The Bible diagnoses humanity’s deepest need and then prescribes what it claims is the only antedote: God saves sinners. Is there an intellectual basis for believing in God? Or is being religious just a matter of faith? Christianity invites scrutiny into its claims and its reasons for having faith and these deserve examination…
In December 2004 it was announced that long time British Professor and Philosopher, Anthony Flew, regarded by many as “the world’s most acclaimed atheist”, had renounced his atheism in favour of theism…
This dramatic conversion has been likened by Astrophysicist and now one of the world’s leading Cosmologists, Dr Hugh Ross, as having the same impact on the academic world as an announcement that Billy Graham had renounced Christianity would have on the Church!
One of the reasons cited by Prof. Flew was “the evidence.” He admitted that for a long time the growing problem of Evolution’s inability to explain how life began, or for that matter, how anything began, led him to the inevitable conclusion that it was an inadequate answer in the face of the evidence. Then when the DNA Genome code was unraveled the evidence for Design became “undeniable”. These two pieces of evidence (1. the existence of life demanding a Life-Source, and 2. the scientific evidence of an extremely complex code in the make-up of that life- DNA) were enough for Prof. Flew to renounce atheism.
CAN WE PROVE GOD?
Some people feel that acceptance of God is entirely a matter of faith. But the Scriptures actually claim that it is the truth which is the basis for this faith (Rom. 10:17). Truth is only truth if it is objective truth, that is, it is true for everyone regardless of time or circumstances. Thus, God is either true (and there can be objective proofs to support this), or He is not true and only subjective ‘truth’ can be offered for ‘proof’.
Some ancient Philosophers have argued that the fact mankind can imagine there being a God is a proof that there must be one. While this argument does have some merit, it mainly has limitations. Taken to its natural application this means that if anything can be imagined it must exist. Based on the nightmares I had as a three and four year old boy- I really hope this theory isn’t true or I’m not going to sleep well tonight!
On the other hand, ‘beliefs’ and ‘truth’ are sometimes not entirely related. Tertullian once bragged that the main reason he so readily accepted Christianity was that it was fundamentally absurd. Perhaps he was alluding to 1Corinthians 1-2 which talks about human wisdom and divine wisdom being incompatible. Some people are so committed to their beliefs that despite the evidence of truth they refuse to change their beliefs. In this way we observe that what some atheists claim is their scientific basis for unbelief is nothing more than belief in opinions rather than evidence. Thus despite the mass of evidence to the contrary, many atheists refuse to accept that origin of life is best explained by appears to be obvious (a Designer/Creator).
We have to applaud Prof. Flew for having the courage to consider and then accept the evidence.
“Proof” though is measured and determined according to the type of claim. The type of proof needed to substantiate a claim involving chemistry is different to the type of proof needed to substantiate a claim made about history. Proof in physiology is different to the type of proof needed for psychology. Proof in philosophy is different to the proof required for philology. Proof required for biology is different to the type of proof required for theology. To demand that “hard” science (physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy) proof tests be the only acceptable means for testing a “soft” science (psychology, history, philosophy, literature) claim is unreasonable. Thus, imposing natural proof tests on supernatural claims is an unreasonable measure and totally inadequate. But where supernatural claims are made which have natural implications, such as “an invisible God created all that we see” (Romans 1:20) “proof” takes on the garb of “supporting evidence” when looking at the natural evidence to support this supernatural claim.
There have been a rash of very articulate and passionate atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, who have attacked theism (the belief in God) by attacking Religious Fundamentalism (the poor behaviour of those claiming to believe in God and their abuse of Religious rules to oppress people). The type of God these Religious Fundamentalists promote is not the God I am arguing for. But to some it is going to sound like it.
CS Lewis artfully makes the point in the “Magician’s Nephew” that there can be several people confronted with the evidence for God yet they can interpret that evidence quite differently. Lewis describes Uncle Andrew’s direct encounter with Aslan where he vehemently denied what he was seeing and hearing as making himself look stupid. And Lewis, the former atheist himself, continues, “Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did.” When it comes to proof for God, the evidence is cumulative and therefore acceptable proof.
This evidence, or proofs, for the existence of God invites those atheists to consider it- especially for those who claim that there is none. At the very least it should be reasonably concluded that atheism (the absolute claim that there is no God after considering all possible knowledge) is a highly irrational position.
The following is reasonable evidence for accepting that there is indeed a Personal Omnipotent God as described in the Christian Bible-
PROOFS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD…
Everything has a cause...
It is illogical to suggest that something had no cause. This is where the theory of evolution becomes inadequate. It can not explain how anything began, let alone life. When we consider the evidence (that there are things which exist) it logically demands that either something or someone caused it. We can then rule out “something” as the solution since we would be returning to the original problem (what made the something?). This demands that there must be someone who has always existed (eternal) and is in themselves therefore uncreated. We don’t have to understand this in order for it to be so.
At this point some say we should not even try to understand these things because our minds just get in the way. But I suspect the opposite is the case. That is, it is perfectly legitimate to ponder these things and rather than our minds being too bigger an obstacle, our minds are actually too inadequate to comprehend them. Therefore, faith and thinking are not incompatible, its just that we have realise that they both require discipline and exercise.
