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Is There Evidence For The Existence Of God?

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)

The portion of Scripture from Romans 1:18 through 3:20 has often been compared to a courtroom scene in which all of mankind is on trial. With the Apostle Paul serving as a “prosecuting attorney”, the case against man is deftly and thoroughly presented resulting in an incontrovertible guilty verdict. I have often looked at these passages with just such a metaphor in mind; seeing the logical progression of Paul’s argument move seamlessly from one piece of evidence to the next until he concludes his remarks with the summation that “There is none righteous, no, not one” (3:10). But the more time I spend in these verses, the less it resembles a “courtroom trial” and the more the entire section looks like the reading of a foregone verdict. To think of Romans 1:18-3:20 as a “trial’ is to suggest that a case is being made — that a verdict has yet to be reached  and the possibility of exoneration for the accused exists. But no such solicitation of defense is made nor is any opportunity implied for the indicted to provide any explanation or alibi which might alleviate their guilt. In fact, among Paul’s final comments in this section are the words “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (3:19). There are those who plan to offer up an explanation of mitigating circumstances when they stand before God one day, but no such opportunity will be given. For those who trust in anything but Christ, no excuse will be accepted; indeed, no excuse will even be considered.

 

The Wrath Of God Revealed

 

There has always been a difficulty in evangelism of finding the balance between presenting both the love of God to a lost and hurting world and presenting the wrath of God to a proud and apathetic world. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been many instances of going from one extreme to the other. From the “Hell fire and brimstone” preachers of old whose messages seemed to do little more than frighten their audience into submission to the “gospel” of today’s more liberal denominations who deny the existence of Hell entirely and preach that God is unconditionally accepting of not only the sinner but his sin. Yet here in Romans 1:17-18, Paul is presenting both aspects of God in balance: both as part of His nature and both realities of His character. For just as the righteousness of God is revealed in Verse 17 (and His love therein), so, too, is His wrath revealed from Heaven (v. 18). Both qualities of a loving yet Holy God exist simultaneously. God is faithful to justify the sinner when he trusts in Christ, but He is also faithful to judge the sins of every man who chooses not to.
 
It is fitting, therefore, that Paul would begin his presentation of the Gospel by clearly illustrating the condition of man apart from God. No legitimate presentation of the Gospel is ever complete without an honest understanding of why it is necessary that man come to Christ in the first place. Many people reject the Gospel because they do not understand what it is exactly that Christ came to save them from. We tell them “Jesus is the Answer” to which they candidly reply, “What is the question?” The Church over the past Century or so has drifted further and further away from a Biblically sound presentation of the Gospel and has replaced it with a more user-friendly, politically correct, inoffensive “gospel” that teaches little more than Jesus Christ as a non-judgmental Buddy Who promises to make the believer’s every dream come true. The wrath of God is never mentioned and passages such as Romans 1:18-3:20 are seldom talked about, even within the walls of the Church. Consequently, non-believers reject Christ with the feeling that He is either powerless or irrelevant and many who do “convert” do so spuriously with little understanding of the reality of their plight apart from the Lord. It is no wonder that we see so little authentic committment to holy living and so scarce of deep-felt conviction among most of those who name the name of Christ.
 
Paul’s presentation of the Gospel in the Book of Romans does not bypass man’s need for a Savior at all. This first brick in the Romans Road may not be a very attractive or flattering one, but it is foundational to all of the glorious bricks of gold that will follow. We cannot step over it in order to get to the more uplifting portions, nor is it intended for us to do so. The Spirit of God has ensured that our journey through this Book of the Bible would begin with a painstaking assessment of our predicament apart from Christ. For in these verses, every person will be left without any hope of reconciliation with God by any other means than through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will mercifully scatter the straws to which we cling and leave us in a truly desperate and hopeless condition until we have nowhere else to look but to Christ. We begin first with a look at the denial of God’s very existence: 

Is “Atheism” An Alibi?

