Monday, May 23

Does God Exist? (Part Two)

In the previous entry of this two-part series, we examined several different arguments for the existence of God. In this entry, we will expound upon some of these arguments and bring up a few others. Does God exist? This may be one of the most important questions you will ever face in life. If God does exist, and if He is the God of Christianity, this means that what we decide about Him determines our eternal destiny, which is not something to take lightly. (Photo credit: Michelangelo, Village of Joy)

Consider the universe. We live in an immeasurable universe, a "temporal" universe defined by time, space, and mass/energy (or simply "matter"). Time, space, and matter - a triune universe. Regardless of what hypothesis we put forth concerning the cause of the universe, it is merely that: a hypothesis. None of us were there at the beginning to observe, test, record, and bear witness to the creation, therefore whatever we believe about the beginning of the universe is based on beliefs, called presuppositions. Essentially, when it comes down to it, two presuppositions exist: 1) that there is an uncaused first cause which was outside or transcendent to the universe caused by something not bound by time and space, or 2) that there is an infinite series of causes extending into infinite time with no ultimate cause.[1]

It is evident that many scientists begin their work and research based upon the presupposition that the natural world - what can be seen around us - is all that there is, that there is no God, and thus no ultimate cause. However, science indicates that time is finite, not infinite, which would contradict the second presupposition, rendering it not useful. Time is not eternal by any means, it was created. To inquire as to what transpired before time was created would be to create a "false paradox," since there was no "before" prior to the creation of the triune universe. If this is so, it indicates that whatever caused the universe to exist must not be bound by time, must be timeless.

As put by scientists at the Institute for Creation research, "Applying the principles of cause and effect, it is clear that scientific logic indicates that the Cause for the universe in which we live must trace back to an infinite First Cause of all things. Random motion or primeval particles cannot produce intelligent thought, nor can inert molecules generate spiritual worship. The First Cause of limitless space must be infinite. The First Cause of endless time must be eternal. The First Cause of boundless energy must be omnipotent. The First Cause of universal interrelationships must be omnipresent. The First Cause of infinite complexity must be omniscient. The First Cause of spiritual values must be spiritual. The First Cause of human responsibility must be volitional. The First Cause of human integrity must be truthful. The First Cause of human love must be loving. The First Cause of life must be living. We would conclude from the law of cause-and-effect that the First Cause of all things must be an infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, spiritual, volitional, truthful, loving, living Being!"[2]

Every effect must have a cause, and the universe is the effect of something, therefore, it must have a cause. Logically, it can be determined that, as noted, only an uncaused first cause by some source could possibly cause the universe to begin to exist, suggesting an uncaused Causer, or a being who set the universe into motion. But if we cannot see this being, God, how do we know He exists? Consider: have you ever met George Washington? Have you ever seen him, heard him, or felt him? (I sure hope not.) Rationally, you would have to answer "no." Likewise, have you ever seen love? How can we know that love exists?

Apologist Ray Comfort points out, "Have you ever seen your own brain? We all believe in many things that we have never seen. Have you ever seen the wind? Have you seen history? We see the effects of the wind, but the wind is invisible. We have records of history, but it is by faith we believe that certain historical events happened. Television waves are invisible, but an antenna and a receiver can detect their presence."[3] If we believe in these things yet have not seen them, yet we can clearly see their effects, why is it so difficult for us to accept the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, perfect Creator God? If God did not exist, it would be difficult to explain how personality could arise from non-personality, or how order could ever result from chaos. Similarly, do you believe in love?

Humans are driven by love. Animals, however, are unable to provide assistance to other creatures which they are unrelated to, and seemingly do not recognize the needs of other creatures. While some animals, such as horses, dogs, and cats appreciate affection, it is only humans who can receive, give, refuse, and reject love. Humans are able to use love in an entirely different fashion. Humans love their children when they disobey, we love our enemies and will sacrifice our lives for friends - and enemies. Soldiers sacrifice their lives for others, including other soldiers, even though, according to a Secular worldview they should have no reason to, and in fact should allow the other soldier to survive, as he would be nothing more than competition - yet the soldier saves the other regardless. Self-sacrificial love does not make sense in an atheistic worldview.

