by Wayne Jackson (www.christiancourier.com)
How often do you take time to simply “mediate” upon God? In this article we focus our attention upon three important truths that all need to appreciate.
God: He Exists
Most people believe in God’s existence because, using their common intelligence, the evidence points in that direction. But can God’s existence be proved? His existence cannot be proved empirically, i.e., scientifically, as one might prove that water freezes at 32 degrees F. But if one uses his logical ability, he can make a case for God’s existence that is compelling; indeed irrefutable.
Throughout the history of mankind most people have believed in the existence of a superhuman, personal power. If one concedes that humans generally are rational, this universality of conviction must rest upon some reasonable basis. There are several lines of evidence that point to God.
Cause and Effect
In logic there is a principle that states: “every effect must have an adequate cause.” This is the basis of all science. This “law” of correct thinking bears a relationship to the origin of the Universe. It is well established that the Universe has not existed forever. Dr. Robert Jastrow, internationally known space scientist, declared that: “modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe.”
If the Universe has not existed forever, how can its origin be explained? There are only two possibilities. It was self-created, or created by something or someone other than itself, and of a nature different than the material. The fact is, no material thing is able to create itself. If that were possible, there would be evidence of such. But the First Law of Thermodynamics argues that matter is not now being created. Since matter could not have formed itself, it must have a non-material source, i.e., a “mind” cause. Great thinkers have concluded that this Mind is God.
There is another logical principle called “the law of teleology.” It contends that when an object reflects a purpose, goal, or design, it must have had a designer. Things do not “design” themselves. A pair of pliers has two handles (with gripers), a bolt, and a nut. Everyone recognizes the “design” in this simple tool, and rightly concludes that it did not make itself.
There are millions of examples of design upon the earth. Consider the human body. The body has a number of intricately designed living systems that function in amazing harmony to facilitate the existence of the human person.
Life itself is a mystery that cannot be explained naturally. The late Dr. Edwin Conklin, a former professor at Princeton University, compared the so-called “accidental” creation of life to the equivalent of an explosion in a printing shop producing an unabridged dictionary!
The human body is a highly organized machine consisting of some 60,000 billion cells, each a tiny factory with many components that must work in harmony with precision and skill. Is this just an accident? Certainly not! Only the most gullible could believe that.
The average adult has some 206 bones. These provide an internal framework for the body, protecting the vital organs. They also function as levers, attachments for muscles, and they produce chemical elements for the welfare of the body. If a house cannot build itself, could mere “nature” build a human body?
The circulatory system contains some 100,000 miles of pipeline (arteries, veins, and capillaries), which course through the body, providing the cells with food and oxygen and removing wastes. Does anyone imagine that the pipe system beneath the city of San Francisco fashioned itself strictly by chance?
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves—a tremendously complex arrangement (more complicated than the phone system of a major city) that transmits information by means of nerve impulses at the speed of 300 miles per hour from the brain to various parts of the body.
The brain itself is a vast library of information. Carl Sagan, an atheist, estimated that the human brain has the information equivalent of a library of some 20 million books. Does anyone believe that the Library of Congress came together by chance? Reflecting upon the brain, Oxford atheist professor, Richard Dawkins, in commenting upon the complexity of the brain, exclaimed: “If anyone doesn’t agree that this amount of complex design cries out for an explanation, I give up.” Unfortunately, he had no explanation.
There is, within all human beings, a sense of ethical “oughtness,” i.e., the awareness that there is a difference between “right” and “wrong.” Men may disagree on what constitutes “right” and “wrong,” but the concept of morality itself is universal. How can the presence of moral sensitivity be explained? There are but two possibilities. The “conscience,” i.e., the notion that “right” and “wrong” exist, either was implanted by the Creator at the time of humanity’s genesis, or else it merely “evolved,” and is a self-imposed ideology.
If man’s measure of good and evil is a self-manufactured impulse, then every person becomes his own “god,” setting the rules of conduct as he sees fit. While it is the case that morality is essential for the order and preservation of society, that by no means restrains the rebel who thinks he can violate common law and do as he pleases; and if he manages to escape the temporal consequences of lawlessness, he has no moral culpability. Atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre had it right: “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist.”
