Today, we're diving deep into a question that has been boggling minds for centuries: "Is God real?" Some people say yes, some say no, and others say it's all about faith. So, we're gonna explore all sides of this debate and try to shed some light on one of the most fascinating topics in human history. We're gonna talk about the evidence, the arguments, and everything in between. So, whether you're a believer, a skeptic, or just plain curious, grab a snack and get comfy because we're about to have a mind-blowing conversation about the existence of God.
Arguments For the Existence of God
First up, let's talk about religious and spiritual beliefs that support the existence of God. For centuries, if not millennia, people have turned to religion and spirituality to find meaning in their lives and to understand the world around them. Many religious traditions have their own unique beliefs about the nature of God and the role that God plays in the universe. Some believe that God created the world, while others believe that God is present in every aspect of our lives.
Also, one of the classic arguments for the existence of God is the “Kalam cosmological argument.” This argument can be described by these three points:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its beginning.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause for its beginning.
Not only does the Kalam argument state that the beginning of the universe has a cause, but it implies that cause is consistent with a personal God as described in Christian scripture. Dr. William Lane Craig, the author of “The Kalam Cosmological Argument.” quotes this: “Creating the universe is a free act which is independent of any prior determining conditions… Freedom of the will enables one to get an effect with a beginning from a permanent, timeless cause. Thus, we are brought not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe but to its Personal Creator.”
This argument hangs largely on the truth of the second premise, “the universe began to exist;” if the universe had no beginning then this argument fails. It is important, then, to consider the evidence as to whether the universe had a beginning. Both scientific and philosophical evidence exists to support the conclusion that the universe had a beginning.
Today the “Big Bang” is the standard model for cosmology. The “Big Bang” is supported by several lines of scientific evidence, including (but not limited to) Einstein’s theory of general relativity and astronomical observations that nebulae in the universe are simultaneously moving away from the Earth and each other. Further, the second law of thermodynamics indicates the universe will eventually experience “heat death” and that all energy will reach a state of equilibrium. Because this has not occurred yet, an infinite amount of time cannot have already passed; therefore the universe cannot have always existed. Few scientists today deny that a “Big Bang” occurred; current scientific arguments as to the beginning of the universe typically focus on whether the universe existed in some form prior to the singularity event.
Philosophy also speaks to a finite universe. If the universe had no beginning, then an infinite series of events would precede the current moment. But things cannot actually exist in infinite quantity; as a result, the past must be finite and the universe must have had a beginning. A related argument indicates that an infinite series of events cannot be completed and as a result, if there was an infinite amount of time in the past, the current time could not be reached.
So the most reasonable conclusion from the given evidence is that the universe had a beginning. The evidence from science and philosophy supports the Kalam cosmological argument, which itself supports the argument that a personal creator is the cause of the beginning of the universe.
In addition to providing evidence for the beginning of the universe, science has also identified evidence that the universe is “fine-tuned.” This “fine-tuning” argument “refers to the fact that the constants and quantities built into the cosmos must fall within an extraordinarily narrow range for the universe to be life-permitting and an even narrower one for highly complex rational agents such as human beings.”
Essentially, science has discovered that if the universe were even slightly different human life could not exist and that a universe like the one we find ourselves in is extremely improbable. The evidence for “fine-tuning” is so overwhelming that it is essentially universally accepted by scientists.
For example, think about how our planet relates in size to our sun, and how our sun is only an average size star compared to the multitude of others that we’ve seen and discovered in the universe. This presents only a slither of our creator’s power and we can agree with the psalmist as he exhorted in Psalm 33:8 “Let all the earth fear the Lord.” Even outside of the stars' raw power that they possess, consider this: without the light of the sun, all life on Earth would soon perish. The sun’s life-giving energy provides a constant reminder of our creator’s steadfast love. The God who shines His gift of light on all.
Arguments against the existence of God
Here are 5 major philosophical criticisms of God as viewed by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are as follows:
Because evil exists, God cannot be all-powerful. all-knowing and loving and good at the same time.
Because God allows pain, disease and natural disasters to exist, he cannot be all-powerful and also loving and good in the human sense of these words.
Destinies are not allocated on the basis of merit or equality. They are allocated either arbitrarily, or on the principle of "to him who has, shall be given, and from him who has not shall be taken even that which he has." It follows that God cannot be all-powerful and all-knowing and also just in the human sense of the word.
