Is There a God? (Explore God Week 2)
As Faith Church joins 800+ other churches in the Chicagoland area in “Explore God,” our blog will examine the seven questions we are exploring in the sermons and groups that are part of the series.
The answer to the first big question in the Explore God series, “Does Life Have a Purpose?” was that life has a purpose and meaning that we can find if God exists, but if there is no God, there really is no purpose. That answer raises the second question, “Is There a God?” which was covered in the sermon this week and I want to discuss more in this post.
There has been no shortage of arguments for the existence of God -- not just by Christians, but by theists who might believe god is different from the Christian God. As I think about these arguments, there are three basic types of arguments: 1) philosophical; 2) objective; and 3) subjective. I won’t discuss the philosophical ones (such as the ontological argument by the theologian/philosopher Anselm) because I find them too confusing to explain and not overly convincing. Instead, I think it is wise to explore what I would label as objective and subjective arguments.
Objective Arguments for the Existence of God
I classify objective arguments for the existence of God as ones that we see from looking at the world in which we observe. The two most prominent of these arguments are the cosmological argument for God and the teleological argument.
The cosmological argument for God says that everything has a cause, including the universe, with the cause of the universe being God.
The teleological argument notes that this world reflects design, which points to a designer. In fact, as science has shown over the years, there are so many variables in this world that need to be just right for life to exist (scientists call this the anthropic principle). I have read there are about 120 variables and if even one is not exact, we wouldn’t exist. For example, if the oxygen level wasn’t 21% (more or less would be a disaster), if the moon wasn’t the exact distance from the earth, or the length of a rotation of the earth was more or less than it needs to be, we would be unable to exist. The more likely explanation is that someone fine tuned it this way rather than it happening by chance.
These arguments do not use the Bible itself and do not necessarily prove the God of the Bible is the God who exists, but the Bible does point to the fact that there are signs that God exists in the world we see -- notably Psalm 19:1-6, but also Romans 1:19-20 that I will quote here for your convenience: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
While the objective arguments are strong, I find the subjective arguments more convincing. I realize that typically I am the sort of person who pushes away from subjective reasons to objective reasons, as “subjective” can make it sound like one can just believe whatever they want and don’t need to prove it. However, when I talk about these subjective arguments, it is the idea of our human experience that points us to something beyond ourselves -- to the existence of God. The fact that we have a longing for justice, a sense of beauty, and certain desires (even the idea that most people have believed in some higher power) are indications to me (and others) that there is a God.
The moral argument, which I first discovered in reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity is one that I find very compelling. Lewis wrote that for some reason, people in all times and places “have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid
of it.” Why do we have a sense of right and wrong? Why do we have a sense that death is tragic? If there is no God, then death is natural and we shouldn’t be frightened by it. If there is no God, what is the basis upon which we are to ground any sense of morals, of right and wrong? If we have evolved by chance, then it should be “might makes right” and “survival of the fittest,” but our hearts and experience tell us this is not the case. Moreover, the idea that we have this feeling because of evolutionary factors does not seem to make sense; how would it have been to our advantage to lay down our lives and help others? If an individual or society simply decides what is right or wrong, then there is really no standard for it to evaluate what is right or wrong, yet people still seek to talk about rights and justice. I highly recommend Tim Keller’s Making Sense of God for more on this sort of discussion on morals, as in chapter 9 he talks about the “Problems of Morals” in a secular view of the world (that is, one that does not acknowledge the existence of any god).
It is more than just morals, though, as there is also the question of why we long for works of beauty and art. In Simply Christian, N. T. Wright notes that we long for beauty and this points us to a sense of awe that there is something greater than ourselves: “We must acknowledge that beauty, whether in the natural order or within human creation, is sometimes so powerful that it evokes our very deepest feelings of awe, wonder, gratitude, and reverence.” Where does this feeling come from? In addition, Tim Keller (drawing on David Bentley Hart) points out that what we find beautiful often does not serve a good purpose, so why do we value it?
C.S. Lewis also noted the importance of desires in the radio talks that became the book Mere Christianity. “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water…. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Again, the Bible affirms the idea of subjective arguments. Romans 2:14-15 talks about how people know in their hearts what is right and wrong -- pointing to the truth of the moral argument. Therefore, the Christian worldview affirms these sorts of arguments and actually coheres to what we see in the world and ourselves.
So, Does God Exist?
The evidence leads me to believe that God does exist. If God exists, there are other sorts of questions to then ask. What is this God like? Can we know God? If God is good, why is there still evil in this world? Is the Christian God the true God? These are some of the questions that we will continue to look at in the Explore God series.
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