How can you be certain God exists if you might be wrong?

I received a question from someone asking how we can know that God exists when it is always possible that we are wrong.  Since we are reasonable in thinking that we might be wrong, how can we know we are right?

My response is below:

You raise a great question that comes up very frequently.  You may be interested to know that it is addressed in technical detail in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview in the chapters on skepticism.

When we ask how we can have “certainty” regarding a matter (whether that be God’s existence or any other fact), we are asking how we can know to such a degree that it is impossible we could be wrong.  This seems to put too high a bar for justification.  Why should we not merely know that something is more probably true than not, and therefore be rational for affirming it?

The epistemological task seems to be that we should maximize the number of truths that we affirm and minimize the number of falsehoods that we affirm.  If we require absolute certainty before we admit a claim into knowledge, then we will fail in half of that task (maximizing the number of truths that we affirm).  Thus the requirement of certainty seems to fail on epistemological grounds because, as you have pointed out, it leads to utter skepticism.

If it is more probable that “A” is true rather than “not A”, then it seems we are rational in affirming “A” and rejecting “not A”.  The mere possibility that we might be wrong in what we do affirm is no reason to think that we are in fact wrong when we affirm it.

Sincerely,
Matt Bilyeu


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