1.1 Science has made religion obsolete. There is neither any reason to believe in God today, nor any need for religion.
• Science and religion explore reality from different perspectives. Science studies how things work, but religion seeks also their origin and meaning. While science allows us to learn about God’s creation, it can’t answer the questions, why is the universe here?, why do we exist?, and what is our destiny? These are issues beyond the scope of science, but answered by religion.
1.2 Evolution has done away with the concept of a creator.
• According to Michael Poole, lecturer in science education at King’s College, London, “A distinction needs to be made between evolution—the fact that changes take place from generation to generation, which is generally accepted by biologists; and the mechanisms by which changes occur—a matter of continuing debate. Darwin’s theory is about the mechanisms of change. It is based on certain assumptions.”1
• The Darwinian theory of random mutation and natural selection still depends on some kind of pre-existing order. Evolution may describe a process of creation, and scientists may successfully use its principles to manipulate or clone creatures, but it cannot explain away the first cause. Even if the theory of evolution is correct, it still does not rule out a creator: “Creation is an act—the act of an agent, in this case God. Evolution is a process. A description of the processes of creation is not a logical alternative to the act of creation, as Darwin himself realized…. Nobody would claim that understanding the mechanisms of an invention ruled out an inventor. Yet a similar claim is made that understanding the mechanisms of creation rules out a Creator.”2
1.3 We came about by chance.
• If we say the whole world was the result of random changes, then no empirical evidence, or science, could ever prove it. Indeed, if everything came about by chance, then what would be the purpose of science?
• There are even darker ramifications to this question. If our mind were just an accidental result of chemical reactions, then it would be no more significant than a clod of dirt. Could we then rely on any of our observations, our thoughts, or our feelings? If we came about by chance, if there is no overarching purpose to existence, then what meaning would there be to life?
• We may exult in the ability to “shape our own significance,” but what guarantee do we have of actually doing that, if life ultimately were nothing more than randomly moving particles? If our desires determine or justify all things, then what makes killing worse than blinking, or love better than hate? In a universe caused by chance, we are reduced to characters in an absurdist play, and the actions we judge to be deeply meaningful become, in the cosmic perspective, equivalent to tossing a ball, kicking a rock, or otherwise passing the time of day. Without God, how can human life have meaning?
• We use the word “chance” to describe an event when we can’t see an obvious pattern. But we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that someday we may discover a pattern. Applying the label “chance” to something certainly doesn’t deny a divine cause or purpose. Rather, it’s actually an indication that we can’t figure out everything by ourselves.
1.4 Why do Christians insist that the universe is only a few thousand years old when scientific findings clearly show that the universe must be billions of years old?
• Not all Christians believe that the universe is only a few thousand years old. Those who hold the old earth view recognize the scientific evidence that the earth is billions of years old and interpret the days of creation in Genesis as eras. Those who hold the young earth view understand the days in creation to be 24-hour periods and believe that the universe appears to be billions of years old but is actually a few thousand years old. In other words, God could have made the universe in an “aged” state.
1.5 Since the universe has been in existence for so long, it is highly probable that the first single living cell was produced randomly, and that cell evolved gradually to all the species of living organisms. In fact, science has shown that the building blocks of life can be randomly produced. There is no need for a creator.
• In the 1950s, in his famous experiment, Stanley Miller subjected a mixture of hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and water vapor to repeated electric discharges to yield amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which in turn are the building blocks of cells. The experiment was designed to show how the primitive earth atmosphere could have generated life. More recent scientific findings, however, question whether the mixture he used could have represented the earth’s “primitive atmosphere.”3
• While scientists have been able to generate various organic acids and even sugars in laboratory experiments with different gaseous mixtures, they have not been able to produce the next stage. Even scientists recognize, too, that what they engineer occurs in highly contrived, controlled environments, “with considerably more foresight and technical support than the prebiotic world could have enjoyed.”4
• The following illustration shows that it takes much more faith to believe that the first DNA was a result of random events than to believe in an intelligent creator:
“If a computer randomly typed letters and spaces on a page, how long would it take to produce ONE page accurately describing someone? All words must be spelled correctly. Sentences must be complete and grammar perfect. It would take a long time even at a rate of a page a second.”
