“There is a God. He is alive. In him we live and we survive”
Is there a God? If there is a God, what is he like? Does he like me? These are life’s greatest questions that we have all asked and will continue to ask. I can’t I shine any questions more foundational to one’s life, self-image, worldview, or decision making than these questions.
THE EXISTENCE AND DESIGN IN THE UNIVERSE
We are here. The universe exists. These things demand explanation. Existence is not a happy cosmic accident.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” Psalm 19:1-6
The Psalmist reminds us of what we know. In order for us to exist, there must be an adequate explanation. “Every house is built by someone, and the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). God is the efficient cause to speak the cosmos into existence (Genesis 1:1).
The cosmological argument for the existence of God says that everything which has a beginning must have a cause. We know that nothingness produces more nothing. Yet the Bible tells us that nothing material existed until God spoke the universe into existence (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). The Hebrew word translated “created” in Genesis 1:1 is bārā˒. In this particular form “it is employed to denote divine products, new and not previously existing in the sphere of nature and history…. it never denotes human productions and is never used with the accusative of the material.”
Furthermore, we know from scientific studies that the universe is winding down. The second law of thermodynamics also teaches us that the universe is slowly running out of usable energy. Everything that is around us is the affect of some cause. This all points to a beginning.
So we should appreciate God’s evidence of his own existence in the things which are around us. “Spurgeon told of a godly person who, when sailing down the Rhine, closed his eyes, lest the beauty of the scene should divert his mind from spiritual themes. The Puritan turned away from the moss-rose, saying that he would count nothing on earth lovely. But this is to despise God’s works. J. H. Barrows: ‘The Himalayas are the raised letters upon which we blind children put our fingers to spell out the name of God.’ To despise the works of God is to despise God himself. God is present in nature, and is now speaking.”
When we examine the creation that is here, we see that it is incredibly intricate. The intricate interworking of the universe imply a designer. This is called the teleological argument for the existence of God. If we found a smartphone in the parking lot, we would understand that someone designed it, built it, purchased it, and left it. No one would suppose that the smartphone just appeared. No one would try to teach that a car had been traveling down the interstate and picked up various materials on its tires until finally it pulled into the parking lot and sharply turned right which caused the materials to form a smartphone. There is no accidental way to get a usable device which is so well designed. We would know that the device was designed and built by someone capable. A sufficient cause must exist for whatever exists.
Agnostic astronomer, Carl Sagan, unwittingly provided an even greater example. He notes that the genetic information in the human brain expressed in bits is probably comparable to the total number of connections among neurons—about 100 trillion, 1014 bits. If written out in English, say, that information would fill some 20 million volumes, as many as are stored in the world’s largest libraries. The equivalent of 20 million books is inside the heads of every one of us. “The brain is a very big place in a very small space,” Sagan said. He went on to note that “the neurochemistry of the brain is astonishingly busy, the circuitry of a machine more wonderful than any devised by humans.” But if this is so, then why does the human brain not need an intelligent Creator, as does even the simplest computer?
The same principle is true when we look at the great universe or the microscopic parts of a cell. There must be a designer and builder who is the sufficient cause of the physical and spiritual reality that we experience. That sufficient cause is God. Paul wrote: “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. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). The agnostic Robert Jastrow, founder-director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said, “A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation.” But if the universe was created, then it is reasonable to conclude there was a Creator. For everything that has a beginning needs a Beginner.
With the Psalmist we say:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:1–4.
THE CHARACTER OF THE WORD
Along with the evidence in nature, we also see evidence for God in the Bible itself. We may only gain a limited amount of knowledge of God from examining nature. Ultimately, we must turn to the Scriptures, God’s special revelation, in order to understand spiritual truths more fully. “The Scriptures plainly declare that the revelation of God in nature does not supply all the knowledge which a sinner needs (Acts 17:23; Eph. 3:9). This revelation is therefore supplemented by another, in which divine attributes and merciful provisions only dimly shadowed forth in nature are made known to men. This latter revelation consists of a series of supernatural events and communications, the record of which is presented in the Scriptures”.
The Bible has characteristics which are beyond human production. Therefore, the Bible must be of Divine origin. The Psalmist acknowledged the greatness of God’s Book in Psalm 19:7-11.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
The Bible has characteristics which set it apart from all other books and demand Divine origin.
One of the greatest and most popular of these characteristics is fulfilled prophecy. Psalm 22 records precise predictions concerning the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. Note the specific nature of the prophecies.
