The Case For The Existence of God by Bert Thompson, Ph.D. Introduction Either God exists or He doesn’t. There is no middle ground. Any attempt to remain neutral in relation to God’s existence is automatically synonymous with unbelief. It is far from a “moot” question, for if God does exist, then nothing else really matters; if He does not exist, then nothing really matters at all.
If He does exist, then there is an eternal heaven to be gained (Hebrews 11:16) and an eternal Hell to be avoided (Revelation 21:8). The question for God’s existence is an extremely important one. One might wonder why it is necessary to present evidence for the existence of God. As Edward Thomson so beautifully stated it: “..the doctrine of the one living and true God, Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor of the universe, as it solves so many problems, resolves so many doubts, banishes so many fears, inspires so many hopes, gives such sublimity to all things, and such spring to all noble powers, we might presume would, as soon as it was announced, be received by every healthy mind.” Some, however, contrary to their higher interests, have refused to have God in their knowledge and thus have become vain in their reasonings and foolish in their philosophy (Romans 1:21,22,28). They do not see the folly (Psalm 14:1) of saying there is no God.
The Christian has not only the obligation to “give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you..” (I Peter 3:15), but an obligation to carry the Gospel message to a lost and dying world (Mark 16:15-16, et al.). There will be times when carrying the Gospel message to the world will entail setting forth the case for the existence of God. In addition, we need to remember that Christians are not agnostics. The agnostic is the person who says that God’s existence is unknowable. As difficult as it is to believe, some Christians take that same stance in regard to God’s existence.
They assert that they “believe” there is a God, but that they cannot know it. They state that God’s existence cannot be proved. `This is false!’ God’s existence is both `knowable’ and `provable.’ Acceptance of God’s existence is not some “blind leap into the dark” as so many have erroneously asserted. The Christian’s faith is not a purely emotional, subjective “leap,” but instead is a `firm conviction’ regarding facts based upon reasonable evidence. God’s existence can be proved to any fair-minded person.
Granted, we do not mean by the word “proved” that God’s existence can be scientifically demonstrated to human senses as one might, for example, prove that a sack of potatoes weighs ten pounds. But we need to be reminded (especially in our day of scientific intimidation) that empirical evidence (that based solely upon experiment and/or observation) is not the only basis for establishing a provable case. Legal authorities recognize the validity of a `prima facie’ case. Such a case exists when adequate evidence is available to establish the presumption of a fact which, unless such can be refuted, `legally stands as a fact’. Inferential proof (the culmination of many lines of evidence into only one possible conclusion) is an invaluable part of a `prima facie’ case which simply cannot be refuted.
But an important question which serves as a “preface” to the case for God’s existence is this: “From whence has come the idea of God in man’s mind?” The inclination to be religious is universally and peculiarly a human trait. As one writer observed, even today the evidence indicates that “no race or tribe of men, however degraded and apparently atheistic, lacks that spark of religious capacity which may be fanned and fed into a mighty flame.” If, therefore, man is incurably religious–and has the idea of God in his mind–and if we assume that the world is rational, it is impossible that a phenomenon so universal as religion could be founded upon illusion. The question is highly appropriate therefore: what is the source of this religious tendency within man? Alexander Campbell, in his celebrated debate April 13-23, 1829 in Cincinnati, Ohio with Robert Owen, provided the answer to this question in a very positive fashion. He asked Owen from whence the idea of God had come in man’s mind. Owen (and all skeptics) had (have) stated that the idea of God has not come from reason (skeptics hold, of course, that the concept is unreasonable), and that it has not come from revelation.
Campbell pressed Owen to tell him from whence the idea of God `had’ come. Owen retorted, “by imagination.” Campbell then quoted both John Locke and David Hume, two philosophers who are highly respected in the secular community. Hume stated that the “creative power of the mind amounts to nothing more than the faculty of combining, transposing, augmenting and diminishing the materials afforded to us by sense and experience.” The imagination, it turns out, has `no creative power’. Neither reason nor imagination create. Reason, like a carpenter’s yardstick, is a measure, not an originator. Imagination works only on those items already in the mind; it does not “create” anything new. [Sigmund Freud, German psychoanalyst of the first part of the 20th century, attempted to explain God’s existence by stating that man had indeed formed the “heavenly father” from the idea in his mind of his “earthly father.” But this idea will not suffice either.
Is the God of the Bible the God man would “invent” if asked to do so? Hardly. Look around at the “god” man invents when left to his own devices–the “god” of hedonism, epicurianism, subjectivism, or the “god” of “if it feels good, do it.” The God of the Bible is not the God man would invent, if left to his own devices. Freud’s attempt to explain the idea of God in man’s mind failed miserably.] Campbell pointed out to Owen, in a very forceful way, that the idea of God in man’s mind could only have come through revelation. There is no other choice. The concept of God, therefore, though greatly perverted in heathen hands, is ultimately traceable to an original communication between the Creator and the creature. There is no other alternative, all the disclaimers of the atheist notwithstanding.
