As a Christian writer and speaker, I get this question all the time. And while my approach to answering it differs based on the context and the person asking, my answer is always the same: “Yes, God exists. God is real and He has communicated Himself to human beings through mighty acts in history, through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and through the Bible.”
Also, “If you’d like, I can provide some ‘proofs’ that confirm His existence. But—and this is important—even when you’re not absolutely certain about God, believing in God is still the most reasonable and rational decision you could make.”
Let’s talk about proofs first. What’s some good evidence we have for God’s existence?
Does God Really Exist?
The Cause Argument
One proof has to do with the existence of the universe. How did the universe come into being? This might seem like an obvious question, but philosophers weren’t always puzzled by this, since—for centuries—most believed the universe had no beginning at all. But many scientists now believe that the universe came into being very suddenly in what is called the “Big Bang.”
Here’s the puzzle the Big Bang introduces: what caused it? Or, rather, who caused it?
This puzzle led agnostic physicist Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, to write, “A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation.” The Big Bang presents a question that atheistic scientists have great difficulty answering.
Jastrow’s conclusion? Theologians have long known what scientists cannot prove: there must be a Creator, a God who caused the universe to be.
The Design Argument
Another proof has to do with the order in the universe. It’s often called the “design” argument because it argues that the universe’s complex and intricate design leads us to believe that there must have been a Designer.
If you find yourself admiring the Apple watch you purchased recently, complete with a sophisticated electronic infrastructure and sleek cover, you wouldn’t feel thankful to the watch for designing itself. But you might very well find yourself being grateful for Steve Jobs, who founded Apple, and for his team of designers who crafted the latest version of the Apple watch.
Lehigh University chemist Michael Behe, Notre Dame philosopher Alvin Plantinga, and many other intellectuals make this point another way, by pointing to the sheer impossibility of the universe achieving order without some external guidance. Even something as simple as the individual cell is so sophisticated that its design could not have evolved randomly.
The Moral Argument
A third proof has to do with the moral order of the universe. Most people believe that there are certain things that are absolutely wrong and other things that are absolutely right. This universal assumption of morality implies some kind of Law Giver.
Think about it. You probably think it is always and everywhere wrong to kill an innocent child in an elementary school. (Hopefully, you do.) You probably also think it is always and everywhere wrong to hate another person merely because of his or her skin color. If so, you believe in an absolute “moral law.”
But here again, we find a puzzle for atheists. If our moral ideas really are laws—not cultural assumptions or merely personal convictions—there must be something objective about them, something that stands “outside” or “over” us. You don’t gain moral authority by saying, “Because I said so.” If the moral law comes from us—either individually or collectively—it loses its authority. In order for something to be absolute and binding on all people, it must come from Somebody outside of our world. That Somebody is God.
I could go on. But as I mentioned to begin with, even without these proofs, belief in God remains completely rational and reasonable. This point was made, famously, by French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher Blaise Pascal.
Pascal argued that atheists cannot prove for certain that there is no God. Most thoughtful people understand this, which is why people who don’t think God exists prefer to call themselves agnostic (“We can’t really know”) rather than atheist (“There is no God”).
Because our decisions about God’s existence could never arrive at absolute certainty, Pascal recognized there would always be an element of chance. We have to wager, betting either for or against God’s existence.
Pascal argued that betting for God is the only wager that can pay off. If God doesn’t exist, then the believer and nonbeliever are in the same boat—everyone loses. But if God does exist, the stakes change dramatically: betting for Him carries enormous benefits; betting against Him carries enormous loss.
Pascal was right. Even if our “proofs” of God’s existence don’t allow us to see or touch or hear God, there is good reason to wager that He exists.
I’m not much of a gambling man, but I can say this: believing in God is the best bet you’ll ever make.
Bruce Riley Ashford, Jr., Ph D is Follow him on Twitter @BruceAshford, www.bruceashford.net
THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED BY LIFEWAY VOICES