 
“…There is a marvelous anecdote from the occasion of [Bertrand] Russell’s ninetieth birthday that best serves to summarize his attitude toward God and religion. A London lady sat next to him at this party, and over the soup she suggested to him that he was not only the world’s most famous atheist but, by this time, very probably the world’s oldest atheist. “What will you do, Bertie, if it turns out you’re wrong?” she asked. “I mean, what if — uh — when the time comes, you should meet Him? What will you say?” Russell was delighted with the question. His bright, birdlike eyes grew even brighter as he contemplated this possible future dialogue, and then he pointed a finger upward and cried, “Why, I should say, ‘God, you gave us insufficient evidence.'” (1)
 
For a great many “devout atheists”, the sentiment of Bertrand Russell seems to be an oft-repeated mantra of explanation concerning their skepticism. “The evidence is insufficient“, they proudly declare; as if to suggest that they have caught the Creator of the Universe in some sort of technicality which alleviates their responsibility and nullifies God’s prerogative to judge them. What they are really saying is that they are dissatisfied with the evidence which God has given. What ultimately matters is not whether or not man believes sufficient evidence has been given, but whether or not God says that sufficient evidence has been given. Without a doubt, the Word of God declares that God has indeed provided enough evidence.
 
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” (Romans 1:19)
 
First of all, there is the internal awareness of God which every person is born with. Granted, children must be taught about God’s nature and a proper understanding of Who God is only comes by revelation of the Holy Spirit, but the fact that there is a God is not something of which we must strive to persuade kids. People are not born as atheists with a special effort necessary to convince them otherwise, it is quite the other way around.  Along with this internal awareness of God is man’s God-given conscience. The mere existence of conscience itself is a problematic enigma for those who believe that man arose by means of Evolution. For what purpose does a conscience serve if man’s chief end is survival and the advancement of self? Why would Natural Selection prefer such a “bothersome” and “inefficient” mechanism as a conscience? If the axiom of life is survival of the fittest, then why would the fittest be concerned at all with the “weaker” and less “viable” creatures within the species?  It has been the greatest conundrum of modern Psychology to attempt to rid man of this “troublesome” thing called guilt, but it has proven impossible to extinguish it entirely. Man has had some success in muffling the witness of his conscience, but not to completely silencing it.
 
It is this very effort to which Paul refers in Romans 1:18 when he says, “…Who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” To hold here is to suppress, to hold down, to stifle. Contrary to what the modern skeptics would like us to believe, it is not the religious person who is “swimming upstream” against his nature, but the irreligious. A belief in God is not a relic of past ignorance which has survived against all odds into contemporary, “enlightened” thought. It is the atheist who must make the effort to push the thought of God from his mind. But man has done so and continues to do so. And as Verse 28 of this chapter makes clear, man can only strive to eliminate his God-consciousness for so long before the Lord will grant his desire and remove it. Nevertheless, it begins not by God hiding Himself from man, but by man turning his back on God.
 
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalm 19:1)
 
Secondly, we come to God’s revelation of Himself through the witness of His Creation. God’s Natural Revelation  is written across the heavens and throughout the Universe. To look upon the wonders of God’s Universe and deduce that such arose accidentally and without purpose is the height of foolishness and utter insanity. We would never look upon a beautiful Rembrandt or Monet and surmise that they came into existence without the work of the artist. We would never look at the buildings of I.M Pei or Frank Lloyd Wright and suggest for even a second that they might have been the result of random materials falling against one another in an unintentional pattern. Anyone who even hinted at such absurdities would be viewed as either joking or insane. How is it, then, acceptable “scientific reasoning” to suggest such absurdities concerning the infinite expanse of the Universe; something far beyond the complexity and beauty of architecture or fine art? Yet there are those who do exactly that. They look upon the wonders of God’s Universe and attempt to make sense of it by eliminating God from the equation. However, the very wonders they are observing and considering are the very evidences for the existence of God that they are asserting are insufficient. It is not the product of superior reasoning or a sharper intellect that leads one to conclude that God does not exist upon beholding the wonders of His Universe, but the product of a hardened heart that has pre-determined that the admission of God’s existence carries with it an implied demand for a response to one’s Creator; a response which must concede that man has a responsibility to submit to his Creator. It is not an academic difficulty which precludes a belief in God, but a moral one.
 