But suppose the unbeliever objects: “If the idea of God is basic to human nature, we would not be able to deny it; we do deny it, however; therefore it is not intuitive.” It is sufficient to observe in rebuttal to such a claim that man, under the enchantment of a deceptive philosophy, can deny the most obvious of things. Those deluded, for example, by “Christian Science” religion deny the existence of matter and death. Some today deny that the earth is spherical or that man has ever been to the moon. But a denial of facts does not automatically negate the facts. Man’s attitude toward Truth does not change Truth.
Can God’s existence be proven? Can we `know’ God exists? The answer is a resounding “YES!” The psalmist said, “Be still and `know’ that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) as he echoed the Creator’s sentiments to man. The allusions to th e manifestations of Deity in the created world are profuse. David exclaimed, “O Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth, Who has set thy glory upon the heavens?” (Psalm 8:1). In the same psalm, the inspired writer was constrained to say that the heavens are “the work of thy fingers” and the moon and stars “thou hast ordained” (Psalm 8:3). Later David was to utter the beautiful words of Psalm 19:1–“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” Isaiah graphically portrayed the majesty and power of nature’s God when he wrote that God “hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance” (40:12). Dr. E.A.
Maness once remarked, “If the word God were written upon every blowing leaf, embossed on every passing cloud, engraved on every granite rock, the inductive evidence of God in the world would be no stronger than it is.” John C. Monsma, in the text which he edited entitled, `The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe’ (which is a compilation of testimony from forty outstanding American scientists), affirmed “that science can establish, by the observed facts of Nature and intellectual argumentation, that a super-human power exists.” . Dr. A. Cressy Morrison, former President of the New York Academy of Sciences, affirmed that “so many essential conditions are necessary for life to exist on our earth that it is mathematically impossible that all of them could exist in proper relationship by chance on any one earth at one time.” Dr. Arthur H.
Compton, Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago and Nobel laureate, wrote: “It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence–an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered–`In the beginning, God.'” . Louis Agassiz, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard University (and a life-long opponent of Darwinian evolution), made these remarks:. “Though I know those who hold it to be very unscientific to believe that thinking is not something inherent in matter, and that there is an essential difference between inorganic and living and thinking beings, I shall not be prevent ed by any such pretentions of a false philosophy from expressing my conviction that as long as it cannot be shown that matter or physical forces do actually reason, I shall consider any manifestation of physical thought as an evidence of the existence of a thinking being as the author of such thought, and shall look upon intelligent and intelligible connection between the facts of nature as direct proof of a thinking God…` All these facts in their natural connection proclaim aloud the one God whom man may know, adore, and love, and natural history must in good time become the analysis of the thoughts of the Creator of the universe’ as manifested in the animal and vegetable kingdoms.” Lord Kelvin, the famed English thermodynamicist once said, “I cannot admit that, with regard to the origin of life, science neither affirms nor denies Creative Power. `Science positively affirms Creative Power’. It is not in dead matter that we live and move and have our being, but in the creating and directing Power which science compels us to accept as an article of belief… There is nothing between absolute scientific belief in a Creative Power, and the acceptance of the theory of a fortuitous concourse of atoms… Forty years ago I asked Liebig [famed chemist Justus von Liebig–BT], walking some-where in the country, if he believed that the grass and flowers that we saw around us grew by mere chemical forces.
He answered, `No, no more than I could believe that a book of botany describing them could grow by mere chemical forces’… Do not be afraid of being free thinkers! `If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God’, which is the foundation all religion. `You will find science not antagonistic but helpful to religion.'” . One cannot help but wonder what has caused many of the most prominent and brilliant minds of both days gone by and of our day to make such statements. No doubt, at least a partial explanation lies in the fact that they saw a few, or many, of the thousands of “signposts” or “ensigns” scattered throughout the natural world which point clearly to the unseen Designer of nature.
These “signposts” are multitudinous in our world, and plainly obvious to those whose minds have not been blinded by the “god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4), “refusing to have God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). An examination of these “ensigns” makes for a profitable and edifying study. NATURE’S HOME: THE UNIVERSE When the writer of Hebrews stated that, “..every house is builded by someone..” (Hebrews 3:4), he suggested the well-known principle of cause and effect. Today the Law of Causality is the fundamental law of science. Every effect must have an adequate cause. Further indicated is the fact that no effect can be qualitatively superior to or quantitatively greater than the cause. The universe is here, and is a tremendous effect.
Hence, it must be explained in terms of an adequate cause. There are four possible explanations for the universe. (1) It is but an illusion, and does not really exist. This is hardly worthy of consideration. (2) It spontaneously arose out of nothing. This view is absurd, and cannot be entertained scientifically. Dr.
