I had a recent question on my stance on the Bible; here is the link to a previous article on my blog: The Reliability of The Bible. I encourage all the new readers to my blog (hello, BTW!) to utilize the “search” function on the side of the page when looking for certain topics. As always, comments welcome…
Tag Archives: Apologetics
I had some feedback awhile ago, and the email contained a question about evidence. What evidence is out there that someone can read or know that would support that idea that Christianity is “it?” Meaning, evidence that supports the idea that Christianity is true. Obviously, for this site, find the “apologetics” link off to the side, and you can review what I’ve posted so far in that section. I always welcome questions, so if there is something you’d like me to covers, feel free to comment.
First, I have to make a couple of things clear. Christianity’s job, as a religion, is to point to Christ. Christianity is only true because it is based on Truth, and Christ is Truth. Religion doesn’t save you; Jesus does. So, anything and everything that is presented as evidence ultimately points to Christ. Anyone who wants to understand Christians should learn of Christ, and further, He invites everyone to do just that. The sign we are promised is the sign of Jonah, in Christian terms, it is Jesus Christ and His resurrection.
If non-believers (and even believers) would keep that fact in mind, a lot less confusion would occur in my opinion. One of the things that can contribute keeping non-believers in a state of non-belief is their cries of “hypocrisy!” when it comes to Christians. Well, sorry, Christians solid in their faith will admit we are nothing but a bunch of sinners who slip and stumble and fall…but we have a Shepherd that forgives us, and picks us again. It’s the Shepherd you need to be examining, not the flock. Look to Christ; He’d the only human who lived a perfect life, and who is not a hypocrite, including everyone reading this (that includes me in case anyone was wondering).
This same idea hold true for anyone who has either been hurt by a certain church, or another person claiming to be a believer. Unfortunately not everyone who claims to be Christian is, and again, even those that are can and do slip and fall and sin. Mere humans will disappoint, there is no doubt about it, but Christ never will.
So, that’s issue number one; Christ. Who do you say that He is? If you are one of those people who tries to convince themselves that Christ never even existed, well, you have to be honest enough to really, truly look at the evidence of His existence (just as in introduction, Tektonics has an article discussing this idea of the Christ-myth). If you are one of those people who tries to paint Christ as a good and wise teacher, you have to be honest enough to admit that He didn’t leave that option without you also believing His other teachings; that He’s “it,” and there’s something wrong with the world and all of us that only He can fix. One good source for this idea, including the evidence for the resurrection can be found here: The Resurrection by Dr. Gene Scott.
Second, we have the Bible. Before anyone jumps on me about “circular logic” and using the Bible to prove the Bible, please read my post on Biblical Reliability. In that post you will find other links, and also different books you can research. There are many reasons why you can trust the Bible, take some time to study them; historical reliability, archaeological reliability, prophetic reliability, its internally consistent, etc… This is were evidence for Christ, and evidence for the Bible intersect, for example; all the Messianic prophecies that are contained within the Bible, and Jesus fulfillment of a substantial number, and His future fulfillment of the rest. Fulfilled prophecy in other areas is also very interesting and enlightening to study.
There are also personal evidences. I don’t go into them very much on my site, or on other forums because most non-believers want “external” evidences, or claim they do at least. Evidence that can be researched by them that is more “objective.” However, the transforming power of Christ, and the Holy Spirit in our lives is some of the dearest evidences we Christians have, and are usually happy to share when asked. I know that for me, my life would look and be totally different without Christ and the Holy Spirit interceding for me, guiding me, etc…
Which brings me to my last point in this particular post; no amount of evidence in the world, from fulfilled prophecy, to archaeological and historical evidences will sway you if you are not willing to have your heart softened. All of creation screams out that there is a Creator behind it all…and yet, some people don’t like to retain God in their knowledge. Looking into all of this is not time to cop an attitude, this kind of thing requires great thought, and a willingness to admit when one has been wrong. Discussions happen between people, and it’s so much easier to cling onto a set of beliefs when you are dialoguing…but this type of research into the very truth of our world is something to be done soberly, and with true searching. You don’t constantly have to talk to another human about it, but it’d be nice if you’d talk to Him about it, and ask Him to help believe in Him if He’s really there, ask Him for His grace; don’t do it on a website, don’t do it to try to prove a point, don’t do it to mock…go somewhere by yourself, be honest, and simply ask for help to believe in Him.
