{2}           God (1): Existence of God


Ø       How do you respond to the following statements?

Ø       There is no God. Belief in a religion is unnecessary and irrelevant.

Ø       God cannot be proved to exist.

Ø       If there is a God, we are not able to know him.

Ø       There are no miracles in this world.

6.                 Does God exist?

a.  Naturalism: It holds that the universe is self-existent and self-operating. The world-process is purposeless and man is only the result of an accident.

     Naturalists believes that “Any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence.” But God cannot be proved to exist by such evidence. Therefore, atheists say there is no God, while agnostics say they do not know whether there is a God or not.

b.  The Bible: It simply states the existence of God and does not attempt to prove it (Gen 1:1; Rev 1:8). We are to accept the existence of God by faith.

c.  Rational Arguments: But belief in God is not a purely subjective faith. It is objectively supported by events in the Scriptures, and by rational arguments using our reasoning. In Ro 1:20, the word “understood” comes from the Greek word related to “mind” or “intellect”.

7.                 Can we prove the existence of God?

§        Inductive arguments (there are at least 20) to prove the existence of God are probabilistic arguments (conclusions are probable but not definitive), but so are scientific theories.

§        There is no one fully conclusive proof but the cumulative effect of many inductive arguments makes the denial of God’s existence very difficult.

a.  Cosmological argument (related to the universe):

     The gradual “running down” of the universe shows there must be a First Cause at the beginning; this First Cause can only be an infinite great Being.

     The universe is either [1] existent from eternity, or [2] originated from nothing.

     Based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics [which says: there is less and less available energy in a system, example: a mixture of hot and cold water] and the disintegration of radioactive elements, the universe is running down like a clock.

     So possibility that the universe existed from eternity is impossible; the universe must have a beginning and a First Cause.

b.  Teleological argument (related to purpose of things):

     The design and purpose of the physical world prove the existence of an intelligent Being (Ro 1:19-20; Ps 94:9; Ps 19:1-2).

     It is extremely difficult to ascribe all these to chance. [Example: density of water highest at 4°C, complexity of the eye existed for sight, balance in the distribution of heat on the earth, presence of the atmosphere and the protective ozone layer, etc.]

c.  Moral argument (related man’s morality):

     Man is characterized by knowledge, righteousness, holiness. The source of all “good” must be absolutely good.

     The existence of moral nature and moral order (absolute right or wrong, truth telling, deep-seated sense of responsibility) in man points to a source, a moral Being (Ro 2:14-15). [Example: Everyone recognizes that murder is an immoral act. This cannot be justified by naturalistic explanations.] The Bible says that man was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-28).

     Note: Naturalism and atheism cannot logically explain the origin of morality.

d.  Argument from the idea of God:

     We have in us the idea of God who is a perfect and absolute Being. But this idea has no objective reality (cannot be objectively proved) as compared to something like a storm. This idea must be originated from an existent perfect and absolute Being: God.

     Example: If the word “snow-capped mountain” is mentioned by natives on a flat tropical island; the explanation for such word lies outside of their apparent environment. It is true that the idea may be imagination of a few persons, but the idea of God is universal among all peoples.

e.  Argument from miracles:

     Observable events such as miracles and answers to prayer prove the existence of a higher intelligent Being.

     (2)  Miracles are the supernatural acts of God which intervene into natural laws. God is not obligated to follow the natural laws as these laws were originally decreed by God. The purpose is to manifest the glory of God (often happened in the past to support establishing the Kingdom of God).

     In the Bible, miracles concentrate in the beginning of 4 periods in the history of the Kingdom of God: [1] Exodus (Age of the Law), [2] Elijah and Elisha (Age of the Prophets), [3] Jesus, [4] early church.

     Miracles still happen today. But we must be cautioned against over-extending the definition of miracles (to include common events) or applying the term too casually (to apply to all unexplained phenomena).

F.   Ontological argument (related to nature of being and reality):

     God is the being “than which no greater can be conceived”. It is greater to exist than to not exist. Therefore if you conceive God as not existing, you are not conceiving the being “than which no greater can be conceived”, and are therefore not conceiving God. Therefore it is impossible to conceive of God as not existing. Therefore God exists.

     For philosophers, this is one of the strongest arguments. For others, it is a doubtful one.

8.                 How does our human nature point to the existence of God?

§        There are 5 human characteristics that point to the existence of God.

A.  Miraculous mind: The human mind is uniquely designed to understand the world around us. We even strive to understand everything in the entire universe.

B.  Appreciation of love: Man appreciates “lovely” things even though “loveliness” cannot be precisely defined. We can appreciate mysterious power of music which can speak to our hearts of an eternal beauty.

C.  Self-consciousness and self-determination: Man is a personal being, able to make real conscious choices—not just responding to stimuli. We develop elaborate religious, legal and historic traditions.

