I have argued with some Pandits as a non believer, even though I believe. This is called Purva paksha. What I personally have learned is, there is no logical argument to prove God. If anyone thinks they have it, let them try to debate with me.
First of all Vedanta doesn't agree with logical statements to prove God, as Brahma Sutras say
Brahman is realisable only
through the scriptures.
The scripture being the source of right knowledge
Shri Adi Shankaracharya in his bhashya clearly says:
The scriptures illumine all things like a search light. Scripture is
the source or the means of right knowledge through which you have a
comprehensive understanding of the nature of Brahman. Srutis furnish
information about what is not known from other sources. It cannot be
known by other means of knowledge independently of the Srutis. Brahman
is formless, colourless, attributeless. Hence it cannot be grasped by
the senses by direct perception. You can infer the existence of fire
by its accompanying smoke but Brahman cannot be established by
inference or analogy, because it is attributeless and there cannot
be a second thing which is similar to Brahman. Brahman is Infinite and
secondless. He who is ignorant of the Srutis cannot know that Supreme
Being. There are other means of knowledge also which have got a place
but they are not independent. They supplement after Brahman is
established by the Srutis.
So Vedantin Hindus they themselves agree that God cannot proved by any logical argument. So the traditional method of arguing is to establish testimonial proof or Shabdha Pramana. But then any one can use their scriptures to establish their religion.
So then Vedantins go a step further and say that in supernatural truths like God, Soul etc we cannot trust the words of normal people as they can be corrupt, lying or misunderstood or just mad. Therefore in matters concerning super natural stuff we need source which is error free, but such a source cannot be humans, then Vedantins establish the Apaurusheyatva of Vedas, saying Vedas are eternal and were never composed by humans or anyone, instead it was revealed to them. The difference between this and other religion is, even though other religions also have revelation, the revelation is in terms of vision or some Angel telling message from God, but here the revelation is the Vedas themselves, the Vedic mantras themselves were revealed. The Rishis directly saw the mantras, no one composed them.
Vedantins also then establish Swatah Pramanya of Vedas. You may ask, just because some thing is not composed by humans, how do you know that it is error free? The Vedantins reply, any statement is valid or error free by default and it needs to proved to be invalid. This means the validity of proof of anything is defaut. Only on proving something false it becomes invalid. This makes the Apaurusheya Vedas error free and valid. Now because the error free infallible Vedas say there is a God and Soul therefore there is God and soul. This is the traditional proof.
My humble opinion is that the Apaurusheyatva Vedas of cannot be proved like this, especially in face of modern science. The traditional proof according to me doesn't prove the Apaurusheya of Vedas or validity. Because you need to trust that the Rishis really saw the Vedas revealed to them and were not lying or were hallucinating. So this proof doesn't work. The other proof of eternal tradition used by Purva Mimsakas saying, Vedas were always known to humans through eternal tradition of Guru Shishya parampara of humans, is also invalid as we know today that Earth came into existence and was not eternal and humans also were not eternal, they also came into existence around 300,000 years ago. To argue agaisnt this is to argue against high school science of biology.
So, now what do we do? There are two ways.
- Faith: Not blind faith, but educated faith in the words of Rishis. Faith which doesn't contradict reason and science but gives us extra information which reason and science cannot give. We need faith in our ancestors and Rishis. This what is said in Vivekachudamani.
शास्त्रस्य गुरुवाक्यस्य सत्यबुद्ध्यवधारणम् ।
सा श्रद्धा कथिता
सद्भिर्यया वस्तूपलभ्यते ॥ २५ ॥
śāstrasya guruvākyasya satyabuddhyavadhāraṇam |
sā śraddhā kathitā sadbhiryayā vastūpalabhyate || 25 ||
- Acceptance by firm judgment as true of what the Scriptures and the Guru instruct, is called by sages Śraddhā or faith, by means of which
the Reality is perceived
- Experiential approach: This is the path if the seeker. Rishis have said about certain spiritual truths, which are not in our current experience. But the Rishis didn't simply say something out of our reach, they also gace methods as to gow to realise it. Let's say you find a sciecne book which says if you boil water t becomes steam, which you have never seen. So you can either believe this book or disbelieve this book, both are wrong. Instead go and boil some water and see for your self what happens. This is the path of the seeker. Believing in the book is the path of the devotee and Theist. Disbelieving the book is the path of Athesit. To be seeker is superior to both.
In the fantastic Introduction of the famous Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda starts with these amazing statements.
ALL our knowledge is based upon experience. What we call inferential
knowledge, in which we go from the less general to the more general,
or from the general to the particular, has experience as its basis.
In what are called the exact sciences, people easily find the truth,
because it appeals to the particular experience of every human being.
The scientist does not tell you to believe in anything, but he has
certain results which come from his own experiences, and reasoning on
those experiences, when he asks us to believe in his conclusions, he
appeals to some universal experience of humanity.
What right has a man to say he has a soul if he does not feel it, or
that there is a God if he does not see Him? If there is a God we must
see Him, if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is
better not to believe. It is better to be an outspoke atheist than a
hypocrite. The modern idea, on the one hand, with the “learned,” is
that religion and metaphysics, and all search after a Supreme Being,
is futile; on the other hand, with the semi-educated, the idea seems
to be that these things really have no basis, that their only value
consists in the fact that they are strong motive powers for doing good
to the world. If men believe in a God, they may become good, and
moral, and so make good citizens. We cannot blame them for holding
such ideas, seeing that all the teaching these men get is simply to
believe in an eternal rigmarole of words, without any substance behind
them. They are asked to live upon words; can they do it? If they
could, I should not have the least regard for human nature. Man wants
truth, wants to experience truth for himself, to grasp it, to realise
it, to feel it wihtin his heart of hearts; then alone, declare the
Vedas, will all doubts vanish, all darkness be scattered, and all
crookedness be made straight.
The science of Raja Yoga proposes to put before humanity a practical
and scientifically worked-out method of reaching this truth.
Contemporary Mystic Sadhguru says the same thing in a concise way.
Q: What if one is an atheist and doesn’t believe in anything in
Sadhguru: Atheists and theists are not two different kinds of people.
Both believe something that they do not know. Both have neither the
courage nor commitment to seek what is true. They want to assume
something. Depending upon what kind of culture they have been brought
up in, one seems like a positive assumption, the other seems negative.
They don’t know reality in anyway.
Instead of being a theist or an atheist, if you are straight enough to
tell yourself, “What I know, I know, what I do not know, I do not
know,” the very nature of human existence is such that you will want
to know, you will strive to know, you will seek to know – and you will