Recently I had the honor to “witness” an agnostic finally connect with God. She said it wasn’t any one thing anyone had said to her, but rather, she woke up one night, and just knew. After that realization that there was a God, and Jesus was Who He claimed to be, everything everyone had told her all fell into place and it all made sense, it all clicked; the Gospel message, all the apologetics, etc… Seek Him diligently and honestly, you won’t be disappointed.
I had to make a post about this, because it is something that amuses me, and it has come up once more in the past few days. Just so everyone here knows, when I’m “absent” for a while from my blog, I’m usually carrying on apologetics elsewhere on the web. This week I was dialoguing with two atheists simultaneously on another website.
When in deep discussion on topics such as Darwinian evolution, philosophy, psychology, etc… there is an assumption that many of the atheists I’ve dialogued with make. That assumption (contention), especially when it comes to Darwinian evolution is that if you don’t buy into it, you obviously have never been exposed to any real educational or scientific material. Translation; if you don’t swallow the Darwinist line, you are a poor ignorant wretch who doesn’t know any better.
And lest anyone think this is a personal issue; it isn’t. I’ve seen this contention leveled against many many different individuals, not just me. What is also amusing is that the atheists leveling this charge think they are being polite…because we all know if you don’t buy into Darwinian evolution and you actually do have a scientific education, then you have to be either a liar or suffering from delusions. Heh.
So, anyway, I politely explain that I’ve graduated high school, university, and grad school, and am now teaching at a college level, and that I assure them I’ve been exposed to Darwinist thought all through my educational career, and further, to toot my own horn since it is relevant; I’ve aced every class in which Darwinism is preached. Can you guess the next contention? “You had to have gone through a religious institution, and you have to be teaching at a religious institution.” Seriously. And, this isn’t limited to discussions of Darwinist evolution by any means; the latest instance of this was when I was discussing Pascal’s Wager.
When I point out that, in fact, I’ve never attended, nor taught at a religious institution, that I’ve had all of my education and employment at secular schools, there is a deafening silence from the other side. It throws a kink in their thought processes, and that is sad. Why is it sad? Because they have this false impression given them by leading atheist proselytizers that Christians are a bunch of drooling idiots…which in turn shows the tendency of some leading atheists to resort to ad hominem attacks against believers.
So, what is the point of this post? Don’t assume just because someone opposes things like Darwinian evolution that they lack the necessary exposure (kind of like a virus maybe?) to the Naturalists’ POV. I shouldn’t have to assure anyone that at this point in our society, we’ve all been exposed, and it is starting now even prior to grade school in things like children’s cartoons. If you doubt a person’s education (formal or informal), their experience with Darwinist thought or something similar, after checking your own biases, just ask if you truly want to know and aren’t being facetious or sarcastic.
I was just posting apologetics info on a forum I frequent, and realized I hadn’t blogged about this topic here yet. This is just a fun little snippet of something my husband and I found one time, and enjoy discussing. It is one of those small details that lends so much credence to the Biblical record, including the times when the authors record miracles:
Mark 8:22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly
Guess what we find today when individuals who have been blind are cured by surgery? They cannot comprehend what they are seeing. They have sensation, but not perception. They suffer from visual agnosia. They actually have to learn to perceive what they are “seeing” this can be a tough process, and some never fully see like a person sighted since birth, they sometimes never “see” clearly. You can read about an interesting case of this in Oliver Sack’s book An Anthropologist on Mars and I believe even the author catches the connection. So, Jesus first heals the man’s sight (sensation), then he heals his perception. Did He miss the perception the first time around? I don’t think so – for those of us in this century it shows us that although Mark might not have known it when writing his gospel, now we can see why the blind man Jesus healed could not perceive at first; Mark faithfully recorded the incident, though he couldn’t have known it would lend credence to this particular miracle, for he couldn’t have known what visual agnosia was. Our modern technology backs up the case of visual agnosia in the Bible.
I know many of my fellow Christians get frustrated from time to time when discussing Christianity with non-believers, and yes, I too get frustrated from time to time. Why is the frustration there? Many times it is because something seems so obvious to us, and we know it to be true and we are trying to explain it. What’s the problem? Often times it seems the other person just isn’t getting it, and we can’t figure out why. It is the truth, we know it is the truth, we see the evidence plainly, why can’t they?
Well, the answer is in scripture, and we just have a tendency to forget it sometimes.
1 Corinthians 2: 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
There are aspects to God character, God’s ways, His plans, etc… that cannot be captured by man alone, the “natural man” literally cannot grasp them. It takes the Spirit of God to communicate those truths to us. Much of our frustration arises out of trying to explain deep theological issues, or describing God’s character or actions to someone who admittedly does not believe in Him…if they are not born again, then The Spirit of God does not reside in them, hence is not communicating to them in the same manner as He is to us.
