Thinking Like A Christian - Defending Your Faith
Session 2: Does God Exist?
1) Does God Exist? (Is There Really a God?)
A) The first question that must be answered
B) Without God, there is no moral being against whom we have sinned, therefore, there is no need of salvation
C) Without God, there is no acts of miracles, and Jesus is either a liar or a lunatic
2) Reasons for Believing There Is A God
- Traditional Arguments For The Existence of God)
(cosmos = creation) argument from creation
i) Basic idea is that since there is a universe, it must have been caused (or created) by something greater than itself
ii) This is based on the law of causality: every limited thing is caused by something other than itself
(1) This argument takes two forms:
(a) The universe needed a cause at its beginning
(b) The universe needs a cause right now to continue existing
iii) Affirmations of the cosmological argument:
1. The universe had a beginning.
2. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.
3. Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, and this cause was God.
Rom. 1:18 ¶ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Rom. 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
Rom. 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
iv) Arguments against the cosmological argument
1. Scientific Objections to an Eternal Universe
Š It is impossible to show that the universe, so far as its substance is concerned, has had a beginning.
Š If the universe had no beginning then argument from creation is not valid.
Š The principle of causality does not require a first cause, only a cause.
Š Astronomical observations indicate that the universe had a cataclysmic and sudden beginning.
Š The Big Bang
Š The second law of thermodynamics states that the universe is running out of usable energy.
Š It therefore could not be eternal.
2. Philosophical Objections to an Eternal Universe
Š It is impossible to pass through an infinite series of moments.
Š You can never finish an infinite series of real things.
Š If the past is infinite (which means that it never had a beginning) then we could never have passed through time to get to today.
Š It is impossible for anything infinite to exist as part of the universe.
Š This is because it is always possible to add one to it.
Š By definition if you can add to something it cannot be infinite.
3. The Cause for Continuing Existence
Š The universe needs a cause for its continuing existence.
4. Objections to the Cosmological Argument
Š The principle of causality only requires a cause greater than the universe.
Š Many claim that it is impossible to prove that this cause is not finite.
5. Why Does Anything Exist?
Š Finite, changing things exist.
Š Every finite changing thing must be caused by something else.
Š Limited changing things do not have independent existence.
Š There cannot be an infinite regression of causes.
Š Therefore, there must be a first infinite and unchanging cause of every finite, changing thing that exists.
Š Even if one can show that the universe had a cause it is impossible to prove from the Cosmological Argument that this cause had to be the God of Christianity.
v) Usefulness: The Value of the Cosmological Argument
Š It argues for the universe having a cause greater than itself.
Š And while not proving the God of Christianity it certainly is compatible with the Christian view of God.
Š Non-compatibility is a major stumbling block for any scientific based argument; remember, it is futile to discuss the possibilities of a miraculous event done by God to a person who does not accept the existence of God in the first place!
– (telos =
purpose) Argument from the evidence of design and purpose seen in the universe
Š The order and useful arrangement of a system implies intelligence and purpose as its organizing cause.
Š The universe is characterized by order and useful arrangement; therefore, the universe has an intelligent and free cause.
Š All designs imply a designer.
Š There is a great design in the universe.
Š Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe.
Š The principle of causality leads us to expect this.
Š "Watches imply watchmakers, buildings imply architects; paintings imply artists, and coded messages an intelligent sender." (p. 20)
Š No one coming across a Rolex watch would think that the watch had been created by accident!
Š Great Literary Works Don't Happen By Accident
Š A monkey could never type one of Shakespeare's plays.
Š A thousand monkeys could never type Hamlet in a billion years!
Š There Is Much Design In The Universe
Š Life is very complex.
Š A single DNA molecule carries the same amount of information as one volume of an encyclopedia.
Š But no one would think that an encyclopedia happened by chance.
Š It cannot prove that God is personal.
Š It also cannot prove either
Š the unity
Š the eternity
Š or the infinity of God.
