What makes you believe that God exists?

From HAVEN NEWS New Year 2017

Many people question whether there is a God or not although not that many are actually convinced that there is no God. Actually, anybody who confidently declares “there is no God” as if that was a proven fact is making a fundamental mistake.  It is not meaningful to say that something which possibly could exist absolutely does not exist. All anyone can reliably say is, “if there is a God I haven’t seen evidence of his existence yet.” People who say “God does not exist” are only expressing their own personal belief.  They are making the same mistake as someone who insists that Australia cannot possibly exist, just because they haven’t been there yet themselves. That is as illogical as people would be if they said, “the Queen doesn’t exist”, because they have never met Her Majesty, and refuse to believe the photographs or the Christmas broadcasts or all the people who claim that they have met the Queen.

The science fiction author Isaac Asimov made the same mistake. He wrote, “I am an atheist, out and out.  I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he does not that I don’t want to waste my time.” Asimov had closed his mind to the evidence for God’s existence, so in the end he was not able to see what many others can. But Christians have seen that evidence of God. We have experienced the power of God and seen Him at work. As a teenager I used to argue vigorously that God couldn’t exist. Then God showed me that I had been wrong!

The way we all see the world, our “world view”, depends on where we are standing; where we are coming from. A simple story illustrates this truth. Two people were walking along a river bank one day when they saw a man across the river.  “How can we get across?” they shouted.  “Why would you be wanting to do that then?” the man asked.  “We want to get to the other side,” they explained patiently.  “Don’t be daft,” the man replied. “You’re already on the other side.”

What we see depends on where we are standing, on our frames of reference and our “world view”. But we will not always interpret what we see correctly. We only ever see part of the picture. Our interpretations can be distorted by our presuppositions, our preconceived ideas, the things we assume and take for granted. A mind which is closed to God may not see God. But a mind which is open to spiritual things can recognise evidence for the existence of God. When Christians and seekers look around the world with the eye of faith, evidence for God’s existence is everywhere. Here are four areas which we can point to as evidence for the existence of God, in order of increasing importance. To begin with, we might point to the Bible and to the Church.

Some people are struck by the impact and the uniqueness of the Bible. Most people who say “the Bible isn’t true” actually haven’t read the Bible.  Others recognise the historical impact of the church on the world, and the influence of Christianity on society today. We can point to all the good things Christians have done and are doing in caring for the poor and working for justice and peace, from William Booth and Lord Shaftsbury to Martin     Luther King, Mother Teresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Then there are Food Banks and homeless shelters like CHESS in Chelmsford, support for refugees and the work of Christian Aid and Operation Christmas Child.

Next we can point to the many ways God has revealed Himself in Creation. Last autumn’s issue of Haven News discussed the ways in which we can meet God in the world which He has created. Consider the beauty and majesty in Creation; sunsets and starry skies, waterfalls and flowers. It was the French biologist Louis Pasteur who said, “Posterity will someday laugh at the foolishness of our modern materialistic philosophy. The more I study nature the more I am amazed at the Creator.”  Those of a more scientific mind may appreciate the beauty inherent in mathematics and physics. The way creation works is marvellous to unravel. The Twentieth Century British physicist Paul Dirac once said, “it is more important to have beauty in one’s equations that to have them fit experiment.” We can point to evidence of design in Creation. Physicists talk about the “fine tuning of the universe”, the way that the laws of physics, the rate of expansion of the universe and the values of the fundamental constants all fit together in exactly the right balance to make life possible. If any of those were slightly different, no life could exist. From atoms to astrophysics, all this is evidence of design in the natural world, and design points beyond itself to the Designer. Biologists can point to the way eyes work, and memory and thinking in the human brain, and the complex interactions of DNA and RNA and dozens of separate proteins in the process of inheritance.

Looking at human beings, there is the wonder of human language and the way we can appreciate and create beautiful art and inspiring music. There is the universal spiritual experience of human beings. We are the only creatures that pray or worship. Human beings have a “God shaped gap” in our lives. “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” (Augustine) And all human beings possess a conscience: the ability to distinguish right from wrong and good from evil. All these things come from God.  Finally, looking at creation, one of the classic philosophical ‘proofs’ of the existence of God is called the ‘cosmological argument.’ Once there was nothing, no space, no time, no matter, nothing. Then there was something. The universe came from nothing – something came from nothing and life came from not life and that requires a First Cause, a First Mover, something which started the whole thing off. That First Cause was God. None of these pieces of evidence in creation for the existence of God are irrefutable knock-down proof that God does exist. But together they do give us very strong grounds to claim that believing in God is reasonable and rational. J. B. Phillips wrote, “God is not discoverable or demonstrable by purely scientific means, unfortunately for the scientifically-minded. But that really proves nothing. It simply means that the wrong instruments are being used for the job.”

Many people become convinced that God must exist by the experiences of other people. Consider the changed lives of the first disciples. One day they were hiding away terrified that they would be next to be crucified. The next day these ordinary men and women were preaching a message which would turn the world upside down. We can point to countless inspirational Christians through the ages. We can talk about Christians we have read and heard about and even better we can give specific examples of the differences we have seen Jesus make in the lives of people we know. Best of all Christians can talk about our own personal experiences of the ways God has worked in our own lives: answers to prayer; miracles of grace and of healing; experiences of peace and joy and forgiveness. We are certain that God exists because we have experienced Jesus working in our own lives.

Finally, and most importantly, Christians know God exists because of Jesus himself. Jesus Christ was unique. His birth, his teaching, his ministry and his death on the cross all set him apart from all the other leaders of all the other religions. We will talk more about this in future issues. Consider the amazing love Jesus showed and his perfect character. Most people agree that Jesus was one of the greatest moral teachers of all time. And Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”  … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:6-9)

Christians know that God exists and we believe in God because we have met God in His Son Jesus Christ. And in all of this the supreme evidence for God’s existence is found in the historical event of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Everything rests on the resurrection of Jesus. That is the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus is not dead. Jesus is alive! The resurrection is God’s proof that everything that Jesus claimed about Himself is true. It is God’s proof that Jesus is the Son of God and that Jesus is indeed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And the historical fact of the resurrection is the ultimate proof that God exists.

I am sure you have seen optical illusions of pictures which can be viewed two ways. This one can appear to be of a young lady but looked at again appears to be an old lady instead. Our eyes see the one picture but our brains are able to interpret the same image in different ways. When people look at those kinds of optical illusions, whichever picture they may see first they can usually see the other interpretation after a while as well. Then they will be able to switch mentally between one image and the other.

It is the same when people look at the world around us: the beauty of a sunset, the majesty of the night sky and the intricacy of flowers. Or the amazing ways which the human eye or brain work, or the complex interplay of proteins and DNA in the mechanism of inheritance. Some people look at these things and interpret them as examples of design in Creation and evidence for the existence of God. Other people look at exactly the same things but do not see God anywhere.  In the same way people who may never have seen the hand of God in the world around before can begin to see God in his Creation, or in the lives of other people. People can come to see Jesus in a completely new light too, not as a long dead figure from history but as the Son of God, risen from the dead to be our Saviour. This kind of change, seeing the world in a dramatically new way, is part of what Jesus meant when he said,  “You must be born again.”  (John 3:7)


This article forms chapter 6 of the new book Prepared To Give An Answer written by our minister Peter Thomas. Copies are available from Amazon or at the church.


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