Since the Gods of various religions differ widely in their characteristics, only one of these religions, or none, can be right about God.
Since God is invisible, and the universe is no different than if he did not exist, it is simpler to assume he does not exist
Understand this: Science has not and can not disprove the existence of God. What science is able to do is offer much better mechanisms and explanations for specific phenomena once thought to only be possible by the will of God.
Science has not given us a complete picture of our universe, but it leaves less and less for the so-called God of the gaps arguments to occupy. In other words, science offers mechanisms for which the exclusion of God from the mechanism does not lose any explanatory power. One of those is the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin. Darwin proposed that species can change over time, that new species come from pre-existing species, and that all species share a common ancestor. In this model, each species has its own unique set of heritable (genetic) differences from the common ancestor, which have accumulated gradually over very long time periods.
Darwin’s notion that existing species, including man, had developed over time due to constant and random change seemed to be in clear opposition to the idea that all creatures had been created “according to their kind” by God, as described in the first chapter of the biblical book of Genesis. Before Darwin, the prevailing scientific theory of life’s origins and development had held that species were fixed and that they never changed. This theory, known as “special creationism,” comported well with the biblical account of God creating the fish, fowl, and mammals without mention of subsequent alteration.
Darwin fully understood, and at times agonized over, the threat that his work might pose to traditional religious belief, explaining in an 1860 letter to American botanist Asa Gray that he “had no intention to write atheistically.” But, he went on, “I cannot see as plainly as others do … evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to be too much misery in the world.”
This leads us to explore the belief in atheism. Atheism is a critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial. It is rooted in an array of philosophical systems. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Democritus and Epicurus argued for it in the context of materialism (the doctrine that all of reality is essential to the nature of matter). In the 18th century David Hume and Immanuel Kant, though not atheists, argued against traditional proofs for God’s existence, making belief a matter of faith alone. Atheists such as Ludwig Feuerbach held that God was a projection of human ideals and that recognizing this fiction made self-realization possible. Marxism exemplified modern materialism. Beginning with Friedrich Nietzsche, existentialist atheism proclaimed the death of God and the human freedom to determine value and meaning. Logical positivism holds that propositions concerning the existence or nonexistence of God are nonsensical or meaningless.
Analysis and comparison of the arguments
Now that we’ve laid out both arguments: the case for the existence of God & the case against the existence of God how can we now decide which argument is actually true? If you haven’t caught on by now, notice the language I’ve been using throughout such as argument, case, and evidence. Sounds similar to a court case or some type of investigation right? How will we be able to determine which argument, in this case, to judge rightly? So now let’s transition to a word that we all need to examine, and that is the word TRUTH. A word we’ve all heard of, but in today’s world the truth is jaded oftentimes. So how can we determine what truth is when there are differing views on what truth actually is? Know this, definitions matter. Sometimes we use the same vocabulary, but different dictionaries. And if we want to have good conversations, it’s important that we clarify our definitions. The next time the word “truth” comes up in conversation, here are 3 things to remember:
Number 1: Some people mistakenly treat their subjective claims as though they are objectively true.
“Subjective truth claims” are grounded in the subjects (the people) who make them. For example, if I say, “Oatmeal raisin cookies are the best dessert,” this simply is a matter of my own personal opinion. I (as the subject) get to decide if this claim is true, and while it may be true for me, it isn’t necessarily true for others. That’s okay because everyone is entitled to their personal, subjective opinion about a variety of claims, from what they prefer for dessert, what they desire in a new car, or their favorite movie.
But many people think all truth claims are a matter of personal or cultural perspective. If this is correct, truth is entirely subjective, grounded either in the personal views of individual subjects, or the collective cultural consensus of groups of subjects.
Number 2: Understanding the difference between subjective and objective truth claims can be a matter of life or death.
While my claim about dessert is grounded in my personal, subjective tastes, some claims are true, regardless of my preferences. That’s because they aren’t grounded in the desires of a subject but are instead grounded in the nature of an object. We call these kinds of claims “objective truth claims.”
Imagine, for example, you’re foraging for edible mushrooms with a friend. Your goal is the tasty Asian “paddy straw” mushroom, a variety of mushrooms that are used extensively in Asian cuisines. You find one, but your friend abruptly stops you from picking it. “That’s not a ‘paddy straw’,” she says. “That’s a ‘death cap’ mushroom. They look alike, but ‘death caps’ are called that for a reason: they are extremely poisonous!” You smartly decide to leave the mushroom alone.
