Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”

Genesis 1.1

 

We begin this morning at the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1.1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Have you ever noticed that the first words in the Bible are not designed to establish the existence of God, or to prove the existence of God, but are words that presume the existence of God? I want each of you to put on your thinking cap, because my goal will be to provide some intellectual stimulation that I think will be of great benefit to you. Besides the fact that scripture does not begin with a proof that God exists, but with the presumption of His existence, there are two other things about God I want to establish in your thinking:

First, God is invisible, which is to say that He cannot be perceived by the five senses. In Colossians 1.15, the Apostle Paul describes Him as “the invisible God.” To Timothy, he writes, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.”[1] The writer of Hebrews also indicates that God “is invisible.”[2]

Second, keep in mind that Paul informed the Corinthian Christians that unsaved people “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” First Corinthians 2.14.

Thus, it is clearly established in the Bible that God is beyond the reach of our senses, being invisible, and the workings of God by His Spirit are beyond the nonchristian’s capacity to understand. Thus, we might conclude that the reason the Bible does not prove God’s existence is that you cannot perceive Him and you would not understand things about Him. That, however, would be an erroneous conclusion. We cannot perceive God, and there are many things that we do not understand about Him. However, the reason the Bible does not seek to prove God’s existence is not because of our limitations. The reason the Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of God is that it is unnecessary.

We will look at a final verse before we begin our adventure, Isaiah 1.18. The first part of verse 18 reads, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” This is an invitation, a challenge. The Hebrew word used here basically means to decide, judge, prove.[3] According to both Matthew Poole and Keil & Delitzsch, God is here challenging sinners to a debate, to a formal trial, to a serious consideration of the facts.[4] Thus, while we cannot see the invisible God, and there are certain things about the Spirit of God sinners cannot comprehend, it would be a terrible mistake to conclude that God’s Word denies a man’s ability to think and make use of logic. I maintain that one of the devil’s tricks against unsaved people is to convince them that they cannot use their minds where they actually can, and that they can understand things God says they cannot, resulting in needless confusion for so many people.

Let me promise you this: Over the next few minutes you will hear some words that may seen a bit unfamiliar to you, but you will hear nothing that you are not capable of understanding and making logical decisions about. The reason the Bible does not prove to you that God is is because we can do that on our own, without resorting to the Bible. Please close your Bible and set it to one side at this time.

Four main points that I would like you to seriously think about, and that I would like you to take a look at on our church web site, where these four points will be posted in a day or two for you evaluate as many times as you want:[5]

 

Point #1: LET ME CALL THIS THE HISTORIANS VERSUS THE SCIENTISTS

 

Scientists and historians gather information in two completely different ways. Scientists gather information by means of experiments that they conduct so they can observe the same thing happening repeatedly, like a biologist looking into a microscope repeatedly, or a physicist making a measurement repeatedly. What makes science real science is its insistence on actually observing what happens, either with the naked eye or by means of precision instruments.

Historians, on the other hand, typically do not actually witness the subjects of their study. Most of the time, history takes place too far away or too far back in time for the historian to have had any opportunity to see the event he is studying. As well, even if he actually sees the event he is studying, that event will not occur again. So, while our friend Dr. Cagan’s father was able to travel from Chicago where he was in graduate school to Fulton, Missouri to actually hear Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech with his own ears, that speech would never be delivered again.

Thus, according to the scientists who claim that only science gives us access to the truth, Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech never occurred. After all, it cannot be observed scientifically in an experiment repeatedly. However, the historian would argue, rightly in my opinion that things that occurred in the past really did occur, even if they will never occur again. Does that get you to thinking? Then think about those who claim, “There is no truth but science!”

First, those who claim there is no truth but science insists that only those events that are verifiable are truth. Yet, their claim that only verifiable events are true has never itself been verified as being true. No scientist has performed experiments to verify that Julius Caesar was the first emperor of Rome, since it only happened once and has never happened again. However, is the truth of Caesar’s rule over the Roman Empire doubted by anyone as false? Of course not.

Next, those who claim there is no truth that is not verifiable also claim the universe is a closed system of unchangeable laws. However, many scientists now claim the universe is an open system and natural laws are not really requirements of how things must happen, but are descriptions of how things usually happen.

Third, those who claim that only verified events can be true also deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day. Neither will they ever be able to verify the event, since to date it has been a one-time occurrence. However, when you ask them for an explanation of the empty tomb, in the very city where those most eager to disprove the empty tomb could not despite their best efforts, they have no explanation. You deny the resurrection of Jesus as the explanation for His empty tomb, yet you have no explanation for His empty tomb yourself.

Finally, I submit to you that history is as valid at discovering truth as science, and that while science may be better at discovering some kinds of truth than history, history is also better at discovering other kinds of truth than science, since science is severely limited by the necessity of examining only those events that occur repeatedly. Therefore, when someone insists to you that there is no truth but that which science discovers, you know that he is sadly and seriously mistaken!

