Category: (03) Is there an argument for the existence of God?

Psalm 16:7-9

If you have never experienced the presence of God, you may wonder how He reveals Himself to believers. The Lord has many different ways of reaching out to His children, so the following is certainly not a complete list. But if you desire to know that the Father is always near, He will choose the best way to connect with you.
God speaks. I have never heard the Lord’s audible voice, but I have experienced Him speaking clearly and forcefully to my heart. His “voice” is so unmistakable that those who hear Him remember the message and the reverent excitement long after.
God sends a message. Sometimes the Lord lays on a person’s heart the need to get alone with Him. When this happens to me, God is usually saying He’s ready to give me a sermon. It is unwise to ignore such urgings or even to delay until a more “convenient” time—I have made the mistake of putting off listening only to discover that when I finally did slow down, the message was harder to receive outside of the Father’s perfect timing.
God makes His presence known through His Word. I meditated for a month on a recent sermon’s Bible passage. Every day I wanted to go back to the same verses because God kept giving me new truths and insights. I knew I was in His presence because His Word was speaking specifically to my heart.
God is real and present in this world. He wants to share Himself with us so we can draw contentment, courage, and joy from His presence. We must be willing to slow down and listen to what He’s saying.

The question of whether there is a conclusive argument for the  existence of God has been debated throughout history, with exceedingly  intelligent people taking both sides of the dispute. In recent times, arguments  against the possibility of God’s existence have taken on a militant spirit that  accuses anyone daring to believe in God as being delusional and irrational. Karl  Marx asserted that anyone believing in God must have a mental disorder that  caused invalid thinking. The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud wrote that a person who  believed in a Creator God was delusional and only held those beliefs due to a  “wish-fulfillment” factor that produced what Freud considered to be an  unjustifiable position. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche bluntly said that  faith equates to not wanting to know what is true. The voices of these three  figures from history (along with others) are simply now parroted by a new  generation of atheists who claim that a belief in God is intellectually  unwarranted.

Is this truly the case? Is belief in God a rationally  unacceptable position to hold? Is there a logical and reasonable argument for  the existence of God? Outside of referencing the Bible, can a case for the  existence of God be made that refutes the positions of both the old and new  atheists and gives sufficient warrant for believing in a Creator? The answer is,  yes, it can. Moreover, in demonstrating the validity of an argument for the  existence of God, the case for atheism is shown to be intellectually weak.

To make an argument for the existence of God, we must start by asking  the right questions. We begin with the most basic metaphysical question: “Why do  we have something rather than nothing at all?” This is the basic question of  existence—why are we here; why is the earth here; why is the universe here  rather than nothing? Commenting on this point, one theologian has said, “In one  sense man does not ask the question about God, his very existence raises the  question about God.”

In considering this question, there are four  possible answers to why we have something rather than nothing at all:

1. Reality is an illusion.
2. Reality is/was self-created.
3. Reality  is self-existent (eternal).
4. Reality was created by something that is  self-existent.

So, which is the most plausible solution? Let’s begin  with reality being simply an illusion, which is what a number of Eastern  religions believe. This option was ruled out centuries ago by the philosopher  Rene Descartes who is famous for the statement, “I think, therefore I am.”  Descartes, a mathematician, argued that if he is thinking, then he must “be.” In  other words, “I think, therefore I am not an illusion.” Illusions require  something experiencing the illusion, and moreover, you cannot doubt the  existence of yourself without proving your existence; it is a self-defeating  argument. So the possibility of reality being an illusion is eliminated.

Next is the option of reality being self-created. When we study philosophy, we  learn of “analytically false” statements, which means they are false by  definition. The possibility of reality being self-created is one of those types  of statements for the simple reason that something cannot be prior to itself. If  you created yourself, then you must have existed prior to you creating yourself,  but that simply cannot be. In evolution this is sometimes referred to as  “spontaneous generation” —something coming from nothing—a position that few, if  any, reasonable people hold to anymore simply because you cannot get something  from nothing. Even the atheist David Hume said, “I never asserted so absurd a  proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.” Since something  cannot come from nothing, the alternative of reality being self-created is ruled  out.

Now we are left with only two choices—an eternal reality or  reality being created by something that is eternal: an eternal universe or an  eternal Creator. The 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards summed up this  crossroads:

• Something exists.
• Nothing cannot create  something.
• Therefore, a necessary and eternal “something” exists.

Notice that we must go back to an eternal “something.” The atheist who derides  the believer in God for believing in an eternal Creator must turn around and  embrace an eternal universe; it is the only other door he can choose. But the  question now is, where does the evidence lead? Does the evidence point to matter  before mind or mind before matter?

To date, all key scientific and  philosophical evidence points away from an eternal universe and toward an  eternal Creator. From a scientific standpoint, honest scientists admit the  universe had a beginning, and whatever has a beginning is not eternal. In other  words, whatever has a beginning has a cause, and if the universe had a  beginning, it had a cause. The fact that the universe had a beginning is  underscored by evidence such as the second law of thermodynamics, the radiation  echo of the big bang discovered in the early 1900s, the fact that the universe  is expanding and can be traced back to a singular beginning, and Einstein’s  theory of relativity. All prove the universe is not eternal.