D.  Morality: Human beings are moral beings, striving to choose the “right” action. But morality cannot be explained by cultural norms (aiming at unity) or instinct (aiming at survival). The naturalistic atheistic view leaves no room for a true morality.

E.  Sense of eternity: Man has a yearning for something beyond what they experience day to day. Many search for paradise and eternal life (Ecc 3:11). Augustine said that our hearts are restless (without peace) until they rest in God.

9.                 Why is it important to believe in the existence of God?

a.  Origin: The argument for the importance of a belief in God is called “Pascal’s Wager”, formulated by Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), one of the most intelligent person in history—French mathematician, scientist, philosopher, theologian, in his book Pensées.

b.  Argument:

     Suppose logical reasoning by itself cannot decide for or against the existence of God; then we must “wager” on this question of utmost importance.

     If you place your bet with God, you lose nothing, even if it turns out that God does not exist, because then nothing happens after your death. But if you place your bet against God, and you are wrong and only find out after death that God does exist, you lose everything: God, heaven, eternal life, and indescribable gain.

     Therefore the only good bet is to believe that God exists. If God exists, he wins the reward of eternal life; if God does not exist, at least he wins a good present life, with peace and joy.

c.  Use of Pascal’s Wager:

     The Wager can seem offensively pragmatic and selfish. But it can be reformulated to a higher moral motive such as: If there is a God of infinite goodness, and he justly deserves my allegiance and faith, I risk doing the greatest injustice by not acknowledging him.

     The Wager (similar to the concept of hell) should not be used to coerce belief. But it can be introduced to an non-believer as an incentive to search for God and consider faith seriously.

10.            Can we know God?

a.  Man can have partial knowledge of God.

     The Bible presents God as incomprehensible (Isa 40:18).

     But the Bible also says that God can be known and that salvation comes from the knowledge of God (Jn 17:3; 1Jn 5:20).

     Luther describes God as a “hidden God” as well as a “revealed God”.

     Man can have knowledge of God but not full comprehension. But this partial knowledge is perfectly adequate for the realization of the divine purpose in human life.

b.  God wants us to know Him:

     He communicates the knowledge of Himself to man (Hos 6:6). True knowledge of God can only be: [1] originated from divine self-revelation, [2] illuminated by the Holy Spirit (1Co 2:10), and [3] possessed by men with faith.

c.  God reveals Himself through:

(1)  General revelation of nature (Ps 19:1; Ro 1:19-20; Ac 14:17)

(2)  Special revelation:

(a) in history (e.g. direct revelation to Moses, to Isaiah, to Israelites, Ps 103:7),

(b) through Jesus (Jn 1:18),

(c) by the Scriptures (Heb 1:1-2)

11.            Are miracles real?

A.  Definition of miracles:

     A “miracle” originally meant only something surprising or marvellous.

     Today, skeptical people insist on two criteria: an event that is specially caused by God, and a violation of one or more of the laws of nature.

     However, the description of violation of natural law is not accurately; rather, it is the suspension of natural law. Since natural laws were decided or ordained by God, He possesses the sovereignty to suspend it.

B.  Miracles of Jesus: They are proved to be authentic based on historical evidence:

     Jesus’ miracles can be classified into 3 groups: healings, exorcisms, and nature miracles.

(1)  The historicity of the Gospel accounts is undeniable.

(2)  There are many other independent sources that recorded the miracles.

(3)  Enemy attestation: In the Gospels, those who most strongly opposed Jesus witnessed both His healing miracles and exorcisms (Mk 2:1-12; Lk 11:14-15; 13:10-17), as well as His nature miracles (Mt 28:11-15; Mk 5:40-42; Jn 11:47-48). Their conclusion was that Jesus performed His miracles by the power of Satan (Mk 3:22; Jn 7:20-21; 10:19-21), thereby admitting the supernatural nature of these events.

(4)  Other indications: the element of surprise and embarassment, such as when Jesus appeared to have limited knowledge (Mk 5:9; Lk 8:30) or when the healing did not seem to work the first time (Mk 8:23-25) point to the authenticity of the records.

(5)  Miracles were recorded in early eyewitness reports which contain Aramaic terms, Semitisms, or intimate knowledge of details (Mk 5:41; 7:31-37; Lk 7:11-17), indicating that the records were written close to the time of Jesus.

C.  No contradiction between miracles and science: It is important to gain a clearer understanding of the limitations of science.

     Miracles were criticized as contradicting natural laws. But natural laws are only a description of how nature normally functions, and belief in miracles does not deny that nature normally functions in these set ways.

     The argument that “nothing happens without a scientific cause” is an example of confusing naturalism or scientism (believing Science as a god) with science. It is naturalism, not science, that eliminates the possibility of the supernatural.