This is not boasting, nor mocking in any way, shape, or form. It is a truth that we cannot deny, and anyone who has gone through a conversion experience to Christianity can testify to this idea. The Spirit is quite capable of working on the “outside” of natural man, drawing him, prodding him, nipping at his heels in order to give that natural man a choice…enabling grace. This is why the gospel in all it’s simple beauty is to be preached to all; it is that chance to faithe, to choose, and is understood with the help of the Spirit if only from the “outside.”
But, it is the “meat” of our faith that can be frustrating to communicate, in some cases even to fellow believers.
1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
Paul is pointing out that while these Corinthian believers have the Spirit, they are not responding to that Spirit and growing in Him as they should; hence, Paul has still been feeding them “milk” as one would a babe, and not “meat.” I can sense Paul’s frustration here, as it appears he wishes he could really dig into deeper spiritual teaching, but must hold back. Our frustration often comes when we do try to delve into deep spiritual teaching and we actually expect a “natural” man to respond as though he already has the Spirit of God dwelling within him. (Also, this is actually a problem with many churches; they fail to feed the flock with meat as the flock grows in knowledge, the preachers keep dishing out milk as though they are still dealing with babes. As the babes grow up they crave meat, but the milky preachers don’t/can’t provide it.)
I once had an conversation with an online acquaintance who was not a Christian, but who I had a relationship based on calm dialogue, back and forth, kicking around ideas. After failing to explain, what to me was very obvious, I finally put my thoughts into words. I told him the situation was like trying to describe the visual perception of colors, movement, light, etc… to someone who was blind since birth. That is the level of perception that God’s Spirit brings into someone who faithes on Christ.
Far from being angry or being offended by my comment, it helped them to understand the frustration that I was indeed feeling. Now, my point is that it does no good to be frustrated; it is understandable, but does no one any good. If you find you are getting too frustrated; remember the important point; it is never our own words that bring about knowledge or illumination; it is the Spirit. He can work through our words, especially the good news of the gospel to quicken hearts, but it begins, carries on, and ends with the Spirit.
Please read part 1 to get the general idea of the “problem of evil.” Various philosophers/theologians have offered different “solutions” to the “problem” of evil. In this part, I’m going to explore various proposed solutions…saving Augustin’s view, and free will for a bit later.
I want to say right off that I don’t agree with all of these positions, but will try to remember when to point that out, and/or provide my readers with scripture that backs up or rejects these ideas. Also, I’m not covering every single proposed “solution” here, nor am I including a lot of detail. I’m simply giving a very brief overview of some of the more “miscellaneous” proposed solutions, and will cover the “major” ones a bit later.
First, there is a “catch-all” idea; God is transcendent, His ways are inscrutable. God is not bound by space and time, and He is the sum of all perfections…therefore, we can’t understand with our limited human brains and experience how God can be both all powerful and all loving and not instantly do away with all evil, pain, suffering, etc…
This “solution” has it’s good parts, and it’s holes. Yes, God is indeed light years beyond us as far as power, understanding, knowledge, etc… There is no doubt about it, even by sheer definition. Scripture backs this up as well.
Isaiah 55: 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
And there is the “litany of questions” God demands of Job to highlight God as being far beyond humans, here is a small sample; Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
So, yes, God’s ways are not to be judged by us, nor can they be fully comprehended. However, that misses the point that God has indeed revealed certain aspects of existence to us…He has taught us, like we would teach children (or dogs ). He has taught us about our world, about ourselves, about the world to come, and about His nature. Within this sharing of knowledge, He has also taught us about evil, and where suffering comes from, so I do not find the “solution” of God’s ways being inscrutable to completely answer the problem of evil within a Christian framework, though I can see where it could cover it from a general POV.
Second, there is a “solution” that says to look to the overall goodness. That the totality of existence is weighted to the the good, not to evil. Well, I can see this if the future is included from a Christian perspective, and there is a small piece of truth to the idea. However, if I was approaching this from a general perspective, this “solution” wouldn’t convince me.
There is too much evil and suffering in this world for the “goodness of the totality” argument to really be effective. All of us humans have gone through horrible, miserable, and painful times. We’ve also been the cause of horrible, miserable, and painful times. That kind of personal experience with evil shows us that it is indeed a problem, even if goodness outweighs it…we still want to know “why?” and where evil comes from.
The third idea is that it is logically impossible to have a world without evil, since God’s own character is being defined as “without evil.” His creation, so this “solution” goes, would have to be lesser; therefore, a world without evil is logically impossible because of God’s own definition. This one I personally don’t buy at all. Why? Because it is true that God is utterly Righteous, but that does not preclude His creation having that righteousness as well.
That aspect of God is only one of the aspects that makes Him, or defines His as…God. We Christians believe we “participate” in God’s righteousness through Christ, but that does not make me, a mere created being, equal with God, nor would it make a created world without evil on par with God. In short, I don’t see the logic in this proposed “solution.”
And finally, there is one “solution” that says that all evil is simply a by-product of nature. There are some (I repeat some) theistic evolutionists that tend toward this solution (by no means do I mean to imply all theistic evolutionists do; there’s so many different beliefs under that umbrella).
The idea here that “evil” is a necessary by-product of nature, that laws such as gravity are set up and through natural processes, that evil will happen. Again, this idea could be worked into a Deist position, or a theistic evolutionary position. If God did indeed use evolution as the tool to create mankind, then it follows that the death, disease, and suffering that drives evolution would be a by-product. So too would moral evil, since the physicality of humans, and our inherent weaknesses would be a logical outcome of this approach.
I don’t buy this explanation either. Yes, once the fall of mankind happened, then natural laws do have a very real effect on us…for example, if we trip and fall, gravity pulls us down and we can indeed become hurt. However, I do not believe this would satisfy the skeptics would tout the “problem of evil” as a real problem. It simply begs the question; why did God choose evolution as the tool of creation?
More on the problem of evil later.
This argument is also presented in a general way in philosophical circles; Moral Law only makes logical sense if there is indeed a God, though they don’t really attempt to label which God it is from a philosophical perspective. As always, I’ll present this from that general perspective, and then show how it does indeed point to The God; The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, The God of Christianity.
There is a distinction to be made before really getting into the main argument; that is the distinction between moral laws and Moral Law. Moral laws (notice the lower case “l” and the plural), are those laws that vary from culture to culture, and person to person. Moral Law (capital “L” (which is a personal notation preference of mint) and the fact that it is singular) pertains to morality in and of itself; the fact that everyone recognized that there is “a” right and wrong, even if disagreeing on the particulars. Moral Law denotes moral principles that are absolute, and objective; in other words meaningful morality.
Humans have a definite sense of right and wrong, there are even areas of “universal” morality; such as each and every human culture having some kind of laws about marriage, and/or sexual practices. Then, even with the differing moral laws, we see a high level of similarities.
CS Lewis brought this point home by urging people to compare the laws and moral thinking of the various civilizations; Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Hindus, Chinese, Babylonians, etc… Lewis tries to get people to imagine a culture where cowardice in good causes is admired and taught to the next generation; it just wouldn’t happen, it would be illogical. The idea of morality and Moral Law, or Real Morality is discussed by Lewis in depth in Mere Christianity, which I recommend to anyone digging into this.
But, as mentioned before, the Moral Argument rests more on Moral Law, instead of the changing laws of culture. Moral Law is moral consciousness; everyone has a sense of right and wrong, even someone like a psychopath. Now, that psychopath won’t have the same idea of moral laws, but there will be somethings that he will indeed hold to be “right” or “wrong.” He might very well think it ok for him to kill someone, but he probably would think it wrong for someone to steal his car.
On another level, the psychopath example serves as another illustration; the vast majority of humans recognize that there is something wrong and deviant with that psychopath. We all recognize that we don’t just have a difference of subjective opinion with Hitler, no, we recognize that Hitler was absolutely and objectively wrong in his actions, even to the point of being evil.
There can only be objective and meaningful right and wrong, good and evil, with an Absolute Law-Giver. That Law-Giver is labeled “God.” Of course there are some philosophers that claim to be relativists; they claim that indeed all morality is completely and utterly subjective…but how many of those philosophers actually live out that perspective?
If I stand up in front of a room of people and declare it perfectly ok to kill a little three year old child that annoys me, simply because he annoys me, they are going to very rightly disagree. A relativist has to admit that it is a valid opinion, and just as true or good as those that argue against killing that child. That means there would be not actual right nor wrong, no good nor evil, all of it is just opinion.
Relativism also falls by pulling the logical rug out from under its own feet; if every opinion is just as true or right as every other opinion, then what about the opinion that there is an absolute and objective morality?
