Monday, October 16, 2017

Does God exist?

When one says that Jesus didn't rise from the dead, there are two possible explanations.

Archangel Michael points at empty shroud

First, it could be that one doesn't trust the biblical record.  I have discussed this at length in a previous blog.

A second reason might be that we do not believe in a God, who can do miracles, that is a theistic God, or in the concept of super-naturalism, that is that a God can do miracles or miracles occur.

For a discussion of theism and supernaturalism, I suggest Norman Geisler's Christian Apologetics.  It's a hard, philosophical read, but it's got the "goods".  Otherwise, one might try New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell or Geisler's Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.

I will summarize the argument of Geisler's Christian Apologetics. Geisler's Christian Apologetics has three parts. First, he shows that the only trustworthy form of epistemology, theory of knowledge, is rational empiricism - there is a world and we can know it. Then he shows that theism (that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God exists) is of all world views the only possible rational option. He uses the cosmological argument: Something doesn't come from nowhere. Therefore, there has to be a final source, or an uncaused cause (theistic God). He shows then that if we believe in such a God, then miracles are believable, rational.  Finally, he examines the evidence for the NT, and from it he derives evidence for Jesus' life and miracles, as well as his resurrection.

There is plenty of evidence for the credibility of NT documents.  The issue is really first a question of believing in a theistic God (almighty Creator God).

There are several ways to approach showing that a theistic God exists.  The first is a cosmological argument, which I've mentioned above.  

Another way is the teleological argument: There is design in nature. Design points to a Designer.  Creation shows designed. Therefore a Creator / Designer exists.  This designer must be more than a simple "demiurge", a higher being.  The designer must be an uncaused cause, to use Geisler's term, that is a being which is the cause of all else and is itself without a cause or origin.

Another way is the moral argument:  All peoples have a law.  A law must have a law giver and a guarantor of the law, that it will be justly executed.  All laws must have a ground or rule by which they are judged just.  This law must be unassailable and eternal.  The give rof such a law must also be absolutely just and eternal.  Since, justice is never completely served in this life.  There must, therefore, be an afterlife, in which justice is served.  Only an omnipotent, good God can be both the final lawgiver and guarantor of justice. (This is Immanuel Kant's version of the deontological argument, moral argument).

Another argument in favor of a Trinitarian God comes from Francis Schaeffer.  Atheists say that God cannot exist, because if he created us to meet a need in himself for fellowship or love, he would not be a self-sufficient entity.  Therefore, there is no God.  However, Scripture tells us that God is a Trinity of three persons.  God never needed fellowship or love.  He was and is love from all eternity, and has always had fellowship within himself.  Since God has fellowship and love within himself, he could create us freely for ourselves, and not to meet a need in himself.  Therefore, the God of the Bible exists and is our creator.

It is preferable to call these arguments "ways" as Thomas Aquinas did.  We do not call them "ways" because the require blind belief, but because no amount or argument can overturn a decision of the will to disbelieve.  No rational arguments can dissuade someone who will not consider them.

One simple example which is not religious would be smoking cigarettes.  Scientific evidence is unequivocal and unassailable showing that smoking leads to lung cancer. Yet, many people continue to smoke.  Aside from nicotine being addictive, there is an issue of will.  If a person will not act upon sure knowledge, then that person is not saying, "The evidence is false", but rather I choose to ignore the evidence.

Arguments for God's existence are persuasive to many people.  Others are not persuaded.  Whether the evidence is sufficient may say more about the hearer than the argument.

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