ICR succinctly states, "Of course, if God did not create us, how would we ever know what real love is, much less learn to practice love ourselves? The very fact that we can love and be loved (by God and by others) is yet another proof of a Creator's love. Because of His own nature of infinite love and grace, it was God's good pleasure to create things in whom He could bestow His love and grace and who, being made in His image, would be capable of reciprocating and responding to that love."[4] The meaning of life is also called into question when considering the existence of God. Humanity is always seeking its purpose, the "reason for existence," believing that there must be something more than simply using our resources and dying off, one by one.

In an atheistic worldview, based upon the presupposition that God does not exist, or that man is his own god, or even that god is nothing more than the energy or forces of nature around us, the belief is that there is nothing supernatural (though some believe in the extra-terrestrial), the belief that there is no evidence for the Bible's God, and thus there is no plan for anyone's life. It would mean that there is not afterlife, NDE's and OBE's notwithstanding, and there is no eternal life. Essentially, the belief is that when you are dead, you stay dead, and that is the end. If this was true, then what caused life, what caused meaning?

Those kind of beliefs have led to an increase in more and more suicides, studies show, with those who believe they are accountable to a Creator God less likely to commit suicide. As you can easily determine, your presuppositions and worldview are the basis for the way you live your life, and it is best to know what you believe, why you believe it, and whether or not God exists. If an individual believes that there is no meaning to life, that he or she is nothing more than a chemical accident, what would be the point in living, what would be the point in doing anything? Yet humans tend to feel as if they have a greater purpose in life, which can only be explained by a Creator who imbued humanity with meaning. 

What about wisdom? Wisdom is defined in the dictionary as, "the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight."[5] Essentially, wisdom is effectively using and understanding information. Wisdom has allowed humanity to further develop itself a set of scientific and natural laws which evidently dictate the universe, which were already set into place, we simply had not yet discovered them. The source of wisdom that was able to invent and program the universe is an unfathomable intelligence. 

"In particular, the cause of our universe coming into being, and of its continuing to operate as it does, is a dynamic display of the Creator's wisdom, some of which we can scientifically understand and effectively apply. When we do, we are (as Kepler) 'thinking God's thoughts after Him.' To the extent that humans have any wisdom at all, much less the wisdom necessary to understand a meaningful amount of the working of the universe, the very fact that we can understand at all is more amazing than the marvelous physics of the universe!  How can an immaterial mind, residing inside a human body, made mostly of water (along with other constituent elements of the earth), comprehend anything, even this sentence? It is only by God's creative grace that human being can think any thoughts at all, much less thoughts that are logical and analytical enough to be called 'scientific.'"[6]

The specific design of the universe also necessitates a Creator, a Designer. Consider the human eye. As noted by author C.W. Eddy, "The human eye is so complex and sophisticated that scientists still do not fully understand how it functions... Our eyes have 137 million light-receptive pixels in their retinas. The cone receptors in our eyes have chemicals sensitive to different wavelengths of light that our brain represents to us as colors. Even color is a God-given representation to us in our brains. The only scientific differences in light are the measure of its wavelength. The chemicals in the cones stimulate an electrochemical response that is transmitted over the optic nerve to our brains. This information is transmitted at least thirty times per second. In the brain, the information is reconstructed into a three-dimensional hologram of our surroundings replete with depth, color, brightness, and texture."[7] It is difficult to imagine that the human eye could be the product of time + chance + matter, it appears more rational to believe that the human eye was the product of an intelligent designer. 

The human body itself seems to evidence a designer. The adult body is comprised of about 206 bones, which are covered by twice as many muscles, which could not move without bones. Our body has systems which allow us to breathe, systems which circulate our blood, systems which digest our food, and will also heal us when we are injured. Our skin is the largest organ of our body - it is waterproof, it is self-repairing, and it is constantly shedding and renewing itself. Interestingly, your body is creating - and killing - 15 million red blood cells per second. Your fingerprints are your built-in identification card. It is unique for each person, even for identical twins.[8] Everything in the body serves a purpose, even things such as mucus, sweat, and earwax.

Sweat, for example, is very helpful for the human body. Your body functions at around 98.6°F (or 37°C). When it is too cold, your pores "perk up," and keep the heat in. If it is too hot, your sweat glands kick in, and helps to cool your body. It can help cool your body when you are working out, playing basketball, or at the office on a hot day.[9] The body is evidently a product of intelligent design. Living things show evidence of design. Consider the Great Wall of China, the faces of the U.S. Presidents at Mt. Rushmore, the stone heads at Easter Island, Stonehenge, the Pyramids at Giza. Each of these demonstrates evidence of an intelligent designer.

