Message Monday 06/29/14 – Cool Topics: Is God Really There?

Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor

Is God really there? Good question. How can anyone be certain about the existence of something or someone who cannot be known by any of our senses—the 5 ways we humans come to be aware of things (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste)? God, if he is there, is outside the realm of our senses. Perhaps he’s simply a figment of our imaginations. Or, if he is there, has he left us clues about his existence which are observable by our senses?  If he is there, and if he wants us to know him, he’s going to have to show up somehow—make himself known to us in ways that are possible for us to know. There are arguments on both sides of this question about the existence of God. To be fair and honest, we should take a look at them as objectively as we can. 

Here are the more common arguments some give in favor of the existence of God: (1) Design & Order: design in nature (plants, animals, solar system, etc.) demands a designer. If the universe is a result of random chance, how do we explain the order we find in it? Order would not likely to occur in a random universe. We do not see chaos producing order. And we do not see purposeful design occurring without a designer. (2) Human Personality: human beings are self-aware, have personality, moral notions, are creative, are self-governing, etc. spontaneous generation and natural evolution do not explain the human psyche.

Here are some of the common arguments against the existence of God: (1) Matter, through cataclysmic occurrences (heat, pressure, expansion, explosion) spontaneously generated life, as we know it, in a life sustaining environment—earth. Life evolved from a simple form into more complex forms and species evolved into additional and varying species. None of this required a God or cause beyond itself. Nature found a way. (2) The existence of pain and suffering precludes the possibility of the existence of a loving, benevolent God. God and pain are mutually exclusive.

We need to recognize that there are intelligent people who land on both sides of the question of the existence of God, and do so confidently. If we are going to engage in this debate, we must do so responsibly and with respect for those who disagree with us. It does not help to attack or discredit the man. We must deal with the argument. Both sides of this question make assumptions. A good and scientific question to ask is this: which assumptions are necessary given what we observe, and which assumptions are not necessary, given what we observe? In other words, which arguments begin with an assumption or pre-conclusion and which arguments let the assumption or conclusion follow the observation? The scientific method would require us to postpone any assumptions or conclusions until we have adequately observed what we are studying.

Some would propose that to argue from the Bible, which claims to be the Word of God, for the existence of God, is circular and therefore a logical fallacy. But, to be fair, we should at least consider what we find in it. The Apostle Paul, a very well educated and intelligent guy, was one of the first proponents of the arguments of Design & Order as well as of Human Personality. He claims that God did leave clues to his existence throughout creation/nature and also in the human psyche. And he was persuasive and convincing to some of the smartest, best educated people on our planet in the first century. Check out what he said to the Athenians about being able to see clues of the existence of God in humans (Acts 17:16-34). And then check out his straightforward address to the people of Rome (Romans 1:18-25). Although the citizens of both Athens and Rome in Paul’s day were highly educated in philosophy, science, mathematics, and politics, they were “very religious”, as Paul commented (Acts 17:22). But we would call them pagan in their approach to religion—they did not worship the Creator, but rather creation or nature. And Paul referred them to the very creation/nature they worshipped to find the God they had missed.

Perhaps we should all take a closer look at the amazing Nature we are so infatuated with to see if God might have left us clues to his own existence in what Paul calls “the things that have been made.” If God is there, and if he made us, then it stands to reason that he must have also made himself findable by us. If there is a possibility that he is there, then let’s “seek him, and perhaps reach out for him, and find him.” He may “not be far from each one of us.”  (Acts 17:27)

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