“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.”
According to the world’s former foremost atheist, our belief in God is indeed credible. Dr. Antony Flew, a British philosopher who has been the primary voice of atheism for decades, recently converted to theism. I heard this man debate for atheism at the University of Wisconsin campus back in 1998 to the cheers of thousands of college students and area residents. Now, having been confronted with the arguments of brilliant theists, Dr. Flew has claimed that reason has assured him that there is a god. He is not a Christian by any means, at least not yet. But he is not all that far away. And according to Dr. Flew, our belief in a god is assured by reason and our belief in the God of the Bible is perfectly rational and sensible.
We can just believe that God exists, but the problem with that is when confronted by unbelieving intellectuals, we feel completely inferior as if their science is superior to our faith. The fact of the matter is that science is not antithetical to faith. Science, the process of rational inquiry, can actually bolster our faith, which, as Dr. Flew has seen, is what we as theists should expect to happen.
Here is how the scientific process can even be used to lead us to faith, by the grace of God, of course. We begin by making an assumption in our minds that God exists. Well, if God indeed exists then the world around us should point to Him. Psalm 19:1-2 indeed indicates that the creation reveals a Creator when it says, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.” Romans 1:18-20 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God has made it evident to them. 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.” Part of God’s design is to reveal Himself in a general fashion through His creation. From His creation we see order, beauty, marvelous intricacies, and extraordinary balance. We can infer attributes about God from these things such as power, supernatural intellect, a regard for details, an all-seeing God, and a God of absolutes, just to name a few things. Unfortunately, this Scripture tells us that men in general suppress this knowledge and ignore God and His truth. But the good news is that as scientific inquiry advances, it can only uncover and discover this handiwork of God even more. So, we have nothing to fear from science. Science, if done honestly, should indeed point to God’s existence. A simple scientific inquiry as to the evidence in creation must lead us to conclude that there is a creator, as the Bible indicates.
There are several arguments most often used to argue for the existence of God. The first is the cosmological argument. This argument in its simplest form states that since every effect first had a cause, if we travel back in time, we must ultimately discover a first cause, i.e. God. There is no time before God because God created time, and He exists outside of time. Thus, even the beginning of time requires a first cause. The concept of big bang cosmology is closely related to this argument. I do not believe in a chaotic explosion from a piece of matter that we can call creation. I believe that God specifically designed the universe and gave it laws of operation. The big bang cosmologists conclude that since physics tells us that the universe is expanding, it must have billions of years ago been a supercompacted ball of matter. This then “exploded” outward in the act of creation, and thus the universe continues to expand because of this initial force. If such a bang occurred, it absolutely requires God’s sovereign hand over where everything went, including the perfect placement of earth from the sun and so on. I believe that big bang cosmology is not necessary to adhere to in order to come to the belief in God. The universe may be expanding for other reasons that we just don’t understand yet. It could be that several thousands of years ago that God spoke creation into existence and designed it perfectly like an artist’s painting. I believe that this is the more likely Biblical inference. So, I believe that the cosmological argument is useful in that there had to be a beginning event, unless you believe that time went back infinitely. But I do not believe that it is rock solid and convincing. Neither did Dr. Flew.
A second main argument points out that since there is evidence for a mind that exists apart from electrical activity in the brain, we can argue for the immaterial side of man which would lead to belief in a god of some sort. I see how the argument is very effective in defeating naturalism, which states that all we are is a bunch of atoms with no spirit or soul. I am not so sure how convincing it is to infer that there is a god who created the immaterial part of man. Neither did Dr. Flew.
A third argument is the argument from moral law which says that there is an innate system of moral conduct to which we all appeal. This is the argument popularized by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. This is a frequently used argument where you try to get the person you are reasoning with to acknowledge that something is wrong, thus admitting a moral law. Then you can infer a moral law giver, for how else would we get this innate knowledge of a moral law? For example, if somebody ran your car off the road intentionally trying to kill you, you would believe that what they did was wrong. But somebody might argue that that is only because it is illegal. Well, what if it wasn’t illegal and somebody ran you off of the road trying to kill you? You hopefully would argue that the law is wrong to not make it illegal. The only way you can do that is to appeal to a moral law that resides in the heart of man. The basis for this argument rests upon the conscience of man. As Romans says, “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Unfortunately, for many individuals, their consciences are so defiled (Titus ) that you may not get any sympathy. Others will have created their own ethical system thus destroying any need for a moral law giver because they are the ones who themselves created the moral law. A political science professor or student might tell you that the only reason that we create laws against murder is because that is what is best for society. It doesn’t require any good or evil moral standard. Good is what is good for society and evil is what is bad. There are all kinds of ethical systems that philosophers have devised, but none of them can suggest a mandate. They are mere opinion and speculation. My point is that it is difficult to make the jump from a moral law to a moral law giver that is divine. Many people do not believe in absolute right or wrong anymore and thus this argument has its difficulties. (Parenthetically, the way to help someone who holds to moral relativism, believing in no moral absolutes, to see that there are moral absolutes is to ask them if they are absolutely sure that there are no moral absolutes. If they say “yes,” then you have caught them acknowledging an absolute. If they say “no,” then they have admitted that they are not sure that there are no absolutes. Either way, they lose.) I believe that there is philosophical value to argument from moral law, but I also believe that it is difficult to produce a real convincing case, especially with how our society is today.
