Quite a profound question, since the dawn of time:
“More consequences for thought and action follow the affirmation or denial of God than from answering any other basic question.” – Mortimer Adler.
The whole tenor of human life is affected by whether people regard themselves as supreme beings or acknowledge a superhuman being whom they conceive as an object of fear or love, a force to be defied or a Lord to be obeyed.
God in a test tube:
- God cannot be proved through scientific methodology.
- The reason lies in the nature of history itself, and the limits of the scientific method. In order to be provable scientifically, it must be repeatable. But while the facts of certain events in history can’t be proven by repetition, it does not disprove their reality as events (creation, assassination of Lincoln, crucifixion).
- Scientific method deals only with measurable things. No one has ever seen three feet of love or two pounds of justice, but it is foolish to deny their reality.
- Evidence for God?
- Anthropology: a universal belief in God, a Great Spirit, a Creator, even in societies that are polytheistic.
- Old idea of how religion developed: monotheism was the apex of gradual development that began in polytheism.
- New research: oldest traditions around the world of a Supreme Being.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – eternity is set in the hearts of men. Pascal called this the God-shaped vacuum in every man; Augustine wrote that “our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.”
The law of cause and effect:
- No effect can be produced without a cause.
- Bertrand Russell, in Why I Am Not a Christian, God was the answer given to him for many of his childhood questions. In desperation he asked, “Well, who created God?” No answer came and his faith collapsed. But by definition God is eternal and uncreated.
- R. C. Sproul – “Being eternal, God is not an effect. Since He is not an effect, He does not require a cause.”
Infinite time plus chance:
- Inventions do not come into existence without first having a design. We find objects and books that mandate that an intelligent mind was at work. How much more would the complexity of the universe and life itself require a Designer.
- Our two choices: Our universe came together by chance, or our universe came together by purpose and design.
- Ideally prepare primordial soup, jolted by frequent electrical charges, over an unlimited period of time, that some life form would then evolve. How long would it take a blind person to solve a Rubik’s Cube? One move per second, without resting, it is estimated that it would take 1.35 trillion years; therefore a blind person could not solve a Rubik’s Cube.
- So look at DNA. To get 200,000 amino acids in one living cell to come together by chance, it would be 293.5 times the estimated age of the earth (which is set at 4.5 billion years). The odds are better that a blind person can solve a Rubik’s Cube!
- Junkyard mentality: What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assembling them into a plane, and leave it ready for take-off?
Order and design in the universe:
- Look beyond the observable world: protons and neutrons, and the vastness of galaxies. Who gave the specifications?
- A working TV – glass, metal, wood, wires, all coming together by natural selection or it is a self-assembled product?
- The earth is in delicate balance: (pp. 28-29) temperatures, peculiar properties of water, size of the atmosphere, distance from the sun, the lunar orbit,
- The human eye: lens, retina, nerve, brain – chance? Darwin stated in his Origin of Species, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” (Chapter 6, p. 186). He then goes on to explain how it could have actually happened. The problem is that he appeals to reason, then goes on to paint a picture of imagination and possibility, desiring us to accept the process even without evidence. (Irreducible complexity).
The universe had a beginning:
- The Lord laid the foundations of the earth – Psalm 102:25.
- Continuous or steady-state theory – galaxies move farther apart and new galaxies where formed in between. Matter is continually being created. Hydrogen is renewed out of nothing. But Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies says the opposite is true. Whenever a star is born, it begins to consume some of the hydrogen in the universe. The theory of a continual universe is untenable or indefensible.
- Oscillating Model – The universe is like a spring, expanding and contracting, repeating endless cycles. A closed theory, no new energy is put into it, and gravity always pulls everything back together. But the universe is clearly losing density with no sign of going into reverse. Both of these fail to look at the observable cosmology!
- Big Bang Theory – Dr, Edwin Hubble, plotted speeds of galaxies, and confirmed they are moving apart at enormous speeds. If it is all moving away, at one time it must have all been compacted into a very dense mass. In 1965 science discovered that the earth was bathed in a faith glow of radiation, an exact pattern from an explosion. But Robert Jastrow (an agnostic) comments: astronomical evidence points to the biblical view of the origin of the world. Details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same – a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.
- Even if the universe began in a bang, science cannot explain how the elements were ripe for the event. It certainly cannot be a Who that got it started! Jastrow concludes, “For 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.”
The moral argument:
- C. S. Lewis – “right and wrong as a clue to the meaning of the universe.” That’s my seat. That’s not fair. Suppose I did the same to you. C’mon, you promised.
- There is an appeal to some behavioral standard that the other person is assumed to accept. Is there a law or rule of fair play? Lewis says that quarreling is one man’s way of showing the other man is wrong.
- This law has to do with what ought to take place. It is more than cultural or societal standards. There is surprising consensus from civilizations about moral decency. If there were no set standard, there would be no difference between Christian morality and Nazi morality.
- Lewis said it cannot be a social convention, but more of a mathematical table. Two plus two is always four, no matter what your culture. So, there is a Somebody who set a standard: fair play, unselfishness, courage, good, faith, honesty, truthfulness.
God – the celestial killjoy:
- Who can fathom the mysteries of God – Job 11:7.
- He does not peer over the balcony of heaven and zap us, saying, “cut it out.”
- He is not the sentimental grandfather in the sky saying, “boys will be boys.”
God has penetrated the finite:
- In these last days He has spoken through His Son – Heb 1:1-2.
- If you wanted to communicate to a colony of ants, the best way would be to become an ant.
- J. B Phillips, the earth is “the visited planet.”
- There is a clear presence in the lives of men and women today.
- Change takes place in believing individuals.
- What must happen for something to be scientifically proven?
- Why can we not prove God’s existence?
- Since the beginning of time, peoples of the world have sensed a creator of the universe, why do you think that atheists believe they have the upper hand by saying it ain’t so?
- Discuss the cosmological and teleological arguments for the existence of God.
- Discuss the moral argument of the existence of God. How would you argue for and against this argument?
- Changed lives as a proof is very subjective. How would a born-again believer’s testimony be different from the devotee of another religion?
- What personal evidence can you offer?
- What other arguments for or against the existence of God can you think of?
- Which argument seems most meaningful to you? Which one least helpful?