Archive for the ‘evidence that demands a verdict’ Tag

God’s Existence Does Not Depend on Our Belief   1 comment

A lot of non-believers want to believe that God doesn’t exist, that simply by not believing they can somehow make God not exist.

God’s not Santa Claus, guys. His existence does not depend on our belief — not yours, not mine, not Richard Dawkins. If nobody on the planet believed in God, He would still exist. It’s sort like when people didn’t believe in germs, but still died of infection. God exists regardless of your belief in Him.

So why doesn’t God prove His existence?

That would be impossible because we have freedom of thought. There is not a single thing God could do to demonstrate His existence that someone wouldn’t find an objection to it. They’d insist the witnesses were hallucinating or dreaming, that someone was creating an optical illusion, that it was a natural phenomena science just hasn’t explained yet, or that it was a hoax — someone masquerading as God or an advanced race of aliens. The demonstration was misinterpreted, they’d say. Hey, I’ve even heard it argued that God was around once, but He has since died. And didn’t The Matrix teach us that reality is really just a virtual simulation created by aliens to occupy our minds?

Since those objects can’t be absolutely disproven, God’s existence cannot be absolutely proven. God has granted us freedom of those, which includes the freedom to deny His existence. Jesus pointed this out in Luke 16:19-31, and we see it in practice in passages like Mark 3:22 and Exodus 32:1.

God hasn’t given us proof, but He has placed enough evidence in the world for people to believe in Him (Romans 1:18-20). Romans 1:20 states, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities…have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” Throughout history, people have seen both the power and beauty of nature. Questions such as “What controls thunder and lightning?” and “How did the stars get in the sky?” led naturally to “Is there someone who created the universe and controls it?” And once someone asks that question, they need only ask God to reveal Himself to be given what further evidence they may need to believe (Matthew 7:7-8).

Of course, someone will insist that if the evidence is so plain to see, why doesn’t everyone believe in God? God’s existence and Christianity are not propositions like “matter is composed of atoms” that can be regarded neutrally; their truth or falsehood affects our lives and our entire world view. Since the Fall, everyone has a bias against God. No one wants to stand before a perfectly good God and realize how far we have fallen short of the standard. There is a part of us, both Christian and non-Christian, that wants to reject God, just as there is a part in all of us that wants to do good. That bias causes people to act in a variety of ways: some people don’t want to investigate any evidence for God, while others will try to explain it away.

Even if God provided proof that was satisfactory to everyone, faith and trust would still be required to follow God. The atheist’s question would merely change from “Why doesn’t God prove His existence?” to “Why doesn’t God explain why He did this and not that?” Atheists themselves would become theists, but not all of them would become Christians. That’s right. You can believe God exists without believing that Jesus’ death atoned for our sins or that He is worthy of worship.

God wants us to trust Him, not just believe He exists. If our demands for proof and explanation were satisfied, we’d only trust and follow God to the extent that He proved Himself to us. We would rely on the external evidence and our own judgment of it, not actually trusting God. For us to actively trust God, we have to continue in our belief even when what we believe isn’t proven. Trust is paramount because it requires a deeper relationship with the one trusted. Anyone will believe a stranger’s statement if he immediately produces proof to back it up, but believing a person without having proof requires the believer to have a positive opinion of the person that takes a certain amount of risk. If the risk is large, the believer is dependent on the person. If the trust turns out to be justified, the believer has a higher opinion of the person and a stronger relationship with them.

But first consider this. When it comes to the possibility of God’s existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God. On the other hand, for those who want to know God if He is there, He says, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.”

Before you look at the facts surrounding God’s existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know Him?

If you don’t want to know Him, all the proof in the world will not be sufficient for you to love Him, so He’ll give you the dignity of your choices and let you go to Hell where you won’t be bothered by the reality of His presence.

But we’re talking about evidence …

And there is plenty of evidence, more than can fit in a blog post, so I’ll just list a few.

Our universe and the planet we inhabit in it are incredibly complex. The Earth is a perfect size with the existence of Godcorresponding gravity to hold a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extended about 50 miles above the surface. If the Earth was smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible (think Mercury). If the Earth was larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen (Jupiter). Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life. It’s also located just the right distance from the sun. If the Earth was any further away from the sun, winter temperatures would freeze us all. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in our position relative tot he sun and life on Earth would be impossible.

