Monday, April 08, 2019

Anonymous Asks (34)

“How do you know God is real besides ‘look all around you’?”

Mileage varies. For me, one of the most powerful evidences of God’s reality is my cat. She is a slightly-dinged-up work of art. The Theory of Evolution by Whichever-Mechanism-is-Currently-in-Vogue offers one possible explanation for her existence. The Bible offers me what I think is a better one: she was designed by an Artist of unparalleled skill. It also offers me an explanation for why she is slightly dinged up: she’s collateral damage from the fall of mankind.

So “look all around you” works for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Fair enough.

There are two possible explanations for everything we see around us: God (in some form or another), or several sextillion rolls of the cosmic dice. I cannot think of a third. “Aliens” doesn’t count; they were either made or evolved too. And “I don’t know” is just a cop-out. It’s like punting on first down.

Since “all around us” won’t do, here are four other places we can look to find evidence for God. These may not provide us with the sort of hard evidence scientists used to demand once upon a time, but they certainly call into question the adequacy of putting your faith in cosmic dice.

1. In the Human Conscience

The apostle Paul says that even people who do not live under an official, agreed-upon moral code have some kind of witness to the truth in their hearts. “Their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” This certainly looks like what I see around me.

I am not arguing that all consciences say exactly the same thing. Culture, beliefs and habits play a big part in shaping (or damaging) our intuitions about right and wrong. But regardless of how consciences differ, it is hard to see how instinctive brakes on human misbehavior of any sort could possibly contribute to making a species better equipped to survive. If your metric is nothing loftier than continued existence, you need every possible tool at your disposal. You certainly don’t need scruples holding you back. In my experience, guilt and shame are more likely to produce paralysis than forward motion. The most ruthless predators are those in whom conscience is the least active.

In a biblical worldview, an active conscience, especially when informed by the Holy Spirit, serves a logical and spiritual purpose: it helps conform human character to the will of God. Meanwhile, suppressing the promptings of the conscience leads only to debasement and a host of other evils.

To my mind, the existence of conscience argues for the existence of God.

2. In Self-Destructive Evil and Sacrificial Good

The Bible’s explanation for evil can be summed up quickly: mankind has forfeited dominion over the earth, and Satan currently rules it. Satan is revealed in scripture as a liar, a murderer and a self-willed monomaniac determined to have his way at any cost. Unfortunately for us, he is probably the second most powerful being in the universe. Thus, the current state of our planet reflects not just the imprint of its original design, but also the capricious, vicious disposition of the spiritual power currently running the show. When we come to understand that our world is a battleground for invisible forces opposing one another on a cosmic scale, there is almost nothing we can observe about it that does not make some sort of sense to the Christian.

Evolution? Well, I suppose it explains self-serving evil acts perfectly well: if it helps your genes get selected, go for it. What evolution cannot explain is why so many human beings value intangibles — Utopian ideologies, revenge, love, identity, religions, tribalism, posterity, even the worship of the environment — more than they value their own personal survival. School shooters, suicide bombers and Kamikaze pilots, not to mention the millions of ordinary men and women who became soldiers, peacekeepers, prophets, missionaries and martyrs across history ... perhaps these are all evolutionary dead-ends who will in time be de-selected from the gene pool. But since we see both self-destructive evil and sacrificial good on display all throughout human history, believing these things will eventually disappear is an act of faith for which there is currently no evidence.

Here again, the existence of God seems to explain the otherwise-inexplicable.

3. In Observing the Conduct of Believers

I have lived long enough to meet and observe large numbers of people. The best people I know are Christians, and the best of these are Christians who pay maximum attention to gathering together to worship God and obeying what they find in their Bibles.

That does not mean every man or woman who claims to know Christ is notably more wonderful than all those who don’t; I could certainly list plenty of exceptions to the general rule. But the people in my life who are wisest, most honest, most loving, gentlest, most generous and hospitable, most emotionally stable, least substance-dependent, least defeatist, calmest, most willing to put up with grief from others, most independent in their thinking and above all, most consistent in their behavior across time, are all Christians. Every single one.

