I remember lying awake in bed as a child, eyes wide open, while the darkness seeped into my room. From my window I saw stars dancing, and I wondered, “Is there a God?” That thought opened the door to a number of other questions. If he is there, how long has he been there? Who made him? And what is he thinking? If he existed forever, does this mean I will exist forever? Now that was a very uncomfortable idea for my young mind to ponder. Life without end was too big a thought for me to handle. So I turned my attention to less stressful matters. Would Luke Skywalker marry Princess Leia?
My parents were open but cautious about God’s existence. They certainly weren’t atheists, but neither did they accept the notion of a personal God. Mine was a home that embraced the supernatural in general, but had no patience for a God who meddled in the morality of mere men. We were more likely to have a Ouija board on our coffee table than a Bible on our bedside. And though I remember my grandmother and me trying to see if we could bend spoons with our minds (seriously), we never gave any thought to praying to a God who cares. Such was life as a child of the Pacific Northwest.
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Is there a God? I wonder how you would answer the question. Chances are you picked up this article because you are a Christian and you believe in the Triune God of the Bible—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But how would you answer a friend who asked you the simple question, “If you can’t see God, why do you believe he exists?” Perhaps you are a skeptic, reading this article as a favor to a friend or family member. Maybe you are like I was—you grew up in a home that didn’t make much of God at all, and you just aren’t sure what to think. I want you to know that there are some good reasons to believe in God. Here are a few that have helped me.
First, nature is evidence of the existence of God.
We all know that words can’t do justice to the beauty and grandeur of the natural world. Whether it’s the depth of the blue sea, the power packed into a hurricane, or the colorful hues of the simplest sunset, there is something jaw dropping about the world in which we live. There’s nothing like driving outside the city to look up at the stars without a gazillion headlights dimming your view.
Hiding behind all this raw beauty is an even more impressive truth: the universe in which we live is finely-tuned, perfectly balanced to be a hospitable environment for mankind—and this can hardly be an accident. Scientists have discovered that if the force of gravity were even slightly different in one direction, the sun would burn too hot for the earth to survive as a life-sustaining planet. Just how precise does the force of gravity need to be in order to make it possible for there to be life on earth? If it were off by just one part in 1040 (a 10 with 40 zeros after it), that would mean no sun and, therefore, no earth.
But that’s not all. Scientists agree that the universe is in a constant state of expansion—and it has been expanding since it’s beginning. Scientists may not know how the universe began, but since Einstein they have argued for a Big Bang—a moment of tremendous force that started everything. The rate at which the universe started expanding is no small matter (no pun intended!). The universe had to expand with just enough force to keep it from reversing course and collapsing in on itself, but not so much force that stars and planets would fail to form. Just how precise did this expansion have to be? Try exactly one part in 1055.
I could go on, but you get the point. It is highly unlikely that a universe arrived “naturally”—without the intervention of God. Philosophers J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, offer this reflection on the fact that our universe is so finely-tuned:
Can the cosmic fine-tuning be plausibly attributed to physical necessity? According to this alternative, the constants and quantities must have the values they do, and there was really no chance or little chance of the universe’s not being life-permitting. Now on the face of it this alternative [one that denies the existence of divine intervention] seems extraordinarily implausible. It requires us to believe that a life-prohibiting universe is virtually physically impossible. But surely it does seem possible. If the primordial matter and antimatter had been differently proportioned, if the universe had expanded just a little more slowly, if the entropy of the universe were marginally greater, any of these adjustments and more would have prevented a life-permitting universe, yet all seem perfectly possible physically. The person who maintains that the universe must be life-permitting [without admitting the existence of an intelligent designer] is taking a radical line that requires strong proof. But as yet there is none; this alternative is simply put forward as a bare possibility.[i]
What do scientists do when they know that the existence of life is highly, highly, highly, highly (you get the point) improbable, and don’t want to accept the possibility that God had something to do with it? They have come up with proposals like the multiverse theory. According to this theory, the earth is a single planet in one of billions, if not trillions of universes. With that many universes to choose from, the possibility increases for there being at least one universe with conditions hospitable for life.
But the multiverse theory is just that: a theory. It’s what Brian Greene once called, “high-risk science,” because it isn’t based on any hard evidence.[ii] To assert the existence of a multiverse we can’t prove takes at least as much faith as it does to accept the existence of a God we can’t see.
The fact that the earth is so amazingly conditioned to provide humans and animals a hospitable home helps me to read Psalm 19:1 in a whole new light, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
Second, people, however imperfectly, accept a universal standard of right and wrong.
For centuries philosophers have struggled with the question, “Why is there so much good in the world?” Maybe that surprises you. You are probably accustomed to hearing about the problem of evil. It’s a question often posed to those with the firm conviction that there is a God, and not just any God, a God who is all-good and all-powerful. If that’s true, these skeptics ask, then why is there any suffering in the world? Why would God allow that? Admittedly, that is a great question, and one the Bible is not silent about.
However, there is another question, just as important, that every skeptic needs to answer. I’ll put it another way, “If there is no God in the world, if there is no Being who as the Author of life can distinguish right from wrong, why is it universally accepted that there is such a thing as right and wrong?”
The fact that we are moral beings, that humans don’t spend all their days conspiring how to steal from the weak to feather their own nests (at least most of us), is good evidence that there is a God, and that God is good.
C. S. Lewis began his famous work, Mere Christianity, with this line of reasoning. The Oxford English professor who came to a personal crisis of faith after dealing with the death of his mother and the horrors of World War I, delivered a series of radio addresses while Great Britain was rocked by World War II. People were struggling to make sense of life, and Lewis believed the place to begin was with the existence of a God. He was struck (and these are my words, not his) that God took sides. Lewis’s radio messages turned into a book in defense of the Christian faith.
Lewis argued that everyone has to decide between two very different worldviews. The first, the materialist worldview, argues that stuff just happens. The world just is. There is no supernatural, divine explanation for anything. In a marvelous confluence of random events, life came into being and everything that has happened since—from the existence of humans to the painting of the Mona Lisa to the building of the Burj Khalifa is nothing more than a serendipitous roll of the dice.
The other view, what Lewis called the religious view, is much more reasonable. In fact, it’s the only view that makes sense of the human mind, a mind that can not only think, but think morally. It is a mind that doesn’t just make plans in order to stock up enough food to get through the winter, but a mind that actually cares about people who don’t have food. It’s a mind governed by what Lewis referred to as The Moral Law. This Law, he wrote,
is not simply a fact about human behaviour in the same way as the Law of Gravitation is, or may be, simply a fact about how heavy objects behave. On the other hand, it is not a mere fancy, for we cannot get rid of the idea, and most of the things we say and think about men would be reduced to nonsense if we did. And it is not simply a statement about how we should like men to behave for our own convenience; for the behaviour we find inconvenient; and may even be the opposite. Consequently, this Rule of Right and Wrong, or Law of Human Nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing—a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves. And yet it is not a fact in the ordinary sense, in the same way as our actual behaviour is a fact. It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behaviour, and yet quite definitely real—a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us.[iii]
We live in a world where right and wrong mean something. And even if we disagree (as we often do) as to what right or wrong is, that doesn’t eliminate the category. Humans may disagree with whether it is right to permit same-sex marriage, subsidize health care, or engage in bilateral talks with tyrants. On these and a thousand other particulars there is, admittedly, no consensus. But when it comes to basic human rights, generations and generations are in lock-step agreement that some moral standards are absolute.