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Don Stewart :: What Are Some of the Arguments That Are Used to Prove That God Exists?

Don Stewart

How can someone know that God exists? Can anyone be certain that the idea of God is not just something that humanity has invented? We cannot see God, touch Him, or hear Him? We cannot prove God's existence by any mathematical formula. If this is the case, then how do we know that He truly exists?

God Has Left His Fingerprints Everywhere

Although the Bible itself does not give arguments for God's existence, we do find that God has left His fingerprints everywhere.

Among the reasons that have been brought forward include the following arguments.

1. The Cosmological Argument

The word cosmology comes from the Greek word kosmos that means, "an orderly arrangement." The cosmological argument argues that there must be a sufficient cause or a reason for the universe (cosmos) at is now stands. Our minds are made in such a way that we must believe in causes. We see that every effect has a cause. The universe is not self-existent; it is an effect. Therefore, there must be some first cause that originally brought the universe into existence. This first, or uncaused, cause must be God. The world does exist and something caused it to exist. The cause is God. This is the cosmological argument.

The value of the cosmological argument is that it proves whatever caused the universe must be something, or someone, very great. The cause must be as powerful as the effect.

The Weaknesses Of Cosmological Argument

The weaknesses in the cosmological argument are as follows.

  1. We do not know whether this cause was impersonal matter or a personal being.
  2. The cosmological argument cannot prove whether this cause was something that exists apart from the universe or something that is part of the universe.
  3. We do not know if the cause for the universe is infinite or finite.
  4. We do not know whether there was only one cause or many causes.

2. The Teleological Argument

If there is a God who was the first cause of the universe, what kind of God is He? The teleological argument answers this question - He is an intelligent cause.

The teleological argument, from the Greek word telos, meaning "purpose, end, or goal," is an argument from design and purpose. Everything in the universe has a purpose. The original or ultimate designer or purposer is God. The psalmist pointed out this fact.

He waters the hills from the upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your works. He causes the grass to grow for cattle, and vegetation for the service of humanity, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of humans, oil to make their face shine, and bread which strengthens one's heart (Psalm 104:14,15).

Everything Has A Purpose

If everything observable in the universe has a design and purpose, then why not the universe itself? There cannot be poetry without a poet, there cannot be music without a musician, and there cannot be design without a designer.

The biblical writers saw God behind the intricate design and balance of the universe.

The hearing ear and the seeing eye - the LORD has made them both (Proverbs 20:12).

There is a majestic harmony in the universe. The order and design we see everywhere tells us that the Creator is not disorganized or does things in a haphazard way. The Creator has a purpose in everything that He does. From the most distant objects in space, to the most minute material detected by a microscope, we find order and design.

The Illustration Of The Watch

One of the oldest illustrations that is used to point to design is that of a watch. When a person examines a watch it bears the marks of design. There are a number of parts of the watch that are put together for a purpose. They are arranged in such a way as to regulate the motion of the watch in order to tell time.

Two things can be inferred from looking at the design of a watch. First, the watch had to have had a maker. Second, the maker had a purpose in mind when designing the watch. We make these conclusions even though we never saw the watch being made, never saw the watchmaker, or had no idea how the work could be done.

In the same manner, when we look at the universe and its intricate design we assume that it had a Designer who wisely made it for a purpose. The belief in a Designer is not affected by the fact that we did not see Him, did not observe His construction, and cannot understand how He did it.

The Value Of The Teleological Argument

The value of the teleological argument is that it demonstrates that some intelligence made the universe in its present form. The universe is too intricate to have randomly come together.

The Limitations Of Teleological Argument

The weaknesses, or limitations, of the teleological argument are as follows.

  1. We do not if this intelligence is personal or impersonal.
  2. We do not know whether this designer is finite or infinite.
  3. We do not know whether it is the only fashioner that exists.
  4. We do not know whether it owes it power to some other being.

3. The Anthropological Argument

The anthropological argument is the argument from humanity. We learn something about God and His existence from the way in which we are made. Human beings are rational, intelligent beings - reflecting, in some ways, their Creator.

All of us feel the need to worship something greater than ourselves. All of these truths points to the existence of God. The cry of the psalmist is the cry of all humanity.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:2).

Humanity is looking for something to satisfy that thirst. Saint Augustine, the great scholar of the ancient church said it well.

You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until we find our rest in you.

Only Human Beings Have A Religious Sense

The religious sense is not found in any other creatures except human beings. It would be in vain to attempt to teach any religious sense to the highest type of ape but even the lowest type of human may be taught about God.

The Value Of The Anthropological Argument

The value of this argument is that it gives evidence of a personal being who exists and who is the proper object of the love of humankind.

The Weaknesses Of The Anthropological Argument

The weaknesses of this argument are as follows.