Our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull, creating important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.

Think about water. No living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and humans consist of mostly water. In fact, water’s cproof of Godharacteristics are uniquely suited for life. Its wide margin between boiling and freezing allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees. Water is a universal solvent that allows various chemicals, minerals and nutrients to be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels. Water is also chemically neutral so that it does not affect the makeup of the substances it carries, thus enabling food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body. Water has a unique surface tension, which allows water in plants to flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

The human brain simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of your keyboard. Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body — breathing, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.
The human brain processes more than a million messages a second. Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant, to focus on that which is essential. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.

The eye can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and simultaneously handles an astounding 1.5 million messages. Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms, but evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

existence of GodScientists are pretty much convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, “the universe was about a huexistence of Godndred thousands million degrees Centigrade…and the universe was filled with light.”

The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

The world is often chaotic, but think about what we take for granted every day. Gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — it’s the same on earth as in galaxies far from us.

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”

existence of GodAll instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. DNA is a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program, that exists in every cell of our bodies. It’s made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C. There are three billion of these letters in every human cell!! DNA instructs the cell telling it to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.

existence of GodHow did this information program wind up in each human cell? These are not just chemicals. These are chemicals that instruct, that code in a very detailed way exactly how the person’s body should develop. Natural, biological causes are completely lacking as an explanation when programmed information is involved. You cannot find instruction, precise information like this without someone intentionally constructing it.

What is it about atheists that they want to spend so much time, attention and energy refuting God’s existence? If they don’t believe He exists, why does it matter so much to them that I stop believing in Him?

Are you just concerned for our mental health and you just want to set us straight, to help us realize that our hope is completely groundless? Or are you hoping that someday someone will give you a convincing argument so you can join us? Or maybe you think that you’ll be free to go on merrily with your life if you can conclusively prove to believers that God doesn’t exist.

proof of GodMy own experience is that the topic of God will weigh heavily on a person because God will press the issue. He certainly did with me. God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know Him. He has surrounded us with evidence of Himself and He keeps the question of His existence squarely before us. I spent a year and a half wrestling with the question of God’s existence and I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, my sinner’s prayer (alone in my bedroom) began with, “Okay, you win…” It might be that the underlying reason non-believers are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.

Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.” C.S. Lewis said he remembered, “…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.” Lewis went on to write a book titled, “Surprised by Joy” as a result of knowing God.

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God as Jesus did. Jesus stands apart from the others. He affirmed God exists and that humans seek Him. Though He talked about His Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in Him, believed in the Father.

proof of GodHe said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to Himself. He did not say, “follow my words and you will find truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”

Jesus did what people can’t do. He performed miracles, healed people…blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects…created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature…walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop. People everywhere followed Jesus, because He constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I’m telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you’re seeing.

Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of His punishment, His love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God Himself took on the form of human and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf.

There are people who think that sounds ludicrous, but many loving human fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because He first loved us. What is more loving than God (Jesus) dying in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with Him. All other religions are Mankind reaching to God. Only in Christianity does God reach to us, forgiving us and loving us, fully accepting us. He says “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” This is God, in action.
If you want to know if God exists, investigate Jesus Christ, because “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

But there’s a stumbling block in the way of many modern humans. God does not force us to believe in Him. Yes, He has the power to do it, but He does not. He created us with the ability to make our own choices because He wants us to love Him of our own free will. He has provided sufficient proof of His existence for us to willingly respond to Him.

It’s up to you to decide what you will believe, but God only provided the one way to salvation. If you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with Him, you can do so right now by asking Him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him.” If you want to do this, but aren’t sure how to put it into words, this may help: “Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen.”

God views your relationship with Him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in Him, Jesus Christ said of us, “I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

A Message to Non-Believers   1 comment

Before you get into a lather about how I “don’t understand” you, let me explain something.

I used to be you! I was raised in a non-Christian household in the very secular state of Alaska. I think my family went to church three times while I was growing up — once for a funeral, once for a wedding, and once because Easter fell on my dad’s mom’s birthday and he wanted to honor her memory … or something like that. My parents were not atheists. More like agnostic-edging-toward-deist-not-interested-in-god-ruining-their-fun American “Christians”. They didn’t give God much thought and neither did I until fog grounded a bush plane in the Alaska wilderness and the only choices for reading materials were the Bible (in German), Zane Grey novels and Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who Is ThereI really hated westerns and I can’t read German, so ….

