World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
Traces Of God's Existence
How can human beings recognize the existence of this transcendent Reality, the invisible God, all-pervasive Truth? Although the vast philosophical literature dealing with proofs for God's existence is beyond the scope of this anthology, there are certain arguments which are put forth in scripture. Although God is invisible, He has left evidence of His reality by which people can know Him, if they only look. These include: first, the doorway of contemplation by which God is sensed by the inner self; second, the universality of the moral law, which mirrors the law of nature; third, the evidence of His handiwork in the glories of the creation; and finally, the testimony of the founders of religion. By these means traces of Ultimate Reality can be ascertained in the midst of this relative existence.
Who knows this truly, and who will now declare it, what paths lead together to the gods? Only their lowest aspects of existence are seen, who exist on supreme, mystical planes.
Hinduism. Rig Veda 3.54.5
Rig Veda 3.54.5: 'Who knows this?' cf. Rig Veda 10.129, p. 130.
Eye cannot see him, nor words reveal him; by the senses, austerity, or works he is not known. When the mind is cleansed by the grace of wisdom, he is seen by contemplation--the One without parts.
Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.8
The door of the Truth is covered by a golden disc. Open it, O Nourisher! Remove it so that I who have been worshipping the Truth may behold It.
O Nourisher, lone Traveller of the sky! Controller! O Sun, offspring of Prajapati! Gather Your rays; withdraw Your light. I would see, through Your grace, that form of Yours which is the fairest. He, that Person who dwells there--is I myself!
Hinduism. Isha Upanishad 15-16
He who looks inwardly at the self revels in the self; He who revels in the self looks inwardly at the self.
Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.173
The thing that is called Tao is eluding and vague. Vague and eluding, there is in it the form. Eluding and vague, in it are things. Deep and obscure, in it is the essence. The essence is very real; in it are evidences. From the time of old until now, its manifestations ever remain, By which we may see the beginnings of all things. How do I know that the beginnings of all things are so? Through this.
Taoism. Tao Te Ching 21
Confucius said, "The power of spiritual forces in the universe--how active it is everywhere! Invisible to the eyes and impalpable to the senses, it is inherent in all things, and nothing can escape its operation."
It is the fact that there are these forces which make men in all countries fast and purify themselves, and with solemnity of dress institute services of sacrifice and religious worship. Like the rush of mighty waters, the presence of unseen Powers is felt; sometimes above us, sometimes around us. In the Book of Songs it is said,
The presence of the Spirit: It cannot be surmised, How may it be ignored!
Such is the evidence of things invisible that it is impossible to doubt the spiritual nature of man.
Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 16
Isha Upanishad 15-16: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 15.9-11, p. 219; Milarepa, p. 587; 2 Corinthians 3.18, p. 587. Acarangasutra 2.173: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2, p. 530. Tao Te Ching 21: The word essence (ching) also means spirit, intelligence, life force. 'This' in the last line can mean through intuition.
There is, monks, a condition where there is neither the element of extension, the element of cohesion, the element of heat, nor the element of motion, nor the sphere of the infinity of space, nor the sphere of the infinity of consciousness, nor the sphere of nothingness, nor the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; neither this world, nor a world beyond, nor sun and moon.
There, monks, I say, there is neither coming nor going nor staying nor passing away nor arising. Without support or mobility or basis is it. This is indeed the end of suffering.
That which is Selfless, hard it is to see; Not easy is it to perceive the Truth. But who has ended craving utterly Has naught to cling to, he alone can see.
There is, monks, an unborn, a not-become, a not-made, a not-compounded. If, monks, there were not this unborn, not-become, not-made, not-compounded, there would not here be an escape from the born, the become, the made, the compounded. But because there is an unborn, a not-become, a not-made, a not-compounded, therefore there is an escape from the born, the become, the made, the compounded.
Buddhism. Udana 80, Pataligama
We shall show then Our signs on the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth.
Islam. Qur'an 41.53
For what can be known about God is plain to [all], because God has showed 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. So they are without excuse.
Christianity. Bible, Romans 1.19-20
Doctrine of the Mean 16: This also refers to evidences of a spiritual world; cf. 2 Corinthians 12.2-4, p. 322. Udana 80: The Buddha only describes this condition negatively; he refuses to speculate on the nature of Being itself. Cf. Diamond Sutra 29, p. 121; 21, p. 800; Majjhima Nikaya i.426-31, pp. 808f. But elsewhere he calls this unborn condition Nirvana; cf. Sutta Nipata 758, p. 124; Anguttara Nikaya v.322, p. 136. Mahayana Buddhism gives it a positive definition and calls it Suchness; cf. Lankavatara Sutra 83, p. 80; Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 31.1, p. 81.
The Book of Songs says,
The hawk soars to the heavens above; Fishes dive to the depths below.
That is to say, there is no place in the highest heavens above nor in the deepest waters below where the moral law is not to be found.
Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 12
Known by the name of Protectress is the Goddess girt by Eternal Law; by her beauty are these trees green and have put on their green garlands.
Hinduism. Atharva Veda 10.8.31
The deeds which I shall do and those which I have done ere now, And the things which are precious to the eye, through Good Mind, The light of the sun, the sparkling dawn of the days, All this is for your praise, O Wise Lord, as righteousness!
Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 50.10
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, neither is their voice heard; Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 19.1-4
It is God who splits the grain and the date-stone. He brings forth the living from the dead; He brings forth the dead too from the living.
So that then is God; then how are you perverted? He splits the sky into dawn, and has made the night for a repose, and the sun and moon for a reckoning.
That is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing. It is He who has appointed for you the stars, that by them you might be guided in the shadows of land and sea.
We have distinguished the signs for a people who know.
It is He who produced you from one living soul, and then a lodging place, and then a repository.
We have distinguished the signs for a people who understand. It is He who sent down out of heaven water, and thereby We have brought forth the shoot of every plant. And then We have brought forth the green leaf of it, bringing forth from it close-compounded grain, and out of the palm tree, from the spathe of it, dates thick-clustered, ready to the hand, and gardens of vines, olives, pomegranates, like each to each, and each unlike to each. Look upon their fruits when they fructify and ripen!
Surely, in all this are signs for a people who do believe.
Islam. Qur'an 6.95-99
And of His signs is that He created you from the dust; now behold you are human beings, ranging widely.
And of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses that you might find repose in them, and He has planted love and kindness in your hearts.
Surely there are signs in this for people who reflect.
And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the variety of your tongues and hues, surely there are signs in this for people who have knowledge. And of His signs is your slumber by night and day, and your seeking of His bounty.
Surely there are signs in this for people who hear. The lightning which He shows you for fear and hope is yet another of His signs; He sends down water from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after it is dead.
Surely in this there are signs for people who understand. And of His signs is that space and the earth stand firm by His command; then when He calls you, suddenly, from the earth you shall emerge.
Islam. Qur'an 30.20-25
Atharva Veda 10.8.31: Cf. Rig Veda 10.85.1, p. 150. On beauty as an attribute of God, cf. Rig Veda 5.82.5-7, p. 138. Yasna 50.10: Zarathustra is equating the beauty of nature and the revelation of God through his prophet--natural revelation and special revelation--as testifying equally to the glory of God. Psalm 19.1-4: There are slight differences in versification among the various Christian and Jewish Bibles. This anthology has adopted the versification of English-language Protestant Christian Bibles.
Qur'an 6.95-99 and 30.20-25: It is a cardinal doctrine of Islam that God's signs are to be found everywhere. Recognizing God as the source of these bounties, humans should be thankful; cf. Qur'an 16.10-18, p. 141; 55.5-30, pp. 128f. In the opening verse, 'splits the grain...' refers to sprouting and new life. Verse 22 grounds the equality of the races in their common source as God's creatures; cf. Qur'an 35.27-28, p. 282.
For each and every form He is the Model; it is His form that is to be seen everywhere; Indra moves multiform by His creative charm; the bay steeds yoked to His car are a thousand.
Hinduism. Rig Veda 6.47.18
All things are made to bear record of Me, both things which are temporal and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of Me.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6.63
Praise be God, Who knows the secrets of all things and proofs of Whose existence shine in various phases of nature. No physical eye has and will ever see Him. But those who have not seen Him physically cannot deny His existence, yet the minds of those who have accepted His existence cannot grasp the real essence of Divine Nature. His place is so high that nothing can be imagined higher. He is so near to us that nothing can be nearer. The eminence of His position has not placed Him any further away from His creatures, and His nearness has not brought them on a par with Him. He has not permitted the human mind to grasp the essence of His Being, yet He has not prevented them from realizing His presence. Various aspects of the universe force even atheists to accept Him [as its Grand Architect], yet He is so far above the conceptions of those who refuse His existence, and also of those who imagine His attributes in various expressions of nature.
Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 54
No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.
Christianity. Bible, John 1.18
When Abraham saw the sun issuing in the morning from the east, he was first moved to think that that was God, and said, "This is the King that created me," and worshipped it the whole day. In the evening when the sun went down and the moon commenced to shine, he said, "Verily this rules over the orb which I worshipped the whole day, since the latter is darkened before it and does not shine any more." So he served the moon all that night. In the morning when he saw the darkness depart and the east grow light, he said, "Of a surety there is a King who rules over all these orbs and orders them."
Judaism. Zohar, Genesis 86a
So also did We show Abraham the power and the laws of the heavens and the earth, that he might have certitude. When the night covered him over, he saw a star; he said, "This is my Lord." But when it set, he said, "I love not those that set." When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said, "This is my Lord," but when the moon set, he said, "Unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray." When he saw the sun rising in splendor, he said, "This is my Lord; this is the greatest of all," but when the sun set, he said, "O my people! I am indeed free from your [error] of ascribing partners to God. For me, I have set my face firmly and truly towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I ascribe partners to God."
Islam. Qur'an 6.75-79
John 1.18: For Christianity, the book of nature and a person's own spiritual experience give only partial knowledge of Ultimate Reality. Only through the special revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the fulness of God's nature made manifest in the world. Cf. John 14.6, p. 629, and comparable passages; Lotus Sutra 2, p. 154. Zohar, Genesis 86a: Cf. Genesis Rabbah 39.1, p. 593.
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