George E. Davis, prominent physicist, has declared:”No material thing can create itself.” . (3) It has always existed. This theory, though held by many atheistic scientists of our day, is scientifically untenable. Many evidences (e.g., the Second Law of Thermodynamics) reveal that the stars are burning up, the sun is cooling off, the earth is wearing out, etc. Such facts indicate that the universe had a beginning; otherwise it would long ago have already reached a state of deadness.
Dr. Robert Jastrow, of NASA, states in his book, `God and the Astronomers : “I am fascinated by some strange developments going on in astronomy… The essence of the strange developments is that the Universe had, in some sense, a beginning–that it began at a certain moment in time… And concurrently there was a great deal of discussion about the fact that the second law of thermodynamics, applied to the Cosmos, indicates that the Universe is running down like a clock. If it is running down, there must have been a time when it was fully wound up…The astronomer comes to a time when the Universe contained nothing but hydrogen–no carbon, no oxygen, and none of the other elements out of which planets and life are made.
This point in time must have marked the beginning of the Universe.” (4) It was created. This is the only remaining alternative and the only reasonable view of the origin of the universe. Since our finite, dependent (and contingent) universe (of matter/energy) did not cause itself, it was obviously caused by an infinite, independent, eternal Mind. God, speaking through Moses (Genesis 15:5) and Jeremiah (33:32), mentioned that “the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured …” Little did we know how true those statements were. Johann Bayer (1603) devised a system to indicate the brightness, or magnitude, of the stars, using the Greek and Roman alphabets to denote their brightness.
[Remember Paul’s statement to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 15:41): “..for one star differeth from another star in glory.”] Men before and after Bayer tried to count the stars. Hipparchus the astronomer, in 128 B.C. counted the stars and said there were 1,026. In 150 A.D., the famous astronomer Ptolemy counted the stars and arrived at the number of 1,056. Years later, in 1575 A.D., the renowned Danish astronomer, Tyco Brah, counted the stars and said there were 777. In 1600 A.D. the German astronomer Johannes Kepler counted the stars and gave the number 1,005.
At last counting (and we are nowhere near finished yet) the number of stars stood at `25 sextillion’. That’s a 25 with twenty-one zeroes after it! There are an estimated one billion galaxies,. and most of them contain billions of stars (the Milky Way galaxy in which we live, for example, contains over `100 billion stars’). It is so large that travelling at the speed of light (186,317.6 miles per second) it would take you 100,000 years to go across just the diameter of the galaxy. Light travels in one year approximately 5.87 x 1O.MDSU/12′ miles. In 100,000 years, that would be 5.87 x 1O.MDSU/17′ miles, or 587+ quadrillion miles.
Our nearest neighboring galaxy is the Andromeda galaxy, which is an estimated 2,000,000 light years away. That’s so far that a radio wave which goes around the earth approximately 8.2 times in one second would require over 1 million years to get there, and a return message would take another 1+ million years. The observable universe has an estimated diameter of 20 billion light years. But it isn’t simply the size of the universe that is so marvelous. The size is important, of course, but so is the `design’.
The earth, for example, in orbiting the sun, departs from a straight line by only one-ninth of an inch every 18 miles–a very straight line in human terms. If the orbit changed by one-tenth of an inch every 18 miles, our orbit would be vastly larger and we would all freeze to death. If it changed by one-eighth of an inch, we would come so close to the sun w e would all be incinerated. Are we to believe that such precision “just happened by accident”? The sun is burning at approximately 20 million degrees Celsius at its interior. If we were to move the earth `away’ 10%, we would soon freeze to death. If we were to move the earth `closer’ by 10%, we would once again be incinerated.
The sun is poised at 93 million miles from earth, which happens to be just right–by accident? The moon is poised some 240,000 miles from the earth. Move it in just onefifth, and twice every day there would be 35-50 feet high tidal waves over most of the earth’s surface. The distance of 240,000 miles happens to he just right–by accident? And consider these facts: the earth is rotating at 1,000 miles per hour on its axis at the equator, and moving around the sun at 70,000 miles per hour (approximately 19 miles per second), while the sun with its solar system is moving through space at 600,000 miles per hour in an orbit so large it would take over 220 million years to complete just one orbit. [Remember the psalmist’s statement (Psalm 19:61) about the sun–“his circuit is from the ends of the heavens.”] What would happen if the rotation rate of the earth around the sun were halved, or doubled? If it were halved, the seasons would be doubled in length, which over most of the earth would cause such harsh summer heat and winter cold that not enough food could be grown to feed the world’s population. If it were doubled, no single season would be long enough to grow the amount of food necessary to feed the world’s population. [Remember God’s words to Moses: (a) “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night: and let them be for `signs and for seasons’, for days and for years” (Genesis 1:14, emp. added), and; (b) “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).] Then there is this matter: from where does our day come? It comes from the earth’s rotation once …