Bible Class Curricula - First Principles - Lesson #1 - The Existence of God
The question of God’s existence is extremely important (Josh. 24:15; 1 Kings 18:21; Hebrews 11:6). If God does not exist, then life has no meaning (Ecclesiastes 2:17), and, according to the evolutionary theory, we are here simply as the result of millions of years of chance and chemical processes. Our existence must be explained solely by physical means. We have no soul, no spirit, and no real purpose. But, if God does exist, then life has profound meaning. We do have a soul, a spirit, a meaningful purpose, and a responsibility to an All-Powerful, Supreme Being who has fashioned us in His image (Genesis 1:26). The purpose of this lesson is to answer the question of God’s existence and to show that, not only can we know that God exists, but we can also prove His existence beyond any shadow of a doubt.
I Can Know That God Exists
There are several ways of viewing God. The three most popular are atheism, agnosticism, and theism. The atheist says that he knows there is no God; the agnostic says that it is possible that God exists but there is no way to know for sure, and the theist believes in God and says that we can know that He exists. Let us briefly examine all three of these positions.
First, it is impossible to know that God does not exist, as the atheist claims. In order to establish the nonexistence of God as objective truth, you would have to know every fact in the Universe that there is to know, which would, in fact, make you God! Otherwise, the one fact that you do not know may be the fact of God’s existence. Second, it is contradictory to be an agnostic. The agnostic says that it is impossible to know facts, especially the fact of God’s existence. But, the claim that you cannot know the fact of God’s existence is itself a claim of fact! Therefore, the only rational and logical belief system in regard to God’s existence is theism (that is, to know that God does exist).
Scripture teaches that we can know that God exists because He has revealed Himself (Psalm 19; Romans 1:19-21; etc.). There are many different ways to prove that God exists. In this lesson, we will focus on three.
Number 1: The Law of Cause and Effect
The Law of Cause and Effect is one of the most basic scientific laws in existence. Simply stated, this law says that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent cause (Hebrews 3:4). The dump truck was not run off the road by a fly hitting the windshield, and the cookies did not end up in the cookie jar before Mom baked them. A fly is obviously not big enough to force a dump truck off the road, and the cookies cannot be put into the jar before they are made because they do not yet exist! This law is based on simple “common sense” (2 Corinthians 11:3) and is accepted by every individual who is rational and sane.
Concerning proving the existence of God, an argument based upon the Law of Cause and Effect (or, the Law of Causality), known as the Cosmological Argument, has been constructed. This argument demonstrates a sufficient reason, or first cause, of the existence of the Universe. The Universe is obviously here, and it is obviously an effect. The question is what is the cause? How did it get here?
The first thing that must be determined is why there is something rather than nothing. This question deals with dependency and necessary being. Everything that exists depends upon something else’s existence. That is to say, that if something now exists, something has always existed because something cannot come from nothing. If that were the case, the Law of Cause and Effect would be no Law at all. Therefore, it must be the case that a Being exists whose existence is not dependent upon any other being. In fact, it is impossible for this necessary “Being” not to exist! Otherwise, there would have been a time when nothing at all existed. That is absurd! If there were ever a time when nothing at all existed, then nothing could ever exist because nothing can ever begin to exist without the intervention of something that already does exist. There must a Sufficient Cause, a Supreme Being. There must be a God! What is more reasonable? To believe that something came from nothing or that something came from something?
Now that we have determined that a Sufficient Cause must exist, let us turn our attention to the universe individually. There are only three possibilities for the existence of the universe: it is eternal, it created itself, or the Necessary Being, God, created it. The first option is quickly put to rest by one of the highest authorities in science, astronomer Robert Jastrow. Jastrow states, "The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the universe, either in the past or in the future."1 Kitty Ferguson added, "It’s also common knowledge that the universe isn’t eternal but had a beginning … and that it is expanding."2 God’s word confirms this to be true in Hebrews 1:10-12.
The second option, that the universe created itself, is also put to rest by modern science. This option suggests that something came from nothing (a claim we have already defeated). Jonathan Sarfati summed up the impossibility of this absurd claim, "Quantum mechanics never produces something out of nothing."3 There is zero evidence to prove that something has ever come from nothing. In fact, this would be impossible to prove since any experiment trying to prove this would have to begin with something! This leaves us with the third and final option – the universe was created. This is the only option that is consistent with the Law of Cause and Effect.
Number 2: The Law of Biogenesis
Another fundamental scientific law is the Law of Biogenesis. The law states, "In this material universe, life comes only from previous life of its own kind."4 Obviously, there is life on our planet, but where did that life come from? There are only two options: one, life spontaneously generated out of nothing, or, two, life was created by the necessary, non-contingent Being (God) that was discussed earlier.
The atheist presupposes that God does not exist and therefore assumes something (i.e. life) came from nothing, life from non-life. He believes that at some time in the distant past, non-living chemicals gave rise to living organisms. In his famous book, The Implications of Evolution, G.A. Kerkut listed seven non-provable assumptions of evolution. At the top of the list was that abiogenesis, or spontaneous generation, occurred. George Wald of Harvard described the difficulty of this view when he wrote:
As for spontaneous generation, it continued to find acceptance until finally disposed of by the work of Louis Pasteur – it is a curious thing that until quite recently professors of biology habitually told this story as part of their introductions of students to biology. They would finish this account glowing with the conviction that they had given a telling demonstration of the overthrow of mystical notion by clean, scientific experimentation. Their students were ususally so bemused as to forget to ask the professor how he accounted for the origin of life. This would have been an embarrassing question, because there are only two possibilities: either life arose by spontaneous generation, which the professor had just refuted; or it arose by supernatural creation, which he probably regarded as anti-scientific.5
The truth is that evolutionists believe in spontaneous generation because supernatural creation is the only other alternative. As Wald later said:
Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing. I think a scientist has no choice but to approach the origin of life through a hypothesis of spontaneous generation.6
Although the atheist believes in spontaneous generation, he does it in spite of his science. He chooses to blindly believe in an idea that true science has proven to be false for years! The Law of Biogenesis is called a law because it is just that – a law. It has never changed, nor will it ever change. In fact, thousands of scientists, beginning with Louis Pasteur, have documented the truthfulness of this law. Simpson and Beck note, "there is no serious doubt that biogenesis is the rule, that life comes only from other life, that a cell, the unit of life, is always and exclusively the product or offspring of another cell."7 Spontaneous generation is scientifically impossible.