To any rational human being that is a totally outrageous claim that does not jive with reality. So, if we claim any kind of meaningful morality at all, it requires a Source; an objective, absolute and unchanging source; that source is God.
One wonderful thing about Christianity is that Christ Himself embodies God’s will, and His unchanging nature. Not only did the Law-Giver reveal His will and Law to mankind, He also sent us the Son Who is the absolute model of that Law. He fulfilled the Law without ever sinning (which is simply missing that perfect bulls eye of God’s Will), and He is unchanging in that perfection.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
If morality is right and wrong, we get and act in all true “rightness” via God. God isn’t just the author of Righteousness, and He doesn’t “just” define it like we define a word, He is Righteousness. If Righteousness is “right-ness” everything God does is “right;” God is right if you want to.
Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
It’s not about a matter of arbitrariness, righteousness from God is, just as God is (He is “I AM”). Without God, there is not an actual, useful idea of righteousness, without Him it is a meaningless, subjective, arbitrary concept. This idea is backed up by one of His names; Jehovah-Tsidkenu; The LORD our Righteousness. It’s one of those wonderful teachings of Christianity; we don’t have to really on our own poor righteousness; The LORD Himself is our righteousness. I’ll have to do a longer blog post on this name of God soon.
Leviticus 2:18 Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.
He is constantly revealing Himself to us as Righteousness and Holiness itself. As with the other arguments for God, the God of the Bible fits the bill perfectly.
I must admit, right off the bat that this philosophical argument for God, in its “simplistic” form is one of my least favorites, though when seen as a set of arguments for God, it makes much more logical sense. As with the other two philosophical arguments I’ve already blogged on: The Teleological and Cosmological, this argument is presented as a “general” support for God, not religion specific.
St. Anselm is kind of the “go-to” philosopher for the Ontological Argument, and it revolves around that idea of God, “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” Then, through different logical arguments winds up with the conclusion that God must then exist.
If God is defined, not as just a definition, but as a being that is the most perfect being in existence, or the greatest being possible, then the argument goes that He does indeed exist. Why? Because God is the greatest or most perfect being, and it is greater to exist than to not, therefore God must exist.
To put it simplistically; which would you rather have a million imaginary dollars, or a million real dollars? Which is greater?
The big argument against the Ontological argument for God comes in the form of a question; Is existence a “predicate?” A predicate is a defining property or, if you like, a defining characteristic or attribute. Does the fact of existence actually add anything meaningful to the idea of God?
Well…that is a good question if we stop at Anselm’s first argument, but if we continue to look at his arguments it becomes clear that there is logical reason to see God’s existence a predicate. This “second” argument of Anselm’s revolves around this notion; God is a greater being if He cannot not exist; if His existence is necessary. If His existence is necessary, then it would indeed be a predicate.
Basically the logical idea boils down to two possibilities; since God is not a limited being, either His existence is impossible or it is necessary. The existence of God is not impossible, therefore because of His nature and the nature of existence, His existence is necessary.
To put it in the words of Norman Malcolm (1963), “If God, a being a greater than which cannot be conceived, does not exist then He cannot come into existence or have happened to come into existence, and in either case He would be a limited being, which by our conception of Him He is not. Since He cannot come into existence, if He does not exist His existence is impossible. If he does exist He cannot have come into existence (for the reasons given), nor can He cease to exist, for nothing could cause Him to cease to exist nor could it just happen that He ceased to exist. So if God exists His existence is necessary. Thus God’s existence is either impossible or necessary. It can be the former only if the concept of such a being is self-contradictory or in some way logically absurd. Assuming that this is not so, if follows that He necessarily exists.” (Knowledge and Certainty: Essays and Lectures)
Breathe. Take your time and read it over again slowly…it definitely is a logical argument that can confuse if read too fast. The first time I read the Ontological argument it felt as though someone was trying to pull the wool over my eyes, or just simply put one over on me. It takes some time to really grasp the logical argument in all of this.
Scriptural backing for this philosophical idea from a Christian perspective? I find the most compelling parallels in the very names of God, such as I AM that I AM, and also titles such as “The Almighty.” The first shows God’s self-existence, and the second shows His supremacy over all things created.
Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God…
The idea of God as the ultimate being is readily apparent as well:
Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
His necessity is also clear, when we read of Him being The Creator of all things;
Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
So, both we as humans define God in a certain way even just on a philosophical level, and God Himself has revealed to us that He is indeed the greatest being possible, that His existence is necessary, and that He does indeed exist.
