Efficient Causation and the Existence of God

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Is there a God? There have been several arguments put forward to show that God exists (moral, cosmological, teleological, etc.), I want to focus on the argument from causation. If something happens, there must be a sufficient reason that thing happened. If you hear a bang in your kitchen, you might assume that a pan fell. If your kitchen leaves your house, you might assume there was a tornado. But what could be the cause of the universe, Scripture, and morality?


            How big is the universe? Wikipedia (not a good source) says, “The proper distance—the distance as would be measured at a specific time, including the present—between Earth and the edge of the observable universe is 46 billion light-years (14 billion parsecs), making the diameter of the observable universe about 93 billion light-years (28 billion parsecs).” Beyond the sheer size of the universe, we also have to consider the intricate detail of design in the universe. Functionality implies design. Some functionality is coincidental, but other aspects of design in creation are simply too detailed to be coincidental. 

Psalm 19:1 reminds us of what we know intuitively, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Nature is great and demands a sufficient explanation. Hebrews 3:4 says, “every house is built by someone, and the builder of all things is God.” This “natural theology” or thinking about God from what we see in nature was seen as sufficient evidence for faith by the apostle Paul. He told the Romans “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Rom 1:19-20). 

Any time we see amazing things in nature, God is showing us evidence of his existence. We see his love in the way he provides for his creation. We see God’s power in the stars and ocean. We see his care in the creation of families. 


            Every book has an author. The author is the sufficient cause of the book and all its qualities. Since it was written, the Bible has proven to be a book which has characteristics beyond human production. These perfections include accuracy in geographic details, scientific details, and historical details. The Bible is also perfect when it makes prophecies which are verified in history and Scripture—Psalm 22 for example. 

            Psalm 1119:7 says, “the law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.” Since the Bible is perfect, it must be beyond human potential. No human or group of humans could produce this book. If humanity could produce the Bible, it is doubtful that they would—Scripture constantly reminds humans of their sinfulness. 


            Morality is common among humans, but morality is not so common among the rest of creation. Lions aren’t guilty of murder or cannibalism when they eat another animal. Humans, intuitively know that murder-and cannibalism-is morally wrong. Where do these moral standards come from? How is it that any moral standard has objective authority? Is morality just based off the will of the governed or the will of a ruler? Surely, we have seen how both rulers and the governed can do horribly immoral acts.

            Morality has a cause or source which transcends time and location. This truly objective morality allows us to see moral progress and regress among people and cultures. But what explains the existence of human morality? There must be a moral law-giver who stands above all times and places as the judge of all the earth. This judge—the moral law-giver—is God. 

            Psalm 19 helps us to see how the existence of God and his revealed word relates to our morality. First, we see that Scripture warns us about what is good, bad, right, and wrong—Psalm 19:11. Scripture also understands the reality of our consciences and that our consciences seek peace. The Psalmist asked, “who can discern their own errors?” (Ps 19:12). We know we do bad things, but we need to know what bad things really are so that we can avoid them and be forgiven of the wrong we have done (Ps 19:12b). Finally, Psalm 19:13-14 demonstrates the inner desire we have to be pleasing to God and our fellow man. Psalm 19:13-14 shows us that by following the morality outlined by Scripture we can be “blameless, innocent of great transgression” and that “the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart” can be “pleasing in God’s sight (Ps 19:14). We can be moral because the standard of morality has shown us the way. God alone is the efficient cause of morality. 

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