| A (Not So) Brief Defense of Christianity |
- Is is Reasonable to Believe that God Exists?
Survival Course Manual
A (Not So) Brief Defense of Christianity
II. "Is it reasonable to believe that God exists?"
Theism is a reasonable idea. Theologians
have traditionally used several philosophical proofs in arguing for
the existence of God. These arguments are not always persuasive,
but that probably says as much about us as it does about the
arguments. People most often reject God for reasons other than
logic. These arguments, however, do provide insights that, while
not PROVING the existence of God, do provide insights that may be
used to show EVIDENCE of His existence.
- The Cosmological Argument
The cosmological argument is
quite similar to one that the Bible uses in Psalm 19, Psalm 8, and
Romans 1. The existence of the "cosmos," the creation, strongly
suggests the existence of a Creator. Central to this argument is
the following proposition: If anything now exists, something must
be eternal. Otherwise, something not eternal must have emerged from
If something exists right now, it must
have come from something else, come from nothing, or always
existed. If it came from something else, then that something else
must have come from nothing, always existed, or come from something
else itself. Ultimately, either something has always existed, or at
some point something came into being from nothing.
Someone may argue that it is possible
that nothing now exists. That is both absurd and self-defeating,
because someone must personally exist in order to make the
statement that nothing exists. Therefore it is undeniable that we
ourselves exist. Therefore, if I exist, then something must be
If something is eternal, it is then
either an eternal being or an eternal universe. Scientific evidence
strongly suggests that the universe is not eternal, but that it had
a beginning. In addition, if the non-personal universe is that
which is eternal, one must explain the presence of personal
creatures within that universe. How does personal come from non-personal?
If something is eternal and personal while the universe
is finite and non-personal, then there must be an eternal
If there is an eternal being, that being
must by definition have certain characteristics. He must have
always existed, and he must be the ultimate cause of all that we
can see. He must possess infinite knowledge, or else he himself
would be limited, not eternal. Similarly, he must possess infinite
power and an unchanging nature. We do not have to go very far with
these arguments to realize that we are describing the God of the
One of the questions asked most
frequently concerning this cosmological argument is, "Where did God
come from?" While it is reasonable to ask this question about the
universe, since as stated above, the strongest evidence argues for
a universe which had a beginning. Asking that same question of God
is irrational, since it implies of Him something found only in the
finite universe: time. By definition, something eternal must
exist outside both time and space. God has no beginning; He
IS (Exod. 3:14).
- The Teleological Argument
Another philosophical argument for the
existence of God is the teleological argument. This comes
from the Greek word telos, meaning "end" or "goal." The idea
behind this argument is that the observable order in the universe
demonstrates that it functions according to an intelligent design.
The classic expression of this argument is William Paley's analogy
of the watchmaker in his book, Evidences. If we were walking
on a beach and found a watch in the sand, we would not assume that
it washed up on the shore having been formed through the natural
processes of the sea. We would assume that it had been lost by its
owner and that somewhere there was a watchmaker who had designed it
and built it with a specific purpose.
Some evolutionists maintain that the
argument from design has been invalidated by the theory of natural
selection. Richard Dawkins, a scientist at Oxford, even speaks of
evolution as "The Blind Watchmaker," saying that it brings order
without purpose. However, the theory of evolution faces major
obstacles in scientific circles to this day, and it is grossly
inadequate in its explanation of the ordered species of animals in
this world. The best explanation for the order and complexity that
we see in nature is that the divine Designer created it with a
purpose and maintains all things by the word of His power (Heb.
1:3; Col. 1:17).
- The Moral Argument
The moral argument recognizes
humankind's universal and inherent sense of right and wrong (cf.
Rom. 2:14,15) and says this comes from more than societal
standards. All cultures recognize honesty as a virtue along with
wisdom, courage, and justice. These are thought of as absolutes,
but they cannot be absolute standards apart from an absolute
authority! The changeless character of God is the only true source
of universal moral principles; otherwise all morality would be
relative to culture preferences (See "Right and Wrong"
Each of these arguments follows the same
basic pattern. What we see in the creation must have come from a
sufficient cause. This is the argument of Romans 1, and it is the
argument used by Paul in Acts 14 and 17. God has provided us with
a witness to Himself in the creation, and we are called upon to
believe in Him on the basis of what we have seen Him do: "For since
the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal
power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood
through what has been made, so they are without excuse" (Rom.