Meanwhile, all attempts to date to explain why disciples of a neo-Darwinian religion of meaninglessness should behave themselves decently have fallen flatter than the State of Kansas. Some do, certainly, but with no rational basis for it. Sure, lots of unsaved people possess one or more of these qualities. I don’t know any who possess all or even a large number of them. If the belief in a loving God who created and sustains the universe is a delusion, why is it that this conviction reliably produces the sort of people every sane person wants to be around?

To me, this strongly suggests Christians have something (or Someone) helping them behave morally, while unbelievers do not. This is exactly what the Bible teaches.

4. In Living the Christian Experience

The psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Of course, subjective human experience with trusting God cannot stringently validate believing in his existence, but it is interesting that both Christians and their detractors alike consider belief a more enviable state than unbelief. Why else would the skeptics so frequently accuse Christians of using their religious convictions as a “crutch”? Which is preferable: hobbling around or falling on your face?

In fact, while some Christians hobble, others run. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” That doesn’t seem like such a bad deal to me, even if it includes a fair bit of self-control, obedience, submission and acknowledgement of coming judgment, none of which have a great deal of appeal to the natural man.

That’s the Christian experience. Some crutch.

Further, when the evidence for it is carefully examined, it becomes apparent that the belief that life is a product of time and chance is every bit as faith-based as any other religion. The difference is that the theory of evolution offers no coherent and unchanging explanation of origins, no meaning, no purpose, no logical reason for behaving well, and nothing to look forward to other than heat death, the Big Rip and personal oblivion.

It is hard to see the motive for taking such a thing on faith. Who exactly benefits?


  1. I liked this particular blog. However, (unfortunately?) it also, and again, confirms my observation that the participants on this blogsite (except for myself :-) for one strange reason or another bury their head in the sand when it comes to the question of how can God be discerned as real to contemporary people. By that I mean why not simply acknowledge that God absolutely has not thrown in the towel with regard to that topic but is, as always, quite active by showing his presence through miracles all over this planet.

    We all know the usual comeback when that fact is mentioned to the unbelievers. They are not afraid to belief in what they call seeming miracles which they simply assign to a hard to proof conjunction or singularity of physical laws and time that is surely produced by nature and simply not yet understood by our scientists. E.g., the cancer destroyed face of the woman who is instantaneously and totally restored to a beautiful countenance during her visit to Lourdes. Or the broken and malformed bones of a wheelchair bound man that, in defiance of entropy, are spontenaously and totally joined, healed, and straightened interiorly as confirmed by competent medical authorities who admit that these occurances are not explainable and therefore are miraculous. Or, take the scientifically proven miracles of the transubstantiation of the Catholic Eucharist having been shown in some cases by competent, modern scientific analysis to be the heart muscle of a young middle eastern male who died by torture (it's amazing how competent our science and scientists nowadays are to be able to unequivocally make this determination when such samples are submitted for analysis).

    To the unbelievers it simply makes more sense to speculate that we are the progenitors of people who finally discovered time travel and invisibility and are coming back occasionally for study and then are curing and performing miracles with invisible instruments and methods ala Dr. McCoy and Spock in Star Trek. So strong is their resistance to admit to the possibility of a God that they would rather belief in such a far fetched possibility. In other words, it really always comes down to character.

    1. One reason I don't make much of such events is that they are next-to-impossible to verify.

      More importantly, it seems to me the primary way God reveals himself to men and women throughout history is not through miraculous occurrences, but through his word. Even in the Bible, miracles are incredibly rare events, often occurring in bunches centuries apart from one another. In between, human beings lived and died believing what they read and heard, and exercising faith that God had really spoken despite seeing nothing remarkable to prove it. After all, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and faith, by definition, is not sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

      Even more importantly, when God did provide several decades of concentrated miraculous events in the first century AD, the response of the Jews who saw them was to crucify the Son of God, then persecute his saints who followed in his footsteps.

      The bottom line: miracles don't convince obdurate sinners or move agnostics across the line, because they can always be explained other ways, however fantastic those explanations have to become. All miracles do is authenticate the existing prophetic word and strengthen the faith of those who already believe.

  2. Agreed. My own experience with close or farther removed agnostic /atheistic friends and aquaintances has confirmed that over a lifetime. The cold analysis that the atheist claims needs to be applied to the subject of God totally fails them when it comes to the facts of miracles. As always, the majority of people arrange their life according to what is perceived to be most convenient for them. And there would be unwanted obligations if agreeing that God exists.