This week’s “God Question” is “Why do you believe God even exists?” In a bit of good timing, Stand to Reason has started posting some of Greg Koukl’s podcast commentary as YouTube videos, and one of the first asks the question, “Can God’s Existence Be Proved?”
Skip down to the video if you’d like, but before diving into this question it’s worth establishing what is meant by “proof,” at least in a philosophical sense:
1. You must have at least two premises and a conclusion.
2. The conclusion must logically follow from the premises.
3. Each premise must be true, or at least, more probable than the opposite.
Accept the Argument, or Say Something Silly: Your Choice
The trick is that someone who really wants to escape your conclusion can choose to reject one of your premises. Our job as Christian apologists is to make them pay as high of an intellectual price as possible to do so.
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
And, since the universe represents everything that is material, the cause of the universe must be immaterial. There’s a lot of energy in the universe, so the cause of the universe must be unthinkably powerful. The beginning of the universe marks the beginning of time, so the cause of the universe must transcend time. So this proves that an immaterial, powerful, transcendent cause is necessary to explain the existence of the universe.
These are uncomfortable implications for people who see this going in the “God” direction, so—amazingly—atheists usually bite the bullet and reject either (1) or (2). If they say “the universe didn’t have a cause,” they’re saying that it sprang into existence by nothing, out of nothing, for nothing. William Lane Craig says this is worse than magic, because when a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, at least you’re starting with a hat—to say nothing of a magician!
Or, they can reject (2) and say that the universe has been around forever. If you’re open to considering “Big Bang” theory—which is the reigning theory in the physical sciences—then you can’t say the universe is eternal. But even without invoking the Big Bang, you can demonstrate the folly of an eternal universe in a number of ways. A simple one goes like this: things tend to cool off over time. If the universe has been around for an infinite amount of time, you would expect it to be infinitely cool—in other words, absolute zero. Clearly we are not frozen solid, so you can’t really think the universe is infinitely old.
(See also Craig’s defense of this argument, but thinking caps are required).
A Cumulative Case for the Best Explanation
Bottom line: this doesn’t prove God’s existence, but it does prove that something like the God described in the Bible must exist. When you put together enough of these arguments, it becomes very, very difficult—impossible, if you ask me—to put forth an adequate explanation for the world, the universe, and everything that does not admit to God’s existence. This Sunday, we’ll start to explore some of those arguments.