This page has been linked from the Arguments for the existence of God page.
This is an argument that is meant to help prove the existence of God based on the fact that many people claim to have seen, heard or felt God's influence in their lives.
Explanation of the argument
In general, testimony of an event never offers formal proof that it occurred, but is often used to determine whether or not it did. In fact, the statements of witnesses are often considered to be extremely important in the United States Judicary system for a vast variety of cases. In the context of theism, this is on par with several other arguments that theists claim to prove their various points if "taken on faith."
Followers of the scientific method will be reluctant to accept eyewitness accounts as good evidence for the existence of God. All such "sightings" of God can be argued to be a results of a specific mental state: "sightings" of God are much more common as hallucinations, and much more common to those who are predisposed to believe that God exists and manifests Himself on Earth.
Has anyone seen, heard or experienced God? - a theist's view
Since the beginning of humankind, many people claim to have walked and talked with God. Some have seen Him, and others have heard His voice. Still others have experienced His love, and felt His power.
Although some people may claim to have seen God due to hallucinations or delusions, this is not always the case. There are many sober-minded individuals who have in some way or another, come into contact with God. Generally, (but not always) God manifests Himself unto those who seek Him in humility and in faith, and purify themselves before Him (Matthew 5:8) Because most people are not pure enough to stand in God's presence, God has provided a way for the general public to come to know about God.
One common way for people to learn about God in a personal way, is by daily personal prayer. But because it is hard to pray to a God whom few have been in contact with, God has provided another way to learn about Him. God chooses special witnesses called Prophets who often see and speak directly with God to learn about Him and His divine will. Prophets are given the authority and responsibility to speak in God's behalf so that the general public may come to know who God is, and learn His teachings for them. But God does not want His children to be deceived by false prophets because this could lead to danger and chaos. Therefore He asks His children to pray and ask in faith and sincerity about whether a prophet, messenger, book or idea is really sent by God or not. God will always lead His children to the truth if they will ask Him specific questions through prayer, believing that they will actually receive an answer. Many have received answers from God in this fashion.
True Prophets who have seen and spoken with God often write their experiences and teachings down, and are considered sacred. Some of these writings have been collected and compiled into a book known as the Bible. The bible is a common way for people to learn about God and experience His influence in their lives.
Biblical instances of interaction with God
Proof that many individuals have actually seen and conversed with God can be found all around the world in public and private records. Only some of the proof from the more commonly known records, the Old Testament, and the New Testament will be quoted below:
Adam and his wife, Eve "... heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of God amongst the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:8)
Jacob exlaims, "... I have seen God face to face..." (Genesis 32:30)
"And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty..." (Exodus 5:6)
Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Adihu and seventy others "... saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone..." (Exodus 24:9-10)
"And the Lord (God) spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." (Exodus 33:11)
"And Enoch walked with God..." (Genesis 5:24)
Stephen "...saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56)
John the Revelator wrote, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore..." (Revelation 1:17-18)
Other books, quotes and records
An ancient prophet known as 'the brother of Jared' (~2000 BC) saw God. He first saw his finger while speaking with Him, and fell to the ground in fear, exclaiming, "I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood." The record continues, "And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this? And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me. And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak? And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie. And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you. Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters." (Ether 6-14, The Book of Mormon)
A young Christian boy named Joseph Smith was confused about religion and didn't know which church to join. One day, he read in James 1:5 that he could ask God for wisdom if he lacked it, and so he went to a forest to pray and ask God which church he should join. He wrote of his experience with God as follows: "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself adelivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I bsaw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other?This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Joseph Smith History 1:16-17)
Quote from www.about.com
More than a century ago an adolescent boy of Calcutta, Narendra Nath Dutta was obsessed with the idea of seeing God. He was firmly grounded in the works of occidental philosophers, but none could fulfil his cherished aspiration. His search took him to the ghats of Ganges where atop an anchored barge sat the leader of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore, a Guru in spiritual matters, father of the poet Tagore. But the 'Great Seer' was taken aback by Narendra's question - 'Sir, have you seen God?' - and tried to assuage him by saying that his eyes resembled that of a yogi, and that he should spiritually prosper by meditation.
Disappointed and desperate the young man one day, along with his friends, went to meet Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a somewhat eccentric priest of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar in Calcutta. At the first opportunity Narendra put him the same question - "Sir, have you seen God?" But this practically illiterate priest, unlike the erudite Maharshi, replied in rural dialect without mincing words - "Yes, I have seen God. I have seen Him more tangibly than I see you. I have talked with him more intimately than I am talking to you. But my child, who wants to see God! People shed jugs of tears for money, wife and children. But if they weep for God for only one day they would surely see Him."