By Ajit Krishna Dasa
Theists cannot prove the existence of spirit. We only have experience with matter.
On atheism we cannot account for the existence of an external world outside of our consciousness (the well known “Problem of the External World”). A proof of the existence of matter, therefore, does not exist.
On the other hand we cannot deny the existence of consciousness. That would be self-refuting since it takes consciousness to deny consciousness. Therefore, consciousness is, on atheism, the only thing we know exists.
Some atheists present a “counter argument” along these lines:
It is not proven, on atheism, that consciousness is spiritual, or non-material. It might be made of matter. If that is the case, and if the external world does not exist, but only consciousness, then everything is matter.
However, the point remains: on atheism we simply cannot know; it might be one or the other. Therefore atheism still cannot prove the existence of matter. And it cannot deny the existence of consciousness. If the atheist chooses to believe in the existence of matter, and not in the existence of spirit, then his choice is arbitrary, a matter of faith, not rationality. And simply reveals his own prejudices and wishful thinking. This basically means that Materialism/Naturalism is a bankrupt, self-refuting philosophy.
Theism Can Prove the Existence of Matter
On theism we can account for both the existence of spirit and matter. Such a theistic proof is ultimately based on knowledge from a perfect source, God. As theists we have a revelational epistemology. The Almighty and All-knowing God makes it known through the Vedic scriptures that both spirit and matter exist, and that we have the epistemic tools to experience both and distinguish them from each other.