Alistair McGrath, an Oxford-educated scientist turned theologian, wrote in his book The Dawkins Delusion? (a critical response to biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion) that he “Wondered how [he and Dawkins] could draw such totally different conclusions on the basis of reflecting long and hard on substantially the same world.” (2) By all accounts, both of these men are brilliant scientific minds within very similar disciplines, yet one has concluded that the Universe testifies to God’s existence while the other has concluded the opposite. Why is this? Is the one simply more “enlightened” than the other? No. The distinction is not in the mind of the two professors, but in the heart.
 
God has not revealed very much concerning the characteristics of His Personality and nature through His Natural Revelation, but He has told us enough for us to know that He does exist; and if we respond to the light that He has given us, He will give us more. But if we deny the light He has shown us and harden our heart, suppressing the Truth in unrighteousness, He will give us our wish. He will only strive with our hearts for so long before He removes Himself from us. If we do not “like to retain God in our knowledge”, He will eventually oblige us and turn us over to our sinful desires (Rom. 1:28). There is evidence for God’s existence. It is all around us and within us. If we deny it, we are without excuse.
 
(1) “Bertrand Russell On God And Religion” (this quote is taken from the book’s preface by Al Seckel) – Prometheus Books (c) 1986
(2) Paraphrase taken from “The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine” – Inter-Varsity Press (c) 2007
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10 responses

  1. I suspect that it won’t do much good to argue with many of the points you make, but I think this one can be corrected:

    “For what purpose does a conscience serve if man’s chief end is survival and the advancement of self? Why would Natural Selection prefer such a ”bothersome” and “inefficient” mechanism as a conscience?”

    The answer is that the basics of the evolution of cooperation and altruism have been known for some time. If you’re willing to listen to anything Dawkins has to say, I highly recommend this documentary:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3494530275568693212#

    It’s a bit old but the evidence is clear and has been confirmed by subsequent research. It’s still theoretically conceivable that altruism was imparted to us by a divine entity, but evolution is not an unreasonable or implausible explanation.

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  2. Thank you Loren, for such a well thought out and written piece. It helps me to know much of this, especially as I live with those who don’t believe yet. I know myself, I had to “bottom out” more or less, before I reached for Jesus. Loren, I’m thinking about that part of if we harden our hearts, He will give us our wish. If then we pray for such a one, is it of no use? Or do we pray, for with God all things are possible? I will keep praying, knowing there is no other way but Jesus! God bless you. This was soooo good. :)

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  3. Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this and for sharing your thoughts concerning it :)

    You’re absolutely right, it won’t do much good to argue with the points I have made in this post. My objective is to share and comment on what the Bible teaches, not to argue about it or attempt to persuade others to believe it. My responsibility is to expound on the Word of God; what the reader chooses to do with it is between them and God. That being said, I do sincerely appreciate your offer to correct my tenet about conscience and your referral link to the video. I am aware that Evolutionary science has attempted to address this issue, but I honestly believe the conclusions to be unsatisfactory to say the least. If you follow the concepts of the Darwinian model to its logical end, then you do not end up with altruism and co-operation, but with eugenics and the domination of the stronger over the weaker. This is very similar to what we witness amongst the Animal Kingdom as it is the rarity to see a species that attempts to protect or care for those within their group who have outlived their ability to contribute to the collective. If we are to subscribe to the doctrines of Darwinism completely, then it only makes sense that we would behave likewise, does it not?