This can be likened unto a chair or even a building. When you look at a building, you recognize that it did not merely evolve over time, you recognize the markings of some kind of a designer. You may not know or what designed and built that building, but you recognize the signs of a designer, because it bears the markings of a designed structure. It would be difficult to belief that Mt. Rushmore was subject to millions of years of erosion and thus became what we see today, in the likeness of the four presidents. It would be logical to believe and accept that something intelligent designed Mt. Rushmore. It would be illogical for us to assume that brick, left alone long enough, would eventually turn into a brick building, or that metal, given enough time and chance, would become a Boeing 747.

The argument used above is usually associated with William Paley, who wrote on this topic in the eighteenth century. He is perhaps most remembered for his example of the watch and the watchmaker, "the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehend its construction, and designed its use."[10] Design implies a designer. For a Christian, the design which we see all around is is best explained by the explanation given in the Bible, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

Richard Dawkins, a leading atheist, argued against Paley's watchmaker argument, "All appearance to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with future purpose in his mind's eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker."[11] But is Dawkins correct in his assumptions?

He insists that natural selection and mutations provide a mechanism for the evolutionary process. He essentially believes that evolution itself is the designer. However, there are theological explanations - such as theistic evolution - which include evolution as the vehicle by which God created, similar to Michelangelo using a chisel to create. Indeed, Dr. Gary Parker says, "Natural selection is just one of the processes that operates in our present corrupted world to insure that the created kinds can indeed spread throughout the Earth in all its ecologic and geographic variety..."[12] Natural selection only operates with the information that is already contained within the genes - it does not produce new information. We can observe great variation within a kind (such as wolves, coyotes and dingoes all the same kind: a kind of dog), but all of which still operated in the information the genes already contained. They were produced from the sorting out, or rearrangement, of this information in the original dog kind. Natural selection and mutations both do not work as a mechanism to produce the information and design of living organisms, therefore, another source must be discovered. God is this source. Information cannot arise from non-information, something cannot come from nothing. Information cannot arise from disorder by chance. It always, without exception, requires greater information to produce information, leading us to the conclusion that information is the result of intelligence.

Since DNA is full of information, and natural selection works on the basis of existing information, what is this source of information? Michael Behe explains why secular scientists do no readily accept creation, "The fourth and most powerful reason for science's reluctance to embrace a theory of intelligent design is also based on philosophical considerations. Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don't want there to be anything beyond nature. They don't want a supernatural being to affect nature, no matter how brief or constructive the interaction may have been. In other words... they bring an a priori philosophical commitment to their science that restricts what kinds of explanations they will accept about the physical world. Sometimes this leads to rather odd behavior."[13]

For those in the Abrahamic traditions, the attributes of the universe indicate that the Creator, Designer, unmoved mover, Judge, the God who made the universe, is the God of the Bible. 
Troy Hillman

[1] "Time, Space, and Matter ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 20 May 2011. .
[2] "The Logical Implications ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 20 May 2011. 
[3] Ray Comfort, quoted by Ken Ham. "Does God really exist? How can we know? If God made everything, who made God?." Christian Answers. Christian Answers Network, 2003. Web. Feb 2011. .
[4] "God Caused Love." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 22 May 2011. .
[5] "wisdom." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 23 May. 2011. .
[6] "God Caused Wisdom." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 21 May 2011. .
[7] Eddy, C.W. The Power of I Will. 1st ed. New York: Pilgrim-Way, 2011. 10-11. Print.
[8] Campell, Stan, et al. "only human?." Inside the Mysteries of the Bible: New Perspectives on Ancient Truths. 2010: 17. Print.
[9] UpChurch, John. "Getting Closer to Gross." Answers Magazine. March 2011: 47. Print.
[10] W. Paley. Natural Theology: or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. Reprinted in 1972 by St. Thomas Press, Houston, Texas. 3. Print.
[11] Dawkins, Richard. "The necessity of Darwinism," New Scientist. 94:130, 1982. Print.
[12] Dr. Gary Parker. Creation: Facts of Life. Master Books: Green Forest, Arkansas, 1994. 75. Print.
[13] Behe, Michael. Darwin's Black Box. 243. Print.

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