     Science has never documented a miracle because the scientific method can study only those things that are repeatable. More importantly, science has documented many real events that cannot currently be explained by science, such as near-death experience, spontaneous human combustion, exorcism, paranormal encounters, etc.

     Supernatural influence appears to work even today such as between prayer and healing. A double blind experiment was conducted in a California hospital with almost 400 coronary patients participating. Neither the patients nor the persons who were praying knew each other, and the patients did not even know whether or not they were being prayed for. Still, there was a statistically positive result in 21 of 26 monitored categories for those patients who received prayer.

D.  Why haven’t we seen any miracles?

(1)  Because an obvious miracle, by definition, must be rare. [But some Christians can witness the occurrence of real miralces in their lives.]

(2)  Because miracles most often are performed at great spiritually significant moments in history. The chief objective of miracles is the demonstration of the glory of God.

(3)  Because of our unbelief. People would not believe in a miracle even if they saw one like those in the Bible.

(4)  Because God doesn’t coerce faith by miralces.

(5)  We may still see miracles in our lives.



Supplement to Q.7: Arguments (20) for the existence of God (Kreeft and Tarcelli)

1.   Argument from change

        If there is nothing outside the material universe, then there is nothing that can cause the universe to change. But it does change. Therefore there must be something in addition to the material universe. But the universe is the sum total of all matter, space and time. These 3 things depend on each other. Therefore this being outside the universe is outside matter, space and time. It is not a changing thing; it is the unchanging Source of change.

2.   Argument from efficient causality (cosmological argument)

3.   Argument from time and contingency

4.   Argument from degrees of perfection

5.   Design argument (teleological argument)

        The universe displays a staggering amount of intelligibility, both within the things we observe and in the way these things relate to others outside themselves. That is to say: the way they exist and coexist display an intricately beautiful order and regularity that can fill even the most casual observe with wonder.

        Either this intelligible order is the product of chance or of intelligent design.

        It is almost impossible that such order can occur by chance.

        Therefore the universe is the product of intelligent design.

        Design comes only from a mind, a designer.

        Therefore the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer.

6.   Kalam argument

     Kalam is an Arabic word about the demonstrations that the world could not be infinitely old and must therefore have been created by God.


        Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.

        The universe began to exist.

        Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being.

7.   Argument from contingency

        If something exists, there must exist what it takes for that thing to exist.

        The universe--the collection of beings in space and time--exists.

        Therefore, there must exist what it takes for the universe to exist.

        What it takes for the universe to exist cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

        Therefore, what it takes for the universe to exist must transcend both space and time.

8.   Argument from the world as an interacting whole

9.   Argument from miracles

        A miracle is an event whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.

        There are numerous well-attested miracles.

        Therefore, there are numerous events whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.

10. Argument from consciousness

        We experience the universe as intelligible. This intelligibility means that the universe is graspable by intelligence.

        Either this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or both intelligibility and intelligence are the products of blind chance.

        They are unlikely to be products of blind chance.

        Therefore this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence.

11. Argument from truth

        Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.

        Truth properly resides in a mind.

        But the human mind is not eternal.

        Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.

12. Argument from the origin of the idea of God

        We have ideas of many things.

        These ideas must arise either from ourselves or from things outside us.

        One of the ideas we hae is the idea of God--an infinite, all-perfect being.

        This idea could not hae been caused by ourselves, because we know ourselves to be limited and imperfect, and no effect can be greater than its cause.

        Therefore, the idea must have been caused by something outside us which has nothing less than the qualities contained in the idea of God.

        But only God himself has those qualities.

        Therefore God himself must be the cause of the idea we have of him.

        Therefore God exists.

13. Ontological argument

Anselm’s Version:

        It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone.

        “God” means “that than which a greater cannot be thought.”

        Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.

        Then a greater than God could be thought (namely, a being that has all the qualities our thoughts of God has plus real existence).

        But this is impossible, for God is “that than which a greater cannot be thought.”

        Therefore God exists in the mind and in reality.

14. Moral argument

        Real moral obligation is a fact. We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil.

        Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the “religious” one.

        But the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation.

        Therefore the “religious” view of reality is correct.

15. Argument from conscience

16. Argument from desire

        Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.

        But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.

        Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.

        This something is what people call “God” and “life with God forever”,

17. Argument from aesthetic experience

18. Argument from religious experience

        Many people of different eras and of widely different cultures claim to have had an experience of the “divine”.

        It is inconceivable that so many people could have been so utterly wrong about the nature and content of their own experience.

        Therefore, there exists a “divine” reality which many people of different eras and of widely different cultures have experienced.

19. Common consent argument

        Belief in God--that Being to whom reverence and worship are properly due--is common to almost all people of every era.

        Either the vast majority of people have been wrong about this most profound element of their lives or they have not.

        It is most plausible to believe that they have not.

        Therefore it is most plausible to believe that God exists.

20. Pascal’s wager