How do we know God exists? J P Moreland at Thrive Apologetics Conference 2013

See other lectures at the THRIVE Conference 2013 here – http://www.youtube.com/user/thrivingchurches

There is a public relations problem we are facing today, and it’s essentially the idea that Christians believe things for no reasons whatsoever. In fact, the idea that is widely promulgated is that what modern people have discovered has made belief in God an unreasonable thing to hold.

So, for example, the late William Provine, who is a biologist at Cornell University, made the following statement about the evolutionary theory, „Let me summarize my views on modern evolutionary theory: „Let me summarize my theory on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear. There are no gods, there are no purposes, there are no goal directed purposes of any kind. There’s no life after death. When I die, I’m absolutely certain that I’ll be dead. That’s the end of me. There’s no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and there’s no free will for human beings either.”

So, this idea is that intellectuals have discovered something, such, that if average people knew what it was, they wouldn’t be able to believe in God any longer. And so, we live in a time, when it is not only widely thought that belief in God is irrational, but, it is now widely thought that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you’re not only stupid, but you are a bigot. Recently, a novelist put our ‘bigotry’ in this way, „Here is how their ignorant bigotry works (referring to christians). First, they put the fear of God in you, if you don’t believe the literal word of the Bible, you’ll burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible was tremendously contradictory, and so, you have to abdicate all critical thinking to believe. And, you must accept a simple, but logical system of belief, but you’re not allowed to question. A corollary at this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of the complex thought. So, it’s best not to think at all.”

Now, this is not the christian religion as it’s been for 2,000 years. It was we that founded the universities of the western world, that produced art and literature, and some of the richest intellectual literature ever produced. What is being talked about here is a relatively recent phenomenon, and I am seeing signs that this is changing, over the last 20-25 years. I’d like to ask the question: How do we know that God exists? Is there a case that can be made for God’s existence?

Through the experience of God and the testimony of the Spirit. God’s Spirit bears witness with our spirit that God is there. However, as important as that way of knowing God is, that is not what the Bible suggests, when we come to the topic of ‘how do we know God is’? When we come to that topic in Romans 1, Paul says that the way we know God exists is not from an experience of God, and it’s not because the Bible says so, it’s because of the created world. Paul says that since creation, God’s existence and His invisible attributes are clearly seen through what has been made. Now, what this does is the idea that the creation, in some way or other signals the idea of a supreme being. That provides us with encouragement, that we might be able to formulate some arguments, based on the creation , for the conclusion that God exists.

Three arguments for the existence of God:

  1. The Universe began to exist and something supernatural was used to bring it into existence…. If God exists, He is the first cause. If He doesn’t exist, that’s fine. But, if there is a God, He’s the first cause. You can’t ask a first cause what caused it, because if you did, it’s no longer a first cause. The first cause, by its very nature is an uncausable kind of thing. (25:00)
  2. Biological information. Information only comes from an intelligent mind. The biggest discovery of biology in the 20th century is that living things are filled with libraries of information. There’s more information in one cell of your body than the entire library at University of California, Berkeley. If we’re gonna use the principle that information is explained by an intelligent mind, why can’t we explain the info. in the DNA as coming from a very intelligent mind?
  3. The moral law. There is an absolute moral law. This is what philosophers call self evident. It’s obvious. The idea that torturing little babies for the fun of it is wrong, is as obvious as  2+2=4. That there is an objective, absolute moral law is self evident to virtually all people. When I talk about an objective moral law, what I mean is: moral principles that are true, whether anyone believes them or not. So, on this sense of an objective moral law, we discover morality, we don’t invent it. It’s discovered, just like we’ve discovered the laws of nature, and the laws of logic and math, and so on.. So, there is an objective and moral order. And that moral law imposes duties and responsibilities on us. What if someone says, „I don’t believe in an objective moral law? I think everything’s relative?” What do you do? You find out something they care deeply about, and treat it as relative and see what happens. You’ll get an absolutist that will come out of the closet quickly. Where did moral absolutes come from? Matter can’t produce moral absolutes. As a matter of fact, the moral law imposes duties on us to be loving and kind. Now, what kind of a thing can impose duties on another thing? The answer is ‘A person with a will’. You have to have a will to impose duties on something else. And laws come from lawgivers. We know where the moral laws come from, they came from a moral law giver. Why, again? Because the moral law comes in command form  and it imposes duties on us, and the only kind of a thing that can impose duties on something else is a being with will. There is a willing behind the moral law that imposes duties on us. One important aspect of the moral order is that there are objective duties that are imposed on us. Everyone knows they’re there, and the most reasonable explanation for the origin of the objective moral law is that there is a legislator, or an imposer, someone who imposes moral duty on the human race.

While we’re talking about morality, there’s also the issue of evil. Here’s how I believe evil provides evidence that there is a God, not evidence that there isn’t. What exactly is evil? Throughout western culture, for at least 1600 – 1700 years, the most widely accepted definition of evil is this: Evil is when things are the way they are not supposed to be. Can you have a bad carburetor in a car? Of course you can. When you say it’s a bad one, what we mean is that it’s not working the way it’s supposed to work. That means it’s not working the way it was designed to work. Then, if there is a designer, then there is a way this object is designed and supposed to work. And, if it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to work it’s evil, or bad, or defective. So, we can learn that there are bad things, if those things are not like they’re supposed to be and that can be true if there is a designer. So, evil, in the world indicates that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. But, that presupposes that there is a way that things are supposed to be. And that makes sense if there is someone who designed them to be a certain way.

If God does not exist and evolution is how we got here, I’m sorry, but things just happen, and there really is no way things are supposed to be, and there really can’t be any such thing as evil at the end of the day. And, if God exists, because of the origin of the universe, can’t cross infinity, ing bang, something supernatural that’s timeless, spaceless, invisible, had to bring the universe into existence… if the SETI scientists themselves that information is best explained by an intelligent line, why don’t we follow that reasoning when we come to the discovery of information in living things.

Finally, the absolute moral law is best explained by an absolute moral law giver. Everybody knows there is an absolute moral law. And evil itself is best explained if there is a designer for the world. How do you move to christianity from here? I appeal to fulfilled prophecy, miracles, and the resurrection of Jesus. And this is where I would appeal to historical evidence.

Professor JP Moreland answers the question, „Does God Exist?” at the Thrive Apologetics Conference, held at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California. thrivingchurches

3 comentarii (+add yours?)

  1. Delight in Truth
    mart. 18, 2013 @ 10:59:31

    Thank you for taking the time to transcribe. Can’t get enough of good apologetics!

  2. Trackback: Atheism as the Wisdom of the World | Delight in Truth
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