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Chapter Four of Why I believe in God?

Why am I a Christian?

Chapter Four: Why I believe in God?

To be a Christian one should have a rational conviction based on logic that the universe was not formed out of nothing, or mindless energy governed by chance alone. I have what I trust to be a justified view that the universe was brought into existence by a power that has intelligence, will and emotion. This power is a necessary being and not contingent in anyway upon anything else.

Why do I have this conviction?

There are four primary explanations of the universe from my point of view.

1. The Universe came out of existence from nothing. Nothing was the origin for everything. This was recently argued for in the book A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss with a after word by ‎ Richard Dawkins.

However, there is debate on if “Nothing” is really “Nothing” since Dr. Krauss seems to believe that the that basic principles of quantum mechanics are in existence either because they are eternal or from another unknown source. Some would argue that his “nothing” is “something”. [1]

2. The Universe came about from eternally existing “something” that existed outside of time that was the cause for the “Big Bang” and the universe today is governed by impersonal, mindless, and naturalistic dynamics. This happened about 14 billion years ago. That is when time and space began.

There are several “naturalistic” explanations of the universe with the most popular today being this “big bang” theory. The key here is that we only have “physics” and no “metaphysics”. This is just natural stuff happening but with no design, designer, will, or plan. [2] All that exist is an accident of natural forces.

3. All that exists is God and the universe is but an expression of God for the evolution and pleasure of God. The physical is an illusion and the spiritual is the ultimate reality.[3]

4. An eternal energy with intelligence, purpose, and will who exists outside of time and space created the universe. There is a Creator/creation distinction. The Creator is the necessary being upon which the contingent limited universe depends. This view is defended by Dr. Mortimer Adler, former head of philosophy at the University of Chicago in his book How to Think About God. God has created the universe. [4]

I believe in God because it seems to be that the fourth option is the best explanation of the universe we live in.

The first theory regardless of how clever we make it asks us that out of absolute nothing everything exists. But the truth that from nothing comes nothing seems a much more likely reality to me.

The second theory struggles with the following weaknesses from my point of view.

1. We must believe that from the impersonal and mindless came personality and mind. This seems very unlikely to me.

2. We must believe that all the apparent design in the universe is just an illusion and appearance of intelligent intention. It was the “language” of DNA that caused the intellectual champion of atheism Dr. Anthony Flew to change his mind and feel compelled by the evidence that where there is a “language” there must be an intelligence. [5] The idea of where there is design you have a designer seems to be a logical belief to me.

3. The 14 billion years for the universe and 4 billion years of the existence of our planet is not sufficient time to produce by chance alone with no guidance from an intelligence the complex life we have on our planet today.

Sir Fredrick Hoyle first pointed out this problem in his book The Intelligent Universe in which the odds of one protein molecule was estimated by him to have the same chance of the parts of a jet liner which we all disassembled being struck by a tornado and emerging afterwards as a fully constructed and functional plane (1 chance in 10 to the 40,000 power).

While Hoyle’s math has been questioned the fact of the matter is that he has simply stated what is clear and that a totally random process in a limited amount of time would make the formation of the complex type of life we see on the earth very unlikely if not impossible. Others believe that because we are dealing with chemical and biological interactions these are not random but ruled by natural laws and so this greatly increases the odds of the random formation of life on earth. One of the reasons why there is strong belief that elements of life coming from other sources in the universe is to overcome the lack of enough time to get life started her on earth. [6] So, this is an area of great controversy among scientists. [7] I

It seems to me that the truth is that the complexity of life developing purely by chance especially at the complex levels of DNA and the functioning of the cells does not seem very likely without an intelligence and purpose guiding it.

4. The entire universe is limited, finite, and contingent. Therefore, the universe cannot be a sufficient explanation of its own existence. All contingent things are dependent on something else. Ultimately, the only way contingent things can exist is fi there is a necessary thing/being that sustains all that is contingent. This is Dr. Mortimer Adler’s argument for the logical foundation for the conviction that God has to exist in his book How to Think About God.

The third theory that everything is God and that the universe is just a manifestation of God in physical form which is allowing God to evolve, grow in self-knowledge, and manifest the divine glory has the problem of God being both morally good and evil, not yet being perfect in any real way, and not all knowing. So one the one hand since God is the universe and the universe is God this seems like a view of God that has made God everything and therefore is a high perspective on God, yet on the other hand this view is actually pointing out that God is limited, flawed, and far from perfect. It would be hard to worship such a God since in many ways all worship is self-worship.

