Know What You Believe and Why You Believe It

Does God Exist?

Part One

In today’s skeptical, relativistic world, embracing any “truth claim” or “moral absolute” is acceptable only if they remain personal and does not infringe on another person’s beliefs or sensitivities. Allowing the public display of the Ten Commandments or permitting Christmas mangers scenes featuring the baby Jesus are now considered offensive to many atheists and agnostics. There has even been a massive secular outcry to disallow the greeting, “Merry Christmas” around the month of December.  Critics argue we should replace it with a more sensitive, multicultural greeting such as, “Happy Holidays”.

Is it really the idea of a Christmas greeting card or a plastic doll posing as an infant Jesus on a courthouse lawn that is causing all the stir amongst our secular friends? No, not by a long shot. It’s the idea that all these traditions point to the idea that the majority of people believe there is a God that really does exists and He has given us rules (moral absolutes) by which all people are meant to live by.  This notion of a creator God who has given us specific laws to conduct our lives by is absolutely abhorrent to the secular mindset. Because of these secularizing forces in our culture. Many Christians find themselves ill-equipped to deal with these challenges to their faith.

Apologetics is the discipline that deals with a rational defense of the Christian faith. It comes from the Greek word apologia, which means to give a reason or a defense. Scripture encourages the use of apologetics by all believers: “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in him, but with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

It is paramount that Christians be ready and able to give evidence for personal conviction of faith and salvation. Titus 1:9 makes knowledge of Christian evidences a requirement for church leadership. An elder in the church should “Hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

Since God has created people as rational beings, people are quite rightly unlikely to believe things without ample evidence. God has endowed human beings with the ability to confirm objective reality by seeking valid proofs. God’s creation is comprehensible to all people who can study it and observed His nature revealed in the creation.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth.
Psalm 8:3-9

However, not everyone who hears the gospel message will understand how it applies to their life. The gospel message when first introduced is often misunderstood as irrelevant, offensive and even extreme in the mindset of a secular, narcissistic society. Unbelievers may require more rational or historical evidence to help them navigate through their lifetime of secular education. Not all apologetic approaches will be effective with everyone. You will have to develop your discernment and gain some experience to figure out which works best for your situation.

Secular progressives have tried to paint Christianity as an outdated and irrelevant religion appealing only to the uneducated and the philosophically unsophisticated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christianity is not a blind faith, but rather, a very reasonable faith.

As witnesses of Jesus Christ, we use apologetic arguments to gain trust and validate through science and philosophy, what the Bible already states as truth. Although intellectually focused, there is only one goal and that is to bring people to Christ. We do our mission a great disservice if we answer objections on various topics only for the sake of debate. You are approaching a mind and heart that are lost in ignorance of the truth. Do not get so caught up in peripheral arguments that you miss the gravity of the most central issue at stake.

Until fallen man realizes the true condition of his sinful, rebellious state, he will never appreciate the great sacrifice made by God to redeem him, like a doctor trying to make a cancer patient take medicine when the patient doesn’t believe he is really sick.

Author Harry Blamires accurately frames the dilemma:

“Secularism asserts the autonomous self as the only judge of truth. Christianity imposes the given divine revelation as the final touchstone of truth.”

Your task is not to dispel every argument that an unbeliever throws at you, but rather it is to partner with the Holy Spirit to reveal to the unbeliever their state of sin, moral ignorance and inability without God. While people do require evidence for their doubts, unless the Holy Spirit draws them to believe, all the evidence in the world won’t penetrate their foolish hearts. In such cases, they don’t have an information problem, but a heart problem.

The Bible clearly states that the natural mind is hostile toward God, unwilling to subject itself to God’s laws (Romans 8:7). The very notion of God is totally contrary to the carnal mindset of lost humanity. Perhaps this explains why, according to the Barna OmniPoll survey, forty-five percent of atheists, agnostics, and religiously unaffiliated in American agree with the statement Christianity is extreme.

If such results are taken to be indicative, that represents almost half of the adult population in America. The believer’s faith in God and in His resurrected Son is thereby considered extreme. Is this surprising to you? If you’re shocked, don’t be. That is exactly what the first-century believers had to contend with.

The Bible freely tells us that the message of the cross is “foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In other words, those caught in the trap of carnal thinking see the gospel message as contrary, irrelevant and even offensive.

There are a variety of ways to engage our world with the truth of Christianity. We must always be sensitive to individual people and opportunities as they open up to us. Do not forget why we are here and to what we are called:

I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel.
1 Cor. 9:19-23

God’s heart is to seek and save those who are lost. He also wants to heal those who are hurting and minister to those who are in need. But He gives each of us different skills, aptitudes and opportunities to do so. As Calvin Miller said, “A missionary can never be a missionary until he or she learns the art of looking around.”

I have listed four classical apologetic arguments that you can use to engage others about the subject of faith and God.

Classical apologetics stress rational arguments for the existence of God and historical evidence supporting the truth of Christianity. Some of the earliest arguments we have today were made by St. Anselm and Thomas Aquinas.

These arguments can be extremely useful when trying to address legitimate questions that non-believers have about God’s existence and His nature.

1. The Cosmological Argument: Cause and Effect

The Cosmological Argument sometimes referred to as the Kalam Cosmological Argument, presents two premises and one conclusion. In the field of logic, if both premises are to be considered true (factual), then the conclusion must necessarily be true, as well. This makes an argument valid.

The proof for the Cosmological Argument is as follows:

Premise A: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

Premise B: The universe began to exist.

Conclusion C: Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence..

We now know that the universe is not eternal. It came into existence in the ancient past. Additionally, it is physically impossible for nothing to cause something. Thanks to astrophysicist Edwin Hubble and his scientific discovery regarding the expansion of the universe in 1929 at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California, the laws of physics themselves attest to this fact. Hubble announced his finding that all distant nebulae (galaxies) were retreating from one another in a linear manner.

In other words, since we know the universe is expanding out in all directions, when we rewind the cosmic clock back billions of years to the ancient past we would arrive at a singularity, that somehow appeared, then became unstable and exploded producing all the matter and energy we now experience in the known universe.

This is the first evidence that the universe has a beginning sometimes referred to as the Big Bang. Since we know that the Big Bang was the beginning of all matter, energy, and space-time, we can also know that whatever caused the Big Bang had to be immaterial, timeless, all-powerful, creative and conscious. Such an entity would have had to exist before and beyond matter.

To get a “Big Bang”, you must have a Big Banger:

A conscious mind that is immaterial (spiritual), timeless (eternal) and all-powerful (omnipotent). The cosmos is clearly the work of a master designer of super intelligence. Centuries ago the great Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that God was the “Unmoved Mover”. God is the uncaused cause, creator of everything that exists in time and space.

The second scientific proof regarding the universe’s beginning is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states the universe is running out of usable energy. This is also known as the law of entropy. Image pouring yourself a hot cup of coffee in your kitchen. You go to your office and answer some emails. Two hours later, you return to the kitchen looking for your hot cup of coffee.  After two hours the coffee is no longer hot, it has cooled off to room temperature. That’s how entropy works.

The universe could not possibly be eternal, because we still have usable energy available. Just like our cup of coffee, all the heat would be gone by now if the universe was eternal.  The universe would have suffered heat death by burning up all of its usable energy. Since the universe still has usable energy, it must, therefore, have had a beginning in the finite past.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”(Genesis 1:1).