Again, this is a philosophical approach to the question of whether or not there is a God. This argument is presented in philosophy in a general way; is there a God? Not, is there a specific being from any one religion. The Cosmological Argument for God is the answer to the question; where did all of this (everything contained in our universe; space/time, energy, matter, etc…) come from?
The basic idea is this; nothing comes from nothing. If there was ever absolutely nothing, nothing could ever come into being; therefore there had to be something. This something must be transcendent. It must not be bound by space/time, since space/time is the very thing that had a beginning, that had to come from something.
This is why the Cosmological Argument is sometimes referred to as the “First-Cause” Argument. The first cause is God. Also, a similar title for God; the Unmoved Mover comes up as well. The universe is in motion…to have energy there needs to be “motion.” Nothing can begin to move unless acted upon by a force…so, there has to be something to act to get everything moving. You wind up, through a series of logical steps at God, Who is moved by no other (“unmoved”). If you want to dig more into this from both a philosophical perspective, and a theological one, St. Thomas’ Five Ways are a good starting point.
These things point at the logical conclusion of the self-existence of God. Many skeptics, at this point, ask; Well, who created God, and where did He come from? This question shows a basic lack of understanding the philosophical arguments here.
One simplistic way to explain it is this; Every event (and effect) must have a cause and every created thing must have a creator. God is neither an event (nor an effect), not a created thing; therefore has no need of a cause nor a creator. God has no beginning, since that first “thing” would be transcendent, or outside of time. If there is no time, there is no “beginning” only self existence.
Now, does the Bible back this idea up? Absolutely.
First, you have God as the Creator of all; the originator of all things. Secondly, we have His wonderfully descriptive title of Himself; I AM that I AM.
Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
God reveals truth in His names, and He is very clear here; He is I AM; eternally self-existent…He also clearly tells Who He is in relation to Moses, so that he can relate to God in a more human fashion; The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God does not depend on anything or anyone else for existence unlike everything else.
This is yet another case where logic and reason points directly at the fact that a God does indeed exist and He is The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that makes Him the Christian God. Christ Himself alluded to His divine title, and the Jewish listeners understood Him quite plainly:
John 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
What did the hearers do? Picked up rocks to stone Him to death. Jesus was indeed existent prior to Abraham, even as He was in their midst. At that point in time, not only was He present with those people, He was also, at the same time, present before Abraham was. He also was the Creator;
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Just further support for the Cosmological Argument pointing at the Christian God…and also support for the triune nature of God.
Again, as a remind, if you are taking a philosophy course this argument is presented for the general idea of a God. But, you can see that the Bible not only backs this argument up, it also points directly at The One and only God; The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Within Philosophy in general, there usually is a discussion of whether or not “God” exists. Now, it is important to keep in mind that the starting point in philosophy is a general idea of “God” not a specific religious POV on who/what God is. So, there have been many philosophers that attempt to approach the question from a general standpoint, often formulating arguments for His existence.
One of the major arguments is the Teleological Argument for God. Many people just refer to it as the Design Argument…however, it isn’t just limited to “design” as in the design of living organisms, but also of the apparent “purposefulness” of the universe; which includes the ordered nature of it, such as the laws of physics.
This would also include things like the apparent unity, and harmony of systems within the universe. I’ve posted before on Ecological Biodiversity, and how the whole system works together to the point that naturalistic explanations fall flat.
Paley often comes up in the discussion of the Teleological Argument for God; him and his famous watch analogy. If you happened upon a watch…even laying on the moon…would you believe it just happened to assemble itself, or would you assume it was designed by an intelligence? Simplistic explanation, but you get the picture.
Of course now, the Intelligent Design movement has kind of resurrected this idea and really grounded it in more technical science. The mass amount of information contained in DNA is one example of a subject now scrutinized by ID…not only the amount contained in DNA, but also how that information is read and interpreted and if there can actually be any logical naturalistic atheistic explanation behind all of this, which, thus far, there is not.
If we want to move more to the specific, we find that indeed God Himself puts forth a teleological argument in several places in the Bible, for example;
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
So, the idea that design and purpose shows forth the fact of God can be seen both in a general way, and also in a Christian framework. As always in apologetics, some people will really like to use and/or hear logical arguments such as the teleological argument that can be used either generally to point to a God, or more specifically to point to The God. Some people do not care for philosophical types of apologetics, and prefer to use other arguments. I’m not coming down on the issue either way, in this blog post, just teaching about it, but I do know that as Paul said, everyone is truly without excuse.