“Now imagine that any letter has a 50% chance of being upside down, one of which would destroy the page. At a page a second, it would take more than 100 billion years just to get a page of all upright letters (like flipping a coin 5000 ‘heads’).”
“This is analogous to the evolutionary model of random events creating the first DNA… except for one thing: instead of one page, we would need to create 500,000 pages to produce a single DNA molecule.”5
• As researcher James P. Ferris states in Scientific American, “Scientists are not close to knowing the exact processes that took place on the earth which led to the origins of life. They may never know the exact answer.”6 Though they may suggest plausible processes, they can never supply the real cause.
1.6 The universe is infinitely old. Because it has always existed, it does not need a cause or creator.
• According to the second law of thermodynamics, the amount of usable energy in the universe is decreasing. The universe, in other words, does not have an infinite quantity of energy. Since the universe is finite, or limited, it must have had a beginning.
•The premise that the universe had a beginning receives strong support from natural science. Science has shown that the universe is steadily expanding: therefore, at some point in the distant past, it came into being. The big bang theory, supported by the discovery of a radiation echo in the universe, or low-level radiation from an awesome explosion, points out that the universe is not eternal, but had a beginning from a single source.
• We observe that all matter changes and is contingent. If all matter comprises the universe, then how can the universe be eternal?
• If the past were infinite, then how could we ever have arrived at the present? We would have to pass through an infinite series of moments, which is impossible.
1.7 The universe results from an infinite series of finite causes.
• An infinite series of finite causes is irrational because we still have to explain the first cause in this infinite chain. Everything finite must have a cause. Thus, in reality, there cannot be such a thing as an “infinite series of finite causes.” A real being must be the first being in the chain, and this being must be God.
1.8 The universe comes from an endless series of things mutually supporting each other’s existence.
• Nothing is entirely self-sustaining. All things are dependent on other things for their existence. But a thing needs to exist before it can give existence to another. There must exist something—God—whose being is not caused by something else or dependent on anything else. For example, water evaporates into water vapor, vapor rises to form clouds, and clouds condense to become water. But the hydraulic cycle does not account for its very existence. Something that is not caused by the hydraulic cycle must have caused the hydraulic cycle to come into being in the first place.
1.9 The Big Bang Theory tells us that the universe was created by an explosion of great energy, not a personal creator.
• The Big Bang theory speaks nothing about what or who caused the Big Bang because such questions are beyond the realm of natural science. If anything, the model points out that the universe is not eternal and provides strong support that there is indeed a creator. Although the name “Big Bang” seems to suggest that the universe resulted from chaos and blind chance, the theory in fact makes no such implication. Some have even proposed a better name for the Big Bang model, such as “the Grand Opening,” that would more accurately represent the awesome origin of the universe.
1.10 How can we know God exists?
• From Creation
If something exists, it has either 1) always existed, 2) been created by something that always existed, or 3) created itself. We know from evidence that the universe has not always existed. We also know that it is impossible for something finite to create itself. It would have to exist in order to create; but how can something be and not be at the same time? Therefore, the only option remaining is the universe was created by something that has always existed, has infinite might and eternal life.
The Bible tells us that “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Rom 1:20). When we see a tree, we realize that there was once a seed from which it grew. When we see a child, we recognize that there were parents that gave birth to the child. When we consider the universe, we know there must be a source for its being:
Existence is like a gift given from cause to effect. If there is no one who has the gift, the gift cannot be passed down the chain of receivers, however long or short the chain may be… If there is no God who has existence by his own eternal nature, then the gift of existence cannot be passed down the chain of creatures and we can never get it. But we do get it; we exist. Therefore there must exist a God: an Uncaused Being.7
We are able to exist today because there are complex forces, systems and structures working in the universe, keeping it in order. The earth sustains life because it is located at just the right distance from the sun, between the thermally uninhabitable limits of the boiling and freezing points of water. We live because each cell of our bodies possesses about 80,000 genes that enable the trillions of cells we have to function and communicate with each other. From the macro world to the micro, we see both precision and complexity, but above all, purpose, in existence. Nudge the earth a little off its path of orbit, and the temperature would cause all of life to die; alter or remove a gene, and the whole body may be destroyed. Such explicit design declares the existence of an intelligent creator.
