The following article is excerpted from chapter 9 of Dr. Jim Denison’s latest book, How Does God See America? Request Dr. Denison’s new book today.
The biblical writers presupposed the existence of God, as did their readers (“In the beginning God . . .”). But this informal, unexamined belief will not do for those who question the reality of God. We cannot have a real relationship with people who do not exist except in our minds. We can have a dream, hallucination, or fantasy about them, but we’d be schizophrenic to spend much time worshiping or serving our imaginary friends.
This is precisely what atheists claim: God exists only as a dream, hallucination, or fantasy, a belief which cannot be proven or even rationally defended.
Creation without a creator?
One way to respond to people who reject the existence of God is to ask how there can be a creation without a Creator. (This argument from cosmos to Creator is known to scholars as the “cosmological argument for God’s existence.”) If the universe began as a Big Bang, where did the Big Bang come from? If you think life started as a cell floating in a pool of water, we can ask what or who made the water. Since we live in a world where every effect has a prior cause, it’s easy for us to reason that the world came from somewhere or Someone. This “First Cause” (to use Aristotle’s term) we can call God.
Unfortunately, for those of us who like this approach, it doesn’t prove as much as we might think it does.
For instance, scientists say that the universe is running down (the Second Law of Thermodynamics). Someday, perhaps 10,150 years in the future, all energy will be converted to matter and everything will collapse on itself. Scientists call this “heat death” and say that it will make the entire universe into one “black hole.” This is a rather pessimistic way of stating the Third Law of Thermodynamics.
Skeptics then ask, could this be how the Big Bang started, using forces we cannot now understand? Or, looking at the universe another way, could history move as a circle rather than a line, with a succession of Big Bang expansions and contractions?
Skeptics cannot prove any of this, of course. But then, neither can we prove our belief that God made the universe. The Bible obviously says that he did and predicts that he will one day turn history into eternity (cf. 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 21:1–5). But it would be impossible to prove these claims unless we were there at the beginning or are there at the end. And using God’s word to prove God’s existence is the dictionary definition of circular reasoning.
Design without a designer?
Another way to argue for God’s existence begins with the design we see in our world. (Scholars call this the “teleological” argument, from the Greek telos, meaning “design” or “end.”)
To state the argument in its classic sense, suppose you were walking in a forest and came upon a rock. You’d not be surprised to find it where it is. But suppose you walked a little further and came upon a watch lying on the ground. You would not believe that the hands, wristband, and other components of the watch just “happened” to fall together in that place and in that way.
Is the world not infinitely more complex than a watch?
Once we start down this mental path, we can find examples of remarkable design nearly everywhere we look. In a debate with the atheist Kai Nielsen, J. P. Moreland suggested several:
In the formation of the universe, the balance of matter to antimatter had to be accurate to one part in ten billion for the universe to even arise. Had it been larger or greater by one part in ten billion, no universe would have arisen. There would also have been no universe capable of sustaining life if the expansion rate of the Big Bang had been one billionth of a percent larger or smaller.
Furthermore, the chance possibilities of life arising spontaneously through mere chance has been calculated by Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle as being 1 x 10.40, which Hoyle likens to the probabilities of a tornado blowing through a junkyard and forming a Boeing 747. Had these values, these cosmic constants which are independent of one another, been infinitesimally greater or smaller than what they are, no life remotely similar to ours — indeed, no life at all — would have been possible.
People who are persuaded by the design argument claim that the universe is not old enough for life to have evolved naturally. According to them, the odds that our present world could have evolved by random chance are too small to be plausible, if they’re even possible.
The easiest way for a skeptic to respond to this argument is to invoke Darwin’s assertion that life evolves through natural selection and survival of the fittest. If this is true, life did not come to exist as a tornado through a junkyard. Rather, we evolved through a process that chose the parts necessary to make that Boeing 747. The odds of “random” or “chance” occurrence are irrelevant in a world that evolved through such a process of selection.
Some evolutionists even claim that natural selection must have created life as we know it, that the odds were much higher in favor of life than against it. It would likely have taken much longer than fifteen billion years for the universe to have evolved through random coincidence, but this is not how things happened. Natural selection “sped up” the process of creating life as we know it.
Scholars continue to debate the merits of Darwinian evolution. But whether you believe that Darwin was brilliant or deluded, you can see why atheistic evolutionists aren’t impressed with the design argument.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison