The Existence Of God

1 The Existence Of God

 

The Existence Of God

 

Is God real? This is among the most important of all questions asked. It is also the one that we must settle before we begin a long series on Christian doctrine. After all, Christian doctrine is of no use if there is no God.

 

How does one go about proving the existence of God? He cannot be seen with the eye. God cannot be measured with a scale or a ruler. God cannot be found through scientific experimentation. Christians, however, are convinced that the Trinitarian God of the Bible is real. How can we ever establish His existence as a matter of fact?

 

As we begin with the existence of God, we must go to one of the most basic and most important issues of life: meaning[1]. Once we begin to speak of meaning, different ideas arise. Some believe that there is no meaning. Ironically enough, they expect us to understand the meaning of their words as they speak to us. Others say that all is relative[2], and that meaning changes. Yet others speak of absolutes[3], and declare that meaning is neither related to, nor dependent upon, anything; but meaning exists independently.

 

All of us live as if there is meaning, and as if there are absolutes. When we get a paycheck, and when we make our deposits in the bank, we are definitely convinced that math has meaning, and that the principles of addition and subtraction are absolute. We have no desire for anyone to deal with our money (And we feel the same about the rest of our lives, too.) as if mathematical principles are relative. Furthermore, we live with the understanding that time is an absolute. We all mark time in hours, minutes, and seconds. Though the language may be different from one nation to the next, we all understand that time has meaning, and that there are twenty-four hours in a day. If we did not do so, all would be chaotic.

 

This belief in absolutes is especially relevant when it comes to the things that we know and consider to be true. Truth cannot be relative. By nature, that which is true cannot be false at the same time. This is called the law of non-contradiction, and it tells us that something cannot be A and Non-A simultaneously.

 

For us to have absolutes, we must have an absolute standard[4]. We measure our days by the rotation of the earth. We measure our years by the orbit of Earth around the sun. This means that we recognize that our watches and our calendars have to be reset at times, because a solar year is a bit longer than our calendar year is. Thus we have a leap year every four years. Why? Because we are measuring our time by the standard of the time it takes the earth to make a complete revolution around the sun.

 

Now, the rotation and orbit of the earth are not necessarily absolute. They are subject to change. When it comes to truth, we need an absolute standard, because we speak of truth versus falsehood; and we recognize that truth is absolute. But where does truth get its truthfulness? What is the standard of truth? What is the source of truth? For the answer to these questions, we must turn to the Scriptures, and we shall see that the Christian’s Bible gives him the only logically coherent view of truth, knowledge, and the world.

 

 

 

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

 

There must be a source of all things. There must be a cause of all things. There cannot exist an effect without there first being a cause. The world did not come into being on its own power. There must be a beginning cause that is uncaused. [5]  Christians understand that this uncaused cause is the Creator, the God who is presented to us in the Bible.

 

Creation testifies to us that God exists. The Psalmist tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, Where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1–3) Wherever one goes there is testimony to the existence of God. The starry heaven and all that is in the sky above us tell us that God is great, valuable, and is beautiful. Their beauty, balance, and order tell us that they were designed by a mighty, beautiful, and intelligent person.

 

Not only do the skies and heavens above us testify to the existence and presence of God, but all of Creation tells us that He is here with us. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 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:” (Romans 1:18–20) Creation testifies to us that God exists, because we know that there must be a cause for all things, and that cause must be beautiful (i.e. glorious), eternal (timeless), and forever powerful. After all, matter, beauty, and time could not exist except a beautiful, all powerful, and intelligent person existed outside of time and made it all.

 

There is also a seasonal cycle that testifies to God’s personal existence. The succession of the four seasons provides us with that which is necessary to the production of the food that sustains us. This order of events speaks to us of the fact that an orderly and intelligent person made the Earth to do these things.  Paul preached telling some idol worshipers, “We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15–17) This Creator must be a person, because He made persons who, and He acts in a personal manner by showing kindness to His creatures: kindness that gives us joy.

 

If one were to believe the illogical theory that everything came into being by nothing, out of nothing, by random and meaningless processes, there would be no reason for them to think that there was any meaning to anything. After all, there would be no intelligent creator and ruler who had the ability and authority to give meaning. On the other hand, those of us who understand that God created all things believe and know that He has a purpose for all things and gives all things meaning.