Let me take you to the philosophical argument that you want to know, remember, and use if the need arises. It is simple and straightforward and straight from Scripture, unlike these others. It is called the argument from design, also known as intelligent design. This is the general argument that convinced Dr. Flew to believe in a god. The design argument is based upon the Scriptures that we read earlier that indicate that part of God’s plan was to reveal His invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature through His creation. So when we look at creation, we see signs of intelligence. Consider the intricacy and complexity and yet simplicity of the human body. Take any part, any system, or any function and ask yourself how in the world did that come to exist? Did it come about through functions of nature or through mere chance? Or did it come about as a result of a divine artist, creator, and maker? The obvious answer is that it came through an intelligent designer. Consider for a moment the human eye. The pupil self-regulates how much light to allow in to focus clearly on an image. Muscles relax or contract to move the eye and to focus the eye. Light is translated into impulses that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain where the brain interprets the image. Other parts of the brain process through the information and make a decision about what to do with the information. Then other body parts, including the eye, are told what to do or where to look. And I have seriously oversimplified that process. Never mind the ability to see in color, perceive three-dimensions, and adapt to various light conditions. The eye is such a wonder, and yet the greater curiosity is how any person can believe that the eye was a product of random chance. It is utter foolishness.
The specific argument that convinced Dr. Flew to move from atheism to theism is one that I particularly enjoy. The argument has to do with DNA research. As scientists have uncovered the genetic code, they have discovered what intelligent design researchers believe to be concrete evidence for God’s existence. What is coded in one microscopic cell in your body is the DNA to create that cell and to instruct it as to how it should operate and reproduce itself. That DNA is also unique to you. In fact, there is more information in a strand of DNA in a single cell than could be contained in thousands and thousands of pages in a book. Yet that is not the most remarkable part. What is amazing is that the information coded on the DNA is not random. For example, this is random: adjeingdvnklkbmhgfvedkin. I just hit keys on my keyboard in no specific order. But that is not how the DNA is coded. It is also not ordered in any sort of repeatable pattern. Some argue that processes of nature and natural law could form complexity, thus negating the need for a designer. However, the complexity that nature produces is not specified complexity. It has order but it is patterned. Consider crystals or and how they are made up of repeatable patterns and designs. Here is an example of order produced by natural laws: qwerqwerqwerqwerqwer. If that went on for thousands of pages, it still is not all that amazing. All you have to think is to type the letters “q,” “w,” “e,” and “r,” and then copy and paste them for thousands of iterations. That is a very simple command. DNA has specified complexity. Here would be an example: I love cupcakes and muffins. The difference here is that there is no random order or pattern. In addition, something is being communicated that requires thought and intelligence. In other words, many intelligent design researchers believe that they have uncovered direct, irrefutable evidence that every living thing has been created by a divine intellect and power. The argument is incredibly sound and convincing. I wouldn’t try to use it in casual conversation, but the reason for knowing that it exists is to know that your belief in God is credible and even compelling by the most advanced science of the day. It will be interesting to see where all this goes and what scientists uncover in future decades. Praise God for Christians in science. The evidence that they have discovered in DNA research and articulately presented was what pushed Dr. Flew from belief to unbelief. This should give us great confidence in our belief in God.
Let me mention one other argument for God’s existence. It is called the argument from religious experience. When you came to believe in Christ for your salvation, you obviously are acknowledging belief in God as well. You can probably look back on your time as a Christian and see how God has changed you. I am sure that others can see it as well. Your interests have changed, your desires have changed, how you view the world has changed, and your morals are at least in the process of changing. Perhaps you can even sense a new joy or peace in your heart that was never there before. Perhaps you have found a freedom or satisfaction that you never had before. All of these are part of your testimony, of how you testify to Jesus living within your heart. This is not to be taken lightly. If you are an honest person and you testify to having your life changed, that testimony needs to be taken seriously. That is why the sharing of testimonies is such an important, powerful, and faith-building exercise in a group of believers. To hear that others have had the same experience and found the same truths that you have is a huge confidence-booster for your faith. Even those who have been Christians a long time need to hear of testimonies from those who found Jesus to remember how precious that moment was. They also need to hear stories of how God is currently working in people’s lives and helping them grow. This is extremely important. Our testimony is a powerful force in convincing somebody about God.
Indeed, we can know that our belief in God is defensible and intellectually rational and reliable because God designed it that way.