Friday, March 16, 2012
Is God Real?
Is God real? That is the big question. If God is not real then you can play by whatever rules you like. But if God is real then it is a whole new ballgame. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of people do believe that there is a God. George Barna, who makes a living by asking people questions like this, found that three out of four adults think that there is a God. Ask four friends and check it out for yourself. Of course the reality of God cannot be settled by majority vote.
by Andy Wineman
How can we know if God is real? Wouldn't it be nice if we could pick up the telephone and give him a call? Or drive by his house just to see if his car was in the driveway? Fortunately, there are better ways to address this question. Consider this perspective: since God is infinite and we are finite, if God wanted to make himself known he would have to make his presence clear. So, are there any signs that point to the reality of God? Winfried Corduan put it this way, "...we can look at the world and see if the world is constructed in such a way that it is reasonable to believe that there must be a God." Just as the hunter follows the trail of an animal that he has yet to see--paw prints, clumps of fur, broken branches--we are looking for the fingerprint of God in the physical world.
Various signs (lines of reasoning) have been suggested over the last few centuries. Let us briefly consider three. First, the world seems to work according to the universal law of cause and effect. That is, every observable effect must have had an initial "push" by some agent or cause. Every "thing" (a highly scientific term) that we observe is dependent upon other "things" for its existence. For example, children are dependent on parents and the earth is dependent on the sun. Thinking all the way back to the first event, it could be asked, who was the cause? This is where it appears that there must be a being that is "uncaused." Philosophers like to call this a necessary being. Could that be God?
A second sign that should be considered is what scientists today are calling the marks of Intelligent Design. The suggestion is that the universe exhibits purpose, design, and intent. This is not a new idea; William Paley suggested that if you were walking through a field and found a watch on the ground that you would recognize it as a piece of machinery that had purpose and did not simply grow in the forest like plants and trees. A rational conclusion would be that someone intentionally built the watch. The universe is infinitely more complex than a watch and as a result points that much more to an intelligent designer.
A third mark has to do with the moral foundation of the universe. C. S. Lewis referred to this as the "law of human nature." This is not to say that people everywhere are in agreement on all moral values, but that everyone does tend to live by certain common moral principles. For example, people and cultures have different ideas about when it is appropriate to take another person's life, but no one (that would be considered sane) would hold that indiscriminate cold-blooded murder for no reason would be appropriate. It appears that humanity has been intentionally created with an internal moral compass.
All three of these marks appeal to our common sense and fit observations that can be made about the world. Everyone may not be completely convinced by this reasoning, but it seems to make more sense to believe that God is real than that he is not. If that is true, then maybe there are other things that can be known about God. Why don't you try to pick up the trail and see where it leads?