• From His Word
God has revealed his existence and his plans for humankind through his own word. The existence of the Bible and its lasting influence over thousands of years attest to something greater than the invention of man. Indeed, how could over forty authors, from peasants to kings, statesmen to fishermen, and over a span of forty generations have presented such a consistent image of God and message of his divine plan unless his existence were real? Accumulated evidence has demonstrated the truth of the Word: not only through corroborating archaeological findings,8 but also through the fulfillment of over 600 specific, biblical prophecies through the ages9 and its ultimate materialization in Jesus Christ ( Jn 1:1,14).
• From Human Consciousness
God exists because we know and experience him. The book of Romans tells us that humans “knew God” but “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Jn 1:21,18). And yet an underlying moral consciousness, a universal sense of right and wrong, persists within us, testifying to that ultimate source of justice. Though laws may vary across boundaries and “values” are subjective, there are universally accepted notions of how one ought (e.g. with honor, kindness) or ought not (e.g. murder, rape, lie) to behave that have prevailed through history and across cultural boundaries. Fundamentally, or at the very least, we recognize the obligation to obey our conscience—an obligation that neither arises from nature nor ourselves, nor society, for none of the three can fully “impose” that obligation on us. The only source for the absolute moral obligation to obey our conscience is God.
The universal desire, found among people in every age and culture, to seek out and worship God also affirms his existence. Why would the desire exist if there were no real object for it? We would not feel hunger or thirst unless food and water existed. As C.S. Lewis argued in Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” A person might win a million dollars, achieve a certain level of fame, or gain the affection of others, but still seek something better that he knows exists “out there.” The fulfillment, the perfect goodness, the complete love we long for truly exists; the delusion occurs when we fail to recognize we are really missing God.
• From Experience
Our knowledge of God, however, is not only based on inference. We can know he exists through experience. God does directly intervene in our lives, as testimony reveals. When we hear about a person healed from a fatal illness, or a baby found sleeping, cradled in the limb of a tree, after a tornado, we recognize that certain incidents cannot be rationally explained. There must be someone beyond our “ordinary,” “rational” world who has control over it: there must be God.
When we practice God’s word, we will see the results. When we pray, as he instructed us, God listens and answers our prayers, even in miraculous ways. If we pray for the Holy Spirit, we will receive it, as many believers can testify—truly experiencing the power and joy in the spirit as the Bible describes. Moreover, when we receive the Holy Spirit, we experience the guiding presence of God daily (Ezek 36:27).
1.11 What kind of God exists?
• God exists absolutely, and of necessity.
Regardless of what they are, all limited things have a need for being that they cannot supply themselves. But God cannot have that need; as the cause of all creation, he must exist. Because there is no difference between what he is, and that he is, he exists absolutely. Thus God said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exo 3:14).
• God is limitless.
The universe includes space and time and all limited things. As the cause of the universe, God must exist before and beyond it. Therefore he exists outside of space and time and is unlimited (Isa 40:28).
• God is one.
If God has sovereign power, then there cannot be more than one God (Deut 32:39).
• God is spirit (Jn 4:24).
All matter is subject to change. God is changeless; therefore he is immaterial.
• God is transcendent and immanent: he is “above all, and through all, and in all” (Eph 4:6).
God exists independently from his creation, the universe. Yet God sustains all creation; all life exists because of him. Therefore God is omnipresent, filling heaven and earth, and dwelling among us (Jer 23:23-24, 2 Cor 6:16).
