May 16, 2020 by directorfsm
Question: “Does God exist?”
Whether God exists is the most important question any person can consider. Opinions on God are everywhere, but answering the question does God exist? demands more than a few seconds of attention and involves a wide range of ideas and evidence. Ultimately, what we see in human experience, science, logic, and history leads to a confident answer: yes, God exists.
** Added John Gill’s Commentary on Hebrews 11:6 **
Often, this question is posed as “Can you prove God exists?” The problem is that, while truth itself is absolute, there are virtually zero instances of absolute proof outside of pure logic and mathematics. Courtrooms don’t require absolute proof, for that reason; rather, they seek to dispel “reasonable doubt” and consider what’s “most probable.”
It’s equally flawed to demand “proof of God” that no person could ever reject. Neither evidence nor people function that way in the real world. “Encountering” facts and “accepting” them are profoundly different. Airtight, sound arguments are still “unconvincing” to those determined to disbelieve. For that person, it’s not “proof,” even if it would convince almost anyone else. A person’s intent is more influential than any evidence encountered.
That means “faith” is necessary—and not just regarding God’s existence. Perfect knowledge is beyond our ability. Bias and prejudice cloud our views. There will always be a gap between what we can “know” and what we “believe.” This applies equally across the spectrum from skeptics to believers. We cannot possibly know every detail involved every time we sit in a chair, eat food, or climb stairs. Such actions all express a measure of faith. We act, despite what we don’t know, because of what we do know. That’s the essence of biblical faith, including faith in the existence of God. We trust in what is known, leading us to action, despite a less-than-absolute understanding (Hebrews 11:6).
Whether or not one acknowledges God, the decision involves faith. Belief in God does not require blind faith (John 20:29), but neither can it overcome malicious resistance (John 5:39–40). What is fair is to point to human experience, logic, and empirical evidence to inform the answer.
Does God exist? – Human Experience
Discussing the existence of God usually starts with logical arguments. That makes sense, but it’s not how human beings normally operate. No one starts devoid of all perspective, waiting to follow a robotically rational path before forming an opinion. People interpret life based on the world around them. So looking at the existence of God ought to start with experiences. Afterwards, we can use logic to assess those views.
Evidence of God exists in daily human experiences (Romans 1:19–20; Psalm 19:1; Ecclesiastes 3:11). This includes our innate sense of morality. It applies to the apparent design of the universe around us. Human life compels belief that truth, deception, love, hate, goodness, evil, etc., are real and meaningful. The overwhelming majority of people throughout history were inclined to believe in a reality greater than the physical.
Those experiences are not conclusive, of course. Instead, God uses general revelation as an invitation (Revelation 3:20). Common experiences are meant to emphasize that we ought to seek further answers (Matthew 7:7–8). Those who ignore or disdain that invitation don’t have the excuse of being ignorant (Romans 1:18; Psalm 14:1).
Does God exist? – Human Logic
Three of the more powerful logical suggestions of God’s existence are the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments.
The cosmological argument considers the principle of cause and effect. Each effect is the result of some cause, and each cause is the effect of a prior cause. However, that chain of causes cannot go on infinitely into the past, or else the chain would never actually start. Logic demands something eternally existent and not itself the effect of anything else. Our universe, clearly, is not eternal or uncaused. Logic points to God: the uncreated, eternal measure of all other things, the First Cause of our reality.
The teleological argument examines the structure of the universe. The largest galactic scales, our solar system, our DNA, subatomic particles—everything gives the appearance of having been purposefully arranged. This trait is so strong that even hardened atheists are constantly fumbling to explain away the appearance of design.
Nothing about subatomic particles or forces indicates they must be arranged the way they are. Yet, if they were not exactly as they are, complex matter—and life—would be impossible. Dozens of universal constants coordinate with mind-boggling precision just to make life possible, let alone actual. Science has never observed or explained life arising from non-life, yet it also shows a sudden onset of complex organisms. Archaeologists who see the words I am here on a cave wall would universally assume intelligent action. Meanwhile, human DNA represents a coding structure beyond the ability of the best human engineers. The weight of this evidence, logically, favors the idea of an Intelligent Designer—God—as an explanation.
The moral argument takes note of concepts like good and evil, ethics, and so forth. It’s notable that these are discussions of “what should be,” not merely “what is.” Moral principles are drastically disconnected from the ruthless, selfish reasoning that one would expect of a creature randomly evolved to survive at any cost. The very idea that human beings think in non-physical, moral terms is striking. Beyond that, the fundamental content of human morals across cultures and history is identical.
Further, discussion of moral ideas leads inevitably to a crossroads. Either moral ideas are completely subjective, and therefore meaningless, or they must be grounded in some unchanging standard. Human experience doesn’t support the conclusion that morals mean nothing. The most reasonable explanation for why people think in moral terms and share moral ideals is a real moral law provided by a Moral Lawgiver, i.e., God.
Does God exist? – Human Science
The logical arguments above are inspired by observations. Concepts such as the Big Bang Theory demonstrate, at the very least, the scientific validity of a created, non-eternal universe. Likewise for the structure of DNA. Empirical data lends credibility to the idea of a biblical Creator and contradicts alternative explanations, such as an eternal universe or abiogenesis.
Archaeology also lends support to the Bible. People, events, and places depicted in Scripture have repeatedly been confirmed by secular discoveries. Many of these came after skeptics implied the Bible’s accounts were fictional.
History and literature, for their part, also support the existence of God. The preservation of the Bible is one example. Tracing the existing text so closely to the original events makes it more reliable. Judeo-Christian influence on culture, morality, human rights, and the birth of modern science also strongly indicates an approach aligned with truth.
Does God exist? – God in Us
Each of the prior categories is an entire field of study and the subject of thousands of books. Yet the existence of God is demonstrated most profoundly, for most people, in personal experience. It may be impossible to “prove” to others that you’re happy, for instance, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are. That’s not to say internal perspective outweighs objective truth, but complex truths are often powerfully supported by individual experiences. Changed lives, reformed attitudes, and answers to prayer are all part of our personal perception that God exists.
A personal sense of truth is the most compelling way we know God exists, and it’s God’s intent for all people to experience that sense. God came to earth personally, as a human being (2 Corinthians 4:6), so we could have a personal relationship with Him (John 14:6). Those who sincerely seek God will find Him (Matthew 7:7–8), resulting in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26–27).
The question does God exist?, therefore, cannot demand an answer using absolute proof, but we can point people to where the weight of evidence leads. Accepting the existence of God is not a blind-faith leap into the dark. It’s a trusting step out of the dark into a well-lit room where many things are made clear.
Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek