Ways of Coming to Know God
Ways of Coming to Know God ~ Through the World and the Human Person
The Catechism states:
Created in God's image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of "converging and convincing arguments", which allow us to attain certainty about the truth. These "ways" of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world, and the human person.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. ~ St. Paul (Rom 1:19-20)
I can remember as a child of 12 learning that the universe has no end. My 6th grade teacher simply said, “Look into the sky at night. If you were able to go up into that sky, you could go up forever and never come to the end of the universe.” From then on, I would look up at the sky and think, “Up goes forever.” Forever. Now at this age, I’m still left in wonder that the universe has no end. The infinity of space is the first perception that allows us to believe that there is something eternal and infinite in this world. Could this infiniteness have been created by or be a part of an infinite Being?
St. Augustine adds to this saying:
Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky. . . question all these realities. All respond: "See, we are beautiful." Their beauty is a profession. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One who is not subject to change?
The Catechism also states that aside from creation we can come to know God from the human person:
The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the "seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material", can have its origin only in God.
The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality "that everyone calls God".
Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man, and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.(so) the proofs of God's existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.
In contemplating the universe and how and why it is, we begin a search for something outside ourselves and greater than ourselves. If we turn our search inward and contemplate our own being, we also come to an understanding that in us is something more than our corporeal being. Just as the atom is a reflection of the universe in miniature but with finite borders, the soul of a human contains an essence of God. Since (If) God created man, then He must desire fellowship with that man; therefore He created them with the ability to know Him.
Man can come to know that there is a God through the things created including his own person. So a man can look at the world and say it is possible that an infinite being exists, and also look inward and find in his own soul a piece of the infinite. In my search, I sense something in myself that is more than physical. I feel as if I have a soul that connects me with goodness of God. Where else do the sense of right and wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice come from? If our physical demands have been met, why wonder at anything more? That’s the human dilemma. There is more to living in this world than just meeting our own physical requirements. We have the idea that there are certain rules we must live by because they are right. But where does this sense of right come from? When I see a person living for their own selfish desires I recoil from it. This knowledge of myself has led me to believe in the concept of the soul, and this also strengthens my belief that there is a God.