Does God Really Exist?
In our postmodern culture, the attitude toward belief has changed drastically from the traditional view that has been held throughout the ages. A desire to discover the reason behind belief is often greeted with confusion, incredulity, or even hostility. Truth has come to be a meaningless word, for truth is supposed to be relative. Everyone's "truth" is equally valid. No belief has any greater truth or validity than another. With this view on truth, it is logical to ask why we need care about the reasons behind belief. Reason is dependent on objective truth, and therefore, with the rejection of objective truth, reason has also been thrown out.
With this mindset, the act of belief has been glorified, while the grounds and basis for these beliefs is ignored or scoffed, cast aside into the dust. Thus, it really doesn't matter what you believe. You can form your own truths without worrying about the reasons behind your belief. The fundamental problem is that if the basis for belief is taken away, then beliefs themselves quickly fall away. Only the one who has forsaken belief can honestly assert that the reasons behind belief do not matter. Indeed, no one can honestly assert that beliefs are meaningless, for even the one who asserts this holds quite strongly to the belief that their belief is the correct view.
Nevertheless, many in today's culture have been brainwashed into believing that beliefs do not have any significance. I urge you to cast aside such nonsensical ideas as we explore the teachings of what is possibly the largest religion in the world: Christianity. We will inspect the beliefs of orthodox Christianity, carefully examining the reason behind each dogma in order to test whether Christianity is in fact true.
Perhaps the fundamental belief of orthodox Christianity is its belief in a Higher Power, a God who has created "all things" (Colossians 1:16). As A.W. Tozer, a prominent Christian Theologian once wrote, "What we believe about God is the most important thing about us." Thus, we will begin our examination of Christian doctrine with this paramount belief in the existence of God.
That this belief is grounded in their accepted Scripture is clear, for in the very first verse of the Bible, we come across this God: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
The question we must ask then is whether this belief is rational. is the Christian's belief in God a blind faith, unsupported by any evidence as many would have us believe? or is there reason to believe in a supernatural being who has created "the heavens and the earth"? According to the Scriptures, the evidence for God is so manifest that men "are without excuse in their unbelief: "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). But is this the case? The Scriptures tell us, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard" (Psalm 19:1-5). But is the evidence really that evident?
As we seek to discover the rationality of a belief in the existence of God, we will examine three major arguments for God. After this, we will decide whether Christian belief in God is rational belief, or blind faith.
The first of these arguments that we will examine is commonly called the cosmological argument. Proponents of this argument search into the origin of our universe. As they look at the universe, they wonder about its origins. Where did this universe in which we live come from?
For centuries, the answer to this question had been that the universe is eternal, and therefore needed no cause. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that the universe had always existed. But as we look at this assumption in light of modern research,we find two fundamental flaws in this thinking.
The first of these is a logical flaw. For the universe to be eternal, there would, of necessity, be an infinite number of past events, an infinite number of past days, years, minutes, seconds, weeks, and months. The problem with this is found when we realize that an actual infinity cannot exist, for an infinite number leads to contradictions. Simply ask yourself, "What is infinity minus one?" The answer is infinity. What is infinity plus one? Again, the answer is infinity. As we can see from this, it is impossible to add or subtract a finite number, no matter how great, from infinity.
But if there is an infinite past, and therefore an infinite length of time in the past, how can time continue to progress? How can finite numbers of days, hours, minutes, seconds, weeks, months, and years be added to an infinite amount of time? The amount of time in our past is constantly growing. How then can it be infinite? For infinity simply is. It cannot become, nor can it progress. Yet our universe is in just such a state. It is is becoming and progressing. But this is impossible if the universe is eternal.
We can perhaps gain a better grasp of this when we look at the example of the second law of thermodynamics. This law, which claims that all things are in a continual state of decay, demonstrates that the universe is proceeding from a state of order to a state of disorder and that this deterioration is continual. Logic, as we have found, demands that the past of this deterioration cannot be eternal. If we were to go back through time, we would see the universe moving from disorder to order. Yet eventually, we would reach a point at which we had reached the greatest order possible. We would then be forced to assume that this point was the beginning of the universe.