• God is wise.
God reveals his wisdom in his creation. As Creator, God has complete knowledge of all things (Ps 147:5).
• God is good.
As giver and sustainer of life, God is infinitely good (Ps 145:7-9). Being wholly good, he cannot tolerate evil; he is holy (Lev 11:44), just (Isa 45:21), and true (Jn 17:17). Being good, he is also loving (1Jn 4:8) and merciful (Exo 34:6). His perfect goodness is manifested in Jesus Christ, through whom he fulfills his requirement for justice and demonstrates his boundless love.
1.12 If everything has a cause, then what caused God?
• The law of causality does not say that everything must have a cause. It states that for every effect there is a cause (an “effect” is something that requires a cause), or that everything that has a beginning needs a cause. But God is not an effect nor does he have a beginning. He was not created, but has always been. He is eternal, and therefore does not require a cause.
• There is a difference between self-existence and self-creation. The concept of self-creation involves contradiction. A being cannot create itself because to do that, it would have to exist already. But it is not a contradiction to conceive of something that has always existed. God, eternal, unlimited by time or space, and without a cause, was not created, but has always been. As we have seen in the previous questions, it is because he first exists, uncaused, that everything else came into being.
1.13 How do we know a self-existent, infinite force, and not a personal God, didn’t cause the universe?
• If the first cause had no mind or intelligence, then how do we explain the intelligence displayed in the grand design of this universe? If what caused our existence did not do so with a purpose, our existence is also without purpose. All talk of intelligence or purpose is meaningless unless someone had given everything a purpose in the first place.
• If the first cause were an infinite, impersonal force, then all the conditions for the existence of the universe would have been present eternally. But the universe is finite and had a beginning. Its existence, therefore, cannot be attributed to an impersonal, infinite force; rather, it must be the result of a personal choice.
• God chose to create the world; his intent is behind it. And just as the universe displays intelligent design and purpose, we know its creator must have intelligence and purpose. Though we cannot know or fully understand him, it is important to consider what his intent for creation is, and specifically, what purpose we have to live. Knowing that we owe our existence to him, we must acknowledge that he deserves our worship.
1.14 Can God make a rock so big that he can’t lift?
• This question is meant to stump a person on the idea of an omnipotent being. It appears to raise a contradiction that challenges the very idea of God’s existence. In fact, the question can be restated as, “Can God make himself anything less than omnipotent?” Just as God cannot lie, or disown himself, having almighty power does not mean God can contradict his own nature. This does not challenge his omnipotence; on the contrary, it confirms his absoluteness.
• Using a logical puzzle to confound our concept of God only says something about our own limitations, not God’s.
1.15 Because of our finite knowledge, it is just not possible for us to know whether God exists (agnosticism).
• The claim that God cannot be known is self-contradictory. If we cannot know anything about God, how can we know God so well to know that he cannot be known? It is like saying, “I believe it is not possible to believe anything.”
• Until we can confidently explain how we came to be, and why we exist, we cannot confidently say, “There is no God.” But it is equally impossible to suspend our judgment about matters of faith because religious beliefs are not just intellectual theories. Matters of faith concern life, and how we should live; and “since we cannot suspend judgment about life itself, in the end we cannot be neutral about religious faith.”10 Jesus tells us that whoever believes in him is saved, but whoever does not believe in him stands condemned. If we refuse to believe him based on the rationale that we cannot possibly know anything about God, then we already have made a decision to be an unbeliever.
• Blaise Pascal, the French scientist, mathematician and founder of modern probability, formulated this wager: if we bet God exists, then even if we are wrong, we have lost nothing, for in the end, we would be left with eternal nonexistence. If we bet against God, and if we are wrong, then in the end, we have lost everything: heaven, eternal life with him, and infinite joy and gain.
• We owe it to ourselves, but moreover, we owe it to God, to examine the evidence carefully and open-mindedly, before we make our choice.