Further,  the laws that surround causation speak against the universe being the ultimate  cause of all we know for this simple fact: an effect must resemble its cause.  This being true, no atheist can explain how an impersonal, purposeless,  meaningless, and amoral universe accidentally created beings (us) who are full  of personality and obsessed with purpose, meaning, and morals. Such a thing,  from a causation standpoint, completely refutes the idea of a natural universe  birthing everything that exists. So in the end, the concept of an eternal  universe is eliminated.

Philosopher J. S. Mill (not a Christian) summed  up where we have now come to: “It is self-evident that only Mind can create  mind.” The only rational and reasonable conclusion is that an eternal Creator is  the one who is responsible for reality as we know it. Or to put it in a logical  set of statements:

• Something exists.
• You do not get something  from nothing.
• Therefore a necessary and eternal “something” exists.
•  The only two options are an eternal universe and an eternal Creator.
•  Science and philosophy have disproven the concept of an eternal universe.
•  Therefore, an eternal Creator exists.

Former atheist Lee Strobel, who  arrived at this end result many years ago, has commented, “Essentially, I  realized that to stay an atheist, I would have to believe that nothing produces  everything; non-life produces life; randomness produces fine-tuning; chaos  produces information; unconsciousness produces consciousness; and non-reason  produces reason. Those leaps of faith were simply too big for me to take,  especially in light of the affirmative case for God’s existence … In other  words, in my assessment the Christian worldview accounted for the totality of  the evidence much better than the atheistic worldview.”

But the next  question we must tackle is this: if an eternal Creator exists (and we have shown  that He does), what kind of Creator is He? Can we infer things about Him from  what He created? In other words, can we understand the cause by its effects? The  answer to this is yes, we can, with the following characteristics being  surmised:

• He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and  space).
• He must be powerful (exceedingly).
• He must be eternal  (self-existent).
• He must be omnipresent (He created space and is not  limited by it).
• He must be timeless and changeless (He created time).
•  He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.
• He must be  personal (the impersonal cannot create personality).
• He must be infinite  and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
• He must be diverse yet have  unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.
• He must be intelligent  (supremely). Only cognitive being can produce cognitive being.
• He must be  purposeful as He deliberately created everything.
• He must be moral (no  moral law can be had without a giver).
• He must be caring (or no moral laws  would have been given).

These things being true, we now ask if any  religion in the world describes such a Creator. The answer to this is yes: the  God of the Bible fits this profile perfectly. He is supernatural (Genesis 1:1), powerful (Jeremiah  32:17), eternal (Psalm 90:2),  omnipresent (Psalm  139:7), timeless/changeless (Malachi  3:6), immaterial (John 5:24),  personal (Genesis  3:9), necessary (Colossians  1:17), infinite/singular (Jeremiah  23:24, Deuteronomy  6:4), diverse yet with unity (Matthew  28:19), intelligent (Psalm  147:4-5), purposeful (Jeremiah  29:11), moral (Daniel  9:14), and caring (1 Peter  5:6-7).

One last subject to address on the matter of God’s  existence is the matter of how justifiable the atheist’s position actually is.  Since the atheist asserts the believer’s position is unsound, it is only  reasonable to turn the question around and aim it squarely back at him. The  first thing to understand is that the claim the atheist makes—“no god,” which is  what “atheist” means—is an untenable position to hold from a philosophical  standpoint. As legal scholar and philosopher Mortimer Adler says, “An  affirmative existential proposition can be proved, but a negative existential  proposition—one that denies the existence of something—cannot be proved.” For  example, someone may claim that a red eagle exists and someone else may assert  that red eagles do not exist. The former only needs to find a single red eagle  to prove his assertion. But the latter must comb the entire universe and  literally be in every place at once to ensure he has not missed a red eagle  somewhere and at some time, which is impossible to do. This is why  intellectually honest atheists will admit they cannot prove God does not exist.

Next, it is important to understand the issue that surrounds the  seriousness of truth claims that are made and the amount of evidence required to  warrant certain conclusions. For example, if someone puts two containers of  lemonade in front of you and says that one may be more tart than the other,  since the consequences of getting the more tart drink would not be serious, you  would not require a large amount of evidence in order to make your choice.  However, if to one cup the host added sweetener but to the other he introduced  rat poison, then you would want to have quite a bit of evidence before you made  your choice.

This is where a person sits when deciding between atheism  and belief in God. Since belief in atheism could possibly result in irreparable  and eternal consequences, it would seem that the atheist should be mandated to  produce weighty and overriding evidence to support his position, but he cannot.  Atheism simply cannot meet the test for evidence for the seriousness of the  charge it makes. Instead, the atheist and those whom he convinces of his  position slide into eternity with their fingers crossed and hope they do not  find the unpleasant truth that eternity does indeed exist. As Mortimer Adler  says, “More consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or  denial of God than from any other basic question.”

So does belief in God  have intellectual warrant? Is there a rational, logical, and reasonable argument  for the existence of God? Absolutely. While atheists such as Freud claim that  those believing in God have a wish-fulfillment desire, perhaps it is Freud and  his followers who actually suffer from wish-fulfillment: the hope and wish that  there is no God, no accountability, and therefore no judgment. But refuting  Freud is the God of the Bible who affirms His existence and the fact that a  judgment is indeed coming for those who know within themselves the truth that He  exists but suppress that truth (Romans  1:20). But for those who respond to the evidence that a Creator does indeed  exist, He offers the way of salvation that has been accomplished through His  Son, Jesus Christ: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to  become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born,  not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”  (John  1:12-13).