As we can see then, the universe is in a state of progression, or rather digression It is moving from one point to another. yet infinity cannot become or progress, and neither can it digress Therefore, we must assume that the universe had a beginning.
Yet, as though this were not enough to prove that the universe is finite, we now have many scientific discoveries which lend support to the claim that the past of the universe is finite. For example, Einstein's theories of relativity, when applied to the universe as a whole, predict that the universe is in a state of continuous, rapid expansion. This prediction has been confirmed by the observation of Edwin Hubble. Now, if the universe is in a state of rapid expansion, then, at one point in time, we would find it condensed to an infinitesimal point from which the universe began. Before this, there could only be nothing. Thus, we are faced with the reality that the universe has a finite past, and therefore, a beginning. As Lincoln Barnett writes, "The inescapable inference is that everything had a beginning: somehow and sometime the cosmic processes were started...the whole vast pageant of the universe brought into being."
This leads to a fundamental problem for the atheist. The law of causation demands that, for there to be an effect, there must also be a cause. So long as the universe, was supposed to be eternal, this posed no problem to the atheist. However, if the universe had a beginning, then suddenly, the need for a cause to explain its existence arises. It cannot have come from nothing. As the Latin puts it, ex nihilo, nihil fit: from nothing, nothing comes. If God does not exist, then this is exactly what happened: nothing came together with nothing and made everything! There was nothing...and then there was something! Does it not seem far more reasonable to affirm that there is a God who created all things? As we look at the universe around us and wonder as to its origins, we find that a Creator God is the only rational explanation.
As men have observed and studied the world around them, yet another thing has been noticed by them. They have noticed an astonishing appearance of design throughout the universe. It is as thought the universe has been fine-tuned to support life.
To explain what is meant by the "fine-tuning" of the universe, let's look at a few examples. One example that can be found is in the "weak" force. The force, one of the four fundamental forces, operates inside the nucleus of an atom. If this force were changed by one part in ten to the hundredth power, would result in a life-prohibiting universe. When we consider the fact that the number of subatomic particles in the entire universe is merely 10 to the 80th power, we can begin to have an idea of just how fine-tuned this force is. Indeed, it is more probable that you could fire a bullet towards the other side of the universe (a distance of 20,000,000,000 light years) and hit a target one inch in diameter on the first shot, than for the "weak" force to have a value that would enable it to support life.
Yet this is only one of many such cases. The gravitational force, for example, is so accurate that if changed by one part in 10 to the 40th power, or one in ten thousand billion billion billion, creatures anywhere near the size of humans would be unable to survive. With all the possible strengths the gravitational force could have had, the chances of it falling in just the right value to support life are small indeed.
I will close with just one further example. This is the example of the cosmological constant, which drives the acceleration of the universe's expansion. If this constant were changed by as little as one part in ten to the hundred and twentieth power, that is, one followed by one hundred and twenty zeroes, our universe would be unable to sustain life. These that we have examined, the "weak" force, the gravitational force, and the cosmological constant, are just a few of the numerous parameters that are astonishingly well balanced to allow life on earth. When taken all together, they demonstrate the inconceivable accuracy of the constants and forces of our universe for the supporting of life.
The question that must be asked is how this accuracy came about. Are these precise quantities the result of chance? Did some law outside of our universe demand that they exist as they do? If the latter, we are still faced with the same quandary as before: what caused this constant, which determines the value of the constants of nature, to be such that it causes all of these constants to possess the values that they do? There is absolutely no reason that we know of for there to be a life-permitting universe. And yet, this is what we find. Thus, it seems that belief in the existence of an intelligent Creator God is the most plausible stance.
As we look out at creation, all we see cries out that there is a God! How true the words of Romans 1:20: "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." There is no excuse for unbelief as we have seen from these two compelling arguments for God.
Yet, perhaps the best argument for the existence of God is found when we turn from the outside world and look inward. When we examine ourselves, we find that we have this strange idea that certain acts are intrinsically good and others are inherently bad. It is not that we personally like some acts while others displease us. Rather, all men seem to have this sense that some things are objectively moral while others are objectively immoral. No one smiles on child abuse, nor do any applaud murder. These things are clearly wrong. If we were to come across anyone who considered the torturing of innocent children or the pointless killing of a man as innately good, we would think that something was seriously wrong with him.
In the same way, if we were to come upon a man who considered love or kindness to be inherently evil, we would think him quite strange, in fact, we would most likely be under the impression that he suffered from some terrible mutation. We all seem to recognize (at least inwardly) that certain things are intrinsically wrong while others are intrinsically right. It is as though we have some sense which tells us, "this is good and ought to be desired" or "that is evil and ought to be abhorred."
But where did this sense come from? Why is it that some things are simply good in themselves while others are evil? The typical response of the atheist is that these objective moral truths are simply illusions, mere preferences, chosen for the sole reason that they are beneficial to society. But two questions immediately arise. First, why, if morals are a matter of preference, is there such similarity in the morals of different societies?
However, it is the second question that poses the real problem. Why ought we to seek the good of society? The atheist's response is that whatever benefits society benefits the individual. Therefore, each individual, in order to benefit himself, seeks to benefit society. But this leads to two problems. The first of these is the problem of sacrifice. We often find that men will sacrifice much of their personal well-being in order to benefit society. But these men are praised as being more moral than any of the others. We admire self-sacrifice, and often, we find that self-sacrifice is necessary to benefit society. Thus, what benefits society does not necessarily benefit the individual. So why should we seek to benefit society? The only answer that can be given now is "because it is the right thing to do."
Yet now we find that we are back where we began. Why is it good to benefit society? Since this question clearly cannot be answered, we arrive back at the original question: Why is it that some things are inherently good, and others inherently evil?
The atheist, attempting to slip out of the trap can offer only one other possibility. This answer was first postulated by Plato. Plato believed that these objective moral truths exist independently of the natural world. In other words, these moral truths simply are. They exist without any foundation. But this doesn't solve any problems, instead, entangling us in deeper quandaries.
For if moral values exist independently, then moral vices must also exist without any foundation. But if this is the case, then why is it that one set of values has been established as universally good, while the other is universally accepted to be bad? Why is it that moral values are good and moral vices are bad? Logically, if both moral values and moral vices exist independently, then neither is truly good or bad. Therefore, we still have not explained why moral values are inherently good.
The only valid explanation of this quandary is God. God is the cause of moral values. Moral values are those things that conform to His character. He is a righteous God, and He has created us with a sense that distinguishes between those things that are inherently right and those things that are inherently wrong. The God who has created the universe, fine-tuning it to support life, has instilled in us a sense of morality, which reflects His character. It is the only explanation that makes sense of the facts.
Many today would have it held that the Christian's belief in God is based entirely on faith without reason, and yet, as we have found, all of creation cries out: there is a God! The evidence is such that it is manifest to all men that there is a God. Thus it is that the Psalmist writes that it is only "the fool" who "says in his heart, 'there is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).
However, despite this, it is impossible to scientifically prove that God exists since He can neither be seen nor touched. Therefore, the Christian's belief in God must rely on faith. Nevertheless, this does not in any way lessen or subtract from the rationality of such belief, for faith is not a blind belief, as many claim. Rather, it is a rational confidence in that of which one has been convinced. As Josh McDowell writes, "Faith does not, however, mean a leap in the dark, an irrational credulity, a believing against evidences and against reason. It means believing in the lieght of historical facts, consistent with evidences, on the basis of witnesses." The Christian's belief in God is far from irrational. Rather, as we have seen, this belief is the most rational belief, so that men "are without excuse."