Let me start by saying that I don’t and cannot possibly have all the answers… but neither do you! Some things do need an element of faith: believing in the unseen or unfelt, even when your mind casts doubt.
The existence of “a god” is something that I imagine that almost every human both alive and dead has thought about on occasion during their lifetime. Obviously if there is a “higher power” then that is amazing, and something that makes one want to look into the whole reason for living. If not, then we suffer a pretty lonely and pointless existence don’t we! In this post I aim to examine the reasons that I believe in the existence of a god, without looking at my beliefs in regards to the question of “are we worshipping the right God?” I personally don’t like to answer the argument about the existence of god with any quotes and references from the Bible, as I consider that to be largely circular logic, and so I will explain how I can believe in the existence of god without looking at the Bible.
I recently had a chance to chat with a young man, and he began by outlining that he was not religious, and that he couldn’t be because so many wrong things had been done by religion. The conversation began in a similar vein as this:
Friend: “I don’t know how you can possibly be religious. I think religion is a bad thing – after all, look at all the bad things that religion has done… crusades, witch hunts, bible bashing, priests and alter boys etc etc”
Me: “I don’t much like religion either!”
Friend at this stage has a look of disbelief on his face, as he knows I am a Salvo, and I am always eager to chat to people regarding God!
Me: “well let me put it this way. I see religion as doing something out of habit because someone at some stage saw it as something that would please God. If your heart is not in it, then that is a pointless exercise, and I am sure that with God its all about where your heart is at. Everything else will follow.”
Friend: “well you know what I mean – people have been fighting with about which god is the right one, which is stupid because there is no such thing as “god” anyway”
Me: “well I can certainly see what you mean about people fighting about the god they believe in – but you do have to remember that that is people twisting things to suit their own purposes. Unfortunately, even though God is perfect, people are not, and we continually get it wrong, even when we start out with the right intentions. As to there being no god, that is something that you need to work out for yourself before you even start looking at the rights and wrongs of religion. I am interested to know though, if there is no god, where did we come from?”
Friend: (with a look of triumph on his face as he is sure that his high-school education on the theory of evolution will easily trump what he believes my closed minded view of “origin of the species”) “well that’s easy! we evolved from apes, who ultimately evolved from a single cell organism.”
Me: “well I don’t want to step on what you believe our history in time is, and you may be surprised to know that there are Christians out there who believe that we did evolve over billions of years – not that that is what I believe – but assuming that that is completely correct, where did that single cell organism come from?”
Friend: (less certain this time, as he is beginning to realise where I am heading with this) “Well, it came from the big bang”
Me: “And who put the big bang there – that is to say, who put the material there to make the big bang?”
Friend: “Well how am I supposed to know that!”
And so the conversation went. Outlined below are the reasons that I gave for why I believe that there is a god (and that is by no means all the arguments available). For this argument, I define god as the highest entity, one capable of controlling time and matter.
- Every effect has a cause. The universe is an effect – we are here, and so we ‘happened’. Somewhere in history, before time there must be an uncaused cause.
- The series of events that come one after another we know as time. A collection formed by adding one moment after another cannot be infinite. Time is not infinite and is therefore created. (if a man jumped into an infinitely deep hole, when would he reach the bottom: never. it is impossible to have an infinite number of causes and effects)
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe exists, and so began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
- The universe is too complex to have come about by chance. If it has design, then it must have a designer. There must be an undesigned designer.
- The universe is a system of complex laws. Mathematical, scientific, moral etc. The fact that these universal laws exist points to the existence of a a law-giver.
- The fact that people even wonder if there is a god points to there being one.
- If there is no god and you believe in one, what have you lost… but if there is a god and you don’t believe in god, the consequences could be huge.
Individually it is probably possible to tentatively explain any of those individual arguments away. The problem is that as they accumulate it becomes increasingly difficult to continue to be blind to the existence of a god.
As the conversation completed, it quickly went from a conversation regarding the existence of god, to a concession that something must have put us here, but that that god was unlikely to be interested in his creation, and had probably moved on – and therefore it made no difference what he believed.
Stay tuned for the next blog, where I will look at a broad overview of the different types of beliefs in the different types of god, and why I am certain I have the right one!