There is evidence for design...
The unraveling of the Human Genome Code was announced to the world as the discovery of the language of the Creator by then President, Bill Clinton. What scientists discovered was an extremely sophisticated genetic language necessary for even the simplest life forms to exist. To believe that this level of apparent design happened either randomly or by chance is a mathematical equation of probability with more zeros than I care to type (plus I don’t know what the word is for numbers which are thousands of trillions!).
The universe displays an amazingly complex level of interdependency which logically leads to the conclusion that it was designed that way. There are just too many coincidences of such “just rightness” for it too be a random haphazard coincidence. The earth is “just the right” distance from the Sun; it contains “just the right” mixture of chemicals and gases to sustain life; humans have “just the right” ability to breath these gases; the human body has “just the right” synergy of internal organs in order to function, and so on.
Its important to note that the Bible does not give a date for the commencement of creation of the universe, or the date for the creation of mankind. The universe may well be 13,000,000,000 years old, and mankind’s origins may well be as recent as 90,000 – 60,000 years ago. These numbers are in no way counter to the Biblical record, and extremely compatible with the evidence.
There is intrinsic morality which needs a point of reference...
How do we know what “evil” is? How do we know what “good” is? These concepts demand either the existence of a standard to make such evaluations, or an understanding what these concepts mean. Each of us are born with an innate sense of morality. We each fundamentally know what is right and wrong. It is incredible to consider that no matter time, culture, geographic location, or people, the Moral Law has been universally acknowledged.
This tends to confirm that all of creation bears the finger-prints of a Creator who is fundamentally good and right. That is, we each share a knowledge of what is right and wrong not just because we are taught or conditioned to accept these values, but because we are born with them.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ...
Skeptics may dispute this historical claim that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead but they do so perilously. This is because there is enough evidence to validate it and it is the point at which all of the history of Christ and Christianity rests. This means that if anything of Christ and Christianity is true then the Physical Resurrection of Christ is also true. The opposite is also true. If Christ did not literally rise from the dead then none of his history or teachings have any credence.
But if the resurrection of Christ can be seen as a reasonable historic fact (based on over 500 eye-witnesses, the preparedness of all of those witnesses to defend their testimonies even at the point of losing their lives, the resultant baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues- still available today) then this is perhaps the most overwhelming piece of proof for the existence of God.
The claims of Christ can be experienced...
Jesus Christ made some seemingly outrageous claims about the benefits of following Him. He offered “rest” for the weary, “nourishment” for the hungry, “water” for the thirsty, “resurrection” for the dead, “direction” for aimless, “liberty” for the oppressed, “protection” for the vulnerable, “healing” for the hurting, and “salvation” for the lost.
I was 15 years of age when I accepted Christ. Never have I ever regretted it. It has been a journey for me that has seen me grow and change. I have felt the Lord guiding me. I can honestly say that I have heard Him speak to me (even though it hasn’t been audibly). He has answered my prayers so often that I now almost take it for granted that my prayers will be answered. He has given my life direction and purpose that I otherwise would never have had.
Today He extends to you the invitation to experience for yourself the claims which He has made.
The evidence for the existence of God is available. For honest enquirers there are honest answers. For those who acknowledge that there is at least reasonable evidence (even if not all 5 points of evidence are accepted) then they can no longer claim to be “atheist”. Like Professor Flew they can bravely embrace the title “theist” (God believer) without adopting any particular religious framework. Once this position can be reached then the next phase of the journey is to answer the question, “Is religion necessary or even helpful in discovering God?“
BUT HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THE GOD OF CHRISTIANS IS THE CREATOR THAT THE EVIDENCE POINTS TO?
The scientific method has become synonymous with methodological naturalism. This is the idea that the only way knowledge can be apprehended is if it can be observed. But this is a fairly recent hijacking of what the scientific method means. If we could allow the scientific method to lead to certain to certain deductions, whether they be physical or metaphysical, we may be removing the restrictions which might hold us back from the truth – especially if we employ the scientific method in examining any theories involving metaphysical claims.
Since there is sufficient evidence to show that the universe began and therefore must have had a beginning, we must also include the dimensions of time and space as part of that beginning. Therefore the “Beginning Cause” must have been outside of time and space. This is one of the central claims of the Bible about God: He is eternal and dwells ‘above the heavens’ (Heb. 7:26) – that is, God is outside of time and space. At this point, we could apply these deductions using the scientific method to dismiss the claims of certain religions which present their “God” as being a part of time and space (pantheism). This includes Buddhism and Hinduism.
Within time and space there is moral-evil, corruption, and decay. Since the Creator is outside of this He must be holy, immutable, and impeccable. This then excludes the concepts of “God” put forward by Islam and Mormonism. But it fits perfectly with the concept of God as portrayed in the Christian Bible.
Perhaps the simplest test for discovering the identity of the Creator-God is to employ the scientific method to Psalm 34:8 and Matthew 7:7.
© December 2004, Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania