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Evidence for God's existence

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There is a variety of evidence for God's existence, ranging from deductive arguments for a "First Cause" to personal testimony of a personal God.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Evidence does not constitute logical, mathematical, nor scientific proof, but is instead facts and arguments which fit better with biblical claims than with atheistic or other claims.

Contents

The need for evidence

Christianity is not a religion based on blind faith, but has faith based on evidence. This is apparent from the following examples:

  • Gideon asked God for evidence of what God wanted him to do.[1]
  • When the disciple Thomas asked Jesus for evidence that it was truly him, although commending those that believe without evidence, Jesus provided the evidence that he sought.[2]
  • The Bereans were commended for checking that what the apostle Paul told them was correct.[3]
  • Paul based his preaching on the evidence of Jesus' death and resurrection when he said that without the resurrection the Christian faith was in vain.[4]

Evidence in creation

The existence of the universe

A Creator is the best explanation for the existence of the universe. There is a basic principle that everything that began had a cause; something or someone that caused that thing to begin to exist. From the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics taken together we can conclude that the universe had a beginning. Therefore, the universe needed a cause; something or someone that caused the universe to come into existence. The cause of the universe must be something or someone existing outside the universe.

If the cause of the universe itself had a beginning, that cause must itself also have had a cause. However, at some stage one must conclude that there was an "uncaused cause", a cause that itself had no beginning. This uncaused cause is consistent with Christian and some other religious views of a Creator, but inconsistent with atheistic views, which instead propose that the universe came into being from nothing.

Fine-tuned universe

There are many constants and physical values in the universe which are just right for life to exist, but which are improbable if they came about by chance.

For example, if the protons in atoms were a mere 0.2 percent more massive than they are, their instability would cause them to decay into simpler particles, and hence atoms would not exist.[5] Or if the Earth was much further from or closer to the sun, water would freeze or boil. We are just the right distance from the sun.[6]

To some extent, these "just right" values can be explained by the anthropic principle (the values are just right where we are, because if they weren't we wouldn't be here). That is, there may be a range of environments with different sets of physical values, and it is to be expected that we would exist in the environment that is suited to our existence.

However, the anthropic principle is inadequate to dismiss the argument from fine tuning. Some of the constants and values apply across the universe, i.e. there is not a range of values from which to choose, but just one value. Yet the anthropic principle assumes a range of values. Some people try and get around this problem by proposing that there are multiple universes, each with its own set of constants and physical values. However, this proposes something for which there is no evidence, and for which there can never be any evidence, and it is therefore unscientific, yet this argument is mainly used by people who reject God as an explanation because He is not able to be tested scientifically.

The argument from fine tuning is so strong that a number of philosophers have argued that the only answer to it is the multiverse theory.[7]

There are many ... examples of the universe’s life-friendly properties—so many, in fact, that physicists can’t dismiss them all as mere accidents.

Tim Folger[8]

Complexity of life

The existence of life shows that there must have been a very clever Designer at work. Living things are extremely complex with numerous design features. Atheists acknowledge that things look designed[note 1] and evolution is their attempt to explain this apparent design without a designer.

Living things also contain enormous quantities of genetic information. Information can only come from an intelligent being.

That this design and information needs an intelligent being as its source is recognised by some atheists who try to explain it by suggesting that perhaps life on Earth was designed by aliens. However, this only removes the problem another step, and fails to answer the question of who designed the aliens.

Jesus Christ

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who is God, probably the best-attested event of ancient history, is further evidence for the existence of God.

That Jesus existed is attested by four different biographers as well as other sources. Three of the biographers knew Jesus personally, and the fourth wrote according to testimony provided by those who knew Jesus personally. These four biographies are now contained in the Bible, comprising the first four books of the New Testament.

The Bible

Evidence from the Bible overlaps with evidence for the Bible. Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant because God is its ultimate author, and there are a number of reasons for considering the Bible to be what it claims to be.

The Bible has a consistent message throughout, despite being written over a period of at least 1,600 years by over 40 different authors from various walks of life.[9]

Despite attempts to have the Bible eradicated and predictions that it would be obsolete, the Bible has not only survived, but is the best-selling book of all time and is available in more languages than any other book.

In addition, archaeology has demonstrated that the Bible has a very high degree of historical accuracy.[10]

This book, which has been demonstrated to be accurate in many testable historical claims, also claims that God exists and has been working in history. This includes claims that are best explained, if not can only be explained, if God exists. In particular, the Bible documents numerous predictions of then-future events, many of which have already come true.

Christianity

In The Impossible Faith, James Holding argues that "...the only way Christianity did succeed is because it was a truly revealed faith...".[11] He lists 17 factors about Christianity which should have resulted in the religion not catching on, and says that the fact that it did despite these factors is testimony of God's authenticity.

Included in his list is that Christianity went against society norms, such as drawing no distinction between males and females nor between slaves and free people. And it relied to a fair extent on the testimony of women (considered "bad witnesses" at the time) and people of low social standing.

Providing specific names and times and places that could be checked is also not something that a religion should do unless its claims are true, yet Christianity did that. It went further, and encouraged people to verify the claims, again not the mark of a false religion.

Christianity, as we can see, had every possible disadvantage as a faith. As I have recently noted, some religions thrive by being vague (Rastafarianism) or by having only philosophical demands, or demands beyond verification (Buddhism, Hinduism). Others staked a claim to survival by isolation (Mormonism) or by the sword (Islam). Christianity did none of these things and had none of these benefits, other than a late flirtation with the sword when it was already a secure faith and it was being used for political purposes, as indeed any religion could be -- not as a means of spreading the Gospel. Every disadvantage, and none of the advantages.
...
I propose that there is only one, broad explanation for Christianity overcoming these intolerable disadvantages, and that is that it had the ultimate rebuttal -- a certain, trustworthy, and undeniable witness to the resurrection of Jesus, the only event which, in the eyes of the ancients, would have vindicated Jesus' honor and overcome the innumerable stigmae of his life and death. It had certainty that could not be denied; in other words, enough early witnesses (as in, the 500!) with solid and indisputable testimony (no "vision of Jesus in the sky" but a tangible certainly of a physically resurrected body) and ranks of converts slightly after the fact (the thousands at Pentecost) who made it harder to not believe than to believe.[12]

Testimonial evidence

Many people have testified to knowing God personally,[13] as He has had an impact on their lives. Many of these people have not only testified of their own experience, but of their family and friends noticing the changes in their lives.

In many cases, people have been delivered from pornography, homosexuality, anxiety, drug dependence, and other problems.[14]

Bibliography

Note

  1. For example, arguing that the design is only apparent was the central thesis of Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion

References

(References refer to publications in the Bibliography, above.)

  1. Judges 6:36-40
  2. John 20:24-29
  3. Acts 17:11
  4. 1 Corinthians 15:2, 1 Corinthians 15:12-14, 16-17
  5. Folger, 2008
  6. CMI
  7. Gefter, 2008.
  8. Folger, 2008
  9. See Bible#Authorship.
  10. Koukl, Greg, The Bible: Accurate and True, The Plain Truth, July-August 1997.
  11. Holding
  12. Holding
  13. See Further Reading
  14. Batten.

Further reading

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