The evidences for God’s existence are vast. Believe!
God: He Cares
For many people, the great obstacle to belief in God is the problem of suffering. If humanity suffers, can there be a God who really cares? Because men cannot subject all suffering to meaningful analysis, the assumption sometimes is made that there cannot exist a benevolent God.
The problem is framed like this: If God wishes to prevent evil, but cannot, he is not all-powerful; if he can prevent suffering, but will not, he is not good; if he has both the power and will to eliminate suffering, then why is such in the world? The fallacy of the argument is in the assumption that there is no good purpose to be served by allowing suffering in the world.
No one should be so presumptuous as to assert that man can completely understand the problem of suffering. Humanity is not privy to the entirety of the mind and purposes of God (Romans 11:33). Enough answers are provided in the Bible, however, to allow us to accept that inexplicable percentage on the basis of faith.
First, when one raises the question of suffering, he is appealing to some universal system of justice which suffering allegedly violates. But, if there is no God, hence no universal system of “rightness,” why would suffering be deemed evil? Consider carefully the following.
God is a being of love (I John 4:8,16). But love allows freedom of choice, and where there is freedom, there is the possibility that finite beings will make wrong choices. Wrong choices can entail suffering. If all choices, good and bad, produced the identical effect, how would one ever learn to choose the former and reject the latter? Or even want to? Thus, where there is freedom of will, there is the inevitable consequence that finite beings must be allowed to suffer the consequences of their choices.
The Consequence of Choice
There are multiple causes of suffering in the world. We frequently suffer due to our personal wrong choices. If a man steals and goes to prison, whose fault is it (cf. I Peter 4:15)? Much suffering is a consequence of other people’s misuse of choice. Would we covet freedom for ourselves, yet deny it to everyone else? An innocent person may be killed in an auto wreck involving a drunk driver. We sometimes pay the price for others’ freedom to make decisions.
Some suffering is the result of freedom as abused by former generations. We reap the benefits of the labor of earlier generations (e.g., scientific discoveries); can we avoid reaping the evils as well? Innocent children starve in some countries because their ancestors rejected God and decided to worship cattle instead—that could be used as a food source.
There is much suffering in the world today as a consequence of catastrophic phenomena (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.). But what is the cause of the violent conditions plaguing our planet? It is the drastically different geophysical features of the earth (e.g., mountain ranges, varying pressure areas, etc.).
It has been observed in the fossil record, however, that the ancient earth was not convulsed with volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc. Dr. Robert Jastrow declared that the early earth had a “mild and constant climate” where the elements “were in perfect balance.” Many scholars believe that a universal flood rearranged the features of our planet so that we have inherited the consequences of that disaster. The biblical Flood, which came as the result of human rebellion, is the perfect explanation for this condition.
It must be noted that we live in a world regulated by natural law. Thus, a certain amount of suffering is inevitable. If the law of gravity behaves consistently, a building may fall—killing or injuring someone. Such events could be prevented only if God continually intervened, suspending natural laws. But this would render the law-system of our planet completely undependable and make life a sphere of utter confusion. Such a haphazard system would argue more for atheism than for theism!
The fact is, as much as we recoil at suffering, it is beneficial in various ways. What if we could experience no pain? Does not pain dispatch us to the physician for treatment and cure?
Suffering and Character
Is it not true that suffering helps to cultivate the noblest qualities of which man is capable? If there were no suffering, traits such as patience, bravery, and compassion would not exist? Where there is only sunshine, and no rain—nothing but a desert exists. Suffering serves to remind us that this world was not designed to be man’s final abode. We are to consider ourselves strangers in this world (Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11). Suffering should nudge us towards a better existence.
Finally, suffering per se cannot be contrary to the goodness of God. This is revealed by the fact that even Christ was subjected to suffering (Hebrews 5:8; I Peter 2:21ff).
It is clear, therefore, that enough of human suffering can be reasonably explained, to negate the atheistic charge that misery is incompatible with the existence of God. If man will but use the wisdom with which the Creator endowed him, he will be able to use the adversities of life to help fashion the kind of character with which the Creator is pleased, and by which He is glorified.
God: He Has Spoken
If God exists, and if he created the human family, one would expect that he has communicated with those made in his very image (Genesis 1:26-27). The truth is, God has spoken. He has spoken abstractly, and he has communicated concretely.
Abstract revelation has to do with God’s presence as made known through his handiwork. David, king of Israel, declared: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). The visible Universe eloquently testifies of the power and wisdom of its Creator (Romans 1:20).
The ancient Greeks called the Universe the kosmos (cf. English “Cosmos”), a term suggesting that which is characterized by order. Balbus, a Greek writer, asked: “Can one behold heaven, and contemplate what passes there, without discerning with all possible evidence, that it is governed by a supreme intelligence?” Interestingly, when atheist Carl Sagan wrote a book about the spectacular nature of the Universe, he titled it, Cosmos— not Chaos!
The Universe (and it is a uni-verse; not a multi-verse) is like a gigantic machine that intricately has been engineered. The term “astronomy” derives from two original terms signifying “star law,” which hints of the laws that govern the heavenly bodies. Where there is law, there must be a lawgiver. It is only because of the mathematical orthodoxy of the Universe that astronomers can predict lunar or solar eclipses years in advance, or launch a spacecraft to the moon and land it with pinpoint precision.
The earth is moving in a 600,000-mile long orbit around the sun at a speed of 1,000 miles per minute. Its track is elliptical in design. Thus, at times it is closer to the sun than at other times. When closer to the sun, it moves faster; when farther away, slower. As the earth moves in its gigantic race-track-like orbit, it digresses from a straight line one-ninth of an inch every eighteen miles. If the turn were only one-tenth of an inch, our planet would freeze; if the adjustment were one-eighth of an inch, the earth would burn to a cinder. There is balance; someone designed it just right. That One was God.
By means of abstract revelation one can know that the Creator is powerful. The Universe is estimated to be some 20 billion light years across (the distance light can travel in 20 billion years at the rate of 186,000 miles per second). Of course its extremities have not been fathomed. But the size speaks to the power of its Creator. The precision design reveals his wisdom. To really know God, however, and his will for humanity, requires more than abstraction; it requires concrete data.
In ancient times God spoke to select persons directly —men like Noah, Abraham, and Moses— and, through them he communicated his will verbally. Language is the vehicle of precise communication. Through Moses a written law was given to the Hebrew nation (c. 1,500 B.C.), a people divinely selected and ideally situated to influence the nations of the antique world, which they admirably did.
At precisely the most opportune time, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world as a revelation of himself (John 1:18; cf. Galatians 4:4). That Christ existed is almost universally conceded; history overflows with the evidence. Friend and foe (e.g., philosopher Ernest Renan) alike have applauded his character. To study the life and attributes of Jesus is to get a picture of the Father himself, as conveyed in human form (John 1:14; 14:9).
Out of that Judaeo-Christian background comes the most amazing book the world has ever known. It is called the Bible. It was composed over a span of some sixteen centuries—from Moses at Sinai to John the apostle on the island Patmos—a library of sixty-six books with a united theme; the Messiah is coming; He has arrived; He will return. That Messiah was Christ, the Lord.
The biblical documents are characterized by an amazing variety of evidences that authenticate the Book’s claim of divine origin. For example, there are more than 8,000 prophetic utterances in the Bible that speak specifically of events far beyond the scope of the spokesman—things he could not possibly know by human intuition. There are predictions regarding the rise and fall of nations (see Daniel 2), and declarations regarding specific rulers (see Isaiah 44:28-45:4). There are more than 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Prophetic utterances are proof positive of the divine origin of the biblical documents. Search the worldwide-web at: “Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament.”
The meticulous accuracy of the biblical library is likewise inexplicable in terms of human origin. For example, in the book of Acts, Luke, the author, mentions thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine Mediterranean islands. In addition, he alludes to ninety-five different people, sixty-two of which are not mentioned by any other New Testament writer. Twenty-seven of these are unbelievers, chiefly civil or military officials. In not a single instance does he slip and make a factual mistake, though the political climate of that region in the ancient world was in a constant state of change.
The Bible is truly a remarkable book. Study it carefully and honestly and make application to your life. You will never regret such a decision.