Christianity: Is it a sin to try and prove god?

OK. I’m not the least bit religious. But I did attend Sunday School as a lad, and I’m pretty sure that I was taught about the importance of faith, that one believed because of faith, and that faith was very important.

But in one’s travels, one will meet all manner of Christians who try to prove god, prove a creator, prove intelligent design, etc. It seems to me that this is the very opposite of faith.

Is that sinful? I’m interested in both factual answers (ie, some Catholic proclamation that would factually determine this from their perspective) and members’ personal opinions.

Didn’t the iconic Doubting Thomas get sainted?

To have faith, as I understand it, and as you appear to be using here, means “to accept and believe without knowing from firsthand experience or evidence”. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

The thing you’d end up having faith in is “the word of some other fallible mortal person”. Why would you want to take someone else’s word about something so important?

If what you have to go on is not merely “someone else’s word” but is — in some sense — direct communication from God, then you aren’t taking it on faith, you’ve been told by an incontrovertible authority, which is as “proof” as anything ever could be, isn’t it? Whereas if you yourself don’t know the communication came from God except insofar as some other person told you so, you’re back to having faith in some other fallible mortal person.

I don’t identify as Christian but I do identify as theistic.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen

If you have proof - you don’t need ‘faith’. (biblical faith - Hebrews 11:1, 11:6, etc).

If you have faith - you don’t need proof - since its very definition requires none.

It’s meant to keep the followers from questioning things they simply cannot know. Look at all the rewards you get if you just have enough ‘faith’ (the size of a mustard seed will move a mountain, if you can’t walk on water, its because you don’t have enough faith, etc and so on.)

The thing about trying to prove things that require ‘faith’ - is that it ends up with you questioning the basis of your faith and realizing the nonsense of it - which then becomes the sin (in others eyes) when you decide it was in vain or when you become a hypocrite of believing one way but professing another.

Only a very small minority of Christians would claim that it is sinful to use reason to try to understand God and God’s works.

But most Christians would agree that it is impossble to completely understand and prove everything about God strictly by means of human reason, nor that one should only believe in what can be logically or scientifically proven.

You may be interested in what Thomas Aquinas had to say about “proving God.”

Wasting your time is its own kind of sin.

I’ll add that Christians differ over whether or not it is possible to prove the existence of God. Some accept at least one of the arguments for the existence of God as valid and convincing. Others think that all such arguments are flawed, but they take the existence of God on faith, or they believe based on their own experience and/or the testimony of others.

But what Christians believe about God goes far beyond God’s mere existence, so even if it is possible to prove the existence of God, there’s still plenty of room for faith.

No, not really. My sister claims to hear (or to have heard) the voice of – God? Jesus? not sure – clearly in her head, which was the cause of her born-again conversion a number of years ago. She is surely taking on faith that a voice in her head is not something generated by her own brain activity but instead a communication from the giant sky fairy. Part of rationality is to consider context, reality, and probabilities. This she did not do, she jumped on the faith wagon with both feet. She is, in my opinion, a credulous dodo.

To the OP, I would bet that most religions are opposed to rational thinking about the underpinnings of their faith precisely because it can lead people away.

You guys are a just a colony of sea lions hoping for a fish to swim by. No thanks.

By the way the straightforward answer to the ostensible question is: no, it isn’t, not in any mainstream Christian school of thought.

Very good point. I accept your correction.

I had a discussion with a man that is a true believer of a god and everything the church stands for. He called me the worst kind of sinner, a non believer of anything the church stands for. I gave him my examples of what I consider sin. Raping young boys for sexual gratification and hiding behind the church to avoid prosecution. Taking confessions from murderers and rapists but refusing to involve the police and hiding behind the confessional. Building grand palaces as a place to worship and avoiding taxes in the name of a god while their neighbors of the church have their taxes raised to pay for a for the road upgrades the church demanded because of the narrow 2 lane road wasn’t big enough. The church sued the city to not have to pay the cost of the road improvements because they considered it a tax. They convinced a judge to agree with this. Told him there will be a lot of believers joining me in hell.

My general take on sin is: it’s never a sin if you learned from it. It’s sort of a quantum argument that actions are both sinful and non-sinful at the same time, and the parable that is commonly called the prodigal son I believe speaks to this. The son basically separated himself from the family and father, this is sin and what I feel we all are doing here in this world for a time, but that sin is what the son needed to realize that he was always and will always be part of the family thus it never was a sin and the time away was just a learning process that was permitted by the father.