    Aside from this, I was attempting to address the phenomenon of “guilt” within the human conscience, not so much any disposition toward altruism or co-operation. Without a doubt, even the most wicked and depraved person will engage in co-operation or altruism if they perceive it will benefit themselves. The notorious murderer Al Capone was also one of the biggest sources of charitable contributions within his community. Why? Did he have a noble streak that compelled him to be generous? No. His “giving” was done merely to secure his dominance over the common people within the Italian-American communities of Chicago and to secure their loyalty and submission. It also served as great P.R. in the event that he ever was required to stand trial for his actions. in other words, he could be called altruistic, but it was certainly for his own selfish gain. “Guilt”, however, could never be construed to be of benefit to anyone if its purpose is not to bring a person to repentance or a change of heart. 2 Corinthians 7:10 states that the guilt that leads us to God results in repentance and life-everlasting; guilt that does not lead to God only ends in death.

    I appreciate your taking the time to read what I have to say, I truly hope that you will consider it. I recognize that there are certainly those who are satisfied with the precepts of Darwinian Evolution, but in all honesty I believe it to be an attempt to make the evidence conform to the theory, rather than altering the theory in light of the evidence (as any legitimate scientific endeavor seeks to do). Darwinism is, itself, a religious belief grounded in faith and not scientific evidence. As the verses here in the Book of Romans state, it begins when a person suppresses the Truth and seeks to embrace an alternative explanation that denies God’s existence. You and anyone else are certainly free to believe this way, but understand that convincing yourself that God does not exist does not make Him go away…neither will it be an excuse when you stand before Him someday.

    In Christ,

    Loren

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  4. Thanks, Deb, for the encouraging words :)

    What a thought-provoking question. There is a quote that J. Vernon McGee contributed to the 19th Century English preacher Charles Spurgeon (although Spurgeon may or may not have actually said it; even if it’s a paraphrase, it still is a wonderful thought!). He said (and I’m paraphrasing McGee’s version of it here myself :) ), “Someone was challenging Charles Spurgeon on his teaching about the doctrine of “Election” [that is, that those who will become saved are pre-ordained to be saved and those who are not will not be saved] and they finally told Spurgeon ‘if I believed like you I sure would not preach like you do. Why don’t you just save yourself time and preach only to the elect then?’ Spurgeon replied, ‘If the Lord had painted a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the streets of London lifting up shirt tails. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the Gospel to every creature that whosoever will may come.”

    God knows who will ultimately come to faith in Him and who will not. But we do not know. Just as Spurgeon contended that he should preach the Gospel to everyone since he did not know who would ultimately respond and who would not, so, too, should we continue to pray for the lost in our own lives since we do not know whether they will turn to Christ or not. Neither can we go by outward appearances because very often those who appear the furthest from God are fighting an inward struggle with the Spirit of God as He convicts them and draws them to Christ. Look at the Apostle Paul: it would be hard to imagine that anyone watching him march out of Jerusalem that day with letters authorizing him to destroy the Church in Damascus would have ever believed he would return to Jerusalem one day a Christian himself! So long as a person is still alive on this Earth, they have the chance to turn to Christ. Let us continue to pray for them indeed :)

    Thanks again, Deb, God bless you!

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  5. Your reply was wonderful Loren! Thank you for blessing me so! :)

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  6. Hi Loren,

    All of this reminds me of a time I had to serve on a jury for a drunken driving charge…. Various evidences given proved his dwi condition, but the majority of the evidence was not allowable in court because the breathalizer had not been recently recertified…. It was proven to have worked as it was supposed to, but not according to the lawyer’s standards, because of certification.

    Many criminals these days are let go because of trumped up technicalities…. In our sinful condition, people are proudly and arrogantly denying all the awesome and most magnificent evidences around us every day…. They don’t seem to care that they are hurting themselves most of all…. It’s just sad.

    Margaret

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  7. Loren, This is a great post! I like the title – “Is there evidence for the existence of God?” You didn’t title it there is proof positive for the existence of God, but simply ask whether there is evidence. Then you clearly walk through the evidence that God has provided.

