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THEOLOGY > God > God's Existence > Proofs of God's Existence  


Proving God by “proofs” is not the approach of Scripture, rather Biblical writers simply affirm God’s existence and avow that creation agrees with this affirmation, an affirmation that affirms that the existence of finite beings requires an Infinite Being. Man may deny the fact of God, but the denial is without justification—man denies that which he really knows to be true; thus, the Truth is suppressed while the man professes to be wise (Rom. 1:18, 22).

God’s existence is not that which can be demonstrated scientifically nor established philosophically. Theistic philosophers may engage, for instance, the logical positivists over the statements, “God is” or “God is love” (the positivists would argue that the statements are neither true nor false; they are simply meaningless, for they cannot be investigated and substantiated scientifically); but the Bible avoids or, more accurately, ignores such debates.

Philosophy of Religion may of necessity be interested in such dialogue, but the writers of Scripture proceed on the premise of the existence of the one true God. For them, God’s existence is a presupposition that they never question; in fact, there is no reason to question it. God’s existence is obvious—He speaks and He acts, and the writers of Scripture have recorded His words and His deeds (see: The Foolishness of Atheism and Innate Knowledge of God).

A study of the Truth of the Bible, therefore, does not need to enter into the intricacies of philosophical discussions whereby the existence of God is debated for the Bible does not do so. Believers do not need such exchanges, and the non-believer cannot be convinced by them, nor is he interested in them. In fact, the unbeliever usually dismisses them outright. Unless awakened by grace the unbeliever is only interested in pursuing his sinful independency and, perhaps, justifying the same; his great love is his supposed autonomy.

However, there are considerations (a better word than the traditional word “proofs”) that are derived from thoughtful reflection and that thrust upon man the reality of God. These considerations should not be viewed as “proofs,” for the considerations are not demonstrable; they cannot establish rational certainty. Rather, they constitute the most valid insights and appeals that reason can give and are the result of philosophy’s reasoning, with some seasoning borrowed from theology.

Some of the traditional “proofs” do complement and are supportive of Biblical teaching and, therefore, have been incorporated at times by the Church, especially medieval scholasticism, into its apologetic work. These considerations do not originate in Scripture and are not properly, therefore, the subject matter of Biblical studies. They are not definitive, but they are beneficial. They are only “the fervid sunbeams falling on the strong predispositions to believe that slumber in the human soul” (Barrows, I Believe, 20).

The “proofs” should not be considered individually, but collectively. When evaluated as a group, the cumulative nature of their appeal is more evident. But they are only “suggestive clues” (Hick, Existence of God, 7), serving to make God’s existence appear somewhat reasonable. Ultimately, however, reason does not certify God; it merely satisfies partially man’s need to think rationally. It must be borne in mind that sensory experience plus logic will not establish the certainty of God’s existence, in fact, they cannot. God’s existence is a reasonable assumption but reason does not have the ability to establish His existence. It is Christian faith that brings to the heart the certainty and the assurance of God’s existence. Reason struggles; faith accepts.

There are two divisions of the arguments for God’s existence: a posteriori and a priori.

A posteriori considerations argue that the existence of God is necessary to explain the universe and certain aspects of it, or that God is the explanation for experiences and perceptions. Some of these considerations would be as follows:

The historical consideration—the concept of a Supreme Being among all peoples implies a Supreme Being (God).

The cosmological consideration—effect implies a First Cause (God), or creation implies a Creator (God).

The teleological consideration—design of the universe implies a Designer (God), or the purpose of the universe implies a Planner (God).

The moral consideration—morality implies a Standard (God).

The judicial consideration—injustices imply justice and a Judge (God).

The philosophical consideration—a question implies an Answer (God).

In opposition to these considerations David Hume (1711-1776) argued that God’s existence cannot be established on the basis of cause and effect; that is, the infinite cannot be proven by the finite. In denying the ability to prove the principle of causation, for no cause can be observed, he stated that it was a psychological not a metaphysical principle and that there is no empirical basis for saying A is always followed by B. From previous experience psychologically we may expect A to follow B, but metaphysically we cannot know that this will happen. The point is that experience can never produce certitude. He never embraced atheism, but he did separate the certainty of God’s existence from a foundation constructed from sensory experience. Though the law of causation has been denied by Hume and others, this principle of cause and effect is still the basis for much of our knowledge and of scientific inquiry.

In response to the principle of causation two questions come to mind. How can it be accepted in science and not allowed in a discussion of metaphysics? Even if causation could establish a First Cause, what is the basis for identifying that First Cause with the God of the Bible?

The other division is an a priori consideration, that is, it begins with a conception of God, rather than beginning with the universes and going back to God. God is postulated initially. This is known as the ontological consideration—thought implies Existence (God). In the Proslogian Anselm (1033-1109) stated that God is “that, than which nothing greater can be conceived”; God is the greatest conceivable Being. To understand what or who God is makes it impossible to conceive that God does not exist; His non-existence is logically impossible. This consideration, perhaps, may establish necessary existence but certainly not actual existence, for thought is not always consistent with reality. A concept cannot establish the certainty of the reality of a something or a Someone.

In addition to the above traditional considerations there is the pragmatic consideration—Christian Theism is a very practical position. It provides answers to basic questions, questions such as: Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I doing here? Where am I going? Reflection upon these questions is inevitable, for man cries out for an explanation for his existence. What is the purpose of it all? Is there ultimate meaning? These questions must be answered.

When taken together the answers provided by Christian Theism to these questions form a worldview for the one who accepts them. It is a worldview that is internally consistent and that adequately explains the reason for life. When all of life is viewed from the perspective of the God who is and the God who speaks then life has meaning and purpose. Existence is not threatening, rather, there is hope and promise. Moral and intellectual problems abound if God is rejected. God must exist because His existence explains so much. And without Him there is no explanation for anything.

See: Foundations, The Significance of Truth, Starting Point.

It must be noted that theism can be maintained without adopting the Christian viewpoint (non-Christian philosophers may believe in God), but one cannot be a Christian without being Theistic. The God of the Christian is the God who reveals and the God who redeems. What is the function of the God of non-Christian theism? If man’s basic dilemma is sin, then the God of the Christian faith encounters man at this most urgent point and meets man’s most fundamental needs: revelation and redemption.

Holy, holy, holy is YHWH of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!
Isa. 6:3

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