“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 - NKJV).
The evidence in nature (planets, plants, animals, humans, etc.) that points to a Creator is so clear and consistent that ignoring it is indefensible. In fact, the natural evidence is so clear (Psalm 19:1), it is only the fool that continues to espouse the non-existence of God (Psalm 14:1; Romans 1:22). In light of this evidence, and because God’s existence is often taken for granted, many faithful Christians fail to see the importance of being well-versed in the area of Christian apologetics. Specifically, they often feel as though a study on the existence of God is a waste of time. The thought process at the local congregation is occasionally something like, “We are all convinced that God exists. Why not spend our time studying something more helpful?”
Please allow me to suggest at least three reasons why the existence of God is such an important study. First, this study is important because there are eternal consequences at stake. In his tract, We Can Know That God Is, Thomas B. Warren suggested that, “The most important question to which any human being can address himself is a two-fold one: (1) Does God exist? and (2) What is His will for man? . . . This question is of paramount importance because, if He does exist, then being in right relationship with Him becomes a supreme obligation of every person” (3) If God exists, every man and every woman is amenable to Him and must seek His will. If God does not exist, we are each free to choose how we will live since neither our beliefs nor our actions have any significance.
Second, by implication, such a study is commanded by God. Consider the words of 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” You claim to believe in the existence of God? Your Creator expects you to be able to explain why you believe such to a skeptic. The non-theist will be perplexed by the way the theist remains confident and joyful even in the face of suffering. The theist must be able to defend why he has a hope of eternity in Heaven. The theist is convicted that God is alive and well and is able to explain why he believes such to be the case.
Third, this study is important because of the current boldness of the atheistic community. For example, the 2010 Winter holiday season saw an increased effort by non-theistic groups to attack the existence of God. There were billboards funded by the American Atheists that depicted a traditional nativity scene with the caption: “You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason.” Their president, Dave Silverman, said his group was reaching out to closeted non-believers. He wanted to help give them the courage and confidence to speak out and tell the world that they are atheists. At the same time, there was a campaign in Dallas, TX, run by the DFW Coalition of Reason. Their ads ran on the sides of public transportation buses in the downtown and surrounding areas. They read: “Millions of people are GOOD WITHOUT GOD.” Obviously, there is a war being waged for the minds of men. We must equip ourselves and prepare in order to win!
Recognizing the great importance of the issue, what is a Christian to do? What is the evidence at his disposal that proves the existence of God? Traditionally, apologists have relied upon four major arguments: Ontological, Cosmological, Teleological, and Moral. There is even a fifth argument which the theist may utilize. Upon demonstrating that the Bible has certain properties, it may be used as objective evidence that proves the existence of God. This fifth situation would make up the biblical argument. In this study, we will take a very brief look at only three of these arguments (cosmological, teleological, and moral).
In the landmark debate on the existence of God in 1976, Thomas B. Warren utilized the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments against Antony Flew with great success. In fact, Warren advanced these arguments with such force that Flew abandoned his hard and fast stance of an atheist who knew there was no God to that of an agnostic who wasn’t sure what stance to take – by the third night of the debate! Thus we must conclude that these arguments still have merit and are still worthy of our time and consideration.
The Cosmological Argument. Just take a look around at this amazing world. From humans to animals and from mountains to bodies of water, there is much to see and explore. But why do all these things exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? From where did all of these things come? To oversimplify, we have three possibilities: 1) this world has always been here; 2) this world appeared out of nowhere by accident and chance; 3) there is an all-powerful Creator. To briefly address each in turn: 1) even scientists agree that the evidence points to the fact that this universe had a beginning; 2) it is self-evident that nothing comes from nothing and that if there had ever been a time when nothing existed, nothing would exist today; 3) based upon the evidence, it is reasonable to posit an all-powerful Creator.
One form of the cosmological argument (as used by Warren in the debate with Flew) looks like this: 1) Every human being owes his ultimate origin either to creation or evolution. 2) For evolution to be true, the first humans must have originated via transformation into a human or being born human from non-human parents. 3) It is scientifically impossible for non-humans to give birth to humans. 4) There is zero scientific evidence to support the transformation theory. 5) Therefore evolution is proven false in light of the evidence. 6) The only other explanation is supernatural creation which proves God exists.
The Teleological Argument. Design demands a designer. Not a single one of us opens up our laptop computers and then think, “How lucky I am that this machine put itself together!” You did not open this magazine and say, “How fortuitous that these words found their way into sentences that happened to find their way onto these pages!” We do not drive through a neighborhood and wonder how all the houses got there. “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). When we observe nature in general, and humans in particular, it is absurd to think the order, purpose, and design we see is the result of blind chance and time.
One form of the teleological argument (again from Warren) looks like this: 1) If even one characteristic, attribute, or property of even one human being could not have come into existence except by the creative act of God, then God must exist. 2) There is one characteristic, attribute, or property of even one human being which could not have come into existence except by the creative act of God (the human hand, heart, respiratory system, etc.). 3) Therefore, God exists.
The Moral Argument. Consider the concept of right and wrong. While not all men or civilizations will agree as to what is right or wrong, all will agree that right and wrong exist. Could rocks and dirt eventually develop minds that then develop such a complex concept? Preposterous. The fact that humans possess such moral concepts of right and wrong argues for the existence of a Supreme Lawgiver.
One form of the moral argument (again from Warren) looks like this: 1) If the moral conduct of a person, society, or other specified group can come under genuine criticism, then there must be some absolute, objective standard which exists (i.e., the nature of God). 2) The moral conduct of a person, society, or other specified group can come under genuine criticism (genocide, rape, child abuse, etc.). 3) Therefore, there must be some absolute objective standard which exists (i.e., the nature of God).
In this brief study we have endeavored to stress two major things: 1) There is a great need for caring men and women of God to equip themselves to fight the evils of atheism and agnosticism. 2) This is not an impossible task. We have all the evidence we need to prove our case, to strengthen our faith, and to save misguided and lost souls. Indeed, we must do so for we are without excuse!
Thomas Bart Warren is the grandson of the late Dr. Thomas B. Warren for whom Warren Christian Apologetics Center is named. Bart serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Warren Center and is Associate Editor of Sufficient Evidence, a biannual scholarly journal published by WCAC. He is the pulpit minister of South Green Church of Christ, Glasgow, KY. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.