WHY I BELIEVE IN GOD
This is the first in a series of articles which will be devoted to the general theme of Why I Believe. Though space demands brevity, yet it shall be my purpose in these articles to give sufficient material to supplant weakness with strength, doubt with hope, and darkness with light.
Under the general theme selected, I believe God should be given first consideration, for that He is the basis of all true religion all must admit. If one should be able to unmistakably demonstrate that such a Being does not exist, “then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” However, let the fact of His existence be clearly established, and His relationship to humanity with its obligations of obedience to the Divine law becomes manifest to every intelligent being.
Though I unhesitatingly admit that my first impressions of God were, no doubt, a direct result of my childhood environment, yet I do not believe that such constitutes my reasons for believing in God today. Rather, I believe that God is and that He has spoken to man for two basic and fundamental reasons: nature and revelation, each of which we shall now brieﬂy study.
When I say I believe in God because of nature, I refer to what the scholar has in mind when he talks about Natural Theology, or a study of God as He has revealed Himself through nature.
In this division of our study we shall give brief consideration to the four well-known traditional arguments supporting the idea of the existence of God, namely: The Cosmological, The Teleological, The Anthropological or Moral, and The Ontological.
I believe in God from philosophical necessity for, as the Ancients expressed it: “From nothing, nothing comes.” Where there is an effect, there must be a cause, and the cause must be adequate to the effect produced. The universe could not have just happened; it is an effect produced by a cause; and the cause producing such a great, complex and stupendous effect, must itself be indeﬁnitely great. Such greatness is one of the attributes of the Christian’s God—He is omnipotent! Therefore, though there are many questions left unanswered by the Cosmological argument, such as: Is this cause intelligent or unintelligent, inﬁnite or ﬁnite, one or many? et cetera, yet it does possess value, and that value lies in the fact that it proves the existence of some cause of the universe indeﬁnitely great. This demand, it is unnecessary to remind you, is met in the God of the Bible.
I believe in God because the universe exhibits order and useful collocation. Where order and useful collocation permeate a system respectively, intelligence and purpose as the cause of that order and collocation are implied. Therefore, since such order and collocation do permeate the universe, there must exist an intelligence adequate to the production of this order, and a will adequate to direct this collocation to useful ends. Therefore, though the Teleological argument, like the Cosmological, leaves many questions unanswered, yet it does possess value, which value lies in the fact that the presence and harmony of the universe proves the necessity of an intelligence and will adequate to that presence and harmony. The demand of this argument is likewise met in the God of the Bible—He is both omniscient and inﬁnitely voluntary!
I also believe in God because of the intellectual and moral nature of man. It is not reasonable to suppose that dead matter and unconscious forces could create a being, man, possessing reason, conscience, and free will. Reason demands that the cause producing the effect, man, must be a cause possessing self-consciousness and a moral nature, in other words, personality. Also, man’s moral nature suggests the existence of a holy Lawgiver and Judge. And his emotional and voluntary nature suggests the existence of a Being who can satisfy this nature. Therefore, though this argument also has its weaknesses and limits, yet it does have strength, and this strength lies in the fact that it assures us of the existence of a personal Being—a Being who rules us in righteousness and who is the proper object of our affection and service. Such is the revelation God has made of Himself through His holy word, the Bible.
I come now to my fourth and ﬁnal reason for believing in God as presented through a study of nature. This is what is known as the Ontological argument which argument deals with thought or abstract and necessary ideas. I unhesitatingly admit that this, to me, is the most unsatisfactory of my four arguments, not so much because of its weakness as because of its depth, for it is almost, if not altogether, a useless argument so far as the rank-and-ﬁle observer is concerned. It nevertheless has value, which value I shall mention in just a moment. The argument may be presented in different ways, one of the most satisfactory perhaps being this: “We have the idea of an absolutely perfect Being. But existence is an attribute to perfection. An absolutely perfect Being must therefore exist.” I am perfectly aware that this argument conducts us only to an ideal conclusion, not to real existence. However, its value lies in the fact that it shows us what God must be, if He exists at all—an absolutely perfect Being! And such is the God of the Bible.
Having now considered each of the four traditional arguments, we make this concluding observation concerning them: Though no one argument, independent of the other three, can present us with a satisfactory conclusion, yet combined we see them presenting to us in a marvelous way the God of the Bible, for their combined testimony afﬁrms that an indefinitely great Being, a righteous Lawgiver and Judge, the object of man’s devotion and service, who is Himself perfect and eternal, stands at the fountainhead of all existence. These combined arguments therefore make me believe in the reality of God.
My next fundamental reason for believing in God is the fact that revelation, the Bible, declares His existence, for it is written: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”—Genesis 1:1. I therefore believe in God because the Bible affirms that He is and that He has spoken to man. I fully realize that to the man who does not believe the Bible, this is no argument at all, for this reason I shall follow this article with another in this series on Why I Believe the Bible To Be the Word of God which will not only demonstrate the integrity, reliability and validity of the Bible, but which will also serve as a supplement to, and a continuation of, Why I Believe in God.
I do therefore solicit your most careful and continued reading in the study of these vital issues with me, and should you have any question or questions concerning these matters, please let me know by writing to me in care of Light.
R. C. Oliver
R. C. Oliver (1918-1998) was a Christian educator. He received his training at Freed-Hardeman College, Akron University, Marietta College, East Tennessee State University, Michigan State, and The University of Mississippi. He taught in the Bible and English departments at Freed-Hardeman from 1965 until his retirement in 1982. Oliver was an accomplished English grammarian. He was a Gospel preacher and polished debater. His rational, conversational pulpit delivery was powerful. He was blessed with a natural ability to “think on his feet.” He was not contentious or mean-spirited. He did not delight in religious controversy, but as Paul, “was set for the defense of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:17). The above article first appeared in Light magazine, volume 1 number 3, published March 1955.