Š It demonstrates the reasonableness of believing in God as the creator responsible for the order, harmony and complexity of the universe.
Š The implications of the Teleological Argument do not prove the God of Christianity. But the God of Christianity is certainly compatible with those implications.
– (ontos = being) argument from being
- This is a useful complement to other arguments, but is the weakest proof of the existence of God on its own merits.
- Attempts to prove that God must exist by definition. (p. 24)
- Contends that the idea of God necessarily involves the attribute of existence.
argument takes several forms.
Š Ontological Argument # 1
Š Whatever perfection can be attributed to the most perfect Being possible (conceivable) must be attributed to it (otherwise it would not be the most perfect being possible).
Š Necessary existence is a perfection which can be attributed to the most perfect Being.
Š Therefore, necessary existence must be attributed to the most perfect Being. (pp. 24-25)
Š Question: Has this argument the unstated assumption of philosophical idealism?
Š Question: Is this argument guilty of circular reasoning?
Š Evaluation of Argument # 1
Š "This argument succeeds in showing that our idea of God must include necessary existence; but it fails to show that God actually exists. It shows that we must think of God as existing necessarily; but it does not prove that He must necessarily exist." (p. 25)
Š An Illustration
Š Someone recently told me of a person who told them that they were not an atheist because they believed that God existed. However, they believed that he existed only in their mind.
Š The second statement of the Ontological argument is useful in dealing with these types of situations.
Š Ontological Argument # 2
Š If God exists, we conceive of Him as a necessary Being.
Š By definition, a necessary Being must exist and cannot not exist.
Š Therefore, if God exists, then He must exist and cannot not exist.
Š Evaluation Of The Ontological Argument
Š The argument never really gets past the initial "if." It never gets around to proving the big question that it claims to answer. The only way to make it prove that God exists is to smuggle in the argument from Creation. It can be useful, though, because it shows that, if there is a God, He exists in a necessary way. (pp. 25-26)
Moral- (axios = judgment) Argument from humanity’s sense of moral law
i. Moral Argument for God
a. Mankind has an innate experience of morality.
b. We experience some things as "right" and other things as "wrong.”
c. Mankind’s sense of moral justice cannot be explained by evolutionary progress because this sense of morality often leads one to do what may be detrimental to his well being.
d. The most reasonable explanation for this sense of morality is that it was created by a moral and holy God who created mankind in his image. (Rom 2:14-15)
14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.
ii. What Kind of God Exists? (or the nature or attributes of God)
a. According to the Bible, there is much that can be known about God apart from God’s special revelation found in the Bible (Rom. 1:18).
b. The arguments for the existence of God imply (indicate) much about God’s nature.
c. God’s nature can be summed up in a philosophical position known as the “moral argument”
i) Moral Argument
1. Argues that the cause of the universe must be moral, in addition to being powerful and intelligent. (p. 22)
2. All people are conscious of an objective moral law.
3. Moral laws imply a moral Lawgiver.
4. Therefore, there must be a supreme moral Lawgiver.
ii) Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
1. Rejected the traditional arguments for the existence of God.
2. Approved of the moral argument as a way to show that God is necessary for moral living.
iii) Important Distinction
1. Unlike physical laws, moral laws don’t describe what is but rather what ought to be.
2. Therefore, any moral “ought” must come from beyond the physical universe.
3. “It transcends the natural order and requires a transcendent cause.” (p. 23)
iv) Moral Relativism
1. Is The Unofficial Creed Of Much Of Western Culture.
2. Both Political Correctness And Multiculturalism Presuppose Moral Relativism And Deny Objective Truth.
v) If One Denies Objective Moral Truth One Must Admit
1. That Mother Teresa Was No More Or Less Moral Than Adolf Hitler.
2. That Torturing Three-Year-Olds For Fun Is Neither Good Nor Evil.
3. That Raping A Woman Is Neither Right Nor Wrong.
4. That Taking Care Of One’s Family Is Neither Good Nor Bad.
vi) Questions Asked In Our Postmodern Age:
1. “Who Are You To Tell Me What I Ought To Prefer?”
