“No one has seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12). In the physical universe God is invisible (Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27). And even in the spiritual sense God is not always seen by believers (Matthew 5:8; John 14:7-9). So when it comes to the task of proving that God exists, believers must rely on two major disciplines: 1) Christian evidences, and 2) faith in God. Let us examine these two disciplines.
Christian evidences for the existence of God divide into four arguments: ontological, teleological, cosmological, and moral. The scope of this article is to briefly touch upon these arguments and reinforce the need for Christians to live faithful lives. This article is intended to challenge believers to let their lives be an evidence for the existence of God before delving into the arguments of Christian evidences.
CHRISTIAN EVIDENCES FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
The ontological argument is philosophically based. In short it states that if one can think of a higher being (God), then that higher being necessarily revealed that existence to mankind; thus the higher being (God) necessarily exists. This argument is said to be logically irrefutable. So why don’t we use it more? Well, our educational system is founded on the scientific method, so our minds are not always trained with nuanced philosophical thought. Because of this, the ontological argument with its highly sophisticated structure becomes bulky and awkward thus rendering it somewhat ineffective for a general audience.
The teleological and cosmological arguments for many years have been the backbone of Christian evidences for the existence of God. The teleological argument states that if there is a design, then there necessarily must be a designer. That designer is God. Subject matter for this argument is massive, since everything in the universe has a design. Opponents to the idea of a higher power creating the universe have come up with the term “evolutionary design.” And although the conditions of these designs are juxtaposed, God’s design is intentional (Psalm 139:14, 1 Corinthians 14:33) and evolution’s design is chaotic, in a debate, this argument often ends up in a stalemate; one design versus another.
In recent years the cosmological argument has become the defining argument for Christian evidences. The cosmological argument focuses on the beginning of the universe and the beginning of life on Earth. This argument states that where there is the created, the creator necessarily exists. I believe that only God can create something from nothing. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). I also believe that only God can make the non-organic become organic life. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). God being the creator of the universe also answers psychological questions of life’s purpose and worth (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; John 3:16). Atheists have no answer for these questions.
Though the cosmological argument is highly popular and hotly debated, the moral argument dominates the internal struggle of the heart for the existence of God. The moral argument can be framed like this: If God who is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful exists, why does evil exist in the world? Job’s discourse in Job 9-10 shows this very struggle in understanding God’s purpose for man when life is difficult. “Your hands have made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity; yet You would destroy me” (Job 10:8).
The logical component of the moral argument is straight-forward and easy to understand on both sides. What muddies the water is the emotional component. We all want the cessation of pain, suffering, and sorrow. But just because pain and suffering are undesirable, do they absolutely qualify as immoral? And are they absolutely exclusionary of the love of God? And does the existence of pain and suffering among mankind absolutely relieve God of His power? Logically I contend the answers to these questions are a resounding no. Yet in my heart I despise pain and suffering. And Christ despised it, too (Hebrews 12:2). But the existence of pain and suffering does not necessarily mean God does not exist in a perfect state.
FAITH AS AN EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
A person can spend a lifetime in the pursuit of Christian evidences for the existence of God, and I am glad there are those who do. But from my experience, no matter how sound an argument is for the existence of God, there are those who will ignore, insult, and intimidate the believer in God. The issue then is not found in the abundant evidence for the existence of God, but rather the willingness of the heart to believe.
There is enough evidence in the Genesis account to make the statement that in the antediluvian age one was either spoken to by God directly, or could speak to someone whom God spoke to directly. Even with such close access to the palpable presence of God, the hearts of these people were “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). How could a people with such direct contact with God also have such evil hearts? How could those who directly heard God’s voice so openly reject Him? Paul gives us the answer in Romans 1.
He begins in Romans 1:20 stating that the observation of the physical world is enough to give evidence that a superior and highly specialized power exists, specifically the Godhead. But mankind did not glorify God, they were not thankful, they were wise in their own eyes, and they worshipped themselves believing their own lies (Romans 1:21-25). But more to the point, they did not like to retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28).
If one does not want to believe God exists, he or she does not have to believe God exists. And when the standard of God’s existence becomes whether the individual does or does not want believe in God, evidence of the existence of God is of little value. Yet the problem of unbelief is systemic, reaching beyond the non-believer to the believer. Paul in Romans 1:32 mentions not only those who practice works of unbelief but also those who approve of their actions. Many who struggle with belief in the existence of God do so because of those who profess to be Christians but support and participate in sinful actions virtually making them non-believers.
If Paul is not speaking of such hypocrisy in Romans, he certainly addresses it in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Our sinful behavior and permissive attitude toward sin ably destroys the evidence God supplies in His creation for His existence. Thus Jesus states in Luke 17:1-2, “…woe to him through whom [offenses] come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” To which the disciples respond, “Lord, increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5) Some non-believers are fully opposed to God and the belief that He exists. But so many more non-believers are people who have been hurt by other Christians. Such preventable damage must stop.
THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTIAN EVIDENCES AND OUR WALK IN FAITH
Jesus came teaching like no other (Matthew 7:28-29), performing miracles like no other (Mark 4:41), and forgiving sins like no other (Luke 5:20-26). Yet His enemies and his friends alike asked for more evidence (Matthew 16:1, John 2:18; John 14:8; John 20:25). Just as the antediluvian world rejected God with such abundant evidence, Christ also was rejected by His generation. Why should we think our generation would be less needy for evidence and more accepting of God?
The purpose of evidences is to increase our faith, not stymie its development. God expects evidences to flow into faith and then faith to produce evidences. Consider Gideon who questioned the legitimacy of God (Judges 6:13) and asked God for two proofs of His power after recognizing he was directly speaking with God (Judges 6:36-40). Gideon did not go on and on asking for more signs, but rather took courage and stepped out in faith. Gideon’s faith continued to give him confidence in God (Judges 8:23). The Hebrew writer says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
The greatest evidence of God in this world is not found in arguments, but rather the living testimony of Christianity. Jesus said in John 5:7 that even though God has never been seen at any time, Christ was sent to show the Father to the world. Christ is the exact copy of God for our beholding (Hebrews 1:3). Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, the glory of God by the image of Christ shines in this world of unbelievers through faithful Christians.
If we expect this world to see God, then our life must be the best argument for the existence of God. In order to present such an argument, our lives must be free from hypocrisy and full of the message of salvation and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Without the purity of that message, God is not seen, and therefore, in the minds of many, God does not exist. Consider the weight of eternity that relies on each Christian showing God to the world with the same dedication given by our example Christ Jesus. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith” (1 John 5:4).
Mark is the minister for the Bridgeport Church of Christ in Bridgeport, WV.