The Law of Biogenesis is monumental in proving the Supernatural origin of life. "Biogenesis (the law of biogenesis) represents the complete undoing of evolutionary theory from the ground floor up."8 This is only one great example of science defeating the cause of evolution and proving that the origin of life is the guiding hand of a Supernatural Creator.
Number 3: The Argument from Design
Design demands a designer. To the unbiased eye, there is no doubt that our universe was intricately and beautifully designed. Noebel correctly observed, "Science is relearning an old lesson: the more we uncover details about the universe and living organisms, the more we discover design."9The scholarly William Lane Craig said, "But, we now know that our existence is balanced on a knife’s edge. … The existence of intelligent life depends upon a conspiracy of initial conditions that must be fine-tuned to a degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable."10 There is no doubt that our universe is remarkably fine-tuned. But, how can this fine-tuning be explained? There are really only two possibilities – chance or design.
What are the chances that our finely tuned universe could have been fine-tuned simply by chance? William Lane Craig explains:
The problem with this alternative is that the odds against it are so incomprehensibly great that they cannot be reasonably faced. Students or laymen who blithely assert that "it could have happened by chance" simply have no conception of the fantastic precision of the fine-tuning requisite for life.11
The fact is that our universe is so intricately put together that it is impossible for it to be the result of blind chance. After comparing the living system with a complex, highly ordered structure, Simpson, Pittendrigh, and Tiffany stated, "Chance of origin of the particular arrangement which is a particular kind of living cell is utterly negligible."12
This leaves only one remaining alternative – design. When one honestly considers everything in our universe, from the macrocosm to the microcosm, the evidence of design is overwhelming. Albert Einstein said, "The harmony of natural law … reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."13 There was thought and planning that went into the design of our universe. That thought can only be the work of a Supreme Intellect. As Thompson said, "The evidence speaks clearly to the existence of a non-contingent, eternal, self-existent Mind that created this universe and everything within it."14
Scripture also points to the design in the Universe as an evidence for the existence of God. The psalmist David wrote, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork," (Psalm 19:1). The Apostle Paul said, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes 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). There is no doubt that God’s fingerprints are all over. All we have to do is take the time to look.
To the unbiased mind, there is no question that God exists. His existence is provable, and it is knowable. What is most important, however, is that fact that God’s existence requires something of me. Isaiah said, "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand," (Isaiah 64:8). God is our creator, and we are His creation. He possesses sovereign right to rule over us, and we have the responsibility to obey Him. "The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God,"" (Psalm 14:1).
- Is it possible to know that God exists?
- Why is it important to know whether or not God exists?
- Define the terms: atheist, agnostic, and theist.
- What is the Law of Cause and Effect?
- What is the Law of Biogenesis?
- What does the design of the Universe tell us?
- Is it possible for the Universe to be eternal?
- Is it possible for live to arise from non-life?
- Is it possible that the Universe could have happened by chance?
- 1Jastrow, Robert as quoted in The Scientific Case for Creation, by Bert Thompson, (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2004), p. 24
- 2Ferguson, Kitty, The Fire in the Equations: Science, Religion, and the Search for God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), p. 89
- 3Sarfati, Jonathan, as quoted in The Scientific Case for Creation, by Bert Thompson, (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2004), p. 105
- 4Jackson, Wayne, Lyons, Eric, and Butt Kyle, Surveying the Evidence (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2008), p. 47
- 5Wald, George, Theories of the Origin of Life, Frontiers of Modern Biology (Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin, 1962) as quoted in Thompson, Bert, The Scientific Case for Creation, (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2004), p. 140
- 6Wald, George, The Origin of Life, Writing About Science, ed. Mary Elizabeth Bowen and Joseph A. Mazzeo (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979) as quoted in Thompson, Bert, The Scientific Case for Creation, (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2004), p.141
- 7Simpson, George Gaylord, and Beck, W.S., Life: An introduction to Biology, as quoted in Thompson, Bert, and Harrub, Brad, 15 Answers to John Rennie and Scientific American’s Nonsense
- 8Thompson, Bert, and Harrub, Brad, 15 Answers to John Rennie and Scientific American’s Nonsense (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2002)
- 9Noebel, David A., Christian Biology in Understanding the times (Manitou Springs, CO: Summit Press, 2006), p. 165
- 10Craig, William Lane, Why I Believe God Exists in Why I am a Christian by Hoffman, Paul K., and Geisler, Norman, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), p. 68
- 11Ibid, p. 70
- 12Simpson, George Gaylord, Pittendrigh, C.S., and Tiffany, L.H., Life: An Introduction to Biology as quoted in Jackson, Wayne, Lyons, Eric, and Butt Kyle, Surveying the Evidence (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2008), p. 37
- 13Einstein, Albert, Ideas and Opinions as quoted in Noebel, David A., Christian Biology in Understanding the times (Manitou Springs, CO: Summit Press, 2006), p. 165
- 14Thompson, Bert, The Scientific Case for Creation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2004), p.129
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