This also means that since human technology can control and manipulate the physical universe then humanity can through science and technology change and control God and this seems to follow the idea that the universe is God. Modern science developed not in the Eastern societies that held to this view that God was the maker of the physical universe (view four) and then was advanced by a naturalistic view of the world (view two) both of which provide a better framework for scientific study than this perspective. [8]

The fourth positon that see there being a necessary being who has intelligence, purpose, and will seems to me the most likely answer for the following reasons.

1. This means that intelligence, emotions, and personality that we see in human beings came from a being with all these attributes. Life came from life. This makes more sense than the effect being greater than the cause.

Rene Descartes in his Meditations on First Philosophy makes the case that because I experience feelings and thoughts that I can know that I exist but then extends this to knowing that I am a limited being and not adequate explanation of myself so that one my feelings and thoughts must be the product of an ultimate source of reason which would be God. It appears to me that his meditation on these matters is valid and supports the idea of the existence of God logically.

2. A Creator God makes sense of how such complex life could develop in such a short period of time such as 4 billion years. The signs of design in the universe such as the DNA code makes sense because if an intelligence is the inventor of the universe and life, one would expect to see such a structure in the fabric of the material world. [9]

Books such as The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Wesley Richards and Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Dr. Stephen Meyer present a paradigm shift on how to look at existing scientific discoveries which would support the idea of a personal necessary Creator of the universe as a rational option.

3. This option also makes more sense the experiences of God that people have had throughout history in which they have encountered a realm outside of what we normally can experience with the five senses.

An interesting book that gives reasons to believe in God and experiences of God in the modern times is found in Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas.

Part of my reasons for believing in God is because I have events in my own personal life that are best explained by allowing there to be a “spiritual” aspect of reality that normally cannot be measured by the five senses. The idea that such experiences can be part of a rational argument for God can be found in the book Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires and Emotions for Faith by Dr. Clifford Williams.

The impact of such experiences even by people who are raised and practiced atheism all their lives is found in the musings of by Barbara Ehrenreich in her book Living with Wild God: A nonbeliever’s search for the Truth about Everything. She clearly was not raised in an environment that would have encouraged such encounters with the divine and due to this she avoided thinking about it till later in life.

While such experiences are not adequate by themselves as evidence for God existing, especially for those who have never encountered them, it would be impossible to deny that the occurrences of such events or lack of such events, do impact our process of deciding with how rational faith in God seems to each of us.

Dr. David Crump deals with the existential aspect of Christian faith

“So, when I personally experience what I understand to be the presence of the risen Jesus, I may take that moment to mean that “Jesus is raised from the dead” and that “he has forgiven my sins.” Even though my experience may never be acceptable to anyone else as valid evidence for the resurrection or for my claim that Jesus forgives sin, it does provide a legitimate grounding for my basic belief that I live in a personal relationship with a resurrected, forgiving Savior. I have been changed in such a way that I am enabled to make sense of the evidence Christ has made available to me, both experiential and scriptural.” (Encountering Jesus, Encountering Scripture: Reading the Bible Critically in Faith)

This is the reality that poet Sally Platt reflected on in her poem “Mystic” [10]

“Once one has seen God, what is the remedy?”

So why do I believe in God? The big issue is that there is something instead of nothing. While there are many questions that can be raised about what is here now, it seems to me that the “God hypothesis” is the best explanation of what is here now.

Some would say that the problem of evil and pain weighs against this option. But that would seem not so much to argue against an ultimate and necessary designer of the universe as much as question his character and/ or competence. This question focuses on God’s attributes more than the existence of a Creator outside of the creation.

I will address the problem of pain and evil in another chapter. I do find this an important issue since it was what most tempted me to become an atheist and agnostic when I was nineteen years old.

But for now, I am a Christian, because I have a rational paradigm that supports the idea that God does exist. [11]

 

 

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/a-universe-from-nothing-by-lawrence-m-krauss.html
[2] For an overview of some of the ideas see: The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos (Best of Edge Series) by Mr. John Brockman
[3] http://www.gestaltreality.com/articles/the-universe-as-god/
[4] Adler’s argument for God summarized. http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1995/PSCF3-95Cramer.html

[5] There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew (Author) and Roy Varghese (Author)
[6] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-building-blocks-of-life-may-have-come-from-outer-space-3884354/

[7] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-equation-tallies-odds-of-life-beginning1/

[8] http://qideas.org/articles/christianity-and-science-in-historical-perspective/

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5255&v=QmIc42oRjm8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehpRVEA17nw

[10] http://www.sylviaplathforum.com/mystic.html

[11] A book that does a great job of comparing the various world views of reality can be found in The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog by James W. Sire

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