    I especially like your discussion of how we are born with an innate knowledge of God, even though we may not understand His nature completely, and that it is the atheist who must strive against that innate knowledge to come to disbelief. This is a good argument for praying fervently for our children that they will hold onto that belief and that we would help them to gain further knowledge of God through His Word. Peace, Linda

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  8. I used to work as a deputy sheriff in a rural county jail where about 75% of those we booked were charged with alcohol related offenses (usually DUI or DWI). One of my responsibilities was to administer a breathalyzer test with the results being entered into the record to be used in court. The machine that was used is relatively very simple. You press a couple of buttons and have the subject blow into a straw-like tube. A readout tells you the exact BAC (blood alcohol count). In all honesty, I could teach a child how to use it to administer a test in about 5 minutes. Even so, we had to undergo 8 hours (yes, HOURS) of training on this thing to be certified and then be re-certified with the identical “training” every year (even though I used the thing practically every day). Additionally, the machine itself had to undergo expensive laboratory tests every so often just to make certain it was still properly calibrated (even though someone in the department would usually “test” themselves at least once per week to make sure it was still reading .000 when it was supposed to).

    The whole process was the definition of “overkill”, but it had to be done so that legitimately guilty offenders would not escape justice on some trumped up technicality. We had to read about two pages worth of statutes, rights, and explanations to every person being charged with DUI in fulfillment of the legal mandate (sometimes literally propping them up and hoping they didn’t vomit on our shoes because they were so inebriated!). Additionally, the whole procedure was also videotaped for admission into court if necessary. Still, there were those who would contest the charges made against them and they would try to get off on some technicality (one man swore in court that he was stone-cold sober when he was arrested even though his BAC was more than twice the legal limit! His attorney said there must have been a problem with the machine even though his client was physically unable to stand on his own or clearly speak at the time of booking).

    I love America and I know that our legal system, though flawed, is still the best one in the world. But I think that a lot of people feel that God’s justice works just like the American legal system and that the Lord Himself is just like some of the judges who sit on America’s benches (luckily, the judge who served in the courthouse where I worked was a “no-nonsense” kind of man with little patience for courtroom theatrics). They feel that the burden of proof to condemn them needs to be as strong and “beyond any reasonable doubt” as the evidence needed in our society’s courtrooms. But God is a Judge Who has all of the facts, He even knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Rom. 2:16). Nothing is hidden from Him.

    There are a lot of people who are hoping to get off because of “expired certifications” or some other technicality, but no such chance will exist. We are all guilty and will all be condemned unless we have a Savior.

    Thanks, Margaret, for the great thoughts. God bless you :)

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  9. Hi, Linda, thanks for the words of encouragement :)

    Originally, I started this blog to be kind of a format that would answer some FAQ’s about God, Christianity, and primarily the Bible. My idea was to sort of “title” each post as a question and then present what the Bible teaches concerning it. Well, “Answers From the Book” has become more of a verse-by-verse Bible expository, but I still like to occasionally get back to that question/answer based format.

    I am a father of three small kids myself and I thought as I was writing this how I never had to explain or persuade my own kids that God exists. I have had to teach them about Who He is and what the Bible tells us about Him, but I never had to present evidence or offer up any proof for God’s existence. In fact, it amazed me with each child of how they responded the very first time I began to tell them about God. Granted, small kids are generally accepting of whatever their parents tell them; but trust me, these guys usually believe that I am pretty much the dumbest person on the planet and that I have no clue what I am talking about :) Usually, they want to argue about everything before they accept it! In other words, they demand proof for just about everything before they believe it! But when I told them about God, it was obvious that I was speaking about Someone that they already knew existed.

    I do pray fervently that, as they grow older, they will not be talked out of that child-like faith that they have. Thanks, Linda, God bless you.

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  10. Loren,

    You described the whole situation down to the “T”… :) Video and all… In spite of it all, that breathalizer needed to be recertified officially….. That repeated offender of drunken driving “had to be” declared innocent…. The judge in this case didn’t have much common sense.

    I’m sure you have a bit of “life experience” having served as a deputy sheriff…. That should serve you well now. :) … Human nature is rawly exposed in the law enforcement field…. It just makes me so thankful that God freely justifies us through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and that He is able to judge righteously…. It’s quite the difference that all (believers and unbelievers) will bow down to in worship, come Judgment Day.

    Margaret

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