I read the book in two days and I was challenged to question the presuppositions I’d been raised with. I wasn’t hostile toward God; I just never really thought much about metaphysics. I was a cultural “christian” in that I (sort of) knew the Christmas and Easter stories, but I largely accepted without examination that Jesus was at best a great man who lived a long time ago and at worst was a myth. Because I lived in a very secular state, I didn’t know any faithful Christians personally and the few that I had met turned me off because they seemed really fake to me. I grew up with an old joke about Christians as my basic impression:

“I’m perfect. I don’t drink, smoke or swear. God loves me! Dammit, I left my cigarettes on the bar next to my empty beer.”

Funny, but it turned out not to be true!

Francis Schaeffer’s book gave me pause because he explained why belief is a more reasonable response to the world than nonbelief. But it only gave me pause. I was still skeptical and for the next 16 months, I investigated the evidence for Christianity’s claims. By maintaining an open mind and by treating those faithful Christians who came into my life with respect rather than derision, I eventually came to a place where enough of my objections were answered satisfactorily to where I had to admit that the only thing standing between me and knowing if Christianity’s claims were true was my own unbelief.

I could choose to go on not believing or I could lay aside my objections for a moment and let God show me why belief was the most reasonable response to the world. It took 16 months to get to that point, so it was not a “leap of faith”. I had thoroughly investigated the subject before I accepted salvation.

During those 16 months I learned some things.

  • Christians are human beings who are not perfect. And most of them don’t claim to be.
  • Faithful Christians are generally consistent in what they believe from the Bible, but they struggle to reconcile their faith with their culture, which sometimes leads to perceived inconsistencies.
  • The Bible is surprisingly consistent with itself, but misconceptions abound among both believers and nonbelievers, with the nonbelievers holding the greater share of them.
  • American “cultural christianity” is mostly unfamiliar with the actual teachings of the Bible.
  • The Bible and science do not (contrary to popular belief) disagree about the world. Science properly cannot make any claims to understanding the metaphysical claims of the Bible and the Bible is a book of faith and history, not science. Those claiming that science has proven there is no God (or gods) are mistaken in their claims because they try to make science authoritative outside of the observation of the physical universe, which is its proper field of research.
  • Archaeology has so far been supportive of the Bible’s claims

Because I am not a true believer in science — and never was — I can see theories for what they are — someone’s opinion about the collected evidence. Materialistic scientism arrives at one theory about the origins of the universe and life on the planet by viewing the evidence through the lens of certain presuppositions. Intelligent design (it wasn’t called that in the 1970s, but it was around) has another theory also based on their examination of the evidence colored by their own presuppositions. There are extremes of both groups of theorists who try to take the evidence where it cannot go. Not being a true believer in materialism, I could have faith in God and still respect science for what it does well – collect evidence.

Archaeology hasn’t proven the Bible, but it has not found substantial evidence against the Biblical claims. The same summer I read Schaeffer’s book, I read an article in a magazine about how the Bible was crap because, among other things, Nineveh had never existed. Archaeologists had been looking for it for a century without success, so the writer insisted the Bible was lying about Jonah and, therefore the whole Bible was in question. I believed that claim without examination all during my investigative period. Within days of deciding to let God show me that my objections were misapplied, archaeologists announced that Nineveh had been found.  They’d been looking in the wrong places for a really long time and someone more or less stumbled upon it where they weren’t actually looking. Coincidence? Maybe, but it added evidence to the mountain that I was now scaling. Contrary to popular belief at the time, archaeology was actually confirming many of the claims of the Bible.

I came to the Bible and the claims of Christianity as a skeptic, but I had been challenged to approach the subject with an open mind. An open mind demands proof, but not absolute proof. Absolute proof is the province of a closed mind, a mind that is made up and will not be changed even by overwhelming evidence. I did not require overwhelming evidence. I only needed my reasonable questions answered. Essentially, when my collected evidence spoke more for God’s existence and, particularly for the claims of Jesus Christ, than it did against, I set aside my skepticism and let God answer the rest of my objections.

And, He did!

So, yes, I do understand skepticism, but no, I don’t think skeptics are right.

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