- Messiah would be mocked by people shaking their head (Psalm 22:7; Matthew 27:39);
- Mockers would say of the Messiah, “he trusted God, let him deliver him” (Psalm 22:8, Matthew 27:41-43);
- The Messiah would be abandoned by the disciples (Psalm 22:11, Mark 14:50);
- the Messiah would be surrounded (Psalm 22:16a, Luke 23:36, Matthew 27:41-43);
- the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16, Matthew 27:38);
- none of the Messiah’s bones would be broken (Psalm 22:17, John 19:32-33);
- the Messiah’s garments would be divided (Psalm 22:18,John 19:23-24); and
- lots would be cast for the Messiah’s clothes (Psalm 22:18, John 19:23-24).
These prophecies alone are too much to be coincidental. They demand explanation. How can these exact prophecies be made hundreds of years before Jesus’ crucifixion? How could Jesus have purposely fulfilled these prophecies? Surely, one must acknowledge the hand of God in pointing us to Jesus through this prophetic Psalm and many others.
THE TESTIMONY OF MORAL STANDARDS
There is a right and there is a wrong. Everyone has some set of moral standards. But how can these moral standards be judged? If there is no objective moral standard, then each individual is able to live as he or she chooses without regard to others around them. The same principle would be true of governments and entire cultures. If there is no objective moral standard higher than a government, how could we judge the Nazi’s as committing war crimes? How could we ever judge moral progress or moral regress in a culture, government, or individual without there being and external standard of morality?
While we may not always agree on what right and wrong is, we all acknowledge that such a thing exists. But where do we get this concept? Is morality just an evolutionary blessing? Morality can’t be evolutionary in design. Why? Our most prized moral actions are those which sacrifice the good of the strong the benefit of the weak and the many sacrificing for the few in need. Evolution just doesn’t work that way. “The moral argument acknowledges that man has an awareness of right and wrong, a sense of morality. Where did this sense of moral justice come from? If man is only a biological creature why does he have a sense of moral obligation? Recognition of moral standards and concepts cannot be attributed to any evolutionary process. The biblicist recognizes that God has placed a sense of moral justice within the human race in contradistinction to all other creation. Romans 2:14–15 indicates that Gentiles who have had no revelation of the law have an inner, moral witness placed there by God.”
Morality is a reflection of God’s existence. Being made in the image of God, we have an innate sense of fairness, justices, rightness, and wrongness. Psalm 19:12-14 speaks to this reality: “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” David acknowledged that there was a standard which he had missed in his own life. He also acknowledged the righteousness of God in offering pardon to the penitent.
Norman Geisler offers a good summary of the moral argument for the existence of God.
The roots of the moral argument for God are found in Romans 2:12–15, in which humankind is said to stand unexcused since there is “a law written on their hearts.” Since the time of Kant this argument has been stated in various ways. The most popular form emanates from C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. The heart of the argument follows this basic structure:
1. Moral laws imply a Moral Law Giver.
2. There is an objective moral law.
3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.
The first premise is self-evident. Moral laws are different from natural laws. Moral laws don’t describe what is, they prescribe what ought to be. They can’t be known by observing what people do. They are what all persons should do, whether or not they actually do.
The closing prayer in the 19th Psalm is one which all have felt because of the real phenomenon of guilt. If there is no moral authority above ourselves, how could we explain such moral feeling?
The existence of God makes us look at the Bible differently. The Bible isn’t just another book. The Bible is God’s Book. Since it is God’s Book, we realize then that it speaks with authority. It contains commands, not options. Being God’s Book it also demands to be studied more than any other document. The Bible will never be superseded in authority, power, or worth. It really is the most important thing on the earth. We should, therefore, spend as much time possible with it and for it.
But the Bible isn’t just about man’s responsibility. The Bible is mainly about God and what he has done for mankind. Paul was speaking of the New Testament when he wrote 1 Corinthians 2:9-10: “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” The Bible is a message of God’s concern for mankind. He tells us of his love for us in this Book he authored for us. His love should make us want to read his Book even more.
Furthermore, we are reminded that life is not meaningless. There are reasons to live. Death is not the end. Death is the fulfillment of this life and the entry into our real purpose. Those given to a worldview devoid of God are bound to hopeless and meaningless nothingness. However, the God of the Bible invites us to look beyond the here and now to the home prepared for his people—John 14:1-4. He reminds us that this life is full of sorrows and is only preparation for something far greater—Romans 8:18-30.