So in our christian walk, what we don’t get right the Father uses to try to teach us, as we are God’s child and thus the responsibility of raising the child falls entirely on the parent who is the perfect Father God who does not make mistakes. This is what I take as believing in salvation, we can’t lose it because it’s God’s responsibility.

So with that said, I will rephrase the question: is it a ‘quantum’ sin to try to prove God? I’d say generally no, as God challenges us to seek His face, and offers the promise that those who seek will find. The seeking is our part, the finding is God’s part and promise. That seeking can take many forms, it is the start of the journey for many and does not necessarily start with church or christianity, IMHO does end finding God and also finding God in this world in human flesh and form aka using a christian perspective finding Jesus.

But since sin is of the heart, the above is not hard and fast and it could be still be (quantum) sin, if this becomes a consuming task that overshadows all else. Such a sin is not a sin that leads to death however.

Also in the bible and today you have those who have believed by faith, but also those who have believed by proof, where God make it unquestionable that He exists. The more blessed are the group that believe on faith. I believe I am one of those who have believed by proof, and what I have learned is God in general doesn’t want us to mass prove Him, but He is willing to prove himself to some, but the proof He gives is really not sharable as proof, just witnessing.

That is specifically about placing oneself in front of a train and determining to stay there so God saves you. That’s not how it works, as that places you in control over God. You can not force God’s hand. It would be the wrong lesson to learn, we are the student, God the teacher. God determines how we will learn and will not give in to such demands of the student.

But there are lots of examples where God asks us to test Him, and cases where he does respond to our requests such as:

Mal 3:10-12 Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty , "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.*

And there is the story of Gideon in Judges 6,7 where he asks for a sign of finding a wet cloth on dry ground then reverses the request the next morning also receiving it.

Matthew 22:34-40
34 Now when the Pharisees[a] heard that he had silenced the Sadducees,[b] they assembled together.[c] 35 And one of them, an expert in religious law,[d] asked him a question to test[e] him: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”[f] 37 Jesus[g] said to him, “‘Love [h] the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[i] 38 This is the first and greatest[j] commandment. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[k] 40 All the law and the prophets depend[l] on these two commandments.”

To determine what is a sin or not, ask yourself: does this action further my love for God and others?

What does proof of God do for anyone? God has no need for proof. Neither does God expect any one else to have proof–our commandment is to love. Is it possible that a proof might encourage someone to love? Perhaps, but I think the best way to encourage love to practice it.

I can only speak to Christianity (though I understand that Judaism has a long tradition of intellectual argument over religious matters). Within Christianity there are plenty of people and institutions who actively engage in and promote “rational thinking about the underpinnings of their faith.” And, yes, there are strong anti-intellectual strains as well.

A couple of other points:

It’s just a fact that lots of people aren’t particularly rational. Any religion that’s going to be broadly successful is going to have to appeal to people at a non-rational level (not necessarily instead of, but in addition to, a rational level).

Plenty of Christians genuinely believe in Christianity’s claims, and, as such, they are not afraid to investigate those claims rationally nor to let others do the same. Wouldn’t it betray a lack of faith to be scared of looking too closely?

I’ve not seen anyone claim that trying to prove God is sinful, in fact I’ve seen lots of attempts by believers to do exactly that.
I’ve mostly seen the claim that the reason that God has not given us evidence of his existence now (not 2.000 years ago or more) is that this kind of proof would somehow remove our free will to believe or not. But the Exodus story contradicts that pretty nicely.

I don’t think it’s a sin for a Christian to try and prove God exists, but if you have true faith, proof is unnecessary, and not finding any “proof” doesn’t mean anything. I’ve often heard Christians use “God works in mysterious ways” in any discussion about whether one can prove God exists or not.

People can easily slip between the rational and irrational world. When someone they know is sick they will ardently pray for them. There is no rational reason to believe that wishing for something to happen, or asking an invisible being to make something happen, will make a difference, but they have been told that it will and do it anyway.

Those same people take advantage of everything modern medicine has to offer. Medical treatments that have been rigorously tested and proven to work. I think people must pray because it gives them a way to “help” which makes them feel better about themselves, and because it can’t possibly hurt. Totally irrational behavior in a rational world.

Interesting conversation. So those years in Sunday School must have been for naught, as I came away believing that faith was an obligation, and that trying to prove god would be undermining that obligation, and thus sinful.

No, but it’s a waste of time trying.