What made your friend’s statement about the “death cap” mushroom true? Was it simply her subjective opinion? If you held a different opinion about the mushroom, would that have rendered it safe to eat? (don’t want to find that out the hard way right? lol) So is the truth about the poisonous nature of the mushroom grounded in your subjective opinion or in the nature of the mushroom itself?
Your friend’s declaration is an excellent example of an objective truth claim. The “death cap” mushroom is poisonous for anyone who eats it, whether they would personally affirm the claim or not. “’Death cap’ mushrooms are poisonous,” is an objective claim about reality, rooted in the nature of the object: the mushroom. It might be a true objective claim, or it might be a false objective claim, but one thing is certain: our personal, subjective opinion won’t change the innate nature of the mushroom.
Number 3: Caring people help others to understand the difference between subjective and objective truth claims.
Imagine responding to your friend’s claim about the mushroom in the following way: “Mushrooms have been a delicacy for thousands of years, and I love them. From my perspective, they are all safe to eat.” Should your friend intervene and stop you from eating the “death cap”? If so, on what basis should she do this if all truth claims are simply a matter of perspective?
If your friend does act to stop you, should that intervention be seen as oppressive interference, condemnation, or some form of bigotry? If all truth claims are simply a matter of subjective perspective, her efforts could certainly be seen in one of those three ways.
But if there is an objective, deadly truth about the nature of the “death cap” mushroom, her efforts to help you see the difference between subjective and objective claims should be seen as nothing less than an act of righteous compassion. She apparently loved you enough to clarify your confusion.
So now that we’ve come to this point, what is your verdict? If you are still unsure, similar to a court case, allow me to give you my closing argument. So let’s say, that I was a detective, and I was going to investigate you as a suspect in a case, and I had an eye-witness who said, ‘I saw him do it.’ I’d say, OK, great. That’s one piece of evidence, not bad so far. Now, of course, if I had more evidence, that would be even better, right?
So what if your fingerprints and DNA were also discovered at the scene, and you made statements to implicate yourself before AND after the crime, and your behavior (as later observed) seemed to implicate your involvement? If this were the case, I’d have a lot more evidence from different categories; some direct evidence (the statement of the eyewitness) and some indirect evidence. These are the kinds of pieces of evidence that make a cumulative case convincing. It’s not just that we have lots of evidence pointing to the same conclusion, but it’s also that the evidence is from a variety of sources and categories.
So, the case for God’s existence is very similar. I can identify eight pieces of evidence in “God’s crime scene.”
For example, the evidence, in this case, includes the origin of the universe and the fine-tuning of the universe, two cosmological pieces. We also must consider the appearance of life in the universe and the appearance of design in biology, two biological pieces of evidence. In addition, we must add the existence of consciousness and free agency, two mental pieces of evidence. Finally, we must consider the existence of objective moral values and evil, two moral pieces of evidence.
These are very different categories. Some are revealed through sciences, others through philosophy. There is a lot of evidence to consider, and the different categories of evidence point to the same reasonable inference. There’s one common causal factor that could explain all eight pieces of evidence in four very different categories, the same way you might’ve been the one common causal factor that would explain all the evidence in the case I was first making against you. In that first case, you were the most reasonable inference.
In a similar way, if God (as the one common causal ‘suspect’) can explain all of these attributes of the universe, He is the most reasonable inference.
The evidence in the universe, based on this cumulative case, points to a divine intruder, a cosmic creator, an all-powerful, all-knowing God who is non-material, non-spatial, non-temporal, creative, the source of information in the DNA, the conscious mind who chooses freely, provides the basis for moral law, and sets the standard for righteousness. That kind of Being would explain all the evidence we see in the cumulative case.
So there you have it! If you were a skeptic before and have any questions please email me and I’ll be more than happy to help. If you’ve been angry with God, and denied His existence, but you now feel Him calling you back into a relationship with Him, or even for the first time then I want to encourage you to answer that call. All of creation displays His majesty, glory, and love. Receive His love today, and be reconciled to Him by repenting of your sins and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to leave you with this passage of scripture in Revelation Chapter One, verses five through eight:
5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
May the Lord God bless you, and keep you. May His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. I love you all, thanks for reading.