 

As we saw above in Romans 1:18-20 shown Himself to us in Creation. This means that the created order speaks to us primarily of God. In fact, Genesis 1:1 opens us the Bible telling us about God. He reveals Himself to His creatures by instructing them and giving them purpose. He also reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures. That is why the Bible begins by telling us that all started with God: He is revealing Himself to us so that we may know Him and His will and purpose for us.

God has revealed Himself to us, and Creation is first and foremost about God and His purposes. When we look around us and think about the world, we must think of it as God’s world that is filled with God’s meaning and made for God’s purposes.

 

Furthermore, This world has no other standard of truth than God. God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), and He alone is the arbiter and source of knowledge and truth (Deuteronomy 32:4;1Samuel 2:3;John 14:6[6];2Corinthians 1:18;1John 2:27). Why is He the standard? Because He is the only absolute, eternal, unchanging God. He also is our Creator. “If the Christian position with respect to creation, that is, with respect to the idea of the origin of both the subject and the object of human knowledge is true, there is and must be objective knowledge. In that case the world of objects was made in order that the subject of knowledge, namely man, should interpret it under God. Without the interpretation of the universe by man to the glory of God the whole world would be meaningless. The subject and object are therefore adapted to one another. On the other hand if the Christian theory of creation by God is not true then we hold that there cannot be objective knowledge of anything. In that case all things in this universe are unrelated and cannot be in fruitful contact with one another. This we believe to be the simple alternative on the question of the objectivity of knowledge as far as the things of this universe are concerned.”[7] There is simply no other way that there can be coherence and rationality. Either God the Creator is the sole and absolute standard and authority, with all things relating to Him and subordinate to Him, or there is no knowledge, truth, or rationality[8].

 

If there can be no knowledge or truth apart from God, then God is a necessary[9]being. In other words, God must exist; because there is no logical way for there to be no God. If one denies God, he must also deny truth and meaning. If he denies truth and meaning, all is random, chaotic, and relative. No one lives as if that were true, however. We all live as if there is meaning and truth in life.  To speak of meaining and truth is to acknowledge taht there is a standard of meaning and truth, and that invariably brings us back to the necessity of God’s existence.

 

Finally, we should take notice of the fact that we have not only seen the logical need for God, but we have seen that the Bible presents to us the God who is needed. The Bible provides us the framework for rational thought in that it presents to us God as the Creator who is the source and standard of all knowledge and truth. This means that, not only have we established a good case for the existence of God, we have also found good reason to believe the Bible. Without the Bible, we have no means by which we can establish that there is absolute truth and meaning.

 

[1] Meaning is what is meant by a word, concept, or action. It also deals with the worthwhile nature and purpose of something.

[2] That which is relative is dependent upon something else.

[3] An absolute is a value or principle that is universally valid or able to be viewed without relating it to other things.

[4] A standard is that by which all else is measured.

[5] To say that there is no God is to hold that the world exists on its own as its own creator, or that there is an infinite series of causes that brought the world into existence. Neither of these ideas are actual solutions to the question of origins. The first presents the idea of a self-caused cause, which is impossible and illogical. The latter posits an infinite regress, which is impossible, because there will of necessity be a cause that is the first of all causes.

[6]   It is interesting to note the bearing that this has upon the discussion of the Genesis Creation Account, because John 14:6 builds upon John 1:1-4 and Jesus’ being the creator. Cornelius Van Til said regarding this, “If the Christian position with respect to creation, that is, with respect to the idea of the origin of both the subject and the object of human knowledge is true, there is and must be objective knowledge. In that case the world of objects was made in order that the subject of knowledge, namely man, should interpret it under God. Without the interpretation of the universe by man to the glory of God the whole world would be meaningless. The subject and object are therefore adapted to one another. On the other hand if the Christian theory of creation by God is not true then we hold that there cannot be objective knowledge of anything. In that case all things in this universe are unrelated and cannot be in fruitful contact with one another. This we believe to be the simple alternative on the question of the objectivity of knowledge as far as the things of this universe are concerned.”

 

Cornelius Van Til, The Defense Of The Faith, P&R, Philadelphia, PA, pg 43

 

[7] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense Of The Faith, P&R, Philadelphia, PA, pg 43

[8] Rationality is that which accords with reason or logic.

[9] That which is necessary is inevitable. It cannot be otherwise.