I first posted this a couple of months ago, and have since revised it, so I thought I would repost it. Â I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your questions and/or comments.
In his best-selling book, The God Delusion, self-proclaimed “anti-theist,”Â Richard Dawkins titled a section of his book, “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God.” Â The following is an attempt to explain that, “Reason Says There Almost Certainly Is A God.”
Setting The Stage.
I will argue below for the existence of a creative god or gods, but there are a few things I’d like to clarify before I get there.
1) The Extent of This Study.
This study is not intended to prove that the Christian God exists. Furthermore, this study is not even an argument for monotheism, the existence of one god. Rather, this study is intended to argue that a god or gods is/are ultimately responsible for everything else that exists.
2) The Limitations of Apologetics.
The Gospel alone is the power of God for salvation, and the Spirit overcomes all obstacles (i.e., unbelief) whenever the He so chooses (Jn. 3:8). Â This means that extra-biblical apologetics (i.e., defending the faith using means other than Scripture), while at times helpful, is deficient to change anyone’s heart.
3) The Real Issue Behind Rejecting God.
The Bible states very plainly that no one really believes God doesn’t exist (Rom. 1:18-25). Â According to the Scriptures, denying the existence of God is an effort to excuse rebellion against/hatred for Him (John 3:16-21; Rom. 1:18-32). Â Of course, I sympathize with this effort as one formerly bent on masking the reality and depth of my own sin, and I’m heart broken over this effort as one who has now received by the sweet grace of God the forgiveness of sin through faith in the atoning life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Does Anything Exist?
Before we ask whether God exists, let’s back up a step and consider whether anything exists at all. Â In response to those who claim that life/existence is actually an illusion, 17th century French philosopher, Rene Descartes, produced the famous phrase, â€œI think, therefore, I am,â€ Â which essentially means, â€œBecause Iâ€™m thinking, I know I exist.â€ Â Descartes’ argument was simply that thinking requires a thinker.Â In other words, the very act of thinking means something exists because non-existent things donâ€™t think!Â This means that not everything in the universe is an illusion because, at the very minimum, my own consciousness undoubtedly exists.
There are those (i.e., the existential irrationalist) who reject Descartesâ€™ statement on the basis that itâ€™s rational. Â Addressing this objection, the modern philosopher, R.C. Sproul, writes, â€œThe existential irrationalist may say, â€˜Well, he could still be living in an illusion where doubters can doubt without doubting.â€™Â But remember that classical apologetics is only trying to show that reason requires the existence of a self-existent eternal being.Â If somebody is an atheist and says, â€˜I donâ€™t believe in the existence of God because I donâ€™t believe in rationality,â€™ I give them the microphone and say, â€˜Please tell the whole world that your alternative to theism is absurd.Â Save me the difficulty of having to demonstrate it.â€™Â They have taken themselves out of any intelligent discussion as soon as they admit that their premise is one of irrationality.â€1
Does A God or Gods Exist?
If our universe actually exists, then a creative being outside of that universe also exists because the only alternate explanations (of which I am aware) for why there is something rather than nothing are logical impossibilities.
1) “The Universe Came From Itself.”
Some assert that the universe exists as a product of itself. Â In other words, the universe was self-created. Â But we rarely hear the phrase â€œself-creation.â€ Â Instead we hear the phrase â€œspontaneous generation,â€ which means that something began on its own, without any cause.
But this theory is entirely irrational. Â For the universe to have come from itself, the universe would have to have existed before it existed. Â In other words, for the universe to have created itself, it wouldâ€™ve had to exist first. Â But this is pure foolishness. Â About this, R.C. Sproul writes, â€œImagine if Hamlet had rejected the law of noncontradiction: â€˜To be and not to be. Â That is the question.â€™ Â That, of course, is not a question at all; that is absurd.â€2
Some suggest that this same level of irrationality actually applies to Christianity, evidencing itself in the question, â€œWhere did God come from? Â If He created Himself, then Christians have the same problem.â€ Â But Christians do not have this same problem. Â The Bible doesnâ€™t claim the self-creation of God but the eternal existence of God. Â It is important to note that while eternal existence is mysterious, it is not at all contradictory. Â But more on that in a moment. Borrowing from Thomas Aquinas in his Summa theolgiae, God is the “First Cause,” or “Unmoved Mover,” of everything in the universe.
2) â€œThe Universe Came From Chance.”
This is essentially a sub-category of self-creation, but itâ€™s an important argument, so weâ€™ll talk about it separately. Â Simply put, chance does not exist. Â Chance is not a universal power that roams the universe making things happen. Â When you flipped your coin and it landed on heads, or when you drew a royal flush, or when the woman you love accepted your marriage proposal, you were not dealing with chance. Â Let me explain what I mean by looking further into each of these scenarios.
Chance didnâ€™t stretch out its hand and grab your quarter out of the air to make sure it landed on heads. Â Chance didnâ€™t shuffle the cards in your favor while the dealer wasn’t looking, and neither did Chance use his white-out and Sharpie to change the 8 of clubs into the Ace of spades, the 2 of diamonds into the King of spades, etc. Â And Chance didn’t lean down and whisper into your girlfriend’s ear, “You should say ‘yes,'” just as you knelt to propose. Â The truth is that chance doesnâ€™t do anything, because chance is not an actual thing, possessing no ontological properties. Â As such, chance should be labeled what it actually is: “no-thing,” or nothing. Â Chance is nothing. Â The result is that the argument that the universe came from chance is another way of arguing that the universe came from nothing, which was addressed in the previous section.
3) â€œThe Universe Has (In Some Form, At Least) Always Existed.
This is far and away the best of the three arguments, although it still seems to fall short. Â Though not the only, my favorite (and I think one of the strongest) argument against the eternal existence of the universe has to do with time.
In the late 11th and early 12th centuries, an Islamic theologian, Al-Ghazali, set out to disprove Aristotle’s theory of an eternal universe. Â In his quest, Al-Ghazali argued that today arrived only because time itself had a definite starting point in the past. Â If time had no beginning, no definite starting point, there would be an infinite amount of time in the past. Â And since infinity is, by definition, unreachable, today would have never arrived. Â Thus, our space-and-time universe cannot have existed eternally.3
Again, one may argue from this same logic that God, too, cannot have existed eternally. This, however, is faulty logic because the One who created time and space necessarily exists outside of time and space, so there is no reason to assume that the same “rules” that bind our universe also bind its Creator.
The existence of a divine creative being or beings seems to be the only remaining logical explanation for why there is something rather than nothing, as the alternatives do not merely seemÂ difficult, butÂ impossible to explain. Â As such, the so-called “new atheism” appears to provide a deficient explanation of origins. Â As such, reason suggests that there almost certainly is a God or gods who is/are responsible for everything else in existence.
Of course, I do believe the Bible tells us exactly who this God is…
“In the beginning wasÂ the Word, andÂ the Word was with God, andÂ the Word was God.Â He was in the beginning with God.Â All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
“AndÂ the WordÂ became flesh andÂ dwelt among us,Â and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full ofÂ grace andÂ truth” (John 1:14).
I’d love to hear your questions and/or comments about what I’ve written, so please do leave a comment below!
- Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Third Edition, by William Lane Craig
- Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul
- Apologetics to the Glory of God by John Frame
- Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul, p.106 [↩]
- Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul, p.110 [↩]
- The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Revised Edition, 2005, p. 425 AND Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Third Edition, by William Lane Craig, p.96-97. [↩]