Definitively Proving God’s Existence, One Way or Another

As a skeptic, I have often asked for proof that God — specifically the God of the Bible, the religion of which is an overwhelming majority in my area — exists, to which I’m often told that there is no proof that God exists, that it simply requires faith, or that there is plenty of proof but that it takes faith to actually accept that proof.

I’m also often challenged to prove that God doesn’t exist, the implication being that one cannot prove a negative and so cannot prove that God doesn’t exist, leaving open the possibility that he does exist.

The Bible even goes so far as to say that you cannot test God (Deuteronomy 6:16; Luke 4:12), and some apologists will say that you cannot test God from a position of a lack of faith but that those who have faith in God can test him because they already know he’s real.[note]Got-Questions.org takes this position. Nothing says “useful knowledge” like conducting tests designed to confirm something which you already believe in. I’m sure confirmation bias won’t affect the results in any way.[/note]

Would you believe, though, that there is an experiment described by the Bible which is entirely repeatable and which can be performed by any group of people, provided one of them is a believer in the God of the Bible and the other isn’t? You won’t find it mentioned too often by apologists; a cursory overview of a handful of articles on testing God, as well as OpenBible.info’s relevant topic listing, turned up no entry of this particular test. Here’s the story:

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 22Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: 24And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. 25And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; or ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. 26And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28And they cried aloud, and cut themselves with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. 30And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaid the altar of the Lord that was broken down. 31And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: 32And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. 35And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. 36And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. 38Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God. 40And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

1 Kings 18:21–40, King James Version

The short version of the above is this: The prophet Elijah was alone in standing up for the God of Abraham, overwhelmingly outnumbered by the prophets of Baal. However, in faith, he challenged Baal’s prophets to a good ol’ fashioned sacrifice off: each god’s prophet(s) would lay out a sacrifice on a prepared altar, but would not burn it; the prophet(s) whose god sent fire to burn up the sacrifice would win the challenge, and their god would be shown to exist.

The prophets of Baal went first, yet despite working at it for half the day, Baal never burnt up the sacrifice. Elijah taunts them, and then sets up his own sacrifice which of course the God of Abraham burns up in acceptance. Elijah then kills the prophets of Baal because, well, … reasons?

The story reads like a fairy tale, and like so many other fairy tales, it teaches us a great lesson: the God of the Bible can absolutely be tested as to whether he exists.

All you need is a Christian willing to make a sacrifice (in worship, in celebration, in humility, whatever) to God and anybody else willing to sacrifice to anything else. It has to be a Christian, though, one who absolutely believes that God is real, at least according to certain apologists who think that God can only be tested by those who accept his realness already.[note]Ibid.[/note]

That’s all it takes: A sacrifice to show that God does not exist. Once and for all, the Bible’s mythology can be shown to not reflect reality.

No doubt there will be some objections.

“Christians don’t sacrifice to God!” Well, no, but nobody commanded Cain and Abel to do so either, but they did. Sacrifices don’t have to be commanded; they only need to be genuine.

“Animal killer!” Yeah, this necessitates the killing of at least two animals, but if you work together with a slaughterhouse, you can no doubt accomplish this. You may actually already live on a farm and have animals which you kill yourselves for food — nobody says you can’t dine on these sacrifices if your conscience allows it (1 Corinthians 8), and besides, God is sure to cook one of them right up for you, right?

“Elijah already proved God exists!” Yes, in the context of the story. There is no corroborating evidence for us to accept the biblical account as reality. The New Testament says to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and “all things” would certainly include God or perhaps even the methodology Elijah used. In other words, try it for yourself; if you don’t get the same result as Elijah, then you obviously don’t have to hold fast to the Bible as being good and true.

“That only worked for Elijah!” Ah, of course, it only worked where there were no cameras, no impartial third parties, no lasting evidence. Clicking red heels together is a means of magical transport too, based on the same quality of evidence.[note]See The Wizard of Oz (1939).[/note] There is nothing in the text which indicates that this event isn’t repeatable. Elijah made the challenge, made the taunts, followed through with his side of the experiment, and then went on a murderous rampage against the prophets of Baal — nothing all that inherent to his prophetableness.

So what then? We have a foolproof experiment to show that the God of the Bible exists. Christians, feel free to put your faith into action.[note]Unless of course your annoyance with the increasing secularity of society is just all talk.[/note]

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