  1. We do not know whether this being is the Creator of all things or merely the Creator of humankind alone.
  2. We do not know whether this Creator was Himself created.
  3. We do not know whether this Creator is infinite or finite.

4. The Moral Argument

The moral argument states that there must be a God to account for the sense of right and wrong that is universal within humankind. Every human culture has some moral standards. Human lives are regulated by conceptions of right and wrong. The reason humanity has moral standards is because the Creator put that within us. This human moral sense points to the existence of God. The Bible says:

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or excusing them (Romans 2:14,15).

The conscience of every human being tells them when they do right and when they do wrong. Whether the conscience is obeyed or not, it is still speaking. Conscience does not create the standard, it merely testifies to it.

The conclusion drawn from this is that there is a Lawgiver who has placed a standard of right and wrong within each of us.

The Value Of The Moral Argument

The value of the moral argument is that demonstrates that a perfect standard exists apart from humanity.

The Weaknesses Of The Moral Argument

The weaknesses of the moral argument are basically the same as the weakness of the anthropological argument.

  1. We do not know whether this being who gave the standard is the Creator of all things or merely the Creator of humankind alone.
  2. We do not know whether this Lawgiver was Himself created.
  3. We do not know whether this Lawgiver is infinite or finite.

5. There Is A Universal Belief In A Supreme Being

Belief in the existence of some type of Supreme Being is widespread throughout the world. It seems that all societies have some sort of higher power that they acknowledge. No matter how crude, or how sophisticated the society may be, humankind has the need to believe in some greater power.

Even if some society were discovered that had no religious beliefs this would not disprove the rule. That would be like arguing the presence of blind people in the world proves that human beings are creatures who cannot see. The universal testimony is that human beings are incurable religious.

How Did This Need Originate?

Since we find the universal need to acknowledge something greater than ourselves, it is fair to ask the question as to how this need originated. Certainly it is now through reason - there are many reasoning humans who deny the existence of God.

God's Fingerprints Are There

It seems that God has left behind fingerprints about Himself that sinful humanity can still appreciate. Scripture says.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that human beings are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

The Value Of The Universal Belief Argument

The value of this argument is that it shows the universal acceptance and need for the idea of God.

The Weaknesses Of The Universal Belief Argument

The universal need for God does not mean that such a being exists. The need may have been created by the desire for humanity to have some type of purpose or meaning in life.

6. The Biological Argument

The biological argument is an argument from the nature of life itself. One of the universal truths that science has discovered is that life only comes from life. Put another way, life does not come from non-life. If life does not spontaneously appear from non-life then there must have been a source of life from which it originally came. This source of life is God.

The Weakness Of The Biological Argument

While it is true that life can only come from life it does mean that someday a principle won't be discovered that contradicts this. Furthermore, if life originally did come from a Creator we still do not know whom this God is that first brought about life as we know it. It could be one God, or one of many gods.

7. The Ontological Argument

The Ontological argument is the argument from being. Historically this is last argument that has been given to for God's existence. It is based upon the idea of a perfect being. God is something greater than anything that a human being can conceive. It has been argued that humanity's conception of a perfect being must be based upon some reality. Why would humankind conceive of such a perfect being if such a being did not exist? Therefore, God must exist.

Weakness With The Ontological Argument

Although this argument has been given in various forms throughout history, it is not very convincing. Merely because humanity can conceive of a perfect being does not guarantee the existence of such. Although it may seem logical to some, there has to some evidence to back it up.

There Are Different Aspects Of His Being

The various arguments that have been given for God's existence relate to different aspects of His being. The ontological speaks of His complete perfection, the cosmological to His creative abilities, the teleological to His designing intelligence, and the anthropological to His personal nature.

Should We Give Any Arguments?

It must also be noted that there are a number of believers who do not believe that any arguments should be given to prove God's existence. Because humanity is in a darkened state due to sin, it is improper to argue for God's existence to those who have no capacity to understand. God's existence should be merely assumed and proclaimed to these people - it should not attempt to be proven.

Summary

There have been a number of arguments that have been brought forward to show that the existence of God is nothing something irrational or contrary to the facts. They include the following. The cosmological argument says everything must have a cause. The teleological argument argues that the intricate design of the universe shows intelligence and purpose. The anthropological argument points out the fact that human beings are unique. The moral argument observes the fact that morality is found in every culture. There is also the fact of the universal belief in a supreme being. The biological argument states that life does not come from non-life. Finally, the ontological argument - the idea of a perfect being such as God must mean that He exists. Each of these arguments has their strengths and weaknesses. While none of them are decisive in and of themselves, together they show that God's existence is certainly not irrational. However, these arguments do not tell us who that God is, or how we can get to know Him. This can only be understood through special revelation.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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