1.16 There are many finite gods who reign over separate realms of the universe. The multiplicity and chaos of the world show that there are many gods with sometimes discordant plans. These gods were either once men or arose from nature (polytheism).
• If the gods are not eternal, then they are not ultimate. We still need to explain where everything in this finite world comes from. But if there is a Creator who is eternal and ultimate from whom all things came to being, why should we worship the other so called “gods”?
• God’s word, the Bible, clearly reveals to us that there is no other god besides him (Deut 32:39; Isa 45:18-22). God alone is the Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, and Judge.
1.17 Believers often posit that because belief in God is a “universal phenomenon,” God must exist. But the majority is not always right. Most people were wrong about the sun moving around the earth. So why can’t they be wrong about the existence of God?
• Even though people were wrong about the movements of the sun and earth, they still experienced the sun and earth and motion. They were simply wrong in attributing the motion to the sun. But if people are wrong about God, then what have they been experiencing? How do we explain the living testimonies of people who have prayed and have been healed of chronic diseases, or have received the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues? Unless there is another plausible reason, we can only attribute these experiences to the existence of God.
1.18 But religious belief has a very plausible psychological explanation. Belief in God may stem from our childhood fears. God is in fact a projection of our human fathers, our “protector” in our helplessness against the forces of nature.
• First, we need to acknowledge that what is posited as an “explanation” really begins with the assumption of God’s nonexistence. Given that, to the atheist, God cannot exist, another account of religious belief must be formed: “since the closest earthly symbol for the Creator is a father, God must be a cosmic projection of our human fathers. But apart from the assumption of atheism, there is no compelling evidence at all that God is a mere projection.”11
• We could equally posit a psychological explanation of atheism: alienation from the human father causes one to reject God.
1.19 If God wants us to believe in him, why doesn’t he just appear to us?
• God has shown himself to the world through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, who is God himself (Col 1:15-17), manifested God’s glory (Jn 1:14; Heb 1:3) and made God known to the world (Jn 1:18). Jesus came to demonstrate his love for us, and teach us exactly how to be with him, God, forever. But many still refused to believe him (Jn 1:10-11). So even if God merely appeared in the sky to everyone, that wouldn’t do us much good; even if “seeing is believing,” it takes more than that—faith—to be willing to follow and obey him.
• God does reveal himself in more meaningful ways. He reveals his greatness in nature, from the tiny atoms to the gigantic galaxies. He reveals his character in Jesus Christ, who lived and taught among human beings. He reveals his wisdom in the Bible, teaching us how to live a full life by relying on him. He reveals his love to us in prayer, comforting our sorrows and helping us through our troubles. He reveals his life-transforming power by having his Holy Spirit live in us.
• God persuades powerfully, but he doesn’t force you to believe. Ultimately, it is your choice. If you can give God the benefit of the doubt by following his teachings, you will experience for yourself that God is indeed real.
- Michael Poole, A Guide to Science and Belief (Oxford, Lion Publishing. 1990) 96.
- Ibid., 110.
- See Christian de Duve. “The Beginnings of Life on Earth,” American Scientist (September-October 1995), http://www.sigmaxi.org/amsci/articles/95articles/cdeduve.html; and Sean Henahan. “From Primordial Soup to the
- Christian de Duve. “The Beginnings of Life on Earth.”
- Ralph O. Muncaster, Creation versus Evolution: New Scientific Discoveries (Mission Viejo: Strong Basis to Believe) 17.
- James P. Ferris. “Scientific American: Ask the Experts: Biology,” Scientific American, http://www.sciam.com/askexpert/biology/biology15.html.
- Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994) 51.
- For a measured look at current archaeological evidence, see Jeffery L. Sheler, “Is the Bible true?” U.S. News and World Report (October 25, 1999), U.S. News Online, http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/991025/bible.htm.
- For a detailed discussion of biblical prophecy and fulfillment, see Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, vol.1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979) 265-323.
- Stephen C. Evans. Why Believe? Reason and Mystery as Pointers to God (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996) 8.
- Kreeft & Tacelli, 84.