- Pantheism offers a self-defeating
Pantheism is the belief that all
is god. Pantheists maintain that there are no real distinctions
between persons, creatures, or objects; that all is divine. For
many years, the only pantheists most of us would have been exposed
to were Buddhists. However, with the rise of the New Age movement,
which is extremely pantheistic, pantheism has become a very popular
world view in North America.
The hope of pantheism is an irrational
one. Evil is regarded as an illusion, however real it may seem, and
the cruel actions of others are attributed to their
misunderstanding, or non-enlightenment. Shirley MacLaine, an
actress who has been one of the most popular spokespersons for the
New Age movement, writes, "There is no such thing as evil or good.
There is only enlightened awareness or ignorance." Since all is one
and all is divine, there are no real contradictions. There are no
black-and-white distinctions between truth and falsity. Instead,
reality consists of that which seems contradictory, but really is
not. Buddhists are sometimes encouraged to meditate on "the sound
of one hand clapping." There can be no sound with just one hand,
and that's the point. For the pantheist, reality is irrational.
Since there are not distinctions and all
is divine according to pantheists, Shirley MacLaine and others
believe themselves to be perfectly justified in declaring, "I am
God." This "realization" is thought to be the key to unlocking
one's true potential, for to realize you are God is to realize that
you have no finite limitations.
But that is the precise problem with the
claim. If God does not have limited knowledge and abilities, why
would we have to grow in knowledge if we are God? Why would we even
have to come to the conclusion that we are divine? If we are
unlimited, why are we so limited that we do not always realize we
If New Age pantheism violates reason, as
it obviously and admittedly does, then how can it be defended? We
are told that the concepts cannot be adequate comprehended apart
from one's personal experience of them, but the fact is that
reality is logical. To argue that logic does not apply to
reality would be self-defeating, because one cannot make the claim
without using logic. Reality IS logical, and there are distinctions
in our world. I am not you, and you are not me. Common sense tells
is that as we converse.
The pantheistic option, then, is both
illogical and self-defeating. It is tragic that it has become such
a popular viewpoint in our day.
- The Possibility of God
Some five hundred years ago the rise of
modern science initiated a process we could call the
"demythologizing of nature", the material world.
Superstition and ignorance had ascribed spirit life to forest,
brook, and mountain. Things that were not understood scientifically
were routinely designated as the hand of supernatural forces at
- Theistic Skepticism
Slowly, the mysterious, the
spiritual dimension was drained away as scholars and scientists
provided natural explanations and theories for how and why things
worked quite apart from supernatural forces. Man and earth were now
no longer at the center of the universe with the sun, the planets,
and the stars revolving around this uniquely important globe. Human
significance diminished in the vastness of the cosmos, and only
time, not God, was needed to explain the totality of the natural
- Re-emergence of the Spiritual
Ironically, the same science which
took God away then, is bringing the possibility of His existence
back today. Physics and quantum mechanics have now brought us to
the edge of physicality, to the extent that the sub-atomic particle
structure is described by some as characterized more as spirit,
ghost-like in quality. Neurophysiologists grapple with enigmatic
observations which suggest that the mind transcends the brain.
Psychology has developed an entirely new branch of study
(parapsychology) which postulates that psycho-spiritual forces
(ESP, Biofeedback, etc.) beyond the physical realm actually
function. Molecular biologists and geneticists, faced with the
highly-ordered and complex structures of DNA, ascribed a word
implying "intelligence" to the chaining sequences: "the genetic
CODE." Astrophysics has settled on the "Big Bang theory," one which
seems to contradict the idea that matter is eternal, but rather
that the universe had a definite beginning. Huge as it is, the
universe appears to be finite.
- The Reasonability of Theism
It certainly seems more reasonable
to believe that God exists than to suggest the alternatives
explored above. And this brings us to the next important