Answering “Is There a God?”

“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” D.T. Niles

That’s how I feel when it comes to explaining my thoughts on “Is There a God?”

I am no theologian, I am no pastor, I am no philosopher.

However, I am a curious learner, a curious Christian learner, searching for that bread.

What do you say to someone who has such a question as “Is There a God?”

Most non-believers, agnostics, atheists, and doubters I have encountered want to have a thoughtful answer. They want you to argue them into believing in God.  They want to think their way to their belief in God.

Emphasize the word think.

For them it is usually all about their mind.

What I am going to do in this post is dissect three examples of reasoning that Paul Little uses in his book Know Why You Believe. Maybe you will find them helpful.

First, Mr. Little uses what I call the “everybody’s doing it” argument. Some people think this is not valid* but let’s put that aside for a while.  Say an unbeliever just needs a reason for believing in God.  How does a Christian begin to supply that?  He could turn to anthropologists, academics who study humans, past and present. They attempt to understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history.  One thing that anthropologists tell us is that all cultures have a terrific interest in god [the little g denotes an overall concept, not the Christian God].  Little reports that in the last fifty years, anthropological research has uncovered the cultural need for one god as opposed to multiple gods.  Of course just because the vast majority of humanity has an interest in god, does not mean that the vast majority of humanity is correct but it makes one think about man’s need for a supreme being who has control.  Why is this common need so strong?

Next is the idea of the scientific method applied to the idea of God. For the intelligent doubter, the scientific method is the “gold standard.”  The scientific method is based on repeating factual occurrences.  The more a factual thing repeats, the more the scientist will accept that it is real and normal. How does God hold up under that?  Not well, truth be told.  God came to earth one time, in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus has not returned to date.  For the intelligent doubter to believe in God, he is going to have to accept the one time that Jesus was with us.  The doubter will not believe in the reality of the Holy Spirit for he would have to be a believer to accept that.  The doubter will question the occurrence of God in miracles that happen today.  The doubter would be like Thomas, who had to touch Jesus’ hands and Jesus’ side to see that it indeed was Jesus.   He would have to see Jesus many times and touch Jesus’ hands many times because after multiple times of fact gathering the doubter would believe.

Lastly, we have the law of cause and effect. People want to know the causes of things.  How did human beings come about?  How did the world come about?  We want to know.  Rational thinkers, scientists want to know.  How do we come to know the cause of everything?

For the Christian the answer is simple. God is the cause of everything. For the unbeliever, they need a lot more.

We could get in a discussion of the steady state model of galaxy formation, the oscillating model of galaxy formation or the big bang theory but those theories search for something that is not there—the ultimate cause. Scientists cling to those because they are the best they have but science cannot explain that first cause. Paul Little quotes Dr. Robert Jastrow, an agnostic scientist, astronomer, physicist and cosmologist; a leading NASA scientist, populist author and futurist “The scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.  He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

In short, the most knowledgeable scientist cannot explain the first cause, the power that got it all started.

As a Christian, it is God, the same God who said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” This present tense means more than just God saying “I am present.”  It means I am, I was and I will be.

This is your first cause.

The unbeliever will not like this because the Bible uses language to explain origins that is for some people more poetic than scientific. The explanation of the Creation in Genesis won’t be enough for the unbeliever.

What can we do?

One of the best things is to point to intelligent design, which will be questioned too.  Intelligent design is the idea that God was the designer of the world as we know it, not some natural selection process.  Pastor Mark Batterson has spent quite a lot of time in his book, The Grave Robber using the idea of visual generation in the human eye to explain intelligent design.  Instead of looking outward, all man has to do is look inward to see the miracles of God at work.

“At birth a baby will have an estimated eighty-six billion brain cells. As a newborn experiences new sights and sound, the brain begins to form neuronal connections called synapses.  Almost like telephone wires that crisscross a city…by the time a baby is just six months old, each brain cell has about eighteen thousand connections….At birth [a baby’s] vision is no better than 20/200 and they cannot focus on anything further than twelve inches away….During this developmental process, windows of opportunity open and close like clockwork.  Vision, for example is primarily wired between birth and eighteen months, a synaptogenesis in the visual cortex peaks at about three months.”

Turn inward and see the design of God.

Will the idea of the need for God in the mind of man throughout the world sway the unbeliever? Will the idea of the appearance of God on this earth in the form of Jesus Christ sway the unbeliever?  Will the idea of God as the cause and intelligent design sway the unbeliever?

Maybe not.

The man born blind in the book of John…

Maybe the allegory of what happened to the man is what must happen to the unbeliever.

“I have been blind but now I see” John 9:25.

 

*in fact this “everybody’s doing” it example is referred by logicians as the bandwagon fallacy. Everybody is doing it so it must be right.  That is not necessarily so.  Popularity does not equal correctness.

 

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