von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di espressione spagnola

Queridos hermanos y hermanas,

Quiero dirigir mi afectuoso saludo a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española presentes en esta Audiencia. En particular al Señor Cardenal Luis Aponte Martínez, Arzobispo de San Juan de Puerto Rico, que preside una peregrinación de aquella amada isla caribeña que tuve el placer de visitar el ano pasado.

A las Religiosas Misioneras del “Corazón de María” que celebran su Capítulo General. Os aliento a una renovada y generosa entrega a Dios y a la Iglesia.

Saludo igualmente a los Maestros de las Escuelas Rurales de la Iglesia, de la diócesis de Málaga. Que el Señor bendiga vuestra labor educativa y que vuestro ejemplo sea seguido por otros educadores que se dediquen a enseñar a los niños y niñas de los pueblos y aldeas. Mi cordial bienvenida a los numerosos peregrinos procedentes de diversas diócesis de México.

A todos los peregrinos de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto de corazón mi Bendición Apostólica.

Ad un gruppo di giuristi provenienti dal Brasile

Amados irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

Quero dirigir uma palavra de saudação especial ao grupo de Juristas do Brasil, presentes nesta Audiência: Sede bem-vindos! Recordai sempre: o ideal de toda a perfeição do direito é, afinal, a verdade e a justiça de Deus, que é Amor. Empenhai-vos na busca da verdade e para que o amor ilumine sempre o vosso agir, como serviço à causa da justiça e da fraternidade entre os homens.

A todos e a quantos vos são queridos, a minha Bênção Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini ungheresi

Saluto con grande affetto i pellegrini ungheresi.

I patroni della vostra diocesi: san Michele e santo Stefano, e il patrono della vostra parrocchia, sant’Emerico. Siano sempre i vostri protettori.

Dal cuore do la mia benedizione apostolica a tutto il diletto popolo ungherese.

Ai pellegrini polacchi

Serdecznie pozdrawiam wszystkich pielgrzymów, w szczególności: pielgrzymów z Prymasowskiego Instytutu Kultury Chrześcijańskiej im. Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego w Bydgoszczy z ks. bp. Janem Nowakiem; z ogólnokształcącego liceum oo. pijarów w Krakovie; nauczycieli z pallotyúskiej parafii Matki Bożej Fatimskiej w Zakopanem; z diecezji częstochowskiej; z parafii Siedliska koło Bobowej - diecezja tarnowska; pielgrzymkę młodzieży pracującej diecezji siedleckiej; z parafii Opoczno-Studzianna - diecezja sandomierskoradomska; z parafii Chrystusa Króla w Rzeszowie; pielgrzymów Trzeciego Zakonu św. Franciszka z Lublina i Rozwadowa; pielgrzymów duszpasterstwa nauczycieli i służby zdrowia księży salezjanów w Kutnie; z parafii św. Kazimierza w Białymstoku; młodzież z parafii św. Krzyża w Tczewie; z parafii św. Tymoteusza z Białężyna; z parafii Oborniki Wielkopolskie - archidiecezja poznańska; z gimnazjum sióstr urszulanek Unii Rzymskiej we Wrocławiu; młodzież parafii św. Jana Chrzciciela z Legnicy; nauczycieli i muzyków parafii św. Franciszka z Wałbrzycha - księża pallotyni; z parafii Kudowa Zdrój - archidiecezja wrocławska; z parafii Pławniewice - diecezja opolska; chór parafii św. Piotra i Pawła w Szczecinie; księży chrystusowców; grupę dzieci polskich z Afryki; zespół tańca ludowego Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskie; - filia w Rzeszowie; z parafii św. Wawrzyńca z Orzesza - diecezja katowicka; pielgrzymkę polonijną z Garden City - Michigan, Stany Zjednoczone; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych “Orbisu” z całej Polski, Gdańska, PKS z Warszawy, jako też innych pielgrzymów indywidualnych zarówno z Polski, jak i z emigracji . . . Wszystkich moich rodaków, pielgrzymów do Rzymu, jeszcze raz serdecznie pozdrawiam, błogosławie wszystkim obecnym i proszę, aby to błogosławieństwo zanieśli do swoich wspólnot w Ojczyźnie.

Ai pellegrini italiani

Porgo il mio cordiale saluto ai numerosi pellegrini italiani che sono qui convenuti. Un particolare benvenuto rivolgo ai seminaristi del Pontificio Seminario Pio XI di Reggio Calabria.

Questo incontro, che rinnova quello che ebbi con voi lo scorso anno nel vostro seminario, mi offre l’occasione per esortarvi a perseverare nel cammino vocazionale, perché diventiate coraggiosi portatori del messaggio e della presenza del Redentore. Il Signore infonda nei vostri cuori fiducia e serenità, mentre di cuore imparto a voi, ai vostri superiori, ai vostri cari la mia benedizione.

* * *

Un affettuoso saluto anche alle Suore della Congregazione delle religiose ospedaliere di Gesù Nazareno.

Carissime! Auspico che il servizio ai sofferenti, cui siete chiamate, diventi sempre più strada di santità per voi e fonte di consolazione per quanti hanno bisogno di sostegno fraterno. Sia tenace la vostra fede, fiduciosa la vostra preghiera, e vi conforti a mia benedizione.

Ai giovani

Rivolgo ora un saluto particolarmente affettuoso a tutti i giovani, le ragazze e i ragazzi presenti a questo incontro, reso festoso e vibrante dal loro entusiasmo e dalla loro capacità di cogliere con ottimismo gli aspetti belli ed elevati della vita.

Carissimi, in questo periodo di riposo dai vostri impegni di studio e di lavoro, fate tesoro dei vostri viaggi e incontri per arricchire le vostre conoscenze storiche, artistiche e, al tempo stesso, trovandovi qui a Roma, per consolidare la vostra fede cristiana alla vista di antichi monumenti che stanno a testimoniare le radici primordiali del cristianesimo.

Vi auguro un felice soggiorno a Roma e vi accompagno con la mia benevolenza e la mia benedizione apostolica.

Agli ammalati

Anche a voi, cari ammalati, che siete tanto vicini al mio cuore, esprimo un pensiero speciale e beneaugurante. Auspico che possiate trovare sempre la forza cristiana per sopportare le prove, cui la malattia vi assoggetta. È la prova della croce, alla quale Gesù fu sottoposto per la nostra redenzione e che nessun cristiano può ignorare, senza privarsi dei meriti soprannaturali ad essa collegati.

La mia benedizione vi sia di sostegno e di conforto nei momenti più difficili della vostra vita.

Agli sposi novelli

Non dimentico, infine, le coppie di sposi novelli, che sono venuti per testimoniare la loro fede cristiana e per implorare sulla loro nascente famiglia la pienezza delle grazie celesti.

Cari sposi, vi auguro che il vostro amore, reso più forte dal sacramento del matrimonio, si mantenga sempre saldo e granitico, anche in mezzo alle difficoltà che potranno insorgere durante il percorso della vita a due; anzi si fortifichi sempre più mediante l’esercizio delle virtù cristiane e diventi veramente un segno luminoso dell’amore che unisce Cristo alla Chiesa.

A questo fine vi imparto una speciale benedizione.


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