 

Point #2: CONSIDER THE PHILOSOPHERS

 

If a scientist is a fellow who conducts experiments to observe things that occur repeatedly, and an historian is a guy who gathers information about an event or series of events that occurred in the past that will not happen again, a philosopher is a guy who does neither of these things. A philosopher is a person who thinks about thinking. He studies the way people think, as well as considering those things that can neither be experimented on (so he is not a scientist) or things that have not happened (so he is not a historian).

In the past, many men who were wealthy or who were sponsored by the wealthy were both scientists and philosophers, or were both historians and philosophers, and sometimes even both theologians and philosophers (being students of the Bible and students of thinking and of things that have not happened). Down through the centuries philosophers have pondered the existence of God, and four classical arguments for the existence of God have survived as convincing and credible. Though I will use the names of the four arguments, there is no need for you to either recognize or remember the names. However, you will probably notice the very common sense reasoning found in each of the four arguments, reasoning that I have no doubt you may very well have employed yourself without realizing it:

First, there is what is termed the cosmological argument for the existence of God. This argument reasons that we live in a finite world, a limited world, and that a finite world requires an infinite cause.[6] Of course, the infinite cause of our finite world is God.

Next, there is what is termed the teleological argument for the existence of God. This is the argument that the universe possesses the characteristics of design, requiring a Designer.[7] Those of you who have seen various videos after evangelism on Saturday nights know that the Intelligent Design movement is a teleological argument movement in the scientific community.

Third, there is the ontological argument for the existence of God. This argues that the very idea of a necessary, perfect, and infinite Being demands that such a Being exist.[8] The ontological argument is that no one would ever think of such a Being as God unless God actually existed. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “I think, therefore I am.” This would be, “I think of God, therefore God is.” Not that you thinking of Him makes Him, but that His existence is what results in you thinking of Him.

Finally, there is the moral argument for the existence of God. This argument asserts that morality does not arise from nature, but insists that morality can only arise from a Creator who is Himself a moral being.[9]

Does each of these philosophical arguments prove the existence of God? No, and they were not formulated to prove the existence of God. However, they were formulated to suggest that belief in God is a reasonable explanation for what is. Though you are not a philosopher, you have probably thought such thoughts as I have reviewed here about the existence of God.

 

Point #3: CONSIDER THEISTIC ARGUMENTATION

 

The Greek word for God is qeoV, so such words as theism and theistic have to do with believing in the existence of God. AqeoV, and such words as atheist, have to do with denying the existence of God.

Over the last fifty years, a strong trend has risen to argue for the existence of God among those who are familiar enough with science, history, and philosophy to know that science does not have the corner on all knowledge, and that men can use their minds in a logical and rational way. Though most scientists bow before science as a golden calf that is the only source of truth, a growing number of clear thinking people know otherwise. Let me lay before you in condensed form, three strong contemporary arguments for the existence of God:

First, C. S. Lewis, the famous British scholar who wrote Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles Of Narnia, also wrote Miracles: A Preliminary Study. The result of Lewis’ approach along this line of thinking in that book is that irrational events cannot lead to rational thought. Thus, no one would know if we were thinking rationally if our thoughts were the result of millions of years of irrational evolutionary processes that occur without rhyme or reason. “In other words, rational thinking is evidence of God’s existence.”[10]

Next, there is the argument that nothing exists without a cause. Follow the line of thinking:

 

(1)     Some things undeniably exist (e.g., I cannot deny my own existence).

(2)     My nonexistence is possible.

(3)     Whatever has the possibility not to exist is currently caused to exist by another.

(4)     There cannot be an infinite regress of current causes of existence.

(5)     Therefore, a first uncaused cause of my current existence exists.

(6)     This uncaused cause must be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-perfect.

(7)     This infinitely perfect being is appropriately called “God.”

(8)     Therefore, God exists.

(9)     This God who exists is identical to the God described in the Christian Scriptures.

(10)   Therefore, the God described in the Bible exists.

 

It might be a useful exercise for you get together with your friends and play a game of trying to defeat the logic of this argument, so you will be prepared to defend the argument against others. When you go next door for finger food fellowship a handout with these ten points will be available for you to take home and practice at home or with friends. It is a good way to show someone that it is perfectly rational to believe in God, and quite illogical not to believe in God.

Finally, there is the argument for the existence of God based upon a consideration of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. “Simply stated, the Second Law of Thermodynamics asserts that energy in the universe is becoming less and less available for use because all natural processes are moving irreversibly towards greater entropy or randomness. This means, therefore, that the universe is running down to the point of eventual heat death.”[11] Think about that for a moment, in light of the fact that no scientist denies the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The universe, which will eventually run down, must therefore have had a beginning. “According to philosopher Elton Trueblood, it can now be said in light of this scientific law that the main premise of naturalism has been disproven - nature is not self-explanatory. We must proceed beyond nature for the explanation of its beginning. The universe can no longer be considered eternal, for the Second Law of Thermodynamics dictates that it requires an external source of energy and, further, that this source also maintains the universe.”[12] How, then, do you explain the existence of the universe, that it had a beginning, and that it will someday run down? The best explanation is God.

 

Point #4: THE WORDVIEW WAR

 

Without going into detail, different people have different worldviews. A person’s worldview is the map he has in his brain that helps him navigate through life, providing him with reasons and explanations for things so he will not have to think everything through all over again every time he faces a problem or an issue. Two people watching a reporter read the news could produce two entirely different reactions. Why? Each person has a different worldview, using his worldview to interpret the news differently than the person with a different worldview.

Consider the two worldviews that we are most concerned with this morning, the naturalist’s worldview that is built on the notion that this material universe is all there is and there is no God, and the Christian worldview that this universe is not all there is, and there is a God who created and sustains it. Suppose we toss a problem to each worldview and consider how that worldview handles the problem:

First, the worldview that believes the universe is all there is. This is the worldview of what we call the naturalist. Such a person is referred to as a naturalist because he denies the supernatural, denies the possibility of miracles, and denies the existence of God. The problem that we toss at this worldview is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have already shown today that the naturalist cannot refute the resurrection of Jesus Christ by saying it is unscientific, because we have already shown that science is not the sole custodian of truth, and that science is simply unsuitable to examine certain truths, such as historical events that occur only once and that occur without the observation of the historian. Yet, we established that insofar as history is able to establish the truth of an event occurring in the past, the resurrection of Jesus is true. So, how does the naturalist’s worldview explain the resurrection? Folks, the naturalist has no explanation for the resurrection. It simply does not fit into his worldview. Granted, some naturalists will insist that the resurrection of Christ was a freak event for which there is not explanation, but that only leads to a bigger problem for them. A freak event that has only occurred once in human history? Ridiculous. Not ridiculous, as in the resurrection is ridiculous. Too many historians attest to it occurring. If we know Julius Caesar was emperor of Rome, we know Jesus rose from the dead. No, what is ridiculous is claiming the resurrection was a naturally occurring freak event that happened only once. How does the naturalist, who believes natural laws explain everything, explain a freak event that has occurred only once? He cannot.

Take the same problem and throw it at the Christian worldview. How does Christianity handle the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? Keep in mind that our worldview does not believe that science has an answer for everything, which is why faith plays such an important role in our worldview. Therefore, in the great conflict between the scientists who claim science is the only avenue to truth and the historians who claim there is truth not discoverable by science; our worldview comes down on the side of the historians. What about the four great philosophical arguments for the existence of God? Our worldview, believing that God made man in His image and after His likeness, completely understands the way and the how of philosophers arguing for the existence of God. We have been given minds to reason, and the various arguments for the existence of God are simply logical conclusions that happen to be correct. What about the three strong theistic arguments for the existence of God, that rational thinking can only come from a rational Creator, that the only explanation for the finite world is an infinite Creator, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics that shows the universe is running down and therefore had to have both a beginning and a Creator? Excuse me, but every well-thought argument for the existence of God fits our worldview and refutes the naturalist’s worldview. Additionally, our Christian worldview is not embarrassed by the Lord Jesus Christ’s own predictions of His resurrection in the months and weeks leading up to His crucifixion, is not at all embarrassed by His claims to deity that were based upon His authority, His actions, the reactions to Him, and the Apostles who witnessed of Him after His resurrection and ascension to glory. Finally, our Christian worldview fits Christ’s miraculous resurrection from the dead, not by claiming it was a freak natural occurrence for which there was neither precedent nor rational explanation, but that it was the result of an intervention in the natural order by the One Who created the natural order, and who has both the power and the right to intervene in such miraculous fashion.

 

So, what do we go home with today, a proof that God exists? No. There is been neither claim nor effort to prove the existence of God today. What I have done is show, without the Bible being used in any way, but relying on your ability to think, and drawing upon events in the past and the findings of men in the past, that believing in God is reasonable. It is not ridiculous, stupid, ignorant, or misinformed to believe in God. On the contrary, it is the reasonable result of recognizing that some categories of truth are better handled by historians than scientists, that the thinking of philosophers for centuries has pointed to the existence of God, that there are extremely powerful contemporary arguments for the existence of God, that one of the laws of nature forcefully points to the existence of God, and that our Christian worldview does a much better job of explaining the resurrection of Jesus Christ than a naturalist’s worldview does.

Now, do you know why God does not begin Genesis 1.1 with a proof that He exists? It is not necessary. God uses the Bible for more important things than proving He exists. For one thing, God uses His Word to point sinners to His Son, Who is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him.



[1] 1 Timothy 1.17

[2] Hebrews 11.27

[3] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), pages 406-407.

[4] Matthew Poole, A Commentary On The Whole Bible, Volume 2, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers), page 328 and C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, Vol 7, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), page 64.

[5] I am heavily indebted to Gary R. Habermas, The Resurrection Of Jesus, (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984), from which the thrust and most facts in this sermon are taken.

[6] Gary R. Habermas, The Resurrection Of Jesus, (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984), page 50.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., page 52.

[11] Ibid., page 54.

[12] Ibid.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org