2. The Words “Ought” And “Should” Are Meaningless.
vii) The Death Of Truth
1. We Have Gotten Rid Of Truth And In Its Place Substituted Opinions And Subjective Preferences.
2. The Question “What Is Good?” Has Been Replaced With “What Feels Good?”
3. The Concept Of Moral Truth Has Become Incomprehensible To Contemporary Society.
viii) Rejection Of Relativism
1. If Our Moral Intuition Rebels Against The Consequences Of Relativism It Is Because Deep Down We Know That Relativism Is False.
ix) Refuting Relativism
Š Show The Contradictions Of Relativism
Š Ethical Relativism Is Almost Always Self-Refuting Practice
Š For Example, When A Relativist Says, “You Shouldn’t Judge Others, You Intolerant Bigot!”
Š Point Out To Them That They Are Making A Moral Judgment Against You.
Š When Someone Tells You That, “You Shouldn’t Force Your Morality On Me,” Simply Ask, “Why Not?”
Š The Relativist Is Going To Have A Hard Time Explaining To You Why You Shouldn’t Impose Your Views Without Imposing His Morality On You.
Š This Question Forces The Relativist To Give You His Moral Standard While He Is Trying To Explain To You That Moral Rules Don’t Exist.
x) You Shouldn’t Force Your Morality On Me” One example of a “personal” morality argument:
Š “You Shouldn’t Force Your Morality On Me.”
Š “I’m Not Entirely Sure What You Mean By That Statement. Do You Mean I Have No Right To An Opinion?”
Š “You Have A Right To Your Opinion, But You Have No Right To Force It On Anyone.”
Š “Is That Your Opinion?”
Š “Then Why Are You Forcing It On Me?”
Š “But You’re Saying That Only Your View Is Right.”
Š “Am I Wrong?”
Š “Is That Your View?”
Š “Then You’re Saying Only Your View Is Right, Which Is The Very Thing You Objected To Me Saying.”
Š “Don’t Push Your Morality On Me.”
Š “Why? Don’t You Believe In Morality?”
Š “Sure, But I Believe In My Morality, Not Yours.”
Š “Well Then, How Do You Know What’s Moral?”
Š “I Think People Should Decide Individually.”
Š “That’s Exactly What I’m Doing. And I’m Deciding You’re Immoral. What’s The Problem? Live And Let Live Is Your Value, Not Mine.”
Š “You Shouldn’t Push Your Morality On Me.”
Š “Correct Me If I’m Misunderstanding You Here, But It Sounds To Me Like You’re Telling Me I’m Wrong.”
Š “You Are.”
Š “Well, You Seem To Be Saying My Personal Moral View Shouldn’t Apply To Other People, But That Sounds Suspiciously Like You Are Applying Your Moral View To Me. Why Are You Forcing Your Morality On Me?”
iii. Limitations Of The Moral Argument
a. It cannot prove a creator of the material universe
b. It cannot prove the infinity of God, since mankind is finite.
c. It cannot prove the mercy of God but only God's justice.
iv. Value Of The Moral Argument
a. It shows the reasonableness of assuming the existence of a personal God, who rules us in righteousness, and who is the proper object of supreme affection and service.
b. “Everyone expects others to follow some moral codes, even those who try to deny them.” (p. 24)
Text: When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences, Norman Geisler & Ron Brooks
The Apologetics Study Bible, Holman CSB
Charts of Apologetics and Christian Evidences, H. Wayne House
Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Norman Geisler
Christian Theology, Millard J. Erickson
Philosophical Foundation for a Christian Worldview, J.P. Moreland & William Lane Craig
Love God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason In the Life of the Soul, J.P. Moreland
The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek
Unshakable Foundations